Friday, December 26, 2008

Oh, yeah!

A mere 24 days, 23 hours, 28 minutes, and 13 seconds from now, we'll bid a gleeful adieu to the Bush regime's reign of error.

Gone for the Holidays

I'm traveling with Nina and Alexei for the holidays. I'd like to wish you all the best and brightest of the season, for whichever tradition you may follow.

We've been quite busy preparing for the award's season, both book, and radio. On top of that, I've been assembling materials for the class I'll be teaching at San Francisco State this next Spring semester.There's a lot of material to gather, but I've been doing this long enough that I've got a system down.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happy (Belated) Birthday to Moe Asch - December 2nd

I can't believe we forgot this one! December 2nd marked the 103rd birthday of Folkways Records founder, Moe Asch.

Moses "Moe" Asch and the label he founded, Folkways (now Smithsonian Folkways), was instrumental in bringing folk music to the American public. Asch worked with such famous folk and blues singers as Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, and Ella Jenkins.

He was the son of Yiddish language novelist and dramatist Sholem Asch and the younger brother of novelist Nathan Asch. After his death, the Folkways recordings were acquired by the Smithsonian Institution and are now part of the heritage of all Americans; many of the titles are reissued.

Cold weather here in the valley

Winter seems to be here. It's been cold and, today, even a little wet. Down here in our little office, we are baking more old reel-to-reel tapes in the food dehydrator to prepare them for transfer to digital format. There is an added benefit in that the heat from the dehydrator is also warming the room. A nice thing on a cold day like this.

Last week I was at CalTech, presenting a lecture on McCarthy era suppression of the folksinging community. (I was amazed at how small the actual CalTech property was for such a prestigious school!)

Someone recently recommended the movie "Trumbo" to me. I haven't had a chance to see it, but I understand it is a documentary about blacklisted screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo. It comes highly recommended. If you are interested in the blacklisting era and its effect on people's lives, check it out.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The view out our window

IMG_1984 My associate, Rick, snapped this photo of a woodpecker searching for food in the apple tree outside our office window. There's quite an abundance of wildlife down here in the North Valley.

Click on the photo to see the full-sized image or any of the other photos Rick has posted at Flickr.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'll be hosting Folk Routes on November 29th

Just a quick note to let you know I'll be hosting KUNM-FM's Folk Routes on Saturday, November 29th. The show is on from 10 to Noon.

As you know, I'm a "bit" of a Pete Seeger aficionado. I’ll be playing Pete’s new CD, “At 89,” so if you haven’t heard it yet, now’s your chance.

If you live outside of KUNM's listening area, you can apparently listen to us in the web by clicking right here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Remembering Aldous Leonard Huxley (26 July 1894 – 22 November 1963)

Today, Saturday November 22nd, is the 45th anniversary of the death of author, poet, screenwriter, and visionary, Aldous Huxley.

Huxley is someone I’m interested in, having written two books; Aldous Huxley Recollected, and Huxley in Hollywood. Both are available at my website, If you want to know more about this fascinating man who had such an influence on the American culture of the mid-20th century, be sure to read these books.

As a side note, this date is also the 45th anniversary of the deaths of President John F. Kennedy and novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, and essayist, C.S. Lewis. Coincidence? Probably.

Monday, November 17, 2008

How Can I Keep From Singing: Now available in Mp3!

"Pete Seeger: How Can I Keep From Singing?," my 3-part radio series heard on PRI stations from coast-to-coast this summer is now available in Mp3 format at CDBaby. Click the image below and it will take you to the ordering site.

DAVID DUNAWAY: Pete Seeger: How Can I Keep From Singing?

You can also go here to listen to sample tracks of the program.

If you're a "traditionalist" who still clings to the old-fashioned (I kid!) Compact Disc, the three CD set (and/or any of my other books and audio documentaries) are available from

Friday, November 14, 2008

Reel-to-Reel Jerky

Today we baked a reel-to-reel tape in a food dehydrator.

Yes. You read that right.

We're preparing some 45+ year-old reel-to-reel tapes for digitization. These are programs I've produced or recorded over the years and are in rough shape. Baking the old tape in a food dehydrator (like you would use to make jerky or dry fruits and vegetables in)for 2 to 3 hours revitalizes the tape and makes it usable.

It's not recommended that you do it more than once, and you need to transfer the tape within 24 hours.

Ah, technology. It's so... weird.

Back in New Mexico

I'm back from the Mother Road! Route 66 through Missouri was great, but the view out my window of the Bosque in autumn is one that can't be beat. The winds are sweeping gold from the Cottonwoods and the Rio Grande is finally going down in height, so we know fall is here. Nights in the river valley are downright frosty, with temperatures dropping below freezing, and the wonderful aroma of pinon smoke is in the air.

The Sandhill Cranes are migrating through our area and just the other day one was roosting in the bare branches of a dead cottonwood. They are such beautiful birds, offering their odd though distinctive silhouette when flying.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Still out on the Mother Road

Greetings from the Ozarks. Yes, I'm still in Missouri today, traveling along that great old Route 66 and talking to people. I'll be making a stop in St. Clair at the historical museum there.

Later in the day, I'll be up at the Route 66 State Park located at the former site of the town of Times Beach. The fascinating story of Times Beach dates back to the post-Vietnam era, when the local dirt roads were sprayed with oil to keep the dust down. It was later found that the oil was actually contaminated with Dioxin, the main ingredient of the defoliant known as Agent Orange. According to the website Legends of America,
"in 1985, [Times Beach's] entire population of more than 2,000 residents had been evacuated, with the exception of one elderly couple who refused to leave, and the town was disincorporated by executive order of the Missouri Governor. The entire site was quarantined as residents moved on to other areas. But for the residents who moved, the scare was not over, as they continue to worry about the contamination effects on their long term health. Furthermore, with the wide press coverage at the time, the former Times Beach residents were shunned by their new neighbors, who feared the contamination."
Today, the cleaned-up site of this former resort community is home to Route 66 State Park. There are excellent opportunities to picnic, exercise, birdwatch or study nature. The park area abounds with more than 40 types of birds and a diverse set of trees, plants and animals. Picnic sites are scattered beneath the shade trees. Level walking, bicycling and equestrian trails throughout the park are perfect for beginning bicycle riders and health-conscious visitors.

I should be back home this evening providing the weather holds out. It's supposed to get a bit stormy later in the day so hopefully that won't affect flights.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tony Hillerman ~ May 27, 1925 to October 26, 2008

Tony Hillerman’s gift to the nation was to write with sensitivity and appreciation of Indian cultures who have too often been stereotyped. His evocation of life among the Navajo, Hopi, and pueblo tribes of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah will live in our memory

Tony was a friend and a colleague, who taught fiction and journalism at the University of New Mexico for decades. He earned his Masters degree there and inspired many young journalists who today occupy prominent positions around our state and region.

Hillerman, more than perhaps any other writer, taught us how to appreciate the relationship between Indians, landscape and culture for our region.

He was the kind of guy who could always be counted on to give a quick read or quick edit to shape up prose that was flat or even boring.

“I always feel my reader is a very busy person," Tony once said, "and I’m like their driver where they’re sitting in the back of the car. If my story starts to slow down, they stare out the window. I want to keep them along for the ride.”

Off at FACA

I've been in St. Louis, Missouri the past few days meeting with other members of the Route 66 Preservation Federal Advisory Council.

This afternoon, I'm off to Lebanon, Missouri for a little research trip.

The weather's been nice, but I hear there's some nasty weather heading my way.

One of the great speeches of our time

Never too early...

Hi all,

Rick here, from David's office. I just wanted to remind you that David's book and radio series on the life of the great Pete Seeger would make great gifts for the upcoming holiday season.

They're available for $19.95 each (plus shipping)at his Author's Guild website.

We've gotten a really wonderful response from PRI listeners who've heard the radio program over the past 4 months. So many people who grew up listening to Pete Seeger's music. This is a three part audio series that mixes Pete's music with interviews of folks who new him.

Of the book, How Can I Keep From Singing? The Ballad of Pete Seeger, the late Studs Turkel said, "This biography is a beauty. It captures not only the life of the bard but the world of which he sings."

For the real fan, you could also pick up Pete's newest CD, At 89, from our friends over at Appleseed Recordings


Pete Seeger in "Pitchfork" ezine

In response to finding out about the online music magazine "Pitchfork,"Pete Seeger was quoted on New York Magazine's website as saying "An Internet magazine! So you don't have to cut down trees. I'll be damned."

Pete was interviewed by Joshua Klein for a November 3rd article. Check it out at Interview: Pete Seeger.

For those of you who are unaware, I've written the definitive biography of the great Pete Seeger, "How Can I Keep From Singing?". This year also marked the release of the Public Radio International series, "Pete Seeger:How Can I Keep From Singing?" you can check them out and pick up a copy or two at