I was inspired by Vanessa and Jorma’s blog posts and decided it was about time I too took stock at the past year’s blessings. But FIRST……Happy New Year to you….may it be a good year for you and yours and for all. I’m sitting on this side of the New Year and thinking “Is it really 2011……whoooooaaa boy, weren’t we just partying like it was 1999?…..I guess we made it through the worries of a new millennium….and here we are. As a youngster I always got a chuckle out of my Grandmother telling us that every year goes by quicker as you get older….and now I understand. It was great to kick in the New Year with friends. It’s been a custom for the last few years running that we get together over at Kevin Morgan’s place for New Years. We always have a great time and this year was no exception. Aside from the joy and fun we share at the New Year’s Eve get-together we also share some good eating. The main course for this year’s party was some fine Jamaican Jerk Chicken….courtesy of Ms. Ena’s Caribbean Kitchen in Columbus….along with the traditional side dish of rice and peas. Add to that all kinds of nice side dishes and you have a feast…..Vanessa brought a nice “Israeli Salad” which she created faithfully from her memory and recent trip with Hot Tuna to Israel… Brett makes the best (I’m not kidding) Italian bread from scratch and he brought that along …..all kinds of special plates and all quite excellent. We had so much food that I found myself back at Kevin’s on New Year’s day for left-overs……and again today ….three days in a row of Jamaican Jerk Chicken…..I take that as a very auspicious sign of a good year coming at us. SO…….I’m giving thanks for the great friends that I am blessed with and that we are moving forward into new days with a great history of days gone by…I’m also giving thanks for the jerk chicken.

While on the subject of friends…..I’ve got to give thanks for the many, many friends that I have been blessed to meet coming through the gate of the Fur Peace Ranch. The picture we get of humanity…..from the good people we meet at FPR…..really gives you a positive feel and outlook for this big old world. During this past Ranch season we had some students come through that we had not seen in years. It was so good to see them again. We all are living our lives and I’ve got to give thanks for those times when we can get together right down here in Meigs County, Ohio at this magical place known as the Fur Peace and share some of that joy.

Fur Peace friends were out in force at the Hot Tuna shows at the Beacon Theatre in NYC at the beginning of December. Vanessa and I were in the lobby each night and it was unbelievable how many Fur Peace Ranch alumni we greeted each night. I’m talking well over 100….maybe 200….and each one of those people very special in our life. Again….some folks we had not seen for some time. The time in between is just space between friendly visits. We pick up where we left off and we give thanks for any time we get to share. I saw a few FPR friends that were surprised I still remembered them….it had been so long….and they have had obstacles, hardships and various reasons why they hadn’t been back to the Ranch for some time. I give thanks for the chance to see them again and hope their road levels out for a nice smooth ride…..We realize that times are tough for some of our friends and we hope and pray for them to weather the storms and we are here cheering them on and forever friends……even when we are not in touch. MORE THANKS for friends old and new.

It was a blast to be in NYC for the Hot Tuna Beacon shows……they were extra special this year, because we were also celebrating Big Daddy Jorma’s 70th birthday. You can check out Jorma’s blog for his revelations on the shows….I’ll tell you I was glad I was there because it was better to see them then read about them…..because words would have just failed. Hot Tuna was hotter then fire on those two nights…..not bad if you don’t mind perfect. But aside from some of the best Hot Tuna you could hope to hear, we were treated to a cavalcade of special guests that all added more fire to this burner of a show. There were so many special moments….seeing John Hammond with an electric guitar jamming with the guys….Larry Campbell. and Warren Haynes going toe to toe…..Bob Steeler sitting with Skoota and the two of them keeping time and drumming up some good times too. ….. boy, it was nice to see The Falza playing AK-47…..he did a great job as the show’s musical director too. SO…..big thanks to all those who came out to celebrate the music.

I’ve really got to give BIG THANKS to the young Cap as well…..Thanks for reaching 70, you are an inspiration for all of us younger folks……and MANY, MANY THANKS for all the great music you’ve been giving us for a long time now…..I’ve got to give thanks for Jorma!!!

I hope I have enough to go around ……because giving thanks is something you hope to never run out of. I give thanks for this great place I get to practice my “right livelihood” at …..and I give thanks for the great people I get to work with. We are family and I’ve been around enough to know that is not a gimme in every work situation. I give thanks for the music… sustains me and I get to bathe in it on a daily basis. I run into people all the time that tell me how lucky I am to work in my position….they say “You have the best job in the world and you are one lucky …..” and I know it and give thanks for it every second of every day. All the great musicians that come to play and teach here at the Ranch…..I most definitely must give thanks to them…..thanks for the music you bring to us and your friendship as well. Thanks to our patrons that filled the Fur Peace Station for 13 soldout shows this past year…..I give thanks to you all, not just for helping us fill those seats, but for also being the best and coolest audience to fill a room and for always being so respective of the musician and excited about the music….I’m always proud of our people… make us look good and you’re a perfect guest.

Yes, I ‘m feeling positive vibes right from the get go this year. As I look ahead I see more things I’m going to be giving thanks for and I’m good with that. May your New Year be full of blessings !!!!!