|Concert Performances: Cambridge Folk Festival (England)|
My father taught hand-to-hand combat during World War Two and we lived briefly -- as we did everywhere, briefly -- in Cheyenne, Wyoming, which is the attempted cowboy capital of the West over there. It was customary if you were new in town to be beaten up. This is how you -- I think it's universal -- it's how you make friends. I was getting tired of it, as often as we moved, and I knew that my dad had done that so I asked him to each me how to defend myself. And he took me out in the backyard and more or less demonstrated on me. And it was an unpleasant and really uninformative experience. I didn't learn anything, except not to ask him that again.
I remembered at that point some books that he still had from his days as an instructor. One of them was called Hand-To-Hand Combat. The other was called Jungle Diseases. So I had never even read Hand-To-Hand Combat and I couldn't get enough of Jungle Diseases. And the sicker I got, the more obvious it became that I couldn't stop studying these things. I can tell you that there's something called "screw worm" that none of us would want. So under the imperative of need I finally turned to Hand-To-Hand Combat and there was a series of photographs, each one containing a guy with an aviator helmet and a guy without a helmet -- who was obviously the bad guy -- in poses, various martial sorts of poses. But these weren't the ones we may be more familiar with today.
Two that I remember were -- one especially with the guy in the aviator helmet poking the other guy in the eye with a stick. And I had considered that for a while, I have to admit I'd never thought of such a ploy. But I also had to admit that no-one was poking me in the eye with a stick and I probably couldn't take that option. I turned a couple of pages and there was another one of the same guy -- they were all the same two guys -- in the aviator helmet spitting in the face of the other guy. And the caption was something like "Even in the heat of battle, your enemy will be offended if you spit on him." And that's after you poke him in the eye with a stick.
I'd like to say that, after remembering all of that, I burst into song and wrote the next tune. But whatever I'm about to play has nothing to do with that. I just learned that no matter -- even if you say nothing at all it's important that I already said something. Just to withhold from you the fact that all you're going to hear up here is one guitar tune after another. I've had actually about four requests for this next tune so I'll play it. This is a traditional tune. It's called "Stealing" because it's made up of bits and pieces of everybody else's stuff including a little bit of me.
[Leo plays medley of "Last Steam Engine Train" and "Stealing"]
It's time for a ballad. This is -- [tuning] I have a friend in Ljubljana who I've been unable to find recently named Seka Tampchar [spelling unknown, Leo pronounces it "Sayka TAMP-char"]. I met her when I first did a tour in the old Yugoslavia with Paco de Lucia who started in Ljubljana and went to places like Spit and Una and a couple of others I don't remember. And I came back every year for about four years and did this same little tour. On our fist stop, we were introduced to Seka Tampchar, and a mountain climber, a heart surgeon, a physicist and some other people that the government at the time had trotted out to meet everybody and nobody wanted to be there. And we tried to be polite to one another and admit that it was something that had to be done. And later on we were forced to have dinner together after the show.
By that time we were enjoying ourselves naturally and I asked Seka, since I didn't know yet what she did, what she did. She was the token artist in the group: she was a lithographer. I said "Oh, lithographer from Ljubljana" and she did not smile. I gave up on limericks and asked her what she did and she said "Well...". "Could I see your lithographs?" and she said "No, you can't." So I said "Sorry" and she said, "No, I've only made 10 of them. And I said, "Well, don't...?" -- I couldn't figure that out -- I asked her why and she said "I break the stone." Usually, you make, as I understand it, you make a lithograph, you run off 300 to 500 copies of this lithograph, then you smooth the stone and make another one. Otherwise it's like Sisyphus  or somebody, to break the stone, it -- it sounded nuts. So now it was a lunatic lithographer from Ljubljana. I asked her why she did that. She said "It's none of your business."
I saw her again the next year and she said "I have to --" "I can't stay for the show, my father found his way home, he's sick, I'd better go back and take care of him." I said "I'm sorry to hear that." The next year she came to the show and she said -- I asked "How is your father?", picking up the conversation where we left it off -- and she said "He died." I said "Oh." She said "Would you like to see some of the things that he did?" I said "Yeah."
The next day she took me downtown Ljubljana and showed me, among other things -- he was an engineer and an architect -- a bridge that he had built. And while she was showing me this, she said that he had been arrested when she was three years old and imprisoned. And I said "Oh, why?" which is a question that you wouldn't have to ask, I guess, if you've lived there. And she ignored me and showed me the bridge, which was a beautiful bridge, starting on one side of the river with three roads, which in the course of the bridge merged into one road on the other side of the river. So I had an idea why he'd been arrested. It was a beautiful bridge, and as I looked at this thing, she told me what had happened. She said that he was imprisoned for 25 years, 26 years, and we were never told she said -- she and her sister and her mother -- where he was imprisoned, why he was imprisoned, or for how long he would be in prison. What we were told, once a year at some indeterminant time, was that he was still alive. That's all we ever knew.
When he got sick, they let him out after 26 years. That's, she said, when I found out that he'd been imprisoned across the street from our house. And for 26 years, he'd been able to look up through a gunslit window in his cell and see my sister and I -- she was three in the beginning -- grow up playing on the balcony of our apartment. And then she said "That is why I break the stone."
[Leo plays "Across the Street"]
I'm gonna sneak up on the end of this [tuning] with a couple of -- actually with this.
[Leo plays medley of "Available Space" "June Bug" and "The Train and the Gate"]
I guess I went a little short, so [tuning] I know this is not exactly what you wanted to hear. There's nothing more exciting than hearing a 12-string migrate through about 12 cents worth of pitch. Once it's in, it's an irresistable noise. As my father told me last year, "Leo, you oughta play the one that makes all the noise. You'll have them eating out of your lap." Yeah. He was a golfer by the way.
[Leo plays "Pamela Brown"]
[Leo plays "Machine"]
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