The writer Franz Kafka believed that writing is the most personal form of prayer. For many a writer it is also his bread and butter. In order to earn that bread and butter a writer's soul and spirit are often bent and twisted to fit a mold that is unlike his own. Often limited, many a writer's muse has been left to whither and die, confined to a small space that slowly suffocates creativity and independent thought. So, more often than not, writers tend to be frustrated artists who view the world colored by new and unusual shades of feeling and emotion. When a writer is given the chance to simply write for the sake of expression, from the heart, it is a great opportunity. Thus this column, "The Dragon's Roar," is one writer's prayer, opportunity and expression. While the subject matter will run the spectrum, taking many wild turns, topics will be those closest to this writer's heart. It is my hope that you as reader will find new and unusual colors to add to your personal palette through viewing my own and that, perhaps, something you never considered of value before will suddenly seem worthy in your eyes. Like a key that opens the door to a new world, a writer sets in motion words that can open minds. -- Jana Pendragon
Dragging Main: Memories of Growing Up In a Small Town -- May 1999
This time around The Dragon’s Roar veers away from our usual topic, traditional Country & Western and American roots music, in order to address a topic that is a significant factor in the development of this genre of music. Our detour concerns the changes that have stripped small town America of its dignity and created several generations of youth who feel lost and alienated from the world around them. While our Mother Earth continues to spin in the sky, America’s children are falling apart. No greater piece of evidence can be offered to support this fact than the recent events in Littleton, Colorado.
In the aftermath of this tragedy I was drawn back to my own childhood spent in the small town of Reno, Nevada. During the ‘50s and ‘60s Reno was the center of the universe to me. It was the best of civilization and traditional country life all rolled into one. With the desert on one side, the Sierra Nevada mountain range on the other and the Truckee River connecting the two, I was sure Reno was paradise.
As the full impact of Littleton, Colorado continued to hit me, I found myself returning time and time again to those cherished memories of Reno, Nevada and the question of the alienation of our children. I happened upon an essay I began in 1993, shortly after losing my mother and baby brother. Reflective, I was at that time still mourning a loss that can never be reconciled. Still, the essay, “Dragging Main,” speaks volumes about the alienation I felt as a teenager as small town Reno turned into a grotesque version of a gaudy carnival side show. Reading through the essay I came to realize the connection between my words, written years ago, and the tragic events in Littleton.
An Interview with Julian Lennon -- March 1999
What, you might ask, does Julian Lennon have to do with American roots music? More, what does this famous man whose music falls into the ‘pop’ and ‘rock’ categories have to do with honky tonks, twin fiddles or steel guitars? Well, as one famous American hero, Roy Nichols (Merle Haggard’s guitar player for 22 years) once told me, “All good music is connected.” Such is the case here. And while you are never going to find him hanging out in a smoke-filled honky tonk off of the old 99 that runs from Bakersfield to Sacramento or performing at the opening of the Reno Rodeo, it is hard to deny his place within the scope of good music today.
Further, just speaking his name brings to mind a flurry of images; images that do not a complete picture make of the man he has become. For many, he was THE child of the Age of the Beatles, the first-born son whose very existence represented some kind of new mythology within popular world culture. However, beyond the image and the memories stands the man who was at one time that child. It is his story that you will hear this time around as The Dragon Roars.
Ñèñêî è åãî ãðóïïà Reasons Why
Cisco and the Reasons Why -- February 1999
Known simply as Cisco, a nickname he had worn with pride since his childhood in Fresno, this artist is about to kick up some dust. Honest to a fault, Cisco is all sharp edges and bite. Like those that came before him, he is made of the sweat and tears that created the fertile San Joaquin. The product of a family whose roots lie buried there, he reflects the past, present and the future of the Bakersfield Sound.
Living in Los Angeles, that town that lies south of Bakersfield, Cisco has released an independent CD, Wishing You Well From the Pink Motel. Of interest to an industry that has turned its back upon its pioneers, Cisco could be the next 'big thing.' But, for the moment, Cisco is the lesson being offered up as the subject of our continuing education in country music. He is real and he sure isn't a pop star...listen and learn.