Wire from the Bunker: Meet Rick Danko
Levon Helm, Richard Manuel, and Rick Danko, the Band – originally known as the Hawks when they backed Bob on his electric blaspheme of...
A few words from Jon...
About 15 years ago, my wife Jodi got interested in horseback riding and in a relatively short period of time became a damn good rider. I found myself hanging around barns quite a bit and often walking alongside the horses during rides in the Wissahickon. Maybe at some point, I’ll take up riding myself, but given my responsibilities running an international multimedia corporation such as John Train LLC, for now, I am satisfied in my role as “Squire Jon” as I have come to be known among Jodi’s fellow riders. I personally call myself a Hot Walker!
We started at Monastery which is just down the street from our home in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. Monastery is a beautiful place – built in 1747! – with great access to Forbidden Drive. Jodi joined the Saddle Club over there and rode a horse named Madison. She eventually began share boarding a horse called Twister with whom I enjoyed hundreds of walks in the park.Twister was eventually moved down to Belmont Stables by his owner Misty Godfrey – who runsBelmont -- so we moved over there with him. Belmont was my first experience among the blackcowboys of Philadelphia and I am very grateful to have gotten to know characters such as Al, Lenny, and Preacher. We also met Erin Brown – who is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Urban Riding Academy – at Belmont. Erin’s foal Dream became the subject of a song as did Erin herself, first among many great “Concrete Cowgirls” in Philadelphia. I am amazed at how the riders at Belmont (and Fletcher Street for that matter) ride in these most urbanof environs. Fearless. And, yes, Jodi’s friend Fausto really did give his horse Marengo a beer asthey stood outside the Dell listening to R & B. When Twister sadly passed on Christmas day a few years back, we moved to Chestnut Hill Stables where Jodi share boarded Mr. Blues Amigo, a wonderful old gentleman who I never tired of hugging. We eventually got our own quarter horse – the amazing Kira – and are now in a private barn in Andorra. What a journey!
Last summer when legendary Philadelphia sound engineer John Anthony invited John Train to do some recording at Gradwell House in Haddon Heights, NJ, I decided to pull all of my horse related material together and call the collection Cowboy Dreams. The title track was actually written by Paddy McAloon of Prefab Sprout if you can believe that! We also essay Jonathan Richman’s Since She Started to Ride and David Halley’s Further. I had a couple western sounding instrumentals that seemed to fit in as did Mark Tucker’s honkytonk rave-up Cuttin’ Down on Cuttin’ Up. Finally, I penned one just for the sessions called Blood Horses which was inspired by John Jeremiah Sullivan’s book of the same name. It’s about horses but also about lineage in general as is the whole album.
Jon Houlon, July 2022