Lily Iona MacKenzie's Blog for Writers & Readers

MY BLOG POSTS COMMENT ON SOME ASPECT OF WRITING & READING.

The Ripening
The Ripening:
A Canadian Girl Grows Up

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" Tillie’s grit and ability to face life’s challenges are inspiring, the seeds for later discovering her artist self. Tillie takes readers on a wild ride. Join her if you dare! "

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
Curva Peligrosa
Curva Peligrosa

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

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FLING!
Fling!

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

"Fling! is both hilarious and touching. Every page is a surprise, and the characters! I especially loved Bubbles, one of the most endearing mothers in recent fiction. A scintillating read."

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
Freefall
Freefall :
A Divine Comedy

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" These fascinating characters will fill your imagination, defying expectations about aging, art, and what truly matters in life. "

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
All This
All This

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" Indicative of the title, the poems in All This range from the conventional lyric/narrative that captures an intense moment of emotion, an epiphany glimpsed briefly out of the corner of the eye, to the more experimental. "

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
No More Kings
No More Kings

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

Each finely crafted poem in this powerful collection comes alive on the page while she traces the days’ journeys with a painter’s eye, a musician’s ear, and the deft pen of a poet.

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
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Tag: The Hawks

Behind the scenes with The Band’s Robbie Robertson: TESTIMONY

We sometimes forget that music plays an essential part in our lives. We listen to CDs or stream songs, often unaware of what goes into producing these tracks that give us such pleasure. For those of us who came of age during the rock and roll era, and for others who are interested in its music, Robbie Robertson’s Testimony takes the reader inside that world, showing its highs and lows.

Confessions of a Ronnie Hawkins’ groupie!

Anyone who followed the early ‘60s rock scene knows of Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins, though he’s slightly more famous in his adopted country, Canada, than in the U.S. Originally from Fayetteville, Arkansas, Hawkins, a vocalist and bandleader, had an ear for promising musicians and an eye for good-looking women. His group “The Hawks” gave birth to many celebrated instrumentalists, including Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko, and Robbie Robertson, all of “The Band” fame.

Robbie Robertson’s TESTIMONY portrays behind-the-scenes musicians’ lives on or off the road

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We sometimes forget that music plays an essential part in our lives. We listen to CDs or stream songs, often unaware of what goes into producing these tracks that give us such pleasure. For those of us who came of age during the rock and roll era, and for others who are interested in its music, Robbie Robertson’s Testimony takes the reader inside that world, showing its highs and lows.

In the late ‘50s, I moved from Calgary to Toronto for a couple of years with three girlfriends. Elvis was already on the scene, and we quickly got swept up in the rock scene that was invading the planet. At the Le Coq D’or, a popular lounge on Yonge Street, we discovered Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks. Ronnie and his drummer Levon Helm were originally from Fayetteville, Arkansas, but they had discovered a receptive audience in Canada as well as talented musicians. Robbie Robertson was one of them.

I sometimes hung out with the group after hours. Robbie was just fifteen then and finding his way as a musician. He seemed shy and reserved, intent on mastering the guitar, he and Levon practicing various licks well into the night, trying to imitate the masters. But Ronnie had an ear for talent, and he quickly saw that Robbie had lots of it. Hence my interest in reading (via audiobook) Robbie’s accounts of those days.

Robbie describes a fascinating odyssey from his half Mohawk, half Jewish roots to Malibu, where he eventually ended up in the early ‘70s. After the Hawks made their mark with Ronnie, they decided to go out on their own, booking gigs and making records. They were consummate musicians, constantly expanding their repertoire and improving their techniques. Eventually they connected with Bob Dylan, and that relationship helped them to find their own identity as a group, later becoming The Band.

Testimony, then, is a declaration, a confirmation of tumultuous years, focusing mainly between the late ‘50s and 1976 when The Band gave its last concert with Robbie as part of the group. During this time, the group hung out with many famous artists, including the Beatles, Van Morrison, Neil Young, and so many more. Apparently this memoir wasn’t ghostwritten, and I was impressed with Robbie’s strong writing skills. He vividly captures people, places, dialogue, the works, making this period come alive for the reader.

These pages show the behind-the-scenes life the musicians lived and temptations they faced on or off the road, including on-going struggles with drugs of all kinds. It’s a reminder that the great pleasure these talented performers give us often comes at an equally great price—their mental and physical well being. Robbie has managed to prevail. Many others don’t.

How a Ronnie Hawkins’ groupie grew up and became a university professor and a “famous” writer!

Anyone who followed the early ‘60s rock scene knows of Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins, though he’s slightly more famous in his adopted country, Canada, than in the U.S. Originally from Fayetteville, Arkansas, Hawkins, a vocalist and bandleader, had an ear for promising musicians and an eye for good-looking women. His group “The Hawks” gave birth to many celebrated instrumentalists, including Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko, and Robbie Robertson, all of “The Band” fame.

I met Ronnie and his group soon after I moved to Toronto with three girlfriends and my son. I was a high school dropout, a single mum, and I typed fast. Infatuated from the moment I first saw Ronnie, I’d found someone who encapsulated everything America then represented to me (I later immigrated to California and became a U.S. citizen myself): potent extroverted energy, lack of inhibition, incessant motion, humor, boldness, and power—all that Canada (and I) seemed to lack at that time.

For the next year or so, my friends and I became regulars wherever Ronnie and The Hawks were appearing.groupie Some nights I got lucky (at least at that time I thought I was lucky), and Ronnie invited me to go home with him. As I spent more time with Ronnie and the other band members, my feelings for him only intensified, though not because he showed me any special attention. I was just one of many young women who threw themselves at Ronnie and “the boys,” as he called them.

Ronnie attracted me because he never lacked something to say, onstage or off, and what he said was usually original: a true Southerner, he was an oral poet, making metaphors as easily as some people sleep. Nor was he afraid to speak his mind. No wonder he fascinated me. I coveted his charisma and ability to transfix a room full of people. But most of all, I wanted his body, still muscular and fit from the boxing he did when he was younger. Ronnie embodied the unrestrained world of rock and roll, and sex was the only way to get closer to him and that world. I wanted to rock and roll with Ronnie; so did every other woman in the vicinity. And he knew it. He also tried to accommodate as many of us as possible.

Groupies have been around forever. The charioteers must have attracted female followers because of their feats. So, too, the knights doing battle for their sovereign. Sinatra and Presley’s female fans didn’t have only handholding in mind. While the word groupie seems to have been born in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, ardent camp followers were not new.

Ronnie’s energy infected me in ways I didn’t understand at the time. While I’m anything but a roaring extrovert, in my teaching and writing I’ve become a kind of performer. In the classroom, I’ve learned to project in a way that keeps students engaged. I wander up and down the aisles, eyes meeting theirs, hoping my enthusiasm about writing clear, compelling essays will penetrate. And as a writer, much of what I do on the page also happens through eye contact: the readers’ connection to my words. My hope is to grab their intellects, imaginations, feelings, and whatever else is available in that moment through the written word.

Thank you, dear reader, for letting me into your world!

 

 

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