Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ken Graydon

It is with deep sadness that I report that Ken Graydon passed away last night, Saturday, July 29th. Many of you may remember that Ken was diagnosed with a brain tumor during last year's Encampment. He underwent treatment this year for this and other cancers. He fought hard and lived life to its fullest during this last year, singing and writing with his usual energy and talent. His music will live on in all of us. We will miss him dearly. Our condolences to his wife Phee and his entire family.

About Ken:

Ken Graydon’s roots are firmly planted in the west. His father was a working cowboy in the Seligman, Arizona area in the 20s. His young antics are the grist for some of Ken’s poems. Ken’s mother designed the family home, an adobe ranch house, in the San Joaquin Valley north of Bakersfield, California. It was built of adobe blocks made nearby. She filled it with Indian and Mexican pots and artifacts. This was Ken’s home where money was scarce and work was hard. The family raised cotton, olives and horses. Ken worked with his parents making it happen which left him with great respect for work and the people who do it. He turned his focus toward cowboys and men of the sea and railroad.

Ken learned as a young kid that he could sing. His mother, younger brother and he sang three part harmony while riding in the car. He learned later that he could write. His songs and poems reflect the wisdom and wit of men who made their way by the strength of their hands and keenly developed native intelligence.

Ken Graydon has come to represent finely crafted poetry and song, not in the sense of the number of CDs and books sold and top gigs on the circuit but rather in the deep respect people give his work. He’s set some California and Arizona history in riveting poems that capture the story better than any textbook can do. He’s told the story of his father’s antics as an Arizona working cowboy in the ‘20s.

“Singer, writer, historian and gentleman, Ken Graydon is one of my heroes and a genuine California folk music treasure.” Dave Stamey

Friday, July 22, 2011


A Few things to consider for the 2011 Encampment

Just a few words about changes to the Death Valley ‘49er Encampment this year. The National Park Service is in the process of a remodeling and upgrading the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. I am told that the Contractor is ahead of schedule! However it will not be ready for this years Encampment. Therefore, some of the events have been moved to other locations. Among them are; The Death Valley ‘49ers Invitational Western Art Show will take place on the lawn by the Basketball Court, with the Quick Draw taking place on the Basketball Court. The Patio Talks will be conducted on the Patio of the Borax Museum. Ted Faye will be showing videos in the evening there also. During the day, videos will be shown in the Marquez Room at the Furnace Creek Inn. This is also where Marvin Jensen’s History Program will be Friday morning.

Because the Temporary Visitor Center is next to the Furnace Creek Ranch entrance, the evening programs normally done at Ol’ Dinah will move to the Golf Course; the same location as the Hootenanny. We will meet the wagons and the riders when they arrive on the Date Grove Road.

Due to changes at Stovepipe Wells we will not have events there this year. However, the Membership Booth will be open. For those wishing a quieter, more relaxed atmosphere, Stovepipe wells is offering 2011 Death Valley ‘49er members discounts on meals, rooms and RV spaces during Encampment.

For current members who will receive a program in the mail, and those who will get one at the encampment, look closely to see how some events have moved to new locations and check the membership booth for any last minute changes.

This year we’ve revived our 4x4 trips into the backcountry, one of them a new adventurous tour to Echo Canyon! Be sure to check out the link for it on the home page.

I am looking forward to welcoming you all to the 2011 Encampment! See you there!

Jim Graves

President, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ken Graydon Update 3/10/11

Good news from the home front re Ken. He's in his 4th week of chemo and doing very well. The only side effect so far is fatigue. He did an hour program for a group of seniors this morning and said he enjoyed it and things went well but it surprised him to discover how bushed he was afterward. His chemo is an oral capsule called temador. Look it up on the web. It potentially has all kinds of nasty side effects but Ken isn't experiencing them. He takes an anti-nausea pill first and then the capsule. He does the chemo for 6 weeks, then waits two weeks, then sees his oncologist. Don't know what happens then--or next. We'll keep you posted. So far Ken is a great trooper, has a terrific attitude and is doing well. That's it for now.

Best to all of you.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Medicine Talk

by Ken Graydon, January, 2011

While reading through the warnings
Of these pills I take each morning,
The feeling comes aborning
That something is awry.
For that which happens to you
As each slowly courses through you
Can cause a sort of voo-doo
When they join and multiply.

For each new medication
Seems to add more information
That further ingestation
Could bring consequences dire.
And as though this weren’t enough
When the going’s really tough
They’ll make it rather rough
‘Cause then they’ll get together and conspire.

Levetiracetam can run antic
It can sometimes leave you manic.
It can cause attacks of panic,
Make you hear things that aren’t there.
It’s designed to ward off seizures
Which can sneak up in your leisure
But it’s dangerous for geezers
For their complications flare.

It can cause hallucinations
And other aggravations
Such as hyperventilation.
Insomnia comes in rollers tidal.
Fevers, chills and rashes may come visit
And you start to wonder “Is it
Time to bite the biscuit?”
It can make you suicidal.

Famotidine’s for fighting reflux
Which is similar to upchucks
And I can tell you, it sucks
When a belch disturbs your sleep.
Use caution if you’re older
For it tells you in the folder
That consequences then grow bolder.
They’re enough to make you weep.

And then there’s Dexamethasone.
This one goes right for the bone.
If you’re osteoporosis prone
It helps you on your way
Along with fever, seizures, chills
A myriad of mental ills
Like weakness, sadness, losing wills,
All for a moderate co-pay.

It says there that your bones might break.
Perhaps your back and head could ache.
It might at night keep you awake
Or give you indigestion.
Do not despair. It’s no upsetter
For the statement’s made in big bold letters.
It’s all designed to make you better.
Now, have you any questions?

Ken's Progress Report 2/08/11

News about Ken's appointment today:

Ken starts a chemo treatment next Monday. He'll take a pill to control nausea 30 minutes before taking the pill that is the chemo agent. He'll do this every evening before bed for six weeks. The doctor says this treatment is usually well tolerated but to call him if things get difficult. "It's not my intention to spoil your quality of life," he said.

And there's good news. The new MRI shows Ken's brain to be clear of the spots that were radiated in December, and a new chest X-ray shows the spots in his lungs have not grown or increased since Nov. 11. The doctor gave Ken the choice of waiting to use chemo until there were changes but he didn't recommend that. He said it's better to work to shrink the lung spots and discourage whatever else is going on right now rather than wait until they've activated and then start treatment. Ken agrees.

We leave tomorrow for a cowboy event in Sierra Vista. Ken is an invited performer. He'll be in various workshops during the day, all of them with up to three other artists in a round-robin situation. We'll see our cowboy friends. It will be great. We'll be home Monday night and he'll take his first pill.

I asked Ken on the drive home from the doctor how he felt about the visit. He was matter-of-fact Ken, "I got the information I wanted and we're starting the treatment. That's all good."

Meanwhile, Ken is drinking green tea and stoking fresh veggie juice. It can't hurt.

Thanks to all of you for your interest and good thoughts.