Ken Lehnig’s Live Set of: The American Music Show

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Ken Lehnig’s Live Set of:






Here is a link of a review of the album by San Diego’s Troubadour. CLICK HERE

What is said about songs on The American Music Show

– Jeff Roberts

About Willy’s Got an old Gibson

I love to open air sound of the recording, brings the song blues cred. Nice guitar accompaniment. Very good vocal and a great harmonica solo cap off this gem.

Dave Haddad (CenterPeace)

Classic, driving acoustic blues about a roving street singer. Cleanly sung, with some good strong blues harp behind it.

– Ian Graham

On Stronger Anyway

I was instantly captivated by the subtle guitar, and the voice only further drew me in. The lyrics and music are emotionally consistent. I love the carefree delivery of the vocalist. Harmonica playing was ok, i thought the lead guitar work could have been better, only because of how could everything else is! the background harmonies gave me chills. reminds me of Dink’s Song by Bob Dylan, also performed in the movie Inside Llewyn Davis, but its not derivative, both songs just give me the same feeling of solidarity and hope, along with a sense of being content with your lot in life. i apologize for the length of this review, but the song was excellent.

– Chris Haise

On Angel I have lost

Nice arrangement. I like the way you mixed up all the different instruments. You place stops at just the right places. Good dynamics. Good job, keep it up.

Signal 30

Dark melody, good harmonies.

Mitch Siegal

On Miss Pauline

This song had a nice feel. The instruments blended well with the main theme. I thought the different sections blended nicely and the transitions worked well also. I liked the soft quality in the singer’s voice, it worked well with the lyrics and added to the overall mood. I liked the variety of instruments used here as well the little counter themes they added were nice

andy blackwood

A very “honest” interpretation of the lyrics. I would defiantly “Take Your Hand” ! Lovely song!

– Dale Jean Covington

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Ken Lehnig’s Audio Tutorial On Song Structure.

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  Ken Lehnig’s tutorial on Song Structure

There have been many workshops on songwriting. On this tutorial I talk about songwriting in general and then in my usual style get eventually to a real study on songwriting specifically on song structure. I use recordings of my own songs to illustrate the points I’m sharing. I trust this will be informative or at least entertaining. I would be pleased if it’s both.

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BSB’s ‘Keep the Sun From Going Down’



Ken Lehnig and the Burning Sage Band

‘Keep the Sun From Going Down’

This new Ken Lehnig and the  Burning Sage Band’s CD has been a long time in the making. Lyric and melodies written by Ken Lehnig. Arranged by the Burning Sage Band. Produced by Eric DeLand, Cory Wilkens, and Jeff Sers. The intention was to capture the essence of songs, bands, and rock styles that have been apart of American Life.

The band has actually recorded two previous CDs but didn’t release them, due in the most part because its lead singer( me) fell seriously ill. The last album “Four Directions” was made at the beginning of my decline, a good Cd and available now. I have recovered and still in creative mode.

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Hear and buy Ken’s solo album ‘The American Music Show’




029The question was asked of me just recently “What was the strangest gig you have ever played?”  Now I know that this could turn into one of those old guy giving you some’ Back in my day!’ tale that just might boor you  to death. I have been performing and songwriting since the 60s and it was entirely a different world back then (not the re-packaged version of the psychedelic 60s history you are told) – more to the point the music business was completely different than the technology driven ambiguous thing it has become. In fact the coming tale’s very character, fairy tale like, is I think the charm and value of the tale I am about to impart.  I promise I will do my best to bring my writing skills to bear so that it will hold your attention or at least keep you from falling asleep.

It was in the early 70s and the best selling albums were movie themed soundtracks, there were hundreds of signed bands and most of these bands never even broke even. In spite of the harsh reality of the ‘free love-music-is-free-man‘ mentality, I still  believed I could be an artist who made money.  I believed I had my sh*t together and was in LA doing my best to get signed by a label and prove it.

hoollywood blvd. 1

So after forging myself in the fire of performance and carrying a hand full of demo tapes I headed to LA with an appointment to meet a Talent Manager who had decided to take me on. I was booked as a solo act in all the usual places and was received with luke-warm to outright appreciative applause, depending on the venue and the crowd (That never changes – thick skin is still needed today). I did have some A&R folks stop by here and there and a little buzz started. In those days the starting point to signing with a label was to get a showcase scheduled, with reps from the labels, and that was what I was expecting.

I went back to San Diego and waited for weeks for my manager to call. The frustration was mounting to the point that I had decided that I had better go back to doing construction work – something I did stay with all my working life as a Contractor. I did get the call one Thursday and was told I had an important gig on Saturday night in Beverly Hills at a posh club. I told him I wasn’t that posh – I was long haired and bearded:

“She asked me why, I’m just a hairy guy

I’m hairy noon and night, hair that’s a fright

I’m hairy high and low, ask me why, don’t know”

He said, “Clean up a bit, wear clean and pressed bell-bottoms, boots, a flower shirt and lighten up on the beads. I didn’t wear beads and the beard, in a spirit of cooperation, was reduced to chops. I pulled up in my ‘61 Econoline to the ‘40s like, fancy landscaped, sea rock faced club in a neighborhood that my kind was more often ‘Rodney King-ed’ and hauled off to the drunk tank with a bruise or two, stinging from slanderous comments about my manhood, and ( I swear) a planted bag of weed. This night I escaped that experience. I picked up my guitar case and entered through two eight foot oak doors, replete with stained glass, into a scene from a Bogart movie. The 1940’s motif was carried through with red leather booths, low light, oversized crystal chandeliers , dark walnut grand bar, covering the whole south wall, red lipsticked waitresses in black and white maid’s outfits with very short flaired skirts and  petticoats, black seam stocking lines down to red spike-heeled shoes, serving Manhattans, Rob Roys, Martinis, while giving a clear view of their décolletage (no doubt a tip giving incentive). The incredibly fit waiters all wore black tuxes and slicked back hair. The patrons were movie star- made-up women of indiscriminate age, with half revealed buxom, coiffed hair, wearing  evening gowns, diamonds, and furs. The men were all balding, or corn-rowed, paunch-ed, cigar smoking, Armani wearing,  with diamond pinky rings a-flash, and donning ten thousand dollar watches. I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

My Manager pointed toward the raised stage and I moved my ‘out of place’ self through the club, with winks in my direction from both male and female,  and me glad-handing all the men as I went. On the stage was a small electric piano, a stand up bass, a mini-drum set with snare, tom, and high hat. – oh and one mike. A big guy in a tux stepped in front of me, smiled and put out his hand. He graciously told me the location of the green room. I made my way through the kitchen and the storage room, finding the afore mentioned green door, with a gold star on it ( I guess that was for me) that same door right next to the lidded garbage cans. The door suddenly opened and an afro wearing white guy, in a tux, threw his arm over my shoulder saying, “Come on in Kenny and meet the guys. We love your stuff.” I asked if he had gotten to one of my shows. He said no but that Phil, my manager, had played a tape to them. I sat down and was handed a can of coke and a turkey croissant. “So have you all memorized my music?” I said between bites. The bald headed guy said that it wasn’t necessary, because the boss believed that any artist worth their salt had to be able to convincingly deliver the epitome of popular contemporary music. Honestly, I was worriedly thinking; Paul Anka, The Four Seasons, Bobby Vinton, maybe Tom Jones,  none of whose songs did I play. The ridiculously tall and skinny guy with the impossibly big nose said,” We always do CCR on Saturday nights.”  I would have loved to have a picture of my face. So much for making assumptions and thinking God doesn’t do miracles anymore. I probably knew and sang most all Credence tunes – ‘cause I like them and I sang them pretty well. If I hadn’t it would have been a disaster. I never thought to ask if the boys had charts. We waited and chatted till the phone rang – it did – we were on. I pulled out my Yamaha twelve string, checked for ‘close enough’ tuning and followed my ‘band’ to the stage. The big bouncer guy in the tux put out his tree limb sized arm out, clothes-lining me. “Hey Kenny, wait here till your introduced.”

I couldn’t hear the intro other than a low drone. I was concerned at its length, thinking that I hadn’t done enough of real merit to warrant whatever was said. I walked up the stairs to the stage and endured far too much unwarranted applause.  Behind me the ‘band’ started Proud Mary; I lifted up my un-mic-ed guitar, leaned into the mic and sang. I and the band did an hour-and-a-half of CCR, repeating those tunes that  the club’s well heeled and surprisingly rowdy clients yelled out. When the set was done I schmoozed and took the compliments, business cards and phone numbers on  lipstick printed napkins  (I wasn’t sure about these), with promises of lunch dates,  well as back slaps and cheek smooches with my best ‘It’s all groovy!’  gracefulness.

I went home feeling a bit discombobulated.

The next morning I got a call from Phil and was told I had a meeting with a label. After his pitch all I could think to say is, “What the hell was that?”  He laughed as long and as loud as I have ever heard him. He then told me that my audience was, for the most part, underwriters to the music business. It was no wonder I couldn’t put my mind around it  – it was not so much a weird audition as it was a business meeting with talking points: 1. Could I sing? 2. Did I have the look? 3. Was I personable? 4. Could I interpret CCR in a way that worked?(still don’t know about that.)

 What happened later on is another tale. Oh, did I mention that between a percentage of pour and a huge and stuffed tip jar I walked out with more money for a single gig than I have ever been paid – I guess I owe John Fogerty a couple bucks.

Ken Lehnig©2013

Verse from the musical ‘Hair’











On being Creative


kens eyespaintOne of the things I am privileged to do is interview up and coming singer/songwriters. I started doing this when my partner David Dodds and I created an international site and San Diego a local site.  Our original intention was somewhat different from what now exists, but there is no complaint from us.  Originally we wanted to post articles about songwriting and reviews on equipment. We still have the articles,from very talented folks who generously contribute to the site, on all things of interest to singer/songwriters (hopefully) the interviews was something I did because I knew so many talented people and it was just a natural outcome to chat and give promotional help to these people I cared so much about.

What came of it, as a true blessing, was the gift I got within each and every conversation with such creative people. As my site so ‘modestly’ asserts I am a poet, artist, author and a singer/songwriter. Most of my life I have plied those crafts on the side, while I labored as a contractor in the construction biz. That decision was made early in my life because it would give me the opportunities to gig, do art shows and write, particularly when the building market was slow. It certainly was difficult at times for my family, but all my creative endeavors have on those occasions contributed financially in difficult times.

My point being that when I look back through all those years it wasn’t my 6:00 to 6:00 job that kept me sane it was the fruit of my creative self. Every creative person I chat with says the same thing, “I write songs (paint, sculpt, write, dance, act etc.) because I have to.” The story is always a bit different as to what happen to start the process and every story is unique and remarkable.

The hardest thing any artist faces is whether to make their efforts into a full time endeavor, whether that effort will provide enough income to live at least modestly well.. Today’s economy is not at all helpful. And discourse among artists as to whether their work is devalued is  a conversation artists have had since there have been artists. The word ‘Selah’ in Kind David’s Psalms is said to be a note to accompanying musicians to present a musical interlude – one wonders if they complained about the low wages King David offered for their services.

The gift of creativity is apparent and needed by a society that seems, more and more, to devalue the work of, heart, mind and soul –synthisized into one dull grey phrase ‘intellectual property’.  I don’t think that any artist will deny that technology  has been a help, but can also point to where it has been a hinderence. In a recent interview with a remarkable singer/songwriter the current condition of the music bussiness is a result of the Internet – the ‘Gate’ is open.  The simple truth that everything both good and awful is put up on the web, the screening process of the old business has been removed. What the music business, the publishing business, the business of art will turn into when the cultural and technological dust settles no one knows.

What I know for myself and all those fantastic creative people I chat with is that there is no dampening of creative output in the world or the appreciation by society for the exceptional. Whatever the world becomes, the manifestations of creativity; art, music, and literature, will be a part of it, because it is what it is to be human, a spirit or a muse built in and permanent.  If you are a person that expresses their creative side continue and work hard to develop your craft  joyfully, even if the world now seems indifferent. Do it because you must.

On Ghost Hunting

rain all night art.

One could well expect a writer of the dark, weird and mysterious poetry and stories I write that I am interested in all things spooky, shadowy, and those things that go bump in the night. I might as well confess that I am a fan of all the ghost hunting shows that are now so popular, and that interest may be so because I too have had so many real life ghostly experiences. Now I don’t know why some folks never have an extraordinary experience, while so many of us have a plethora of odd experiences. I remember a scene in Spielberg’s ‘Third Kind’ film when all the witnesses to the alien aerial display were demanding an explanation from the authorities, an actor, cast to look the loony, said that he had also seen Bigfoot.  I’m sure it was written to evoke a laugh because any such statement would have had any sane person  doubt that person’s veracity.  Why is it that one must be exclusive of the other? I am not loony and those folks I know who have had such experiences are not loony. In fact I would make the case that people who have had such experiences and continue to function are of a sounder mind than those who don’t, I know that is quite a sweeping assertion, but hear me out.  These are people who necessarily must radically change their worldview, their sense of reality to continue living. Those that can’t fit those experiences in that world view suffer serious psychological damage, the same kind of damage that is created in war zones, and in disasters both natural and manmade. The fact that these experiencers can assimilate such events and continue to function is remarkable.  

Is it possible that such a person might just be hyper aware, because of what they experienced? There is much strangeness out there and one should be skeptical, not closed minded – open minded, but not gullible. I tend to look at the huge number of reporting’s of ghosts, UFOs, and heretofore unidentified critters as more credible than the opinion of some PHD sitting at his or her desk dismissing such sightings/experiences as nonsense, hysteria, hallucination, misidentification, or  mental inferiority . Believers perhaps hold opinions and speculation as truth, Skeptics perhaps dismiss as a mindset, with no concern for the truth other than as their Degree would perceive it to be. People do see strange aircraft; even scientific non-believers say there is still 5% of such sighting that go unexplained. Folks do see fanciful creatures that turned out to be real, the mountain Gorilla, jungle Elephants and the Okapi are examples. Just recently looking for the mythical chupacabra has yielded the discovery of a hairless canine with huge biological differences from dogs, wolves and coyotes – the suggestion is that it is a reproducing hybrid.,  Perhaps lake monsters and bigfoot are not hallucinations but only creatures that have not been positively identified. Somewhere in it all is the answer.

I’ll keep this examination to one aspect of the mysterious. Are there ghosts, and demons and shadow people? I don’t know what these very real experiences are.

I would like to look a bit deeper into one aspect of this ultra reality – ghosts, demons, shadow people and ghost hunting.

I have lived in three paranormally active houses growing up as a boy.  The word “Paranormal’, in the meaning I wish to convey, is an experience that is strikingly different than any you would normally experience in your life.

 The first house was a duplex made form a large three story house in Providence R.I. 1959. This house was where I believed I developed a dark turn of mind and a fascination for all things weird and unusual. My brother and I had to sleep on the third floor. The stairway was narrow and steep, perhaps three feet wide, at the top was a landing lit by a single hanging bare bulb. There were two doors, one to a locked attic and one to what was to be our bedroom. The room had an eight inch wide plank floor painted green and a simple bathroom with a footed tub, the bath door was cut to match the rafter line. We shared a bunk bed, I on top, my brother on the bottom. We had two small dressers and a toy chest. A single small fan-shaped window allowed a view down to the street and served to create the atmosphere of a horror movie when the full moon cast its silvery beams into the dark room.  Everything about the room was from a tale by Edgar Allen Poe, an author I was then reading – the skeptics now saying, “Of course your saw things, your mind was polluted and affected by Poe’s writing and the gothic surroundings”. Perhaps it was all just a young man’s overactive imagination – that was my parents view and accused me for filling my little brother’s head with dark nonsense. Such is the way it is with ‘sane and balanced’ people. My brother and I were still terrified of the room, in spite of all the attempts at having us admit we were scaring ourselves, and would often, when we felt a creepy vibe (a word we didn’t know back then.) we would slip down after everyone went to sleep and fall asleep in the downstairs living room, an act that earned us several weeks of groundings.

 In the room my brother and I would hear loud angry arguments between a man and a woman, the argument was the same night after night, to the point that we would sit on the floor and mouth the very adult dialogue by memory. When we told my Father, he took us next door to show us that there were no connecting walls on the third level. The woman who lived in the other duplex was a religious older widow and her daughter; there was not a constant male presence in that house. The voices eventually faded. Blankets were often forcibly pulled from both my brother and me as we lay abed and we were often touched; earlobes tugged, hair pulled, and had our names whispered in our ears by an invisible presence. There were always shadowy movements and many nights a deep sense of dread permeated the room to such an extent that we took the punishment regardless of the severity and continued to sneak down the creepy stairway to sleep downstairs. The solution from the ‘sane’ was that my brother and I had to go to mass every day – the activity did not cease in spite of our new forced piety.

 The second was a new family tract home in Warwick R.I in 1960. (The home of SYFY’s hit show Ghost Hunters)  My father was doing some remodeling in the kitchen of the newly purchased home. After the first night of demolition, I was laying in bed at about 3:00 am, staring into the hall because I had heard a noise. I then saw a young woman in an old fashioned nightgown walk silently down the hall.  She wasn’t solid but transparent. I jumped out of bed and ran out of the bedroom and into the hall – she had disappeared. The same event happened for three continuous nights.  The third night when I had run into the hall I looked back to see my father standing in the dark, leaning wide-eyed against the kitchen counter. He had seen her too. When the remodeling was done so then was our lady specter’s nighttime walk. With a bit of research we discovered that the house was built over the foundation of an older farm house. Such events are now called residual hauntings; these episodes are allegedly a recording on the environment of an earlier emotional event, activated by activity, temperature and/or humidity variations. Allegedly limestone filled ground, block, or foundations are the best for holding such recordings

The third house was extreme and the most disturbing. My family had moved to L.A. on Mount Highland just a bit away from the city of Glendale in 1966. I was holding down a job and going to college and moved into a small apartment in the back of the house. The main house was a mansion built in the early 1900s, leased to my father for a ridiculous and suspiciously low rent. The verdant street was lined with older houses and even now has an odd quality; the houses were built along the walls of a small canyon. All the front yards were 10 to 12 feet above the street. The vertical sides were rocked or bricked and most had garages carved into the hillside. Originally the street was apparently a run off or creek bed, paved over to act as a regress. The mostly terraced yards behind the houses rose at about a 60% incline up to an unpaved utility road. Inside the house was resplendent with dark stained oak, hand carved details, a stairway with a stained glass window at the first landing, built-in sideboards and book shelves, butler’s pantry, captain’s room, and cut glass windows in the dining room. Two of the huge bedrooms had double ten-paned doors opening to a veranda that overlooked the street. A perfect setting for the hearing of two young girls giggling and whispering in the night, doors opening and closing, locking and unlocking on their own, objects as small as vases to as large as desks visibly moving on their own, often several feet or more, cold spots that moved around, and the terrorizing of my dog Lady, an otherwise fearless Boxer. The most startling phenomena was that when there was many people in the house table lamps would easily light the room and the place seemed cheery. When you were alone in the house the light cast from lamps, or ceiling lights, seemed to only cast light a few feet. I did an experiment using a white piece of paper – I was able to see the terminus line separating light from dark. When this phenomena would take place my dog would cry, shiver in fear, and snuggle up to me, and child-like whispers and giggling could be heard upstairs.  The laws of physics would attest that such a thing isn’t impossible. I have never heard or read of any person who has experienced such a phenomena.

photo Graveyardno

All of these experiences happened before modern equipment was available. Now ghost hunters use camcorders to have a digital eye all over the property, and digital recording devices to record EVPs, voices that are not heard by the unaided ear. EMF meters allow the user to find energy fields that are a function of physical wiring or fields that seem to move about on their own, allegedly indicating spirit presence.  Inferred cameras that create video images using heat rather than light, full-spectrum cameras allow still photographs to be taken in both the ultra-violet and infrared spectrum, often used in timed conjunction with standard cameras as a base line image. Ghost boxes are radios that rapidly scan AM frequencies; allegedly spirits can use the white noise to speak through the device. Another device has a word bank and a speech mimicking program, allegedly ghosts can pick words from the bank and the device will say the word or words. Other variations of an EMF meter have an audible tone that is activated, allegedly when an invisible entity comes close.

If we are to believe that all the TV shows that have us watch real investigations in real locations where all of these devices at one time or another have ‘proven’ the existence of invisible entities then it is an astounding, and life changing  thing. So why isn’t it? Are the producers of such shows ethical? Some of these shows claim they are skeptical , another comes from absolutely knowing there are ghosts and demons, another  from the south uses modern devices and a stick with a bell and feathers, and yet another believe that often spirits of the dead connect to objects and that is the reason for hauntings. All these shows are very entertaining and I remain a fan. Nor do I in any way suggest that the hundreds of paranormal investigative services that are out there are not offering a good service to people who are terrified and need some answers.

Here is the thing – do I believe the things they catch on these shows are real? – Absolutely. Not because I am gullible but because as I have already written, I have experienced such activity first hand , and in fact I have experienced even more strangeness than what has been heretofore revealed on these shows.  Perhaps I am waiting and watching to see a way of legitimizing these shows for me. I do have a problem with the whole idea of Ghost hunting. Here are some questions that address my concern.

  1. Why is it that with all the millions of people who have lived before us and have died easily or horribly, died complete or died holding on to a secret, are there so few ghosts to hunt?
  2. Living people come in all variety of being, from sweet as honey to as nasty and cruel as Hitler and every variation of good and evil in between, why then do we assume that ghosts have to be a certain way? How do we really know a demon from the ghost of an asshole?
  3. How do you know that what you are recording is a ghost, the spirit of a once living person?

Having said that – many cultures do have ceremonies that allow for living practitioners to speak aloud directions for the deceased person’s spirit to help find a way to some form of heaven. Angels come in white and black, deamons were spirit guides in ancient times, little folk were both mischievous and helpful.  As a Christian I believe there is an afterlife as do most all the religions on earth, past and present. We cannot, or at least do not yet know the nature of that next reality or what and who inhabit that realm.  I just have a hard time believing that I’ll have to hang around here in an invisible state for a length of time – not that it couldn’t be exactly what is happening. The use of scientific equipment that catches strange phenomena is a fact, the huge leap to the assumption of what those devices are actually recording is an issue.  I would make the comparison of an ancient seeing lightning and believing that Thor was at work in the heavens and someone looking at the bouncing needle of and EMF meter and believing there is a ghost nearby – is the same. We don’t know!

For all that here is a question I have been asking myself since I was a boy. Why do we assume these proofs we witness on TV, or gather for ourselves using scientific equipment are from ghosts?

One of the popular TV shows investigated an Inn. If you have seen the show you’ll know the episode. The claims were that a bride had burned to death in a wing of the Inn before her wedding, her wispy apparition was seen by many guests. A young child was riding his tricycle in the hallway and fell down the stairs and died, the sound of the trike on hard floors was often heard by guests. A cook in the restaurant went mad and killed several patrons with an butcher knife, pots rattle and a threatening voice is heard.  The team went to work and caught on video the bridal apparition, recording devices caught the sound of the little boy and trike, pots and pans swung and rattled and were caught on tape; a great night of investigation. The problem was on doing research – none of those events ever happened, there was never a fire, the restaurant was just recently built and there was no record of the child dying – all three tales were local myths. What is the explanation?

Perhaps there have been invisible creatures in the world since the beginning – maybe they hang out now days in abandoned building and the attics of inhabited houses. They hear the stories and want to please, or are pissed off at the intrusion.  I don’t know the answer and I’m not sure we ever will.

The Apostle Paul was asked by early Christians (I paraphrase) “Do we have dominion over spirits and demons?” is answer was not as cryptic as we think. “Yes you do – but why would you want to?”


Purchase and read my e-book The Elms Chronicles a paranormal/fantasy/thriller. You will sleep with the lights on – I promise!

The Sozzel the Jongleur is a series of books of dark poetry and eerie and disturbing (but great fun) short stories.


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What’s a Blog?

Naked poetry

I have come to realize that a writer has a real quandary in that when one is working on one project so many other plot ideas pop into your head. Yikes – how to stay focused.

After having a chat with one of my brilliant nephews It became clear that although I am computer literate I’m still a dinosaur at website optimization. I have to admit that I can build magazine style websites , but I didn’t wrap my head around the idea of a blog site – which is why this site looks the way it does. To be truthful in the beginning I learned to build sites as a means to promote my work. In 2013 what that amounts to is a quick run through my pages. The reader may find some of interest and maybe the others would produce nothing but a yawn.

My nephew asked me, after looking at my site, “What interests you? What are you an expert in?”

I looked at him like he was nuts. “Writing, songwriting, art, poetry…like the site clearly demonstrates. His response astonished me, “Yeah I get you do that stuff but why would a person come back to your site…once they have made one visit?” I honestly didn’t know the answer, and I sat with my brain squirming like an ell out of water.  He told me he liked everything on my site – and asked why I don’t blog about it. “Engage readers in your process, your back story, ask for opinions and create a community of like minded people with a running conversation – a blog!” I honestly thought that was what I was doing. He looked at me and said you are posting cool articles – articles that do give the reader a little of the writer – perfectly suited for a magazine.

There are some amazing Blogs out there that started with a simple interest and turned into something amazing.  I suppose that a successful blog is a blog that eventually  sells something, but is that necessarily true?  I will admit that I want you to buy my e-books – selling myself as an author sis tough for me, and I’m sure many authors out there. What I love is to write about anything that interests me, if you are interested in what I’m interested in then it makes sense you would buy my books.

I have been trying to wrap myself around that concept for a few months now – so I haven’t posted much. The thing is there is so much to talk about in writing, poetry, music, and art that I should be able to write something often – so the site will change as I get this blogging thing down.

If any of you have found or find yourself in this situation let me know your thoughts. If you have a successful Blog site – how about sharing as to how it came about? So I will write about what interests me in the context of writing, music, poetry  and art and see where it takes us.

Next time: My take on Ghost Hunting shows.

Here’s an interesting list of successful blogs:

Other sites by Ken Lehnig:

e-books by Ken Lehnig:


A Slightly Skewed Class In Poetry Writing

cheshire cat


On Writing Poetry

by Ken Lehnig

This article, by the vagabond rambling poet, will take us on a journey, one in which we will examine the art of writing poetry in a different, abstracted, and assuredly skewed manner. (That may wander back into the normal and mundane.) In fact that is the only way the writer (me) can do anything. In and then out best describes the way my brain works. I can’t promise that anything I write will be found in a textbook, because it has been many decades since I have opened a textbook, and I didn’t retain anything then – so I doubt there is little in my memory to retrieve. What I will write I hold as true, based on my journey, but if I have put some established truism, on writing poetry, to memory (and write it here), it is totally by accident, and I apologize in advance – and bow to those remarkably intelligent others. (Readers and Teachers)

Yep, Dear readers, the vagabond poet is going to write a how-to on writing poetry. It won’t be a class for Dummies, because I know that not a single one of my readers are dummies. Let us call it On Writing Poetry 23

Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction.’

Doorknob – Lewis Carrol

Class begins:

‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
‘To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.’

Lewis Carrol

Structure or form:

First, go here to be totally confused, but enlightened.

Here is the thing, and you may not like it, you have to study and work with poetic form and structure to be a good poet. It does not mean that you have to adopt any one form as your own, but it may well happen.

We will start with some tuff love. If you take or have taken a formal writing poetry class – you will get this next point made on the C or D on your writing assignment. (Yikes! I have already wandered back into the Normal.)

Writing rambling love, or hate verbiage, is not poetry; it is rambling love, or hate, verbiage and probably should stay in your journal.

(Please, go read ‘Elizabeth Barrette Browning’, Lord Byron, or Emily Dickinson)

Writing bouncy, simplistic rhyming, unintelligible, self-indulgent, in two or three word bursts, may well speak more to your spoken word performance than the poem itself.

(Please read the beat, hippy, street, and jazz poets – Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg, Richard Brautigan. Allen Watt, Bob Kaufman Drew, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Carolyn Rodgers, and note all the forms and structures.)

If you have just started writing what you call poetic ART, it’s not. It is certainly artistic expression and you should be commended for the doing of it. I am for any type of artistic expression, including: Journal writing, for the courage to self-examine emotions; Spoken word writing, for the courage it takes to perform it. But if you are to be an Accomplished Poet then it takes a bit of work, and doing the work will have you write even better. (Do take the time to read the work of other poets, you will be surprised at how relevant poetry is throughout human history, and it will affect your work.)

I know a young man with a real talent, his bent was spoken word, because he was exposed to it, and was moved. In my opinion his work was far superior to the works I have heard, but when he wrote it down, it was difficult to read. I attempted to show him some simple structures. I broke his poem down into stanzas and cut out his emphasized words into single word lines. He still resisted and claimed I was wrecking his ART. Art is not accidental it is intentional. I soothed his ruffled feathers and told him his spoken word was performance art, his effort in that medium was clearly there, not what I read. Form does not wreck your ART, it tells the reader how you want the piece read. Stanzas group thoughts and allow readers to rest and ponder before the next stanza. Art should be a  consistent expression, learn your mediums, then do the best you can to create within the medium. You will discover what works best for you. (To spoken word artists: good form and structure allows for your work to be printed correctly and read by a wider audience.) In the man’s journey he discovered himself as a Poet, who brilliantly writes and speaks poetry. He came to compare poetic form to sheet music, allowing the reader to read it just as it is spoken – an apt comparison.

Love the language:

Read the dictionary. Looking up words is not truly effective, because you don’t know what you don’t know. In my long years on the planet I have noted that common usage words are boring, unless it is parodied. So Dude, that begs a bitchen question: When you write, are you looking for agreement, or are you looking to enlighten the reader? If you just want agreement, or understanding, for your particular feeling, or emotion, text your friends, or write a journal. Trust me here, I wrote journals as a young man, a valuable and necessary start, but now the content seems shallow and trite. Now I write down random thoughts, or ideas, as they come, for poems, stories, and songs. It also is a lot easier on the muse. 😉 Take the time to just peruse the dictionary and write down words that get your attention. Stick them up on your wall or write them on postits, and stick them on your computer.

The work of a poet is to examine his or her own emotions, and thought, and write in such a way as to elevate the reader into I higher understanding, or different point of view. Everything you feel has been written about a million times over human history, and words have been invented along the way that will say in a few words what you may have rambled on for in twenty pages of poetic scribblings. Find the words, to say it better and with economy.

An economic and meaning packed stanza of mine, on gold miners, as an example:

troll’s kin
world tossed
digging gritty earth

Play with words:

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Lewis Carroll

I love words and what words you choose should be extra-ordinary. When choosing words look for sounds and syllabic bouncing, as well as the best meaning, to improve your poem. I found the word ‘jongleur’, a French minstrel, the sound of the word intrigued me. ‘Sozzel’ was another word that intrigued me.  I wrote ‘Sozzel The Jongluer’ last year. The  poem and variations became the genisis for two books of poetry and short stories.

I picked proper strings
and let the rim shot fire
against the cracked plaster’s
calloused ear
so many loud drunken tales and stories told
some haunt,
lingering still,
in smoky shadows

Bereft of kindness
this shelter offers little
but a tune and spirit
down some sad memory
and whatever webs I deem to spin and ply
really only lies about other uneasy worlds
so sozzel the jongleur

The old sot smiles
and his filthy cohort dance
a jiggle of old bones
and graceless promenades
rough hewed, true to the gravel tones I entrain
no eminence grise
no gift
could I yet endue

But through parlance
it behooves me to find comfort
where my tongue’s
lilt has gained some  merit
My kin,
the rag tag and bobtail
fuddle and frolic
let go this day’s nettle and lift your saddened heart
and sozzel the jongleur

Carroll’s famous piece ‘Jabberwocky’ makes the point well. Here he uses nonsense words, the meanings of which the reader has no idea. But the mind ‘Matrixes’, it looks for meaning, just as faces seem to appear in tiles, wall texture, and random print patterns. Having an awareness of this human trait gives the poet a tool, for the reader to find a broader personal meaning to a poem.

Here is excerpt of apoetic exercise I wrote:

Priddle and passel perning on a peer
Saddle up a seaner , brigged and get
Tattle in a tangle, teater and tear
Better a bounder than a booring bet

I dinked this all lost in faddled rhyme
Cast asea only the moon embrates me now
Dark writ in candled awe, besown in time
You and life a pleasant versuasive vow

Ya’all determine whether I succeeded.

Certainly more could be written, the class could go on, and we would all fall into irreversible boredom. I am capable of going on about not much, in a confusing way, for a very long time! So let’s wind it down and just break it down to the rambling vagabonds poetic writing essentials.

A poetic works check list:

1. Read other poets

2. Expand your vocabulary

3. Look at structure and form

4. Work with word sounds

5. Say it in a fresh new way.

6. Look from a new perspective

7. Condense your thoughts

8. Write economically.

9. Seek lucidity

10. Feel the cadence

11. Artistically transform your emotions

12. Elevate your language usage

13. Twist meaning

14. Enlarge meaning

15. Minimalize while expanding


Enjoy yourself , even when you are in the darkest moods. Mood , good or bad, is the grist of what it is to be a poet.

You have been given a gift – you are a Poet.

See, how easy that was.

cheshire cat

’We’re all mad here.’

Cheshire Cat  – Lewis Caroll

Content and Context:

This point will be the last for this article, and I think it’s a good one. When you write, read what you have written, and see if it is as you intended. If it has, due to the muse’s contribution, expanded, is it still within the context you intended? From this position begin to edit and improve. I will put a piece down for a day or two and come back to it, not as an editor, but as a reader. When I am satisfied that it is as I intended, then I will look at editing and improving the piece.

The test on this material will be announced.

On every artistic endeavor I have undertaken I started out pretty crude, with work and attention to the craft, I have improved. Every artist is on a journey. I trust that wherever you are in your journey, you will take what I have offered in the supportive spirit I intended.

Keep writing!


First appeared in ‘Majestic’     The Ramblings Of A Vagabond Poet

ken lehnig(c)2011

Visit Ken Lehnig’s Book Shelf

E-book published – What now!!!

I just sat down to do another internet search of the best way to market your book. I think I have become an expert in the how to part but not in the actual selling of my books. I now know from all the experts at selling books, the things I need to do. The tough part for me is the marketing – I am a writer and writing is my love and passion not the selling of what I write. If I did everything I read that I am supposed to do I would never write another book. I would be too busy doing all that selling and promoting stuff. I'm sure there are more like me out there and I would love to hear from you about your success' and failures. I have 5 e-books published and I'm writing a 6th. So it seems that it is about time to 'ugh' pay more attention to the marketing side. But DAMN – really? I have a stack of rejection letters and I know not a single one I sent was read. Now I can be logical and say that I know the  Publishing business is changing – into what? I answered myself and went to and learned to edit and format my own books – and that was hugely difficult and rewarding – I would recommend it to any determined, patient, and disciplined writer – all others don't even try, you will collapse in exhaustion and chronic deflated ego.

There again, having surpassing that hurtle you have to know how to market your own work..

I have read that Publishers are looking at writers now to go mainstream (read paper books), so do I just wait for the magic e-mail from Penquin or Random House. Is it proper etiquette to send an e-mail pointing to your e-books – or that somehow unforgivable shameless promoting? I am told that there are more e-books being sold than paper books. Really? Now make no mistake I love my fans for buying my work – and If you aren't a fan of my writing you really should be. I promise you will like it. Okay! Enough of that.
I guess what we writers do is write, and write, and write;and be pleased that we have the readers we have (God bless ye literate all!) and by sheer will and perseverance write on!

Just in Time for Halloween

One of mine own poems – re-posted in time for Halloween.

On The dark Road

Don’t be on the dark road when the storm’s coming
Don’t be on that night path when evil walks about

Don’t be on that road in the mid-night
You may not make it home.

There is a reason we stay in – shuttered up tight
Your mind can’t handle – what walks in the night
In the wild places – there are fears you’ve never known
Shadows here to reap – the harvest you have sewn

You have heard the stories – of people just like you
Believing there is no consequence – for what they do
When it’s your time – your reason is all but gone
It hides in the shadows – waiting there all night long

Red eyes glare from your closet
And there’s noises under your bed
Scratching on your window pane
That feeling of dread

It’s waiting on that midnight road
To take your soul away
It has a job to do you know
Now would be a good time to pray

You know there is a season – when shadows reap
Maybe you’ve decided to change your selfish ways
Maybe your name isn’t – in that dire book
And those shadows on the dark road will pass away.

Now would be a good time to pray
A good time to pray
If you’ve never done that before
Now would be a good time to pray.

Ken Lehnig(c)2011

Buy my E-book Sozzel The Jongluer Halloween tales.

On Being Creative