Dogs have helped save a lot of people over the years.
St. Bernard’s find and comfort fallen skiers. Lassie has rescued countless souls. And huskies — when nothing else can go through — team to pull sleds through blizzards, delivering supplies to remote Arctic regions.
Now dogs, some of which are in our own backyards, are coming to the aid of the Elderly Nutrition Program in Yolo County (think Meals on Wheels).
“Puttin’ on the Dog,” a new CD from local musicians, presents a whimsical tribute to Man’s Best Friend — while simultaneously raising funds to ensure area seniors get proper nourishment.
The brainchild of Davis songstyler Wendy Silk, “Puttin’ on the Dog” is family fun featuring contributions from well-known area performers like Davis Nachmanoff, Ron Goldberg, Linda Book and Silk herself.
‘I wanted to do something meaningful for a good project,” Silk said as she thought back to the beginning of her CD undertaking. “I knew Dave (Nachmanoff) and Linda (Book) had dog songs. I did, too. When Dave was helping me with my first (song) in the studio, I asked him if he would like to contribute. He said yes right away. From there, I had an overwhelming response. All the contributors donated their songs and performances.
“It’s been great.”
Silk’s husband, Ron Goldberg, performs on his wife’s two offerings — “Blues for Bonza” and “Dog at Home with a Bone” — and narrates a story, “Tall Tail.”
“(Wendy and I) have done a lot of singing together … but our work has been primarily promoting and arranging our performances, not making and promoting CDs,” Goldberg explains. “But this finished project? I’m very pleased with what we’ve done.”
Silk says there is no special link between the dog-themed album and Meals on Wheels. She says “everybody seemed to have a dog song, so it went in that direction.”
Knick Knack, Silk and Goldberg’s black Labrador retriever, was an inspiration, but dogs of all walks of local life became subject matter in the 14-track CD.
Tucker barks to three brief piano cuts. “A Cautionary Tale” about Nachmanoff’s rescued pup Fender is a fun story featuring the now-16-year-old retriever mix. Listen closely: Nachmanoff’s versatility borrows from Pete Seeger.
Rod McKuen fans will find shelter in Norm Milsteins’s “Glouton Blanc,” a tale (tail?) about a hungry house pet.
Book’s lilting “Two Dogs Looking at Two Seals Looking at Two Dogs” is typically Book. A performance fit for a folk queen like Joni Mitchell or Judy Collins, Book contributes a show stopper about what animals might be thinking (wouldn’t we all like to know?).
When Joan Garcia sings about “Stretch,” the bug- and snake-chasing dachshund in her life, local audiences will once again crave the action of doxie races at Picnic Day — or just laugh at the imagery presented.
Nachmanoff, who attended a photo shoot at the Silk-Goldberg house to promote the CD, was excited that his saga of Fender was being featured — and for such a good cause:
“When Wendy first told me about this, I thought it was a great project. It’s a really solid cause, especially in these times. It’s a neat way to get the music out there at the same time. The fundraising, the music … it all works together.
“Could I do a whole album about Fender? Probably, although I’m not sure people would want to hear that. But we’ll see after this …”
Silk and Goldberg met at a Pickers and Singers gathering at the Carol and Dick Holdstock’s house. They’ve been making sweet music ever since.
“I’ve seen how Meals on Wheels helped in the community … and myself and my friends are approaching a more advanced age. I can see that people we know are going to be helped by them,” Goldberg adds.
Meals on Wheels has 21 delivery routes throughout Yolo County — as well as preparing dine-in services at senior centers in Davis, Woodland, Winters and West Sacramento.
Elderly Nutrition Program Executive Director Nicki McCabe says three-quarters of her group’s funding comes from private donation and events. “Puttin’ on the Dog” could be a huge part of Meals on Wheels 2011 survival.
“We depend on community support,” McCabe said, standing between Knick Knack and Silk at Wendy’s piano. “One of the things we want to do is make sure everybody knows we’re here and that we can reach the seniors that need us. This (project) is a great way to do it.”
Has McCabe heard the just-released album?
“Oh yes. I love it. It’s a family CD. Kids can listen to this (and) parents can feel comfortable about that, knowing there aren’t any vocals that are objectionable.
“But it’s also music for adults because the takes are all different kinds of music. All of us can find something to listen to in this.”
Produced by Silk and mastered by Malcolm Clark of Studio MalKoma, “Puttin’ on the Dog” is available in Davis at Armadillo Records, Watermelon Music and Acorn Veterinary Clinic.
The CD cost is $12.50 — $10 of which goes directly to Meals on Wheels.
“We like to call it home-grown songs by and for dog lovers,” Silks says, smiling as she wrestles with Knick Knack. “We hope the first pressing goes well. We anticipate a second edition.”
From “Ralph to Rose” (Lou and Peter Berryman), “Leader of the Pack” (told by Jean Jackman) and “Dawgz Iz” (by Milkweed), there is something for every family member in this unique project.
Nachmanoff, who this spring will be featured with singer/songwriter Al Stewart in a Vacaville appearance, may already be on to a second fundraising project without knowing it.
Afterall, Stewart (Nachmanoff’s favorite artist) did sing “Year of the Cat.”
Notes: For additional information on “Puttin’ on the Dog,” contact Silk at [email protected] For more about the Elderly Nutrition Program in Yolo County, visit http://www.elderlynutrition.org. … McCabe, a Woodland resident, has headed Meals on Wheels for the past four years. It’s a program that has been in place for 35 years. … CD jacket design is by Matt Quinton of MWQ Design.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or (530) 747-8047. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com