Christmas Wet Flies

Last year, a good friend of mine who is a fly tier and lives in Fergus, Ontario, sent me a Christmas card with two original classic style wet fly patterns in it, themed to the holiday season in traditional and festive Christmas colors. Since today is Christmas Day I though it appropriate to share them with my readers and friends.

The St. Nick and The Yuletide

The St. Nick and Yuletide, Christmas wet flies originated and tied by John Hoffmann of Fergus Ontario.

This was a great idea (still is!) and I have kept this card taped to my refrigerator all year, since this was sent to me for Christmas 2012. I added the pattern recipes below in case anyone wants to download them and maybe tie them up for next year’s Christmas cards. Or perhaps these fine dressings will inspire you to create your own Christmas fly patterns for next year!

St. Nick:

Thread: Red

Tag: Flat gold tinsel

Butt: Black chenille

Ribbing: Fine flat gold tinsel

Body: Red floss

Hackle: White

Wing: Red married to white

Head: Red


Thread: Red

Tag: Red floss

Butt: Peacock herl

Ribbing: Fine oval gold tinsel

Body: Red floss

Hackle: Green and red mixed

Wing: Green

Head: Red

A few old classic patterns come to mind if one were to tie some standard patterns for Christmas: Scarlet Ibis, Ibis and White, Katydid, Alexandra, and the Split Ibis, that one especially with its married wing of red and white striping, like a candy cane!

Thanks John, for your friendship, kindness, and creativity! Merry Christmas to all! And to all a Good Night!

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reintrout

One of my customers sent me this Christmas card back in 2013, and I thought it too cute not to pass on to my readers.

Sunfish Santa

Sunfish Santa with his team of rein trout, being led by Rudolph the Red-nosed Reintrout. Never mind that the lead “reinfish” is a channel cat. And the Sunfish Santa, oh the indignity.

Of course, the music in me and my imagination has got me instantly wanting to put this card to music, so to the tune of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, please sing along:

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reintrout

By Don Bastian, adapted from original lyrics by Johnny Marks, 1939

You know Beadhead and Humpy and Slumpbuster and Fishy,

Finny and Wet Fly and Slimy and Squishy,

But do you recall, the most famous reintrout of all?

Rudolph the red-nosed reintrout, had a very shiny snout –

And if you ever hooked him, he would jump and leap about!

All of the other reintrout, used to laugh and call him names,

They never let poor Rudolph, join in any reintrout games.

Then one muddy water Fishmas Eve, Sunfish came to say,

Rudolph with your snout so bright, won’t you lead my trout tonight?

Then all the reintrout loved him, and they shouted out with glee,

Rudolph the red-nosed reintrout, we’ll be swimming easily!

Merry Christmas everybody!

Hey, it’s the best I could do on impulse. If I had more time, I’d get out the video camera, sing it myself and post it to youtube. Or not…but, maybe after three Dirty Martini’s, and if I only had a Santa hat…

Don’t Worry

“Don’t worry.” This is always good advice. My mom always expressed her belief on this topic, as I remember she would say it does no good whatsoever to worry. About anything. She would talk about something, pray about it, and then leave it be.

We don’t always realize the influence our parents have had on us until later in our lives. My mom particularly, encouraged all of us kids to get into music. Of course we had to pass those elementary school music aptitude tests to even be eligible to enroll in the school music programs, but all three of us, my older sister Diane, my younger brother Larry,  and me, each played instruments in the school marching and concert bands, right up until our graduation. And we all continued performing music to varying degrees throughout our lives. Mom made a lot of sacrifices in the interest of our music education; financially, she deprived herself of personal things so that we could have instruments to play, and with the dedication only a mother possesses, she went to every single event and concert we ever played in, though she did miss some of the foot ball games when the marching band played.

Music is not only entertainment, it is, or can be inspiring. It can reach to us on an emotional level when sometimes, nothing else can get through. Music has the power to connect us emotionally to another person, or to a time or person at some place in the past, it can soothe us, it can revive old memories, it can bring us to tears, it can make us shout for joy, it can make us want to dance (happens to me all the time), it can even make us angry. Yeah, there was one post I wrote a while back detailing how I once  threw a Korn cassette tape out the window from the company van I was riding in with a bunch of teenage boys that I was working with. I was angry, and had had enough of that crap the day before.

I just found and read through that post; it was written in August of 2012. It’s a little long, but still interesting, and for those of you who were not subscribers back then, or anyone wanting to reread it to refresh your memory, it does give the background of when I first got out and cleaned up my drum set and where and how the “music bug” started in me. Or more appropriately, my music interest was reignited. Here’s the link:

If you just want to read the part about me tossing some punk’s garbage band – yeah that’s right, garbage band, not garage band, cassette out the window of a van going 70 mph down the road, just scroll down, it’s toward the end.

I was writing something to a friend the other day about my mom’s love of music, how at her memorial service at my sister’s church in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, back in February 2005, there was a full representation of Bastian family musicians. In addition to my sister, organist and choir director at Jersey Shore Presbyterian Church, the regular members of the church choir for mom’s memorial service also included my late wife, Lou Anne; both my daughters, Kim and Lyneah; my brother, Larry; his daughter Emily, and son Dan, and me. Seven in all. One of the numbers we performed was Ralph Carmichael’s musical version of Psalm 23, mom’s favorite psalm. The love of music with the blessing of talent and learned ability to sing and play instruments was inspired and encouraged in all of us by my mother, Fay Sesinger Bastian. I even created a classic wet fly patterned named the Sesinger, after her, and in honor of my maternal grandfather, Lawrence Sesinger, who passed away in 1924 during a typhoid epidemic. My brother Larry, is also formally named Lawrence after him. Now I need to add the tying of the Sesinger to my “to do” list and post the photo and recipe here.

I’ve had a few people express some concern, maybe even worry, that my recently expressed renewed musical interest might be cutting into my fly tying time, or into my fly-tying-blog-writing-fly-photographing-pattern-recipe-etcetera stuff. Don’t worry folks! I just wrote to one of my friends telling him that the main reason my activity here has been slow was explained in my last post. It is mostly the result of being away for three weekends in November, the preparations of getting ready for those weekends, visiting my daughter Kim and new granddaughter Grace Louanne LeBlond, named in honor of my loving wife Lou Anne, in Connecticut over Thanksgiving, not having a camera, then the two weeks of the Pennsylvania deer season; these activities and events all kept me pretty well occupied. I’m still looking at the big picture.

Since I’ve been back home on Sunday December 15th, I have had to devote a considerable amount of time to listening to and “practicing” the drum parts for a local classic rock, rock ‘n’ roll, and oldies band, called Pepper Street, in preparation for a gig on New Year’s Eve. Here is a link to their song list:

They do a mix of a half-dozen Beatles songs, and then, not much more than one song by a whole range of different artists. Or so I thought. These guys are all experienced, very talented musicians, and I feel privileged to be in their company, playing as substitute drummer since their regular drummer and their backup drummer both have conflicts on New Year’s Eve. Lucky me! Last Friday I attended one of their gigs in nearby Lock Haven as part of my “practice” regimen. They played I’m A Believer, by the Monkees. After that song, someone in the crowd hollered, “Any more Monkees songs?” In less than a half minute, they were cranking out, (I’m Not Your) Steppingstone. Not only did they do it perfectly, but it reminded me that back in the sixties, when my brother Larry and I were playing in our band, The Heavenly Sent, we covered that song. I’m thinking, no fair, that’s not on your playlist! I also sat in and sang the lead vocal for Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Gimme Three Steps; that’s one of my favorite Skynyrd songs.

On Friday the 13th, I attended another of the Pepper Street gigs, at the American Legion Post in Hughesville, Pennsylvania, since that is where the New Year’s Eve gig is. I thought it would be good to find the place and check it out. Some guy in the crowd (who already had a tad too much to drink) yelled out, “Joe Walsh! James Gang!” Immediately the Pepper Street boys switched gears, and Dr. Dave Houseknecht started off with the lead guitar intro to Funk 49 and off they went. Dave also covered the high-voice Joe Walsh vocal and did the lead guitar part perfectly. I’m sitting there, smiling, jammin’ to it, but also thinking, “Hey, you told me you don’t play that song anymore! But before long, I got my chance to “practice” that song.

Last Saturday night I went over to the Loyalsock Hotel to hear another local band, Flipside. That’s the band that initially inspired me to get active and start playing again, beginning when I sat in with them last August on Mustang Sally. Dave from Pepper Street was also there last weekend, and the members of Flipside are always happy to have guest musicians. Their guest (possibly new?) lead guitar player happened to be someone I knew from years back, local rock band guitarist and singer, Bob LaCerra. Bob is another good guitarist. Dave and I sat in, starting off set No. 2 with, you guessed it, Funk 49, and Born on the Bayou. That was only the third time in my life that I played Born on the Bayou, and the very first ever, for Funk 49. It was great! I guess that’s the advantage a drummer has, you can get a song “learned” more or less, by listening to it over and over and / or just hearing it, even occasionally, over the years. We rocked that place! But I confess I missed the cue for the ending on Funk 49. Oops.

I was instrumental in making the contacts to book The Flipside Band on New Year’s Eve at a new local establishment, The Stable Bar and Grille. It’s right over the hill from where I live. Here is their facebook page link:

The Flipside Band:

Pepper Street is also booked there on February 15th. The stage and dance floor at The Stable are bigger than most other venues in this area. I’m going to set my drums up for that gig and sit in some. I wouldn’t normally have to do that but their regular drummer is left-handed and everything is backwards. We could even, possibly, do a number or two with two drummers. Would that be too loud? I’ll also be sitting in on some lead vocals…potentially Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl and Wild Nights; Margaritaville, Gimme Three Steps, 867-5309 – Jenny; and the classic Georgia Satellites tune, Keep Your Hands to Yourself. Thursday is karaoke night, so I get a chance to go over and practice some of these songs.

If you are in the Williamsport area, February 15th would be a good night to visit The Stable. They have a wood-fired grill and all their burgers and steaks have that great flavor that only comes from a wood fire. Their pizza is great too, excellent crust, baked on a stone hearth. There is also the possibility that some of my old band mates from the ’70’s will be there in February; the idea is to work up a few of our old tunes to play, either separately or with Pepper Street. We might even be able to get three talented guitarists onstage; personally I’d love to perform the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic, Freebird. I could drum or sing the lead vocal, in either case it would be a blast just to be onstage.

Question: What do you call a guy who hangs around with a bunch of musicians?

Answer: The drummer. Ha, ha!

That would be me!

Back to Normal

I wanted to post some news to let my readers know that I am back to normal, if such a thing is possible. Actually, folks that knew I was seriously ill a year ago have been asking about my health. I am pleased to report that I am nearly “normal” in that regard, my strength and stamina have returned, I’ve gained weight (too much!), I feel great, and presently I am not even on any medications. To quote Larry the Cable Guy, “That’s funny right there!” I joked about that at the International Fly Tying Symposium, saying that perhaps some people might think I need to be on medication. Hey, I made it this far without it.

I have not written anything here for a few weeks, but it has been due to my busy schedule, and also the result of being away from home for two weeks for the Pennsylvania deer season. The Bastian family cabin is only twenty-miles from my home, and I came here a few times to get mail, look things over, and check my e-mail. I had a few neighbors watching the place as well. Deer season was a bust as far as getting venison in the freezer, but we had a great time.

Being away from home for two weeks starting the Sunday after Thanksgiving is the main reason that blog activity has been absent. Being home again after deer season and two weekend shows in November, and then traveling to Connecticut to visit my daughter and her family, and see my new granddaughter over Thanksgiving is the second part of being back to normal.

I have news on several topics that I would like to share. First, my camera has been replaced, the original Canon G9 Powershot was toast in September after hitting my hardwood floor, having fallen just a couple feet from a TV tray. The “new” camera is a “used” and reconditioned Canon G9 Powershot. I figured that was the best way to go at the present time, mainly for cost: about $200, compared to $600 when I bought it new in 2008. Secondly and importantly, there is no learning curve. I have a number of flies and fly tying / pattern projects that I will be working on. I also have some articles in the works and will be using the camera for that as well. Another bonus with the new camera is that it came with a charger and new battery, so I now have spares on those items. And this “used” camera is actually in better condition than my old one.

The other thing that I am really excited about – and readers who have been with me for a while are aware of this, but I play the drums, or at least I used to. And after a long absence, I am playing again. From ninth grade in 1967 until 1979 I played in rock and roll bands that played various styles of music. The very first song I recall learning was Little Bit O’ Soul by The Music Explosion. My brother Larry played lead guitar in the first three or four bands. During the following years most of the music we played was Top Forty, but in the late 1960’s and early ’70’s, we also explored music from bands that only received FM radio play in the days before classic rock stations existed. Songs in our playlist included: Louie Louie, Green Tambourine by the Lemon Pipers; I Can’t Get No Satisfaction, As Tears Go By, and Jumpin’ Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones; Hold On I’m Comin’ by Sam and Dave; Knock on Wood – Eddie Floyd; Sock It To Me Baby – Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels; Happy Together – Turtles;  All Day and All Night and You Really Got Me – The Kinks; Sweet Soul Music – Arthur Conley; and Live For Today – The Grassroots. My sister bought me two LP’s for Christmas when I was in ninth grade – The Moody Blues Days of Future Passed, and Procol Harum Shine on Brightly. Those two records started me on the path of becoming a convicted audiophile. MY LP vinyl collection now is nearly three-hundred records, and I have as many CD’s as well. I have a vintagemid-70’s Marantz four-channel stereo system that can rattle the windows in this place.

Not long after our first band formed we were introduced to the harder-edged music of Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, Steppenwolf, and even the great old Super Session album with Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, and Stephen Stills. We used to play, You Don’t Love Me Baby. Great song! Other tunes in our late 1960’s repertoire were And The Address and Hush – Deep Purple, Fire, Foxy Lady, Purple Haze, and Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix; Born to Be Wild and Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf; Sunshine of Your Love and Tales of Brave Ulysses by Cream; and of course In A Gadda Da Vida by Iron Butterfly. And I just now learned when checking the spelling of that tune, that the translation is: In the Garden of Eden. I can’t forget that our early 1970’s band also played some Black Sabbath. Yes it’s true, this fly tier is an old hard-rocker. War Pigs, Ironman, The Wizard, and a few other songs were on the playlist. We used to hate playing “old” songs back then, but in contrast, it is interesting to note that any of these songs could be on the playlist of a working band today and still be popular.

Before digressing too much more, it should be noted that subsequent bands included multiple personnel changes, horn sections, a female lead singer, then finally in 1977 taking the form of a five-piece, two guitar band, one of whom doubled on piano and synthesizer, plus a bass player, with a big PA system and sound man. We broke up in 1979, but in the years prior, our song list read like a playlist of today’s classic rock radio stations. Aerosmith, Steely Dan, Deep Purple, The Cars, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Foghat, The Eagles, Little River Band, Doobie Brothers, Bad Company, Boston, Foreigner, Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, Emerson Lake and Palmer; our cover music of these bands, powered by double lead guitars, a big PA system and lighting rocked out many bars and clubs in the Williamsport, Pennsylvania, region in the late 1970’s. There were other good bands in the area as well, but we had a good following. It was a great time.

Last August, on a Sunday evening at the outdoor venue of The Crippled Bear bar with a live band in nearby Williamsport, Bert Smeal, the bass player from my old band and I met accidentally. I had not seen him for years. We caught up on things, and he put me in touch with one of the guitarists, and said there had been some talk about the old band getting back together. Most of us were married, raised children, and are now grandfathers. One guitarist never married, and our former lead singer passed away in the late 1990’s. The discussion of a reunion has been going on for a few months – but this Thursday, the two guitarists and me are meeting for dinner and a few beers at The Stable Bar and Grille in Cogan Station, Pennsylvania. This newly renovated bar just opened in November, it is just two miles over the hill from my house. They have the largest dance floor and stage in the area. I have not seen guitarist Don Cunningham for thirty-five years, since the band broke up. The other guitarist friend, Rob Foust, and I went to The Beach Boys in concert this past September. I have seen him a few times over the past decades. Both Bert and Rob attended my wife’s funeral service in March of 2007. And I have not seen either of them until recently. We are talking of learning a half-dozen songs to participate in Open Mic Night at The Stable, and possibly sit in when another area band is on break at a local gig.

Since I am a baritone, I cannot sing the high stuff; Zeppelin, Foreigner, Aerosmith, Boston, Deep Purple, AC / DC; that’s out of my league ( I wish it wasn’t but you can’t have everything you want), but I have been singing for years since the band broke up. My late wife and I sang for twenty-seven years in a gospel quartet, we did a few theater musicals, and I’ve been singing along to my stereo at home and in my car since forever. I sang The Scotsman at the Saturday evening banquet at the recent International Fly Tying Symposium in New Jersey, and it went perfectly except for one little goof I made in the lyrics near the end of the song. Dang! Should have had the lyrics. I also have been singing at Karaoke bars lately, and have worked up a list of more than thirty songs, including the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Dire Straits, Toby Keith, Trace Adkins, Brooks and Dunn, Muddy Waters, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Billy Joel, Huey Lewis and The News, Confederate Railroad – Trashy Women, oh yeah! Roy Orbison, Georgia Satellites, and I’m working on Keith Anderson’s XXL. I’ve also got George Thorogood’s I Drink Alone and Bad to the Bone under my belt. That’s a blast, and I’ve met some nice people that have become new friends. The reason I included this information is that, since our lead singer has passed on, I could fill that spot if need be. I’ve developed a potential playlist of almost sixty songs so far, all having lead vocals in my range.

Another factor feeding my interest in playing again was the opportunity to sit in numerous times with the Flipside Band at local venues. So far with them I’ve played Mustang Sally, Green River, and Born on the Bayou.

The exciting news is that I am getting back into playing formally on New Year’s Eve. I have been asked to fill in for the drummer of a good local classic rock band who can’t make that gig, and my friend Bert, their usual fill-in drummer also cannot do it because of a prior commitment. So I was asked, and I’m very excited about it. I cleaned my drum set up some time ago and have added new hardware and some new-to-me, used Zildjian cymbals – eBay is a great source for good prices on that stuff. It’s been great fun playing my expanded vintage 1975 natural Wood Finish Premier Powerhouse set, which now has a hi-hat, a twenty-inch ride cymbal, and six splash / thin crash / medium thin crash cymbals ranging in size from ten inches to seventeen inches, all Zildjian brand. The oldest and best! The band I am playing with is Pepper Street. We’ve had two practice sessions, and they play a great collection of oldies and classic rock dance-music of the ’60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, with a handful of newer tunes thrown in. The musicians are really talented, they all play multiple instruments; guitar, bass, and keyboards, and they are all good vocalists as well. Me, I play drums and sing, that’s it. I would sit in with Pepper Street, but their drummer is left-handed and everything is backwards for me.

I was a little unprepared for the practice session a week ago because of short notice about it, being away at the cabin for deer camp, and then I had just a half day to review a playlist of nearly sixty songs, some that I did not know at all. Practice went well anyway, and the nice thing was that the band practices in a home studio of sorts and there is a drum set already there, so all I had to do was show up with a pair of sticks. Another plus is that their song list is a great mix of tunes including many that will be fun to play, Bang the Drum All Day – Todd Rundgren; Money For Nothin’ – Dire Straits; Just What I Needed – The Cars; White Wedding – Billy Idol; Rock and Roll All Night – Kiss, China Grove – Doobie Brothers, Born on the Bayou – CCR, and American Band – Grand Funk. Plus I sing the lead vocals on 867-5309 – Jenny, Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, and the Jimmy Buffet classic, Margaritaville. Here is a link to the band website and their playlist:

Between now and New Year’s Eve, I’ll be tying flies and listening to that playlist, because I need to familiarize myself more in depth with those songs. I also have orders for some framed flies that I am still working on. Now that things are back to normal, I’ll be working diligently to finish my loose ends on my open orders. I have generally played music more often than not while tying flies; been that way for years. Music is good for you. Playing or singing music is even better!