Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

Anthony Johnson Showalter was an American gospel music composer best known for the song “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”, which was published in 1887. He wrote the music and chorus, and Elisha A. Hoffman wrote the verses. The song features prominently in the score of Night of the Hunter and forms about a quarter of the score of the 2010 film True Grit.

Elisha Albright (E. A.) Hoffman was a Presbyterian minister, composer of over 2,000 hymns, and editor of over 50 song books.  The son of an Evangelical minister, Hoffman grew up singing sacred hymns both in church and in the home with his parents.  After completing high school, Hoffman furthered his education at Union Seminary in New Berlin, Pennsylvania, and was subsequently ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1868.

I heard Allan Jackson sing this hymn at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.   I have had this tune in my head ever since that time and this is what I came up with.









In The Garden


Charles Miles attended the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and the University of Pennsylvania. In 1892, he abandoned his career as a pharmacist and wrote his first Gospel song, “List ’Tis Je­sus’ Voice” which was published by the Hall-Mack Company. He served as editor and manager at the Hall-Mack publishers for 37 years.  In his own words: “It is as a writer of gospel songs I am proud to be known, for in that way I may be of the most use to my Master, whom I serve willingly although not as efficiently as is my desire.”

According to Miles’ great-granddaughter, the song “In The Garden” was written in a cold, dreary and leaky basement in Pitman, New Jersey that didn’t even have a window in it let alone a view of a garden.  This hymn was first published in 1912 and popularized during the Billy Sunday evangelistic campaigns of the early twentieth century by two members of his staff, Homer Rodeheaver and Virginia Asher.


Here is my arrangement of this lovely hymn – enjoy.












Parker/Fogerty History

I recently found on Facebook the William A. Wilson Intermediate school site.  It is now an adult ed school so I was surprised to find it.  I joined because I taught there 1970-75.  Some ex-students are asking about what happened to me and in particular if I once played with the Creedence Clearwater Revival band so I thought that this family website would be a good avenue to explain my history with the group.  The paragraphs below along with some pictures should clear up my connection with the group in the past.

I attended El Cerrito high school 1957-1960.  El Cerrito is a city north of Berkeley,Ca. with Albany in between.  I was always involved in music and was in choirs all years in kindergarden, jr. high, & high school.  I was a singer mostly and played around with the ukulele, upright bass, & guitar.  In the summer of 1957, my best friend, Ron Fenolio, who lived across the street brought over a vinyl record and played it for me to listen to.  The musician was a fellow named Joe “Fingers” Carr.  Ron and I were starting high school as sophomores at that time and when I heard this record I immediately said, “I have to learn to play the piano”.  I got the record and in a few weeks was playing the “12th Street rag”.  Hearing Joe “Fingers” Carr play was such an inspiration to me.  He also played boogie woogie on the record and it was not long that I was playing boogie woogie also.

I would play in the choir room at lunch for whoever wanted to listen.  Anyhow, Gail Skinner sang in the choir and her boyfriend from Saint Mary’s high school in Albany was Tom Fogerty.  She was a friend of mine and introduced me to Tom.

1958 EDHS Acappella Choir - Gail Skinner (middle) George Parker (upper right)

1957-58 EDHS Acappella Choir (partial) – Gail Skinner (middle) George Parker (upper right)

Tom and I soon became friends and he and his younger brother John came up to my house after school a few times and we would jam.  They played at school assemblies and I got to join them a couple of times playing the piano.  When Tom graduated from Saint Mary’s in 1959 he got a job at Regal gas station in Berkeley.  He continued to date Gail and they eventually got married and had a family.

Young Gail and Tom now married

Young Gail and Tom now married celebrating CCR’s first album (on lap) in 1968

He was well liked by Al Peterson the manager there at the gas station so he basically got John and myself jobs there also.  In the fall of 1963 I went to San Jose State University and did not see them much but I stayed somewhat connected because Tom would go up and visit my mom who would relay to me what they were doing.  TomFogerty1964SSShe was quite musical and had written many songs.  Tom had a close connection with her because she had tried to make it in music also for many years but with very little success but Tom was young and very passionate about his ability to make it big.  She, of course, was very supportive of his passion and energy.  In 1968, a couple of years after I graduated from San Jose State, they hit it big on “Susie Q”.  It was on their first CCR album (above).  I visited them once at there little home in El Cerrito and they showed me there gold or platinum record on the wall.

I started teaching at William A. Wilson intermediate school in the fall of 1970.  I was still playing the piano daily and got the idea to teach a summer school class on how to form and keep together a garage band.  On Easter of 1971, I went up to Tom’s huge home in Grizzly Peak (Berkeley Hills) and talked to him about coming down to be a guest lecturer for the class.  He was not at all interested in coming down to the school.  It made me angry so when I left it was not in the best of terms.  He did not tell me at the time but I since found out that he had been disgruntled with his position in CCR and had actually left the group a few months earlier.  Tom was a great guy and was really the impetus that pushed the group to stardom.  Countless times he said to me “George, we are going to make it big and you should come and sit in with us”  I’ve always felt bad that I never knew the truth of what he was going through in March of 1971 and I never saw any of them again after that.  He was interviewed when he branched out and he can be seen on youtube.  I must say as a musician, that, though Tom was the pushing force at the beginning, John had a very special talent with the guitar.  I had played with many different guitarists but I could see that John was in a class all of his own even at the young age when I had the opportunity to play with him.  Anyhow, I had a close personal connection with Tom Fogerty and enjoyed a temporary but close musical connection with a young John.  And the three of us enjoyed a part-time working relationship at the gas station also.  I never knew the other two guys in the group:  Stu Cook (bassist) and Doug Clifford (drummer) (both in the class of 1964).  I was a good friend of George Clifford, Doug’s brother, who was in my class (1960).  John was in the class of 1963.JohnFogertyCommEntertainECHS1963SSJohnFogertySeniorPic1963ECHSSSAs I said, Tom was married to Gail Skinner but I lost track of them both.  In 1980, I heard that Tom was getting married again but I have no idea what happened to Gail.  I do know that they had children.  Some years ago, I was taking to a mutual high school friend, Skip Kelly, and he said that Tom’s wife had a freak accident at their home pool and was paralyzed.  I could never find out the truth of his statement and he has since died.  I have been searching the internet regarding Gail but have never found anything about her.

Tom had a back problem and had many surgeries.  He moved to Arizona and received many transfusions during back surgeries and contracted AIDS from one of the blood transfusions.  He died from AIDS in 1990 at the age of 48.  If any of you are interested in hearing the full story of CCR by John, Stu, & Doug you can click on this link:  http://www.uncut.co.uk/features/creedence-clearwater-revival-the-full-story-by-john-fogerty-stu-cook-and-doug-clifford-6563

Many people have asked me if I ever regretted not being a part of CCR.  First off, they had such a wonderful and simple sound without a piano and I don’t think that my talent on the piano would have fit into their scheme of things.  And secondly, I have had such a wonderful 33 years of teaching teenage kids.  My last 23 years were at Ponderosa High School in Shingle Springs, Ca.  I had an fantastic electronic shop where I taught high school, ROP, & some college students electronic technology.  The students were great there and I enjoyed teaching until the last minute of the last day that I retired in 2003.  Even though my mom said that I came out of the womb singing, and certainly God has given me and my mother an unbelievable ear for music, I am so satisfied about the direction that I was taken for a career and would not change a thing.  I have had the opportunity to be a part of students’ life decisions and have watched many become successful.  I would not trade that for any amount of fame or money.

I did have students, teachers, & administrators in bands every year.  We would play as many as 3 to 10 gigs a year for assemblies in our school, other schools, Apple Hill events, Rotary, Elks, secretary nights, etc.  But our biggest gig was 2 years in a row at the Tahoe Hyatt Regency in there main ballroom for the statewide administrators conference.  We were not that good but we had a great deal of fun with the large audiences.  It was a 2-day event and though they really liked us, I think it became too costly for them because they would put us and the families up at the hotel.  We had roadies (some of my students) because I built a sound studio in the corner of my shop and taught sound recording techniques the last 10-15 years of my stint.  It was a great way to train them in a real live performance and we the musicians got the benefit of them setting up and running the sound for all of our gigs.  It was such a great time for all of us.

Now that I have retired from teaching I spend many hours playing the piano and have a make-shift sound studio in one of our bedrooms here at our home in Apple Hill.  I play wherever some one wants me (currently retirement complexes) and have made CD’s that I give to friends and family.  You can hear some of my songs by looking through past blogs on this site.  I have some pretty sophisticated recording programs and sound generators that I use.  My system is MAC operating.  As of 7 years ago I go to a jazz camp every year where I am put into a band and we are taught by the greatest professionals and then do a performance at the end of the week.  You can see what I am talking about with pictures and videos of these outstanding professional musicians performing.  They are in past blogs on this site.

Sacramento Traditional Jazz Camp – 2015

Once again I was blessed to go to the camp and continue to learn how to play in a Trad Jazz Band.

Our Band this Year

Our Band this Year (back L/R) – Don Risser (Trumpet), Fran Ferrance (Trumpet), Terry Myers (Professor/leader), Richard Downey (Clarinet), Dave Graves (Trombone), & Gerry Turner (Bass)  –  (bottom L/R) – Jim Henderson (Drums), & Dave Stare (Banjo).

Nothing beats this experience to help increase one’s ability to improvise on the fly.  Here are some pictures and a video of the professors modeling the art of playing with a team of musicians.  Enjoy!!


Another picture with me in back

Another picture with me in back.



Anita Thomas teaching a jam session

Anita Thomas teaching a jam session





Redding Handbell Festival

My cousin Glen Adams and his wife Linda invited us up to there home to see them perform in the Redding Handbell Festival.ReddingHandbellFestivalThe Picture above is the Combined Choirs with guest conductor Barbara Meinke directing.

What a wonderful time we had visiting with them and watching them in the concert.  There were 12 participants from California, Nevada, and Oregon.  The sound was as from the heavens above.  Judy and I had never heard handbell choirs before so this was quite a treat.  Glen and Linda were great hosts and they took us and Glen’s sister, Ginny Lawson, to dinner afterwards.  Many of the musicians along with the guest conductor, Barbara Meinke, from Lake Elsinore, Ca., were there at Marie Calendars in Redding, Ca.  I made a YouTube recording with samples of what went on during the concert – click on the blue and enjoy! – Oh! and don’t miss the full recording below of “Pick a Winner” with both Glen and Linda.

Glen Adams

Glen Adams

Linda Adams

Linda Adams

Cousins Ginny and Glen

Cousins Ginny and Glen

Judy, Ginny, and friend

Judy, Ginny, and friend

Glen and Linda Adams

Glen and Linda Adams

Glen and Linda enjoy being in the handbell choir very much.  The group they play with is called the Carillions.  Watch this YouTube video by clicking on the blue and you can see the fun that they are having – and they are GOOD too!!!




Another Trad-Jazz Recording

I an so glad that I went to Jazz Camp.  The Professors there are such good teachers.

Prof's in Performance

Prof’s in Performance

I know because I taught high school kids for 33 years.  There are 4 steps you must do if you want students to learn what you are trying to teach.  And these Prof’s at camp do all four.  The 4 steps are:   I DO/YOU WATCH, I DO/YOU HELP, YOU DO/I HELP, & finally YOU DO/I WATCH.  Watch this you tube video that I filmed and uploaded.   Sac Trad Jazz Camp Prof’s showing how it is done.  They do 2-3 songs like this every night of the week.  This is the first step-THEY DO/WE WATCH.  Another name for this action is MODELING the behavior that you want the student to learn-and they do it impeccably.  If you notice, they are not only a great team (smooth running machine) but they are having such fun performing.  And this is the strongest theme that they want you to learn at camp – HAVE FUN!!!

Further, THEY DO AND WE HELP occurs at Jam Sessions.  WE DO AND THEY HELP at section meetings.  And finally, WE DO AND THEY WATCH at evening rehearsals and the final performance.

This music is so much fun to listen to, dance to, sing to, and you just can’t stay still when they are playing.  It sure has put a smile on my face and I am so grateful for it.  Here is another recording that I just finished – “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter

Sacramento Traditional Jazz Camp

Our daughter, Laura, has a wonderful clothing store in Nevada City.  In August, they close the streets and allow pedestrians only on three Wednesday evenings from 4pm to 10pm.  The city then rents spaces in front of the stores to various vendors who show and sell their wares.  Thousands of people show up on those Wednesdays to eat, drink, and be merry to music venues that are scattered up and down the streets.  If you are in the area at that time of the year you should plan to go – it is a fun evening where people are care-free and fully enjoying themselves.

Anyhow, Lou Travato, (the police chief there for many years – now retired) and myself were standing, looking, and listening to music one of those Wednesday evenings.  In our conversation he mentioned that he would miss the other two Wednesdays.  When I asked him why, he said that he would be attending a couple of music camps – one in Eureka, CA. (Classical) and one in Pollock Pines, CA. (Jazz).  This, of course, sparked my interest because I love to play Jazz and live 17 Minutes from Pollock Pines.  When I told him he said that in 2 weeks I should come over and watch their final recital.  Further, he said to be sure to be early so that I could hear the “Professors” play at the beginning.  I did and have attended the camp 3 out of the last 4 years because of that visit.

All I can say is WOW!!!!  They are the best musicians that I have ever heard bar none!  The camp is called “The Sacramento Traditional Jazz Camp” – check it out.  I have always played strictly by ear so this has been a real humbling and good experience for me.  I have played and performed since I was a kid but I have still not progressed past the beginning band stage at the camp.  However, I have learned so much on how to use a fake book and am starting to learn how to improvise.  The camp starts on Sunday afternoon where you sign up, meet and get briefed about the week, eat, audition with your instrument, play in a jam session, and go to bed.  On Monday, you find out what band you are in; go to learning, Jam, and practice sessions, and perform that night for the rest of the campers.(they don’t mess around – you jump right into the fire)  Tuesday and Wednesday are just the same as Monday but each with a new song.   Thursday is dress rehearsal with all three songs and Friday is the performance where you can invite family and friends to watch. ($10 – donation to help camp kids)  It is a very fun, exciting, and intense week where you get trained by the very best musicians in a relaxed and very entertaining environment.  You also get to meet and make new like-minded friends from all over the USA and Canada.  The “Professors” or teachers are so encouraging to all the campers no matter how proficient you are.  The type of music played is called traditional jazz.  Here is a recording that I just made to show a sample of what we play – “Wrap Up Your Troubles in Dreams”.  I actually learned this from one of the fake books that I downloaded from the camp website – just another perk that all campers get – a username & password to download sheet music, audios, and videos for practicing.

Also, the intense week gives you the privilege of connecting with many of these professional musicians at a personal level.  Here is info, pictures, websites, & videos of some of these outstanding musicians/teachers.

Shelly and Bill Dendle:  (Bill is the camp director and Shelly Burns is his wife) S & B Productions

Shelly, Bill, & Eddie performing “Somebody Loves Me


Rusty Stiers:  Jambalaya Jazz Band – Disneyland

Rusty has never missed teaching at the camp.


Bria Skonberg:   So is the Day    This is one of her cutest videos.  And here she is doing “Muskrat Ramble

Bria SkonbergBriaGeo

Terry Myers:  The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra

Terry is the best.  Check out this website and listen to him playing.


Anita Thomas:  Anita’s Website

Just another multi-talented gal who is a lot of fun.  Watch “Tiger Rag” below and see what fun her and Terry are having.  Here she is with Westy and Katie Cavera in Monterey, CA.  Katie has been a camp professor also.



Greg Varlota & Curtis Brengle: The Side Street Strutters

I think Greg plays every instrument & he is an unreal tap dancer.  Curtis has such a command of the piano.  He has a classical background and can play anything with precision.  They are both in the Side Street Strutters.

Greg Varlota


Eddie Metz:  Eddie’s Website

The other musicians call him the “World’s best drummer” and after seeing him in action I believe it.  Just watch him in “Tiger Rag” and “I Want to be Happy” – he is unreal and such a team player.

Eddie MetzEddieMGeo


Jason Wanner:  Jason’s website

Watch nimble fingers Jason in this video.



Eddie Erickson:  Eddie’s website

Eddie is not only one of the funniest guys on stage but he is gifted with encouraging others.  He is such a joy in the camp and what a great musician.  Here he is doing “Embraceable You“.


Lee “Westy” Westenhofer:  Westy Works home page

And one of his classics “The William Tell Overture” – Westy is the reason that I went to camp – he is the greatest!


The Professors-Tiger Rag” – These guys are so-o-o-o good and hilarious – click on them to watch & listen!  And don’t have anything in your mouth – you might choke!

I Want to be Happy” – These guys are truly happy when they are playing this music – what a fun team they are – just UNBELIEVABLE!!.


The obvious conclusion is that this Traditional Jazz music is infectious to all ages.  Watch “Tuba Skinny” playing “Yes Sir! That’s my baby” on Royal Street in New Orleans.