Hilber Files for Mn. Senate Seat 67


Dry Bone Debriefing Story 2013

Posted on June 22, 2013 at 3:50 AM

12 Steps 12 Bar Blues


Tom S. Hilber











The then Local Mayor Chris Coleman’s art Person, Joe Spenser, asked me to apply for a St. Paul Star (Sales Tax Revitalization) Special Cultural Projects Grant from the cities sales tax used to enhance the downtown area as a cultural center. An even smaller amount is used to fund neighborhoods outside the downtown area with cultural development, outright grants, loans or matching funds. Backing up a bit now…the Dry Bone Festival was first funded in 2005 by the Metro East Builders a Methodists community outreach development fund for which I wrote a grant for $2000.00 which was granted and put in the then pastor’s care of which I used for seed money and always replaced after each event. The then city councilmen Dan Bostrom from Ward 6 stepped in with Community Organization planning project money from the Saint Paul City Council in the amount of $500.00 which I then matched from businesses and individuals and proceeds from the festivals of which I have produced ten events sense 2005. $30,000 dollars later I have ten events under my belt which each have made modest profits from freewill offerings from patron attending the each free community event.

I us the first person I for the simple fact I am a ‘one man committee’; which is not my evaluation but the Pioneer Press’s reporter that wrote the story about the dry bones a few years ago, by adding the neighboring city, Minneapolis Minnesota, main newspaper the Star Tribune wherein I am labeled as a ‘political gadfly’ by the latter and a one man committee by the other. I cannot argue either of the two observations by local reporters. This Year a Highland Park neighborhood newspaper, the Villager, stated a third observation that I was a maniac but that was a comment directly quoted from my own lips. I’ll let my readers decide if any of the three fit my profile!

So here I start the journey of 365 days it took to produce the Dry Bones Blues Festival Number Ten. It was a Story that started with an invitation from Joe Spencer the Saint Paul Mayors cultural affairs officer. He was aware, apparently, of my efforts to develop a Blues event as we started the year of the last Raspberry Blues Festivals was held at the Saint Paul Park’s Raspberry Island Band Schell in 2005 in the downtown area located on West Side of Saint Paul. Our Mission has always been to promote a alternative to liquor sponsored music events and promote professionalism amongst musicians and listening audience and to create musician paying venues for local St. Paul and greater Minnesota Blues bands and keeping the music live!

I am not a drug or alcohol prohibitionists I just realize the number of addicted musicians and the deaths of many of our friends whose music we admire that left to soon due to chemical use and abuse and complication thereof. Wikipedia lists about 500 deaths by drugs and alcohol but the liquor industry, I can only suspect, has managed to suppress the alcohol related death as a formal list and appears as not accessible on internet however a daily read of the local papers or the number of friends in the music business that abuse alcohol and drug is as apparent as ever to me!

The spring of 2012 was traumatic for me personally as I lost my home, and my retirement plans to foreclosure crisis that some say was my fault, if you listen to Tom Bernard morning show, or to US banks bundling and selling toxic mortgages, rising taxes; insurance inflation and stagnant wages. Gratefully my wife was able to buy into her parent’s home that was left in trust after their deaths and the deaths of three of her younger brothers in the last few years preceding the mortgage crisis still ravaging our communities even after five years. I personally calculate a quarter million dollars personal loss in future interests as I had planned to continue to rent rooms to recovering folks as I had done over the previous twenty-five years. The summer was not all loss but filled with a Little Crow Memorial trip up the Minnesota River with my youngest brother Rick to visit battle site forts and Minnesota State Parks sites. Then there was the Semi-annual family Reunion at Lida Greens Golf Coerce built by my father on an old notorious Pelican Rapids Minnesota Pot farm and before that a bootleggers hideout in the nineteen twenties! This was my father’s boyhood family summer retreat area for many years and he knew the area and carried out building a truck farm, a log cabin, and remodeling and building a home in pelican Rapids after his retirement from Northwestern Bell Telephone company. With twelve brothers and sisters these events always prove very interesting and updating the family’s pilgrim’s progress.

Granddad was Wisconsin second generation product of hotel businesses in logging towns and he traveled Montana and eventually to Saint Paul to work for the US Government Weight & Measures in St. Paul’s Selby and Snelling Avenue Area of Saint Paul. Dad was born in St. Paul and granddad gave up the government job for a job with Nabisco Company in Fargo North Dakota. Fargo is the area dad grew up in and then as a married man worked across the State of North Dakota with rural electrification and telephone lines and area exchange buildings. Dad’s passion was golf and he was a North Dakota State Runner up State Golf Champion and golf pro as a young man out of High School. With mom bearing kids born one after another going to work for the phone company was a no brainer for dad! The women dad married was a beautiful mix-blood French and Indian which we only learned later in life as hostilities against indigenous peoples still runs deep in Minnesota culture as a result of the war of 1862 and genocide that occoured before and after that war.

Well back to the story: Fall of 2012 I wrote the proposal for Saint Paul Star cultural Grant and by the new year we were accepted as a recipient of a five thousand dolor grant which I proceeded to try to match dolor for dolor from the business community and blues music philanthropists. Then I was under the weather so to speak, for winter was record breaking, and I was hit twice to and from work by a diver admittedly drinking and a dude on talking away his cell phone and not paying attention. I was not hurt but my beautiful Buick looks like crap and a long fight with the insurance company ensued. The settlement did come in handy for some projects and I now drive a car missing a plastic bumper but the steering was repaired from previous driver’s neglect and the wife went on a mission trip to Guatemala with her church group.

Now things start getting desperate for my plan to go to corporate to help fund Dry Bones went quickly nowhere and then in desperation I tenaciously scored with Jeff Warner of Minnesota Warners’ Stellian a seven store family owned business after having my phone calls, emails, and on line contacts ignored, I watched and waited for the time he left work to talk to him personally. The truth is all the previous Dry Bone fests were funded by personal face to face contacts and the so called great technology advancement is way ahead of the populace need for real community and not virtual ones. Jeff was a hard sell but his gift was to spur me on and with a few desperate conversations with spiritual men I proceeded with my pursuit of corporate Saint Paul funding for Dry Bones Blues Festival X.

virtual relationships i.e. phone calls, e-mails, applications went down deep black holes and gatekeepers and even the ones that supported me got shut down by nameless higher up shut me out of corporate sponsorship. One day I had a $500.00 grant and the next week it was withdrawn and five others went nowhere fast. The casinos did take time to e-mail me they are no longer funding music festivals which I know is not entirely true. This was the year Mystic introduced booze after the old chief, who did quite well without alcohol at the casino, died and his legacy was and now is because of next generation of young bucks wish for what (?) more profits, more security jobs, what well I don’t really know! At least I got a response from two area casinos while whereas some corporate entities were simple rude and I was rude right back at them. My aghast at unprofessional behavior higher ups and paid gatekeepers lack of courtesy in provincial Saint Paul will be told to at least twenty friends I can’t quarantine this bitter pill and it’s not the first one for me in life’s forty year journey in Saint Paul. I’m not perfect either but I try to pay attention to courtesies. The Good News is personal contact and tenacity, staying positive, and painting great promotional pictures & stories for people paid off in the end. We increased our budget; fundraising, attendance, sponsorship, and made a profit due to the generosity of our patrons the day of the event. Thanks to all!

The funding all happened; the fans came through, the money came through, the bands came through, the newspapers ads and reporters came through, just one final note on Saint Paul’s provincialism! The Cultural affairs office and the Mayor’s office acted similar to corporate Saint Paul as my calls, requests did not even merit a response even a after a personal face to face contact with the mayor one week out. I would just like to know why this provincial city of Saint Paul Minnesota cannot adapt a more cosmopolitan attitude with courtesies and answered phone calls. I, like most others I believe, would like not to be left hanging in the breeze, even if a no answer is a no answer in my book, it’s rude behavior, Saint Paul, and tax payers, costumers, promoters, visitors, et.al. Deserve better. There I did not even swear even once! See You Next Year God willing!

I start the festival process all over again right after the annual event!



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