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By Jim Wachtendonk
In Boonie Toons we'll look at music, musicians and gigs past and present. Upcoming reviews of veteran performers as well as their roots will be included in each column. If you know of someone who belongs in Boonie Toons, write me care of "Boonie Toons," P.O. Box 3472, Madison, WI 53704 and I'll write it up. Boonie Toons wishes to thanks those of you who've written and ordered Country Joe's tapes (from the last Boonie Toons)—the letters are appreciated. And now for more Boonie Toons.
Rick Duvall is a singer, song writer and actor from Gueriville, CA. I had the pleasure of sharing the singing duties with him on the PBS special, "For Vietnam Veterans and Everyone Else Who Should Care." On it Rick performed his song "Combat Assault," and acapella tune that opened the show. It's loaded with grunt slang with a view of the ground pounder in the bush—
.... And the army said don't take it personally, you are not a person, you are the infantry and you are not deservin' you just kill the enemy, leave the thinkin' pert to me, no, you ain't authorized no conscience...."
Rick Duvall served with the 1st of the 506th Infantry—D Company—of the 101st Airborne. He was in Vietnam in '68-'69. His experiences in Vietnam and with the world have given him much to write and sing about. Rick has been on stages most of his life, from childhood choirs on Sunday morning to recording studios, to the stage, to live theatre and TV work. He believes the important thing is how you approach the people who are there to see you. No matter which character he is at the time—balladeer, rocker, angry, sensitive, musical or otherwise—it's apt to be real to the audience whether that audience is a microphone or a solitary engineer. Rick has done concerts for many years in many states trying to tie his songs together in a positive message.
Rick Duvall: "I want to see peace come to this planet, so from college and high school auditoriums to peace concerts and vets programs all over the country I've been attempting to bring a peaceful aura to my listeners. I want folks to leave my shows moved and full of peace... World Peace, Local Peace—and most important of all, inner peace. Peace of mind is a rare commodity for most Vietnam vets. We fought for it and we deserve it. My songs seem to reach all kinds of people, however. Peace isn't just for old soldiers who haven't died it's for all of us."
Boonie Toons: Where did performing start with you, Rick?
Duvall: "I've been writing since before Vietnam. My first song was written about a high school friend who died there when I was a junior. When I came back I wanted to tell everyone the truth about the war, but that just couldn't happen....the truth is hard for America. We swallow more palatable stuff more easily than the truth. Consequently, I suppressed my political writing until I eventually denied my Vietnam experience and began to write apolitical things."
Boonie Toons: Your first cassette album, Rick Duvall, has strength of its own with no songs about the war on it. It's beautifully done.
Duvall: Yes, you know it has love songs and M.O.R... Nice and easy to hear and available.
Boonie Toons: And what of your latest recording "Combat Assault"?
Duvall: I guess I had to write the new vets album "Combat Assault" cause it's in me to do it. It's taken long enough already to come out and the time is now. I'm glad to be connected with you vets out there in a positive way. Music can take the message to the heart like nothing else. That's the idea behind my new tape "Combat Assault." It takes listeners to Vietnam, brings them back to the U.S. with post-traumatic stress, takes them through the fear, anger, bitterness, etc to the victory—the personal triumph of being alive. I hope you like the tape.
Boonie Toons: Tell us about your musical roots, Rick?
Duvall: My musical roots are influenced by folk musicians mainly. I always loved Hoyt Axton and Pete Seeger, but my all-time favorite folk singers were Peter, Paul and Mary—fantastic. I sang in many choirs and choral groups in school and my dad was a great tenor. He was my first real influence. I got a guitar for my graduation from junior high school and I hated it, until my older brother Chip picked it up and began to get pretty good on it. Well, shit, man, I couldn't let him show me up. So I got myself a banjo and got to finger prickin'. We played music together for 24 hours so far and are still going strong. Chip has had a song of his on each one of my albums so far. He's also a vet. You should write him up in Boonie Toons. I've put together several rock bands to learn about instrumentation and multi-track writing. My real love is the recording studio. I could spend my whole life in there writing and putting it down. I'm sure I'll keep on doing my albums so keep listening.
Boonie Toons: What's been happening since the PBS show—any action?
Duvall: Since the PBS show in May, I've been writing and touring California for the Thousand Trails Company. I entertain the members in the evenings after dinner. I love the people and I wrote the new Thousand Trails theme song, but the gigging is seasonal. I plan to play lots of veterans shows. I plan to play lots of veteran shows this next year. I'd love to play back there in Madison, WI.
Boonie Toons: And we have enjoyed having you, partner.
Boonie Toons encourages its readers to pick up Rick's tapes. He has two on the market. His "Combat Assault" is loaded with tunes straight out of 'Nam. His other cassette is called "Rick Duvall." These songs are a wonderful mix of every listenable music. His apolitical music if beautifully produced and mixed very well.
Boonie Toons urges you to check out Rick Duvall's music. His style has a life of its own. His varied use of instrumentation and vocals gives the listener a candid look into the man Rick Duvall. He pours a lot of himself into each song and it shows. To order "Combat Assault" or "Rick Duvall" spend $10 (each) to Rick Duvall, Box 2012, Gueriville, CA 95446.
That's it for another Boonie Toons.
JUST RELEASED! Combat Assault
A Vietnam veterans concept cassette by Rick Duvall. Featuring: Combat Assault (from the PBS broadcast), SGT Willy, Missing, Johnny Rambo, G.I. Bill and many others. "years before mainstream America addressed itself to Vietnam veterans' issues, Rick Duvall sang of the post-war struggles of his friend, SGT Willy, which has now become a classic among activists...." Country Joe McDonald.
COMBAT ASSAULT is a strong, positive, and healing thing. Listen closely and meet the vet.
Available through Rick Duvall P.O. Box 2012 Gueriville, CA 95546 ($10 includes shipping and handling.)