[Aaron Jonah Lewis] “I’m a Wiener!”

What did the hot dog say after it won first place in the fiddle contest? (Scroll to the bottom to see the answer…)


What a summer it’s been, friends. Lots of excitement, great music, great food, great friends, interesting weather, travel, and, you know, a lot of stuff going on! So once again I haven’t kept up with my goal of sending monthly missives, and as a result I probably have more to tell you than will fit into one email. But a guy can try, right? In this email I want to make sure and share my upcoming tour dates — We leave Monday for a seven-week tour in the UK and Ireland, during which we will record our next album (!) — Scroll down if you want to see those dates first. I’ll also share some highlights from the summer so far, including a few choice videos of yours truly on the news in various locales and other such fun type things. I am prepared to discuss ever so briefly some of the things I’ve been reading this summer, and I will also announce the release of Roochie Toochie & The Ragtime Shepherd Kings’ first CD. But first, this:

For starters I got to do a little tour in the Northeast with my Corn Potato String Band and it was just wonderful. We had great weather and amazing food, swam in the ocean and in ponds, got all the way to my old college home of Bar Harbor, Maine, home to many great friends I haven’t seen in a long time. So that was a major highlight. And then from Corn Potato tour I went on to tour with Roochie Toochie, our first tour ever, and a total success. More gigs in New England and points northeast, ending at the Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifftop, WV, where we won first place in the neotraditional band contest. Yippee! Blue ribbon number one.

Well, then. After Clifftop I went to Galax, where we set a new world record for Largest Mandolin Ensemble. We absolutely crushed the previous record of 412 by getting 491 mandolin players together to play Old Joe Clark and Angeline The Baker in sweet angelic harmony. I didn’t get a ribbon for this but being a part of it makes me feel like more of a winner than any ribbon ever could. Soon after Galax Lindsay and I went to the Wilson County Fair, the biggest fair in Tennessee, where we played with our friends Buddy and Lisa and special guests on the flatbed of a 1932 Ford truck along with a dancing gorilla, a talking possum, a ventriloquist routine, a dancing devil, a crankie show, and a dancing fathead (not all at the same time). We also enjoyed some of the fair’s many other features including a real working water-powered grist mill, blacksmithing, Civil War reenactors and their cannons, daredevil show, fair food, baby contest, beauty pageants and talent shows for every age group. They also had a bluegrass contest where I won third place in bluegrass banjo (my first banjo contest ever!) and first place in fiddle. So I got some more ribbons and now I feel like a really big winner.

Another major highlight for me was visiting the MTSU Center for Popular Music in Murfreesboro, where Martin Fisher (yes, the same Martin Fisher who recorded Roochie Toochie on wax cylinder) showed me his audio lab, where he was working on the Ed Haley collection. (Ed Haley was a legendary fiddler who inspired generations after him, including me.) Not everything Haley recorded has been released, and I got to hear some of his unreleased recordings, which, you guessed it, also made me feel like quite the winner! I wish I’d had more time to spend there because they have a huge archive with all kinds of media pertaining to popular music, including some real old stuff. I saw a handbill for a vaudeville performance from 1916 and I got to look at some of Eddie Lang’s instructional guitar books (way beyond me) and some transcriptions of tunes by the Farr Brothers (of Sons of the Pioneers) that have never been recorded. OK, now for some

On the local news in Galax for their coverage of the World’s Largest Mandolin Ensemble event, and a short video of everyone actually playing together There are more videos online if you search Galax Largest Mandolin Ensemble 2015

On the local news in Detroit with Detroit Pleasure Society – music starts around 2:30

Two videos of me Jammin’ with the New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters at Galax – Here’s one and here’s another!

Roochie Toochie’s winning set from the finals at Clifftop

Speaking of Roochie Toochie, we do have our first CD in print now. It consists of 23 wax cylinder recordings, only the best. It’s not available online, however, so if you would like a copy just let me know and I’ll see what I can do. It will have to wait until I get back from tour, however. That’s right, I’m going on tour so soon, and here are the

There may be one or two more gigs getting added so keep your eye on that old band calendar or my own calendar, where you can also see all the pertinent details for each of these shows:

Wed ​9 Sep​ – The Prince Albert – ​Brighton
Thur ​10 Sep​ – Betsey Trotwood – ​Clerkenwell, London
Fri ​11 Sep ​- Wiveton Hall Cafe – ​Holt, Norfolk
Sat ​12 Sep ​- Elsing Hall – ​Elsing, Dereham, Norfolk
Wed ​16 Sep ​- Wharf Chambers – ​Leeds
Thur ​17 Sep​ – Sound Sense House Concert – Moffat, Dumfriesshire
Fri ​18 Sep​ – Carlisle Folk & Blues Club at The Old Fire Station – ​Carlisle, Cumbria
Sat ​19 Sep​ – St Boswells Live at St Boswells Village Hall – ​St Boswells
Sun ​20 Sep​ – Coach and Horses – ​Dumfries
Mon ​21 Sep​ – Heart of Hawick – ​Hawick
Wed ​23 Sep​ – Dundee Acoustic Music Club at The Newport – ​Newport-on-Tay
Thur ​24 Sep​ – Clydesdale Folk Club at The Elphinstone Hotel – ​Biggar
Fri-Sun ​25-27 Sep ​- Moniaive Bluegrass Festival – ​Dumfries & Galloway
Mon ​28 Sep​ – Traverse Theatre Bar – ​Edinburgh
Sat ​3 Oct​ – Coldingham Village Hall – ​Coldingham
Sun ​4 Oct​ – Cock and Bottle – ​Skipton, North Yorkshire
Mon ​5 Oct​ – The Caledonia – ​Liverpool
Tue ​6 Oct​ – The Red Room – ​Cookstown, Co. Tyrone
Wed ​7 Oct​ – Myles K. McCann’s – ​Omagh, Co. Tyrone
Thur ​8 Oct​ – Matt Molloy’s Yard Bar – ​Westport, Co. Mayo
Fri-Sun ​9-11 Oct​ – Bunratty Folk Park Festival – ​Bunratty, Co. Clare
Sun ​11 Oct​ – Roadside Tavern – ​Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare
Wed ​14 Oct​ – The Grand Social – ​Dublin
Thur 15 Oct ​- Burnetts Hill Chapel – ​Nr Narbert, Pembrokeshire
Fri ​16 Oct​ – Barry West End Club – ​Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff
Sat ​17 Oct​ – Vicarage Gardens House Concert – ​Dawlish, Devon
Sun ​18 Oct​ – Bournemouth Folk Club – ​Bournemouth, Dorset
Mon ​19 Oct​ – The Sussex Ox – ​Polegate, East Sussex
Tue ​20 Oct​ – Mrs. Yarrington’s Music Club at The Senlac Inn – ​Battle, East Sussex
Wed ​21 Oct​ – Rainham Oast Old Time Sessions (ROOTS) – ​Rainham, Kent
Thur ​22 Oct​ – Stag and Hounds – ​Bristol
Fri ​23 Oct​ – The Bullingdon Arms – ​Oxford
Sat ​24 Oct​ – The Harrison – ​Kings Cross, London
Sun ​25 Oct ​- Come Down And Meet The Folks at The Apple Tree – ​London
Mon ​26 Oct ​- The Crooked Billet – ​Henley-on-Thames

Honestly I still haven’t had much time for reading but I have been enjoying articles from The New Yorker magazine very much. While I was in Maine I went to a big old tool and book and junk shop called Liberty Tool and bought dozens of sheet music prints as well as a copy of the journal Parabola: Myth and the Quest for Meaning, Volume VII, Number 3, from 1982. The theme of the issue is Ceremonies and there are some great pieces in there, including an attack on Joseph Campbell in the letters section, and a response from the man himself. I was especially fascinated by an article by Francelia Butler entitled “Tennessee Heritage,” that had to do with the Melungeons, a mysterious people in East Tennessee who have ‘for the most part lost their own heritage,’ and whose origins are unknown. But apparently ‘when the first white settlers came to Tennessee, the Melungeons were already there, living as rich farmers in the valleys, it is said, until 1834, when the Tennessee Constitution delared them “free persons of color” and disenfranchised them.’

While I was in Bar Harbor I saw my friend Nancy Andrews, who gave me a hard copy of her comic book Loupette and the Moon, which is most enjoyable. Here’s the link to her website, in case you want to check out her work and see some things that have inspired me over the years.

And at Clifftop I ran into Phil Jamison, whom I last saw at the Chesapeake Dance Weekend where he was calling. He’s been working on a book about the origins of square dancing and other American folk dances and it is now in print. It’s called Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance. It is a thoroughly researched, academic work but it’s easy to read and chock full of interesting details. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in what we call old time music and dance.

I guess the header means it’s time to wrap this up. OK, well, wish me luck out there in the UK and Ireland. When I get home summer will most definitely be over. I’m sad to miss the best days of autumn in Michigan, but I thought about it and I think it will still be pretty darn nice overseas. Wherever you are, friends, I hope you are enjoying the season and each other. See you again soon. And until then, I remain,

Yours Truly,


“I’m a wiener!”