I Was Attacked by a Giant Dancing Salami

Hello Everybody,

I’ve been having so much fun these past few months since I’ve last written and I’m thinking, what’s the point of telling everyone about all the fun I had? I’m just going to keep on having fun and so will you.
Or maybe you will spend some time this winter all alone, studying and practicing, listening, reading, transcribing, trying to improve your musicianship, your mind and your technique, and learning new material to share with the world the next time you go out on the road to have lots of fun. That’s my plan, anyway. Enough fun for a while, I’m excited to get to work.
That said, I still have some fun things coming up. So in this email I’ll tell you about upcoming events, highlights from recent times, and I haven’t been reading at all so I don’t have any book reports but I have been able to listen to a lot of my friends’ new recordings in the van so I’ll give you a little report on some of those.
Upcoming Stuff
Not too much! Lots of time ahead to work on the house, practice and listen to music, make plans for 2018, read books, go for walks, spend time with friends, all that good stuff. The only public gig of note I have coming up is Dec 22 at The Owl Sessions in NYC with a yet-to-be-named band made up of myself, Jake Sanders, Dennis Lichtman, Jared Engel, and Dalton Ridenhour.
The weekend after Thanksgiving I’ll be in Northern Virginia to play for the wedding of one of my oldest and closest friends.
Later on in December I’ll spend some time in NYC to get started on aforementioned new project, visit and play with a bunch of old friends, and participate in the Yiddish NY festival.
After New Year’s I’ll head home for at least a couple weeks and then who knows. I’m hoping to make some kind of a trip south to visit and play in Nashville, New Orleans again, possibly points in Alabama and other parts of Tennessee… If anyone reading this lives in any of those places and wants to arrange a solo concert or a lesson or workshop, let me know!
Looking further ahead, in the first half of April I’m touring around Lake Michigan with Escaping Pavement, an acoustic folk duo from Detroit for whom I will be playing solo opening sets (classic banjo, old time fiddle and banjo tunes and songs) and in the second half of April I will make my old time debut on the West Coast playing banjo and fiddle on tour with Henry Barnes and band.
Recent Highlights
– We had our biggest Detroit Square Dance Society event of the year last weekend, with special guests coming from as far away as Columbus, Ohio. (Luthier Evan Collins brought two of his excellent fiddles, and our pals Henry Barnes and Libby Brigner of Donkey Nation brought the hype!)
– Before that I was on tour with Roochie Toochie in Louisiana for a long weekend including Black Pot Festival, one of the greatest festivals ever (that is, if you like food, music and dancing) and Halloween in New Orleans. I saw my dear friend Laurin from the Froggy Mountain Boys days in Berlin, such a great surprise to see him again among all the great musicians and friends in that city. We had to stay a day longer than we’d planned for Fats Domino’s funeral second line parade.
– Also, while we were at the Black Pot after party I played Cajun fiddle for the first time when Joel Savoy called me to the stage and handed me his fiddle with no explanation in the middle of a big dance. During the Halloween show I was attacked by a giant dancing salami (no casualties), and I got to witness the world premier of the music video for Timmy Findlen’s sure-to-be-a-hit single,  “Google Love.”
– On our way to Louisiana we got to visit Ben in Alabama and tour for a couple weeks with Corn Potato, trio and duo. I visited many dear friends and played a good number of house concerts, and I got some great CDs my friends made, too — Two I will mention are Harry Bolick‘s newest CD which accompanies his incredible book of Mississippi Fiddle Tunes, and Andrew McLeod’s new recording including some of my faves from Big Chief Henry.
– I spent a few days in Chicago rehearsing and recording an old Italian waltz and some wacky, obscure, never-before-recorded Nik Lucas guitar rags with Jake Sanders and band. I’m looking forward to working with him again next month in NYC.
– Back in September I had a great time working with Vermont Vaudeville on an incredible show that included world-class funny man Rob Torres, my pals Lindsay McCaw and Timmy Findlen and the aforementioned dancing salami, among many other great acts. If you live within a few hours of Hardwick, Vermont, I highly recommend making the trip out there just to see one of these shows.
– Before that I spent two weeks in lovely lovely Maine, touring with Roochie Toochie. It was so nice to get back to Maine and reconnect with some of my old pals. Please let me recommend a very interesting and exciting series of webisodes by my friend Nancy Andrews called “The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes,” available for free on her website. If you’re going to watch stuff, watch some really good stuff!
– Going back in time from there, I finally went to the Old Tone Festival, which was amazing. Every band there was just the tops and I got to hang out and play with lots of old pals. This was the place where Lindsay made the giant salami costume out of papier-mache and Maura Gahan performed its debut. Also a giant sphinx outfit. Really good times.
– The tour with Ben Belcher from Detroit to Old Tone was fabulous as well. One of the big highlights from that tour was performing with Jen Maurer and Anthony Papaleo at the G.A.R. Hall in Peninsula, Ohio. Love those guys, love that place!
A Few More Shout Outs Before I’m Done
Evan Kinney’s latest album, All Day Long (and all his previous albums) — Just great Georgia fiddling, great tunes and songs, Camden Pugh and Ali Kafka kick serious butt too, love the energy on this album. Check it out for sure.
Tuba Skinny’s latest, Tupelo Pine, and all their past recordings as well — If you have any love in your heart for traditional New Orleans jazz and you haven’t heard this band, NOW IS THE TIME. These guys are so groovy and so tasteful, very enjoyable to listen and well worth studying. They keepin tha funk alive.
I’ve also been loving the Dumpy Jug Bumpers’ latest, Dumptown — Excellent jug band music, great playing and singing and I was surprised to find out {{SPOILER ALERT}} many of these old-sounding songs are originals. They really nail that good old jug band sound, and their excellent musicianship never gets in the way of the good humor and fun.
Last but not least, check out Joe Troop‘s latest project, Che Appalache. They’re calling it LatinGrass and they won first place at the Clifftop Neotraditional Band Contest. For good reason, too. Their singing and playing is impeccable, their arrangements are immaculate, and they have taken a risk and reaped the rewards in creating a totally new sound from existing elements of bluegrass and traditional Latin-American folk music.
Give these bands a listen, you will not be sorry! And if you’r really daring, check out the duo record I made with Joe Troop last summer, “You Bring out the Hamster in Me” (and maybe you will be sorry…)
Until next time, friends, I remain,
Faithfully Yours,