Babies, Banjos, and Britney

I just spent 48 hours in a room at the Ramada Inn in Birmingham, Alabama with Corn Potato Ben, his wife, and their three-month-old boy, and boy, did I learn a lot. I learned even more than I already knew about How To Calm A Crying Baby With Norwegian Black Metal (in our particular case, mostly Mayhem and some Slayer). I learned, from the hotel TV, all about Britney Spears’ story, her struggles and achievements. I also learned that I have more sympathy and respect for her than I could have imagined. I guess that Lifetime dramatization of her life followed by real-life documentary about the making of her new show in Vegas had its intended effect. And of course I learned the unspeakable joy that comes from playing twin banjos as the baby drifts off to sleep and stays asleep for hours…

Now I’m back in Opelika, Alabama, where Ben lives. Why did we spend 48 hours in Birmingham? The honest answer is that Ben’s wife, Annie Campbell, is a ceramic sculpture artist and professor at Auburn University, and there was a clay conference in Birmingham last weekend that she couldn’t miss. Ben went to help with the baby and I went so I could keep playing music with Ben.

I’ve been down here, suffering through the sunny Alabama weather (it’s still February??), and working up lots of new material with Ben in preparation for our upcoming Home Routes tour in April (scroll down for tour dates). Much of this new material will end up in the regular Corn Potato trio repertoire as soon as we get a chance to practice all together.

And when will the Corn Potato String Band play again? Good question — I will tell you. I will also tell you about some other events that are coming up very soon, and I think I can even share a recent video or two, just for fun. I also have a little album update, in case you were wondering about our newest release. (“What? When? Whaaaat??)

So, or as my friends in Deutschland say, SO! Let’s jump right in with upcoming events:

This Saturday, Feb 25, at our beloved Gaelic League in Detroit – The 8th Annual Benefit for Doctors Without Borders. This is basically a one-day festival of Celtic and American music, packed with great musicians and for a great cause. Click here for tickets and more information.

Friday, March 3, at the G.A.R. Hall in Peninsual, OH (near Cleveland) — The full Corn Potato String Band is together again for a return to this beautiful concert hall. We had a great time last time we were there. Tell everyone you know in the area to come out and see us! Tickets (scroll down)

Saturday, March 4, at The Ark in Ann Arbor, MI — This is an incredible-sounding room and an amazing venue that’s hosted just about every great folk and roots act in the last fifty years or so. It’s an honor for us to play there again, and this time we will have our friends Wire in the Wood opening for us. Help us sell the show out! Tickets

Sunday, March 19, at The Gaelic League — Detroit Square Dance Society presents a St. Patrick’s Day Square Dance — 5pm potluck, 6pm dancing with a beginner’s workshop and/or flatfooting at 5:30 to get warmed up. Special guest caller Greta Van Doren and the music of the Detroit Square Dance Society Band will have you swinging and promenading all night long. More info here

On Saturday, March 25, Lindsay and I are doing some crankie shows (paper movies) at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, exact time and location TBA…

And that’s about it until the Home Routes tour. As you can see, I’m working as much as a retired person. If you know of anyone looking for someone like me to record, tour, or teach, please put them in touch with me.

We have a new album that is in the process of getting mixed and should be released some time in the next couple months. No title yet, suggestions are welcome! The songs are from the same recording session we did in Scotland with our pal Giles Perring at Sound of Jura that made up our last album, and includes such hits as The Corn Potato Stomp, Rubber Dolly, and I Let The Stars Get In My Eyes… Stay tuned for that one! And, seriously, suggestions for album title and artwork are very welcome.

Now, as promised, here are a couple videos of me and Ben from last night’s private concert we played in Atlanta: Ruth’s Rag, featuring our host Ms. Moonshine on the dance board, and Freckles, a technically challenging yet lighthearted classic banjo piece from 100 years ago, written by Joe Morley, which we are very proud to have worked up.

Thanks for keeping the fires burning everybody. These are interesting times we live in, and I feel honored and privileged to be able to make music and travel with and for such fine people as yourselves. Do keep in touch and stay close with one another. Until next time, I remain, Yours in Corn Potato,