I’m Pupating! And News of Nashville and Hunger Mountain

November 16, 2012

Well Friends, Now I’ve done it. I’ve picked up and moved back to the USA. It’s a pretty big change from living in Berlin and not at all an easy thing to do but I’m glad I took this chance and I look forward to what the future here has to offer. I’m also harboring some not-so-secret hopes to return to Europe for some visiting and performing as soon as possible… In this post I have a precious few gig announcements. Mostly I’m going to share my impressions of Nashville so far and tell you what I’ve been up to since I got back to the US. So, Nashville…! Without going into too much detail I’ll say that Nashville is very different from Berlin, especially in terms of variety in food, music, arts in general, and types of people you’ll meet. Also public transportation, that’s a big one. But the most important things are well covered and those are nice people and great music. Everyone I’ve met in Nashville so far has been super nice, and not in a fake way,…

Read More

Big big BIG News…!

September 9, 2012

I wish I had a needle and thread Fine as I could sew I’d stitch that pretty girl to my side And down the road I’d go This is the song lyric that comes to mind as I prepare for the next big step in my life. My big news is that I’m leaving Berlin and I’m moving to Nashville in order to play full time with Nora Jane Struthers and her band. I just want to take all my friends and loved ones with me. As much as I’ve loved the experience of playing in dozens of bands at a time over the past ten years or so, I’ve always wanted to go all the way with one band. Now I have the chance to pursue that dream and I’m gonna go for it. Nora Jane is an old friend who I first met at Galaxabout ten years ago and she’s always wanted me to join her band but I’ve always been busy or overseas. I just played a couple of shows with the band and the songs are great, the group…

Read More

Back to Screen Time

August 16, 2012

I’ve reentered the world of computers and cell phones after spending a week at the Old Fiddlers Convention in Galax. It was an eventful one this year, what with the 389 mandolins breaking the world record for largest mandolin ensemble and all. (Click the link for a sample of what it was like!) I also managed to sneak into the top ten again this year with eighth place in Bluegrass Fiddle. I got some pickin in with all kinds of great folks and now I’m thinking about something I heard a few years ago, to paraphrase, “Galax is real life. The other 51 weeks of the year are just waiting for the next Galax to come around.” As I’ve said in previous emails I’m not too terribly busy with work this summer although I do have a few gigs coming up in DC, Detroit, Minneapolis, WV, and NYC which I’ll tell you about in a minute here. But first I want to give some thanks to the farmers. On my visits to friends in the past month I stayed on a few farms and if there’s…

Read More

Wild Hog Pre-Release Now Available for YOU!

July 6, 2012

Happy Summertime Everybody! In this post I’m going to tell you about some of my tour highlights so far, some of the things I have coming up, and of course the big news which is that my record with Thomas Bailey and Max Johnson is now available online! So in case you don’t have time to read all my ramblings, here is the link to the album: For now only the digital download is available but if you want a physical copy either come to one of our shows or sit tight and they will become available online in the next few months. I’m so happy with the way this album turned out and I hope to be able to make a lot more like this in the future.

Read More

Big Fat Newsletter for May. YAY.

May 20, 2012

Just trying to cut down on the exclamation points. But it’s hard!!!! Aaah, addiction… Here’s my latest news in letter form. To receive these newsletters in your own inbox simply add yourself to my email list or send me an email with the word ‘subscribe’ in the subject heading and a description of your favourite animal. (Autocorrect is making me spell things British-ly today because I’m backstage at the Thomas Dolby show in Frankfurt surreptitiously using the guitarist’s laptop to execute this ‘news’ mission. Shh!) Oh My Dear Dear Dears! How are you? I heard that the summertime has arrived in Berlin but the weather here is not so sure. Yes, I’m back in Berlin, back in front of the computer, and although we’ve had some pretty cold days lately at least I’m not hauling coal up from the cellar to keep the flat warm anymore.

Read More

Tour Highlights from the Tour I Just Did That Was Really Good

April 19, 2012

And what a tour it was! A tour of firsts. Little firsts and big firsts. And a dearth of big fists, excepting those that pumped the air in jubilation. I think there were a lot of those type of fists. Before I get into the little things that made me smile and all the happy events that took place I have to first give you some idea of the bigger picture. I was in a special position, i.e., I got to open the show with my longtime pal Ben Belcher who I had hardly played with at all in the past two years and just any time I get to play with him it’s so so good. And then after opening I got to play part of the headline set with Thomas Dolby and his excellent band, Kevin Armstrong on guitar and Mat Hector on drums. Musically, this was very exciting and beneficial for me, especially since the two sets I played on were so different from each other. And personally, these are all just super great guys who I love to spend time with and I’m so…

Read More

Stay Warm This February With Route 77, The New Froggy Mountain Boys Record, Now Available Online

February 17, 2012

Brrr! Shivery Greetings from Berlin, It is definitely winter here and I hope you are staying warm this February. I’m getting by, staying close to the coal oven with lots of hot tea and getting out for lovely jam sessions in warm places whenever possible. I’ve got some exciting news and I’ve got some REALLY exciting news for you in this post. You can decide which is which! I’m going to tell you about the Froggy Mountain Boys’ trip to Finland for the TunturiBlues Festival. I’m going to tell you about my gigs this month in Berlin. I’m going to tell you about my upcoming tour with Thomas Dolby. And perhaps most exciting-ly of all I’m going to tell you about the NEW ALBUM from my Berlin-based Western Swing band, the Froggy Mountain Boys! It’s called ‘Route 77’ and is now officially released to the world! We’ve worked so hard on it, recording in Berlin at Paul-Lincke Studio (Alexander Ott), mastering in London at Marylebone Studio (Pete Thomas), including fine artwork from Doug Chayka and fifteen tracks of hot swingin love from your very own Froggy Boys! OK, enough waiting,…

Read More

Quick Note About What You Can Expect When You See Me and Ben Belcher Opening for Thomas Dolby On His Tour of the US and Canada This March/April

January 24, 2012

Ben Belcher and I have been playing together since 2001 or 2002, when we tried to form a bluegrass group with about eight or nine other guys. It was called Special Ed and the Shortbus Bluegrass Band, like we had to remind ourselves of what we were trying to do with the band name. It turned out that playing traditional bluegrass was harder than we thought it would be, so we indulged ourselves and played whatever we felt like. Lots of fun ensued. (Think Zappa and Ween tunes with fiddle and banjo) Years later we got more involved with traditional bluegrass and old time music and got to playing more and more of it, understanding it better, developing a deeper appreciation and a greater repertoire, as well as a great network of friends and co-conspirators. A couple years ago Special Ed and the Shortbus became the Hot Seats and I left the band and moved to Berlin, Germany, soon after. Then, a few months ago, Ben and his wife, Annie Campbell came for a visit in Berlin and we played together for the first…

Read More

Thomas Dolby March/April Tour Dates in US and Canada Announced!

January 14, 2012

Very exciting news — The official tour dates for Thomas Dolby’s Time Capsule Tour have been announced. My role in this tour is to play banjo, fiddle, guitar and harmonica in the Thomas Dolby band as well as to play the opening set with Ben Belcher for every show. I’m posting the official press release below, and a quick link to the tour dates here.

Read More

The Year Ahead

January 10, 2012

Can I just start out by saying “Aaaahh….” That’s a sigh of satisfaction with 2011. What a year, full of surprises, full of accomplishment, full of new friends made and old friends cherished. And now I’m back in my flat in Kreuzberg, Berlin, where luckily it’s not so cold that I absolutely have to make a fire to keep warm. These days I’m catching up with my friends in Berlin and playing a few shows around town (like tonight, with Latcho Nash Nash, on my new Charlie Hardie banjo!), drinking loads and loads of tea, and planning for the year ahead. I’d like to share with you what my plans look like for now. They say the best laid plans are doomed to fail, so I’m taking care not to plan too well…

Read More