What a strange and funny world this is, I sometimes think. Then I think, Maybe it’s not a strange and funny world, maybe I just have a lot of strange and funny thoughts…
Here we are in the depths of winter. It’s the mildest winter Detroit has seen in years but it’s still pretty cold. I’m starting to enjoy this place a bit more, I’m finding more people to play with, more local gigs, but I am still adjusting to this place. Lots of great people here but no acoustic music scene. So I started a weekly series at my house with a fiddle and a banjo workshop once a month each, and two potluck jams per month. Last month I had my first guest teacher for the fiddle workshop, the one and only Erynn Marshall and her wonderful collaborator and husband, Carl Jones, and that was fantastic. The Detroit Square Dance Society events at the Gaelic League have generated a lot of interest, too. The last one we had was so crowded it was almost too crowded, but it worked and it was super fun.
I think this will be a relatively short email, I’m just going to skip over the past (although it has been good!) and throw the highlights of the near future at ya. Here we go!
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NEAR FUTURE
– This weekend! Lindsay and I are flying Ben Belcher in from New Hampshire and driving to Chicago for the University of Chicago Folk Festival. We’ll play a show on Friday and a show on Saturday, and we’ll play (and Lindsay will call) for the barn dance on Saturday.
– On Monday, Feb 15, Lindsay and I will travel to Columbus, Ohio, to play/call for a square dance there. I met some great people from there during New Year’s in North Carolina, and I’m so excited that they are just a few hours from where I live.
– On Wednesday, Feb 17, Lindsay and I will play a duo show at Tom’s Tavern, one of our very most favoritest bars in Detroit. This place is historic (i.e. OLD) and the good vibes there are palpable.
– Thursday, Feb 18, I play with Detroit Pleasure Society for a special (sold out!) event at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, as part of the Brahms festival. We will play old-fashioned swing music (including Herb Alpert’s Whipped Cream) while burlesque dancers do their stuff and a beard contest takes place. It all makes sense if you think about what Brahms would have done.
– Saturday, Feb 27, I play with Detroit Pleasure Society at two different events: First, the annual Doctors Without Borders Benefit at the AOH Hall in Redford, with many musical acts, including my pals Lac LaBelle and Behind The Times, as well as a bit of square dancing courtesty of the Detroit Square Dance Society with special guest caller Becky Hill! We will have to leave the benefit early in order to get to Plav Post #10 in Hamtramck for our second event of the night, featuring the Detroit Party Marching Band and the Black Bear Combo, from Chicago.
– Sunday the 28th is our third-ever Detroit Square Dance Society event at the Gaelic League. The band will feature members of Behind The Times and Corn Potato String Band, and we have a special guest caller from West Virginia, a Michigan native, Becky Hill! Potluck at 5pm, flatfooting workshop at 5:30 and Southern squares from 6-9 or later. Suggested donation is $10, no one will be turned away, all dances will be taught, no experience necessary.
– The following weekend, March 5-7, I play with four different groups all weekend long at the Hamtramck Music Festival. Check their website for all the details but I’m playing a Corn Potato Duo set with Lindsay, I’m also playing with Detroit Pleasure Society (I think!), Detroit Square Dance Society is putting on the day-after brunch dance, and a new project of mine, called Klezmer DetrOYt!, will make its debut.
– The weekend after that is also a big one as we’re flying Ben Belcher out to Detroit again for a few shows, first we have a hometown gig at PJ’s on Thursday, March 10. The next day we play a benefit for the Black Swamp Nature Conservancy in northwestern Ohio. And on Saturday, the 12th, we have the distinct honor of returning to play at Music In The Burbs, a truly beautiful house concert series in Bloomfield Hills.
I’m going to leave it at that for now. I hope to get in touch with you again before the next big things happen. Things like a new album release! A US tour in the Midwest and East Coast! A tour in the UK! A tour with Roochie Toochie & The Ragtime Shepherd Kings! But I’ll get to all of that later.
I have been reading, stories and essays, from the Best American series. Lots of good stuff there. And last night we watched Lindsay’s favorite movie and I loved it. It’s called The Accountant. It’s only 38 minutes long. It is dark and funny, my favorite combination. Highly recommended.
Right! That’s all for now, then. Stay warm, everybody.
I woke up this morning around 8am, early by my standards, but maybe I had a subconscious premonition of what was to come. Around 9 I heard the rumbling and whine of a chainsaw and thought nothing of it at first. I looked out the window and noticed a tree care crew had chopped off some of the branches from the lovely tall maple tree across the street. “Oh, they’re pruning it up a bit before winter, that’s good,” I thought. But they didn’t stop there. They took the whole tree down to the ground, passed it through the wood chipper, and were on their way before 10. Later on my neighbor told me he had them cut it down because he was tired of raking the leaves and it had to happen sooner or later anyway, right? Sometimes it seems people have more agency than common sense. On the other hand, trees and houses are a tricky combination that will often lead to some kind of trouble sooner or later, right?
Happy Tree Appreciation Season, everybody. In this email I will attempt to catch you up on the following:
– Some stories from the road
– At least one pretty good video from the last tour
– What am I doing in Detroit nowadays
– Upcoming shows and plans for 2016
– A word about our new Corn Potato record
– Book report
A WORD ABOUT THE LAST TOUR
The last time I wrote I was getting ready to go on a long tour with my Corn Potato String Band in the UK and Ireland. Well, we did it and it was a great success. Every show was met with a great reception, wonderful crowds and lovely hosts who were either dear old friends or delightful new friends. There were only one or two exceptions to this, and those were no worse than an average show in the US. (Sorry USA but it’s true!) One of the best parts of a tour is getting to meet other bands and hear them play. A few of our favorites (there are too many to name them all) are Dr. Bluegrass & The Illbilly 8, The Bucket Boyz, Foghorn Leghorn, Seven Sons, Blue Dust, and of course our very favorites, The Ninetree Stumblers. Check em out!
I’m going to keep the ‘stories from the road’ part of this newsletter pretty short, in fact, I’m only going to mention one truly remarkable surprise gig we landed when another one cancelled on us short-notice. It was on the Isle of Arran at a sweet little pub/diner/restaurant called Fiddlers Music Bar, like it was made for us! Anyway, the Isle of Arran is breathtakingly beautiful and our hosts were incredibly generous and hospitable. Add this place to the list of places to which we can’t wait to return.
After the tour I performed in the Banners & Cranks Festival back in Detroit, which Lindsay organized. It was a big success, bringing in artists from all over the country and a record crowd in the Rivera Court at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
A PRETTY GOOD VIDEO OR TWO
Now, I haven’t looked at all the videos from the last tour, nor do I even know where they all are — Please feel free to send me links to any favorites you may have found — but so far the best ones I’ve seen are from the Heart of Hawickand from the Moniaive Bluegrass Festival. Here they are, in no particular order:
– Russian Rag, from Heart of Hawick
– Poplar Bluff, from Moniaive Bluegrass Festival, with first-place Clifftop champion clogger Suzanne Ambrose
– Run Mountain, from Heart of Hawick
WHAT I’M DOING IN DETROIT NOWADAYS
OK, here’s where it starts to get juicy. Since I will be in Detroit most of the time until May I am starting to try and attempt to get some things started. Here are a few things I’m doing (and I’m skipping the boring stuff about working on the house):
– Detroit Square Dance Society — We have successfully organized the first community (non-exclusive) square dance in Detroit since the seventies, and we plan to do another one soon. It was a great night at The Gaelic League, in collaboration with the regular Monday night Irish Set Dancers, who seemed to enjoy the Southern-style square dancing as much as the square dancers enjoyed the Irish set dancing. And the potluck was delicious!
– Old Time Tuesdays chez moi — Every Tuesday I’m hosting a jam or teaching a workshop. First Tuesdays of the month are fiddle tune workshops, third Tuesdays are clawhammer banjo workshops, and every other Tuesday is an old time jam. Get in touch if you’ll be in Detroit on a Tuesday, everyone is welcome.
– Ben Luttermoser Trio — This is a new project with my friend Ben Luttermoser in which I will occasionaly feature as soloist playing early jazz and swing music. So fun!
– Detroit Pleasure Society – This is a bigger band, seven pieces including myself, in which I get to play fiddle solos with a cool group playing hot jazz and swing. Also very fun!
That’s about all for now. Lindsay and I will play the occasional show as the Corn Potato Duo, and we are bringing Ben Belcher to Detroit again in March and in May for some bigger shows. I’m actively looking for people who want to play with me and people who want to take lessons with me. So far I have one really great student and I’m enjoying teaching very much.
UPCOMING SHOWS AND PLANS FOR 2016
Wednesday, 9 Dec – Tom’s Tavern w/ Ben Luttermoser Trio (BLT)
Thursday, 10 Dec – PJ’s Lager House w/Detroit Pleasure Society (DPS) – This is a benefit for Detroit Youth Volume, a great program that gets underprivileged kids in Detroit playing the violin! That’s a cause I can really support.
Friday, 11 Dec – Lo & Behold Records and Books w/DPS – This is also a benefit, for the ongoing project of keeping Lo & Behold open and running. This place is very supportive to local musicians and functions as something of a cultural hub. I took it for granted at first and then I realized there’s not much else like it around here.
And that’s about it for confirmed gigs I have coming up (gasp — how will I survive?)
In January I’m going to New York City to play some shows for a big music conference with Corn Potato, our first attempt at reaching for a higher level of whatever. I trust the guy who invited us and I know most of the other people who are performing on the same bill so even if nothing much comes of it I think we will have a great time. While we are there we will also do a couple of house shows in the area. I plan to update you on that before it happens but you can always check the calendar on my website or the listings on the band website for the most up-to-date information. In February Lindsay and I will play the Doctors Without Borders benefit on the 27th at the AOH Hall in Redford. In March Corn Potato will play a benefit for the Black Swamp Conserancy in Northwestern Ohio, and we’ll do a couple shows before and after that. In April we might go to Louisville to play their awesome square dance, and then in May we begin a big US tour that includes our first ticketed show at The Ark! More on that later…
A WORD ABOUT THE NEW CORN POTATO RECORD
This is the first you’ll hear of it. We recorded on the Isle of Jura with fantastic engineer/guru Giles “Explore The Space” Perring, and the results are still being processed. Sorry I don’t have anything to share with you yet, but I will probably keep talking about it in every email from now on until we make a new new record… Suffice to say that we got some really good stuff and I know that whatever we put together will be way better than anything we’ve recorded previously. So there. Get excited about it.
Congratulations! You made it (almost) to the end of my long rambling newsletter. Here’s the part where I tell you about what I’ve been reading, or not. Since I wrote my last newsletter I’ve only had time to read a little bit. In London my friend Helen lent me her copy of There but for the, by Ali Smith, which was beautiful and poignant, not without humor, seemed quite relevant for our time, and was a quick-to-read yet intelligently-written book. I’d recommend it! I also read a story or two from Birds of America, by Lorrie Moore. Intriguing characters and stories that drew me in. I didn’t read much of the collection yet but I bet it’s pretty good. And then the best of all was a book called My Secret Unicorn: The Magic Spell, by Linda Chapman. Sure, it’s written for kids but you know, it really got my imagination going. Maybe unicorns ARE real? And why not? You can only see them if you believe…
And so my friends, I was going to leave you with a slightly cynical thought I recently heard which I couldn’t help but agree with, from a fellow freelancer who said, “If I have to hustle to find work I’m not doing my job very well,” because this can also be taken optimistically, i.e., if I do my job well then I won’t have to hustle to find work. Instead, I am going to leave you with the image of a little girl patiently and persistently putting together the puzzle pieces that will unlock the secret to the magic spell that will turn her pony into a unicorn and then take her flying around the world on adventures that are all about doing good and helping people. And not cutting down those beautiful trees when they aren’t doing anything wrong except for making leaves!
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:
WHAT MADE ME FEEL LIKE A WINNER THIS SUMMER, or, THE HIGHLIGHTS SO FAR
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
ROOCHIE TOOCHIE DEBUT CD
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
“FUN AND FANCY” CORN POTATO TOUR DATES
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,
“I’m a wiener!”
just passed through the neighborhood last night. I sat on my porch for about six hours as the wind slowly picked up, the intermittent thunder and lightning became more frequent, and the rain went from a drizzle to a patter to a solid torrent, the wind whipping around in all directions and water coming down in such a volume I felt like I was a car at the drive-through car wash. Before going to bed I saw a single raindrop illuminated by a flash of lightning as it was right in front of my face before it hit the ground.
It’s been about two months since my last newsletter and there’s no way I can get everything in that I want to share with you. The main thing to communicate is that I am well and busy these days, very happy with my recent tours with Luke Richardson and Ben Belcher in Germany, the UK, and the Netherlands, where I saw old friends and made some new ones and saw a lot of great bands as well. I’m also very excited about everything that’s coming up. So in this email I plan to cover the following:
– Upcoming shows with Corn Potato and Roochie Toochie (Scroll down if you want to see those first)
– Brief tour highlights
– Some new reviews of Corn Potato String Band “Volume 2”
– SOME videos from our spring tour in the US are now up on youtube
– Book report
I’ve just returned home from a month of touring in Europe and I’m getting ready to hit the road again in a couple days. I was lucky enough to be invited to join local swing band, Detroit Pleasure Society, for a show as soon as I got home. It certainly helps to delay those post-tour blues. Starting July 1, Lindsay, Ben, and I will play a few dates as the Corn Potato String Band and then Lindsay and I go on tour for the last two weeks of July with Roochie Toochie & The Ragtime Shepherd Kings, our wax cylinder recording project. We will tour in New England and the tour dates will be available somewhere, some time, I’m not really sure where and when exactly we’re playing but it should be possible to find out eventually. After Roochie Toochie tour we’re going to catch the last few days of Clifftop and then head to Galax, my musical mecca.
REVIEWS – Over the past few months we got some great reviews of our latest record. The reviews are up on our website at this link, and although they aren’t all one hundred percent accurate, they all have a lot of nice things to say. For example, the Old Time Herald said that we ‘get at it and stay at it,’ and fRoots Magazine compared us to Spinal Tap’s Viv Savage because we ‘have a good time all the time.’
VIDEOS – Since I’ve been home I managed to get just a handful of videos from our spring US tour up onto youtube. You can see the ‘Live At Jalopy’ playlist here and the ‘Live At The Ark’ playlist here.
BRIEF (TRUST ME) TOUR HIGHLIGHTS – If I were going to make it any more brief it would read just like this: “I went on tour with Ben Belcher and later with Luke Richardson. Germany, UK, Netherlands. It was great.”
The tour started with the Karl-May-Tage festival in Radebeul, near Dresden. Karl May was a very popular and influential author in Germany. He wrote many fantasy Western novels about cowboys and Indians which inspired a movement of hobbyists to dress up in authentic outfits and gather for camps where they could reenact and relive these imagined Western scenarious. I had been to some of these gatherings before and was prepared for all kinds of strangeness. As it turned out, most of the people at the festival were locals, families out for a day’s fun. The hobbyists were certainly present, and the festival even had some hired actors to act up in the drunk tank or in the saloon and occasionally have a shootout in the square, and the overall feeling was fun for everyone. Ben and I played in the saloon, a small room that would get very rowdy and crowded. The other band that played in the saloon was one of our favorites from the whole trip. They’re from Dresden and they’re called Tam Tam Combony, a trio of accordion, pedal steel plus guitar plus some horn, and tuba plus percussion. They always got the crowd going and they also played classic spaghetti Western soundtrack music during the shootouts, a la Ennio Morricone). There was also a main stage where I thought all the bands were really good. What struck me about this festival struck was the generosity and kindness of its organizers, as well as their sensitivity to what could potentially be seen as a racist event, depicting Native Americans according to an ignorant stereotype. The Karl-May-Tage festival always brings in a group of Native Americans to conduct workshops, performances, and generally share their culture with people who have a great curiosity and respect. After the festival was over Ben and I attended the afterparty, where a brief ceremony was held to honor the relationship of the festival with the various tribes it has worked with over the years. A tree was planted and speeches were given in the name of peace and understanding. Now who doesn’t support peace and understanding?
After the festival we spent a night in Berlin where I had a glorious reunion with the Froggy Mountain Boys, my beloved western swing band. We had a quick rehearsal before the show and played a great set with Ben sitting in. After our set there was an open jam that ran the gamut from swing standards to hip hop and free improv to Turkish tunes. I met a fantastic swing violin player there named Daniel Weltlinger and went to see him play a beautiful concert a couple nights later. (And at the same venue a couple days after that I saw a tribute to Sun Ra in honor of his 100th birthday and I’m so glad I went to that, too. Berlin!) I ended up staying til around four in the morning… Ben left for tour with The Hot Seats a day later and I stayed in Berlin for a week to visit with friends, drink beer, eat ice cream, and enjoy my favorite city in the world. I got to play for a swing dance unlike any other I’d ever seen—The organizer and dance insructor, Anna, insisted that we play whatever we want and vary the tempos as much as we like. These dancers can dance to any tempo, she said, and everyone has the most fun when the band is having fun. (Most swing dances will have people telling you to keep it at this or that tempo so that dancers can do this or that dance.) And we had a great time! I got to play with a bunch of great old friends, and later that week I got to play two shows with Django Lassi, my favorite band in Berlin. Without planning for it I was in Berlin during the Karneval der Kulturen, a huge celebration with parades and live music everywhere.
From Berlin I took a bus to London which only lasted about 24 hours… When I finally got to London I met my dear friend Ed Hicks and we went straight to Wales, where we spent a couple days walking about the countryside and hanging out with a lovely group of friends. Then we were off to Fire In The Mountain, my favorite festival ever. It’s quite small and it’s in a beautiful part of Wales, near Aberystwyth. I taught a fiddle workshop there, sat in with Ed’s band, The Nightcaps (which included some shirtless crowdsurfing), and played a really nice set with Luke Richardson. I also got to see a lot of great bands and do a lot of what they call ‘jamming,’ or, ‘jam sessions.’ I got to see Mik Artistik, one of my all-time favorites (sort of a cross between Monty Python and Wesley Willis, maybe?), in three separate performances. One of my favorite CDs I got at the festival is from the Rheingans Sisters. I saw some of their live set and thought was great but didn’t know what to expect from their CD. It’s really a lot of great fiddle playing with some lovely singing thrown in. Interesting tunes as well, not so much American old time but more English and Scandinavian folk. After the festival Luke and I played a few more shows in Bristol and London and really had a blast. One of our shows in London led us to the home of one of the Hot Rock Pilgrims, Hubert, and his friend Dan, who was visiting from Brighton. They opened for us and man did they kill it! Great vocals, and Dan on banjo and Hubert on guitar each had a distinctive and impressive style.
Luke and I parted ways about a week later when I met up with Ben and we flew to Amsterdam. Our friend Christian met us there and drove us a few hours north, to the other end of the country, for a sweet little bluegrass and old time festival called Boet n Deure, put on by our friend Sylvia. We got there just in time to play our set and see the last band, who we greatly enjoyed but whose name I forgot… The banjo player especially tickled us with his Don Reno licks and his uncanny Johnny Cash impersonation. Ben hadn’t slept at all the night before in order to get to the airport, and I’d only slept a couple hours as I had to get up at 3:30am to get to the airport on time, but somehow we rallied and partied late with Christian and the Flying Caravan late night after the festival. From there we went back to Christian’s place for a workshop and house concert the next day, a gig at a super tasty BBQ restaurant in Amsterdam, and a very friendly squat in Maastricht. Then we took a train to Frankfurt where we met our friend Marius (of Battenkill Ramblers), who had organized two shows for us in the area with another band, Blackbird Raum, who completely rocked the house with acoustic instruments and crazy energy, and the first show had another band, a duo from France called GRRZZZ that played insane industrial noise music. I enjoyed GRRZZZ and Blackbird Raum so much, I’m really glad I got to meet them and see them play. Our last day in Frankfurt we had a lovely workshop session with some of Marius’s friends, casually spending the afternoon eating, drinking, playing tunes and occasionally talking about this or that aspect of old time guitar or clawhammer or bluegrass banjo or fiddling. From Frankfurt we went back to Berlin for one more night and then we flew back to our respective homes (while Luke stayed in the UK and went on tour with Thomas Bailey, with whom I made the Wild Hog record.)
BOOK REPORT – I think I read one or two books that I liked a lot but I can’t really remember. Has that ever happened to you? You know you really enjoyed a book but can’t remember anything about it? I remember reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales, some Edgar Allan Poe, the Arabian Nights, and poems by Alecsandar Ristovic, and I know that Ben read The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin, because I lent it to him and he tried to give it back to me but I didn’t have room in my suitcase anymore because it was full of Dutch cheese and German dried sausages. Mmmm!
TOUR DATES (All updated info, links, etc. are up on my calendar.)
Corn Potato String Band “Little Glow Worm” July Tour:
July 1 – Quarryville, PA (near Lancaster) – Fiddle Creek Dairy, 7pm, with a fiddle workshop from 5-6.
July 5 – Glover, VT – Parker Pie, 7pm
July 8 – Portland, ME – Blue, 7:45pm
July 9 – Belfast, ME – 3 Tides, 9:30pm
July 10 – Bar Harbor, ME – Parilla, 10pm
July 11 – Bar Harbor, ME – Lompoc, 10pm
Roochie Toochie & The Ragtime Shepherd Kings July Tour:
July 14 – Hudson, NY – Time and Space Limited
July 16 – Hudson, NY – House Show
July 17 – Gorham, NH – Medallion Opera House
July 18 – Denmark, ME – Denmark Arts Center
July 19 – Glover, VT – Bread And Puppet
July 21 – Dorchester, NH – D Acres
July 22 – Portland, ME – Mayo Street Arts (morning/afternoon workshops)
July 22 – Cambridge, MA – Club Passim
July 23 – Littleton, NH – Littleton Opera House
July 24 – Portland, ME – Mayo Street Arts
July 25 – Portland, ME – Private Event
July 26 – Belfast, ME – Waterfall Arts
July 27 – Worcester, MA – Nick’s Bar
July 28 – Lancaster, PA – Chestnut House Concerts
July 29 – Pittsburgh, PA – Babyland
And then it’s off to Clifftop and Galax, home for a few days and then to Tennessee for a nine-day stint at the Cumberland Fair, then home for about two weeks and then to the UK and Ireland for two months! You’ll be hearing from me before then, and until the next time,
I got home to Detroit yesterday and while I’m catching my breath before the next tour I will take a moment to catch up with you. In this email:
– How did it go? Recording in New Orleans and in Lebanon, TN, with two different groups
– There’s a Corn Potato tour? When? where? TOUR DATES, yes!
– That might be all because I haven’t been reading or anything.
– No, wait. I’m going to add a bonus joke. I got this from my friend Lyle in New Orleans: What do you call a Tyrannosaurus Rex on the beach during Christmas time? (Answer at bottom of email…)
So, the past month wasn’t always easy but we worked hard and it was well worth it. We successfully recorded eight songs to wax cylinder with Roochie Toochie & The Ragtime Shepherd Kings. In the end we recorded with Martin Fisher, our friend in Nashville who recorded our first album, because of technical difficulties in New Orleans. Still, we had a great time rehearsing in New Orleans and visiting with all the great musician friends we have down there. Going to Cajun Mardi Gras in the country was a big highlight as well. After New Orleans we went to the Breakin Up Winter festival in the Cedars of Lebanon state park about an hour outside of Nashville and started working with a great group headed by Carole Anne Rose of The Old 78s. It was a great pleasure to hang out and play tunes with her and Rich Hartness, Tolly Tollefson and Greg Adams, with Joebass DeJarnette as our producer and occasional bass player.
Hey, that ties in nicely with our upcoming tour because Joe is going to play bass with us for one of our big gigs, the Chesapeake Dance Weekend in Edgewater, MD. I think that is going to be a great time, and in fact I think all our upcoming shows are going to be great because I’m the one who booked them. Booking my own tours is challenging at times but once I have it all planned out I’m so glad I did it myself. I know that I have a personal connection with the people who are hosting us everywhere we go and I know that they are excited to have us and get us out in front of their local crowd. OK, enough chit chat. Here are the dates and locations! (Full details up at www.cornpotato.com/live)
“Portion Control” Spring Tour 2015
03/16/15 – Kalamazoo, MI – Bells Brewery – SQUARE DANCE
03/17/15 – Hamtramck, MI – Lo & Behold Records And Books
03/21/15 – South Haven, MI – Foundry Hall at the Warren Center
03/22/15 – Fennville, MI – Salt of the Earth (SotE)
03/24/15 – Ann Arbor, MI – The Ark – FREE SHOW!!
03/25/15 – Detroit, MI – PJ’s Lager House, with local favorites Behind The Times – http://wearebehindthetimes.com – and sweet pickin duo The Yodels!!
03/27/15 – Thomas, WV – Purple Fiddle
03/28/15 – Lancaster, PA – Chestnut House Concerts
03/29/15 – Millheim, PA – Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks
03/31/15 – Vienna, VA – Jammin Java, with Packway Handle Band http://packwayhandle.com
04/01/15 – Elkins, WV – El Gran Sabor – FREE SHOW
04/02/15 – Berryville, VA – Shepherds Ford House Concert
04/03/15 – Ashland, VA – Ashland Coffee & Tea
04/04/15 – Purcellville, VA – Moutoux Orchard – SQUARE DANCE
04/05/15 – Brooklyn, NY – Jalopy Theatre, with M Shanghai String Band http://www.mshanghaistringband.com
04/07/15 – Cambridge, MA – Cantab Lounge – FREE SHOW
04/08/15 – New Marlborough, MA – Gedney Underground
04/09/15 – Philadelphia, PA – Greywater Gardens House Concert
04/10/15 – 04/12/15 – Edgewater, MD – Chesapeake Dance Weekend
04/12/15 – Towson, MD – Towson House Concert
04/13/15 – Winchester, VA – Sweet NOLA’s Southern Food Lounge – FREE SHOW
04/14/15 – Pittsburgh, PA – Acoustic Music Works, with local opening duo Douglas Fur on bass drum banjo tambourine and vocals!
04/15/15 – Lakewood, OH – Root Cafe – FREE SHOW
04/17/15 – Chicago, IL – Honky Tonk BBQ – FREE SHOW
04/18/15 – Bloomfield Hills, MI – Music In The Burbs
That’s all for now, folks! I’m so excited for this tour. Hope to see you out there soon, and if you don’t live anywhere near where we’re going please send your friends out and tell them to introduce themselves and say hi.
Oh yeah, and hooray for spring being almost here!
(Answer: SANDY CLAWS)
Greetings from New Orleans,
Party People In The HOUUUUUSE…!
I’m back in the D and I’m staying warm amid the below-zero temperatures with the help of a forced-air heating system, lots of hot tea, and dreams of the future. Winter is my time to thrive, in terms of sitting in front of the computer and writing to you. I hope.
Anyway, here’s what I have for you in this particular newsletter:
– The big news! Corn Potato String Band, Volume Two is almost here.
– Upcoming tour dates, aka Please help me find a gig
– News and videos from the American Voices Abroad tour in Eastern Europe with Tumbling Bones and from the UK tour with Luke Richardson
– Too much personal information
– Extensive book report (I’ve read a lot since my last letter to you) and some of what I’ve been listening to
Let’s dive right in to the big news — I know some of you have been anxiously awaiting this new record, and this one especially goes out to those of you who have asked for a record with more vocals. We’ve creatively decided to call this, our second record, “Volume Two.” That’s because it was recorded during the same ten-hour session during which our first record was recorded. Ben Belcher has created complementary artwork which you must see to believe. And, what else can I say? All the songs are pretty good. T’he official’ release date is Valentine’s Day but I have a ‘prerelease’ link for you right here — Free streaming or pay what you like (minimum $7).
Plans for 2015 so far include a trip to New Orleans in February (Mardi Gras and Roochie Toochie), followed by Breakin Up Winter outside of Nashville in March, then a US tour from late March through April. I’m still holding out hope that we can go back to Europe for May/June festivals but so far I don’t have the gigs — Anyone got any ideas for us? In July we’re planning a short tour in the Northeast with Roochie Toochie And The Ragtime Shepherd Kings, then we have Clifftop and Galax. In September and October we will be in the UK and Ireland again (at least that’s the plan) as I have confirmed us for the Moniaive Michaelmas Bluegrass Festival and that’s as far as I’ve gotten. Here are a couple of things coming up soon here at home:
– On Saturday, Jan 31, Lindsay and I will play a Corn Potato Duo set at Northern Lights Lounge in Detroit, supporting 7Layers, our friend Leor’s funk band. We saw them play for New Year’s at Tony V’s and had a blast. I wore a tux.
– The following week, Feb 7, we play the 6th Annual Benefit for Doctors Without Borders, at the AOH in Redford. We are joining many other great bands for the event and there will be good food and drink, I’m told. Event details are here.
So maybe you’re thinking, “It’s nice to hear from you, Aaron, but why have you waited so long to write?” Well, I’ve been more busy than usual, and I am thankful for that. On the other hand, I had about a two-month stretch there without a single day off, i.e., I was either playing or traveling or both every day for almost two months. Yes, I got worn down a bit once or twice but I loved every minute of it and would gladly do it all again. First came the American Music Abroad tour with Tumbling Bones, whom I love so dearly. We went to Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, and Ukraine, spent a week in each country, taught many workshops and played many concerts, met the nicest people and great musicians (Shota!), got treated to incredible food (PAPA NASH) and drink (homemade Georgian wine!), and learned so much about the music and culture of these beautiful countries. Here are a few of my favorite videos from the tour: Here. They reflect some of the variety of music we covered, including two of the ‘country songs’ we learned (Georgia and Ukraine) — In every country we learned a song from that country, and I also have a video up there with a great (and the only) Georgian country singer, Shota.
Touring with Lindsay and Luke after the tour in Eastern Europe was a return to familiar territory. I got to teach a workshop (thanks to FOAOTMAD) to a great group of fiddlers and was able to work with the same people for more than three hours for the first time in my teaching career. I loved it and hope to do more like that again. After the workshop weekend we toured for two weeks solid without a single day off, and every show was a blast. By now I am more familiar with England and Scotland than I am with the US, I have toured there so much. And I’m coming back again soon!
I’m going to skip the personal stuff, just because it’s boring and irrelevant. Well, OK, I was just going to brag about my new attempts to cut down and fatty, sugary foods and work out to get in shape. But I’ve only been at it for a week so who knows how long it will last. I’m feeling pretty good but I have no idea if I’m losing weight because I don’t own a scale. It all started with a friend telling me about his diet and how reasonable it sounded, while around the sime time I heard about the Seven-Minute Workout. Seven minutes? I bet I can do that… Try it, I dare you! (And if you don’t like the annoying songs there are other versions without them.)
Since I last wrote (was it September?) I’ve done a lot of reading. I can’t even remember everything I read, but here are some of the memorable ones:
– The Sirens Of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut — I’ve read a lot of Vonnegut but not this one. It’s one of my favorites of his now. It incorporates many familiar motifs of his into a fairly compact and powerful read.
– Best American Mystery Stories of 2014 — I bought this one at the airport because I finished the Vonnegut before the tour even started. And I loved it! I’ve never really read mystery stories before, not since The Hardy Boys when I was a kid.
– Autobiography of Charlie Chaplin — I’ve always been fascinated by the man and he’s a good writer, too. Lots of interesting stories and thoughts from a genuine nonconformist, pacifist, and entertainer.
– The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende — I’d heard the book is way better than the movie and it is! There is so much more going on and the imagery is just wonderful. Lots of fun, I found it inspirational.
I know there were more but I can’t remember them now. Maybe they weren’t that good. I hope you’re finding the time to read, perhaps curled up by the fire? “What about what you’ve been listening to lately, Aaron?”
– Lindsay picked up a great ska compilation (skampilation?) in London I put on when I’m doing the dishes. It’s called Ska Mania and it’s a good mix of original Jamaican ska and seventies/eighties British ska.
– Lots of Bulgarian folk music I picked up in Bulgaria
– The new Two Man Gentlemen Band album, which they gave me after I played with them a few months ago in Detroit
– “Yodel the Cowboy Way,” by Riders In The Sky, definitely not an instructional record, impossible to sing along with but very beautiful. I got this one from John Hatton
– My friends Lac LaBelle’s new record, and the record of Nick Schillace’s band, Detroit Pleasure Society.
– And I’m still rockin out to Spinning Jennies, “Från Rotterdam Till Lilla Wien.” What an amazing and unique Swedish bluegrass group. So fun!
All right gang, that’s all for now. As always, your responses are most welcome. Help keep me from feeling lonely.
I hope that you stay warm and well all winter long; let’s meet again soon.
Guten Tag Meine Freunde!
You see I’ve still got some German left in me. Those three months of language school plus three years of living in Berlin have really paid off, hehe. Now that summer is really and truly over and done with and we’re in the midst of my favorite season of the year, I recall how I used to heat my flat in Berlin — That’s right, with coal! Yesterday (or a few days ago) was our first truly cold day here in Detroit but I don’t have to call the coal delivery people and schedule a dropoff, I just have to press GO on the old thermostat. So glad I actually bought a furnace and had it installed professionally. That’s definitely the biggest, most expensive thing I’ve ever bought. Until I turn it on I will continue to drink lots of hot tea but I think today is the day…
In this email I will share my upcoming tour dates through to the end of the year, as far as I know, tantalizing tidbits regarding the forthcoming new release from The Corn Potato String Band, and plenty of reliable ramblings from yours truly.
The past month here has been full of house projects, slow but steady progress booking the next tours for The Corn Potato String Band, preparing to release our new album (!), and getting out and about in Detroit and in Michigan, meeting people, playing tunes and seeing other bands. I got to sit in with my old pals, The Two Man Gentleman Band, when they came through town, I saw Chris Coole and Ivan Rosenberg, a great banjo/dobro duo, and my friends Behind The Times opened for them. This past weekend Lindsay and I played in Grand Rapids, South Haven, and Kalamazoo, MI, that last one for a square dance with our old friend T Claw calling. And today I’m missing a free P-Funk concert in Detroit because I’m tiling my bathroom floor!
The month ahead promises a few shows for our full Corn Potato trio in the Boston area before I head to Eastern Europe with Tumbling Bones for our US State Department Cultural Diplomacy Tour. Apparently we will spend the month of November touring in Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, and Ukraine. I’m so excited to seek out fiddle music over there, hopefully learn some tunes and do some dancing! Unfortunately I still don’t know exactly when we’re playing where on this tour but will share that information as soon as I have it. After the State Department tour I’m meeting up with Lindsay and with Luke Richardson for a FOAOTMAD workshop and two-week tour in the UK. So here are the upcoming tour dates!
– Sunday, Oct 19, I play a solo set for a variety program in Flint, MI, called Humanity in Harmony. The theme is peace, harmony, diversity, and the variety of music played with stringed instruments, so perfect for me! The event is a celebration of Daniel Pearl World Music Day, a day that honors journalist Daniel Pearl, who was killed while reporting in Pakistan. In addition to being a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, Pearl was also an accomplished violinist. Daniel Pearl World Music Day is his family’s way of celebrating his life and legacy. I am honored to take part in this event and the other performers will be a diverse and interesting group. It’s happening at the Flint Institute of Music in the MacArthur Recital Hall at 2pm.
– Friday, Oct 24, Middlesex, VT at Nutty Steph’s we’ll have our first Corn Potato String Band show with Ben Belcher since our Europe tour! 8pm, FREE (suggested $5 donation)
– Saturday, Oct 25, Andover, MA, Corn Potatos teach workshops and perform at The Real School of Music, 7pm, $10 cash at the door, children 12 and under FREE – Workshops earlier in the day, call (978) 475-1223 for more info.
– Sunday, Oct 26 we play a house concert at my friend’s house in Somerville, MA. It will be a lovely potluck event and I’m sure we’ll get some jams in after the show, too.
And then I go to Portland, ME, to rehearse with Tumbling Bones for a few days before we go on our U.S. STATE DEPARTEMENT CULTURAL DIPLOMACY TOUR OF ROMANIA, BULGARIA, UKRAINE AND GEORGIA. That’s all the iformation I have for now…
And THEN! When that tour is finished I will fly to London and make my way to Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, to teach an intensive weekend fiddle workshop Nov 28-30 (which may be sold out already? Contact Andrew & Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org for details) with Luke Richardson teaching banjo. After the workshop weekend we will spend two weeks touring with Lindsay as another incarnation of the Corn Potato String Band — Here are the dates!
1 Dec – Bristol – Stag & Hounds, 8pm, FREE!
2 Dec – Towersey – Three Horseshoes, 8pm. £10
3 Dec – London – What’s Cookin, 9pm, FREE!
4 Dec – London – Betsey Trotwood, 8:30pm, £7, with local openers Foghorn Leghorn!
5 Dec – Norfolk – Wiveton Hall Cafe, 7:45pm, £10
6 Dec – Ninfield – BluegrassPlusClub at Memorial Hall, 8pm, £10
7 Dec – Swanage – The Square and Compass, 1pm, FREE!
8 Dec – Liverpool – The Caledonia, 9pm, FREE!
9 Dec – Edinburgh – House Concert, 8pm, £10
10 Dec – Coldingham – Village Hall, 7:30pm, £8
11 Dec – Newcastle – Cumberland Arms, 8pm, £5, with House of Black Gardenia, and Screamin Miss Jackson and the Slap Ya Mama Big Band
12-14 Dec are TBC, any ideas, anyone?
We’ll fly back to the US soon after our last show and do a three-day square dance tour with T Claw calling:
18 Dec – Louisville, KY – Holiday Hoedown Square Dance at Danny Mac’s, Amvets Post 9, Doors open at 7 with jamming
Beginners dance workshop around 7:30
Dancing from 8-10:30
Open mic calling at 10:30PM
How Much? – $5 (Vets, Youth, & Volunteers Free)
19 Dec – Oxford, OH – Holiday Hoedown Square Dance at Oxford Community Arts Center, 7:30pm, $5
20 Dec – Nashville, TN – The Old School Farm Dance Holiday Hoedown, lesson at 7:30, dancing 8-11
Whew! That should do it for 2014. I’m working on putting together tours for the Corn Potatos in the US (Midwest to Southeast and maybe Northeast as well) for late March through mid-April, and another big tour in Europe for May, June and July. I’m still new at this booking thing and I need all the help I can get. If you know anyone that books bands in any of these places or just have any ideas for us for festivals or great venues, please let me know!
I’m not waxing philosophical too often these days as I feel like I have more work to do than ever before. That reminds me! I almost forgot to say something about our new record — I just got the masters late last night and have been listening the whole time I’ve been writing this, and it sounds great! We’ve decided, creatively enough, to call this new record, “Corn Potato String Band, Volume Two.” The artwork will be done by the same Ben Belcher that plays on the record and did the artwork for Volume One. It will be available in another month or two if all goes well. I hope you’re as excited to hear it as I am to be able to put it out there!
The Dust Blows Forward And The Dust Blows Back,
I’m back in Detroit, the city where I was born and raised, and I plan to live here for the foreseeable future. My house is now habitable (meaning we got plumbing and electrical mostly figured out, working doors and windows, and a good furnace installed) and looking great, although there is a lot of work left to be done. I’m staying home to work on the house, work on the upcoming tours, and most importantly meet people, make friends, and find out where the music is happening around here. Just today I had a fine time with my friends Ben, Ben, and Rachel of Behind The Times, who opened for us Corn Potatos this past Wednesday at PJ’s in Corktown. (That’s in Detroit.) And Lindsay and I got to play some tunes with them and meet a bunch of their great musician friends. And tomorrow we’re going to the Hamtramck Festival to see polka bands, Breezee One, and who knows what else.
In the coming month I have absolutely zero gigs to announce. The next big thing I have coming up is a US State Department Tour in Eastern Europe with Tumbling Bones. I’m looking forward to that a great deal, and it will be followed immediately by a two-week Corn Potato tour in England with Luke Richardson in December. (Some of those dates are already posted on the old band calendar.)
After getting back from Europe I spent a few days in Detroit and slept in my own house for the first time in my life. Then we went straight to Galax where we met with Luke and dozens of other great friends. This year was particularly good. Lots of really good jams and the weather was the best I’ve ever seen, until the last two days when it rained nonstop. Ah yes, then we got home from Galax and the rain followed us. Torrential rain resulted in minor flooding in the basement. And then we were off to Minnesota for a beautiful square dance weekend in St. Croix State Park. What a great little gathering that was! Great food, great music, great people and great dancing. Who could ask for more? After that we hung out in Minneapolis for a few days and made our way to Lindsay’s home town of Dubuque, Iowa, where we played at Monk’s Kaffee Pub, indulged in Rainbow Lounge karaoke and Paul’s Taxidermy Tavern burgers. Legendary stuff.
I’ve been posting some videos from our summer tour on our Facebook page. I also made a youtube playlist in case you want to see my favorites all at once. We have a new album to release in the fall, which I will spend some time working on in the next weeks. Still looking for a title — Suggestions are welcome, but send them soon! And plans for touring, though still vague at this point, are looking something like Midwest in March, mid-Atlantic in April and then back to Europe for May-July. The tour this past summer was the best ever and I hope to recreate that as closely as possible.
I haven’t been reading many books but I have been reading The New Yorker and a book of short stories by Alice Munro, which apparently won a Nobel Prize. And last night I watched a Russian film called The Return that was quite good.
I’m not used to being in one place for such a long time (two months!) so it will be interesting to see what happens. I’m very excited to fix the house up nicer and nicer, and to host parties and have out-of-town friends stay over (for example, our great friends from New Orleans The Leveetoppers just played in Detroit and stayed with us). Let me know if you’re ever coming through Detroit!
Until next time,
Keepin it classy,
Aaron Jonah Lewis