I have about a day and a half left to get things in order and collect my thoughts before I’m out on the road again. Ben Belcher is coming up on Wednesday and we’ll have a day or so to catch up, rehearse and learn new material and then we’re off!
In this email I will share some
– recent highlights
– upcoming shows
– Naumkeag House & Gardens in Stockbridge, MA Thursday
– Winning first place fiddle and second place banjo at the Wilson County Fair
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.
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,
I just got home last night from two weeks in Ireland and France, the end of my summer’s travels, ALMOST. Yes, I spent all my time on the road since I last sent one of these newsletters out, and yes, I am going out on the road again tomorrow so I have very little time to write this and edit it or even read it over before I send it out. BUT I just have too much coming up that I can’t not tell you about it. This one will again be pretty brief and I hope some time next month when things start to slow down I’ll be able to ramble in print a bit more and on the road a bit less. So I’m going to tell you about what’s coming up FIRST, and then maybe a bit about what I’ve been doing since I last wrote, and that will be all.
WHAT’S COMING UP – see www.cornpotato.com/live or aaronjonahlewis.com/calendar for more infos
Corn Potato Tour Dates:
Tomorrow! In Toledo! House concert at 7pm. Check the website for more info
Friday 9/16 – G.A.R. Hall, the Voices in the Valley Small Hall Concert Series, Peninsula, OH
Saturday 9/17 – Whitehall, MI – Historic Howmet Playhouse
Sunday 9/18 – Milford, MI – Rivers Edge Brewery
Monday 9/19 – Set & Square Dancing at the Gaelic League in Corktown, Detroit – With special guests Jen Maurer and Anthony Papaleo of Mo’ Mojo out of Akron, OH!! Two live bands, two callers, one big ballroom with a bar and a potluck to boot!
Tuesday 9/20 – Stormy Records in Dearborn, MI – we’re the first band to play at their new location. Free show, 3-4pm
Wednesday 9/21 – Tom’s Tavern at 7 Mile & Wyoming – Still my favorite place to play in the city. It will be Ben’s first time playing there, so excite it!
Thursday we drive to Terre Haute, IN, to stay with some lovely people on our way to St. Louis
9/23-24 we play and teach at the St. Louis Folk & Roots Festival, whoo!
9/25 – Gatlinburg, TN – Sugarlands Distilling Company – These people offer free tasting sessions that will blow your mind and/or taste buds…
9/26 – In Atlanta we will share a show at Mammal Gallery with Black Sheep Ensemble, this great brass band we met in Detroit in July at the Crash Festival
9/27-28 No idea… Anyone got any suggestions? People around Atlanta that might want to hear us play? People that might want to have us stay at their house?
9/29 – Dahlonega, GA – The Crimson Moon Cafe – Lovely listening room with great food and drinks, haven’t been there in years and I’m glad to get back
9/30 – Club Downunder in Tallahassee, FL, at the UFS campus. This is a big show with Ken Waldman and many special guests.
And then that’s it for a while. Lindsay and I have two big shows in Michigan for October so far. They are:
Thursday, Oct 13, in Lansing at The Robin Theater with our friends Red Tail Ring
Sunday, Oct 23, in Flint, at the Flint Institute of Music for the mini-festival called Humanity In Harmony. It’s a great lineup, lots of variety and all in the name of world peace. Check out the link…
Right, so the last time I wrote was July 11. I can’t believe I actually managed that because I had a doctor’s appointment early in the morning (don’t worry, I’m pretty healthy) and a studio session in the afternoon. Well, I played some great shows that week at St. CeCe’s and at Marge’s Bar and the weekend was consumed with the super fun and nearly overwhelming Crash! Detroit Festival, which had about a dozen brass bands from around the country invade the city and make crazy exuberant music for many days and nights. We hosted ten people from different bands in the house which only added to the fun. Then there was Roochie Toochie tour which was VERY good, the highlight being our showcase set at Clifftop, which we were all happy with, and that doesn’t happen too often. It’s such a treat to play for a bunch of musicians and music lovers who totally get what you’re doing. I had people comment on musical things we did that lasted less than a second, and this is while there are fireworks going off and cardboard signs and puppets flying around, people still notice the music part. That really cheers me up. While we were in New York I got to play a totally uplifting show with the great Tamar Korn and I got to see some of my dear pals e.g. Thomas Bailey, who has done some recording with me and Max Johnson, a.k.a. Wild Hog (click it!), over the year, and I’m not making any promises or anything but we may just have something to release before the end of the year. We’ll see.
After Clifftop I went to Galax and had the best time ever. Then I went to Asheville and recorded with Joe Troop at Billy Cardine’s house — I’m listening to Billy’s album Global Americana right now, this guy is amazing as a composer and instrumentalist — we’ll see what comes of that as well, but Joe and I have been pickin pals for at least ten years and we both love to go out and tour so it seems inevitable that we’ll join forces at some point. After that Lindsay and I went to the Wilson County Fair and saw the acrobats, the prizewinning livestock and poultry, we saw Roni AND Donna Stoneman (dream come true!), rode rides, ate too much fair food, hung out with our pal Luke Richardson, who also just released a beautiful fiddle-and-concertina album he made with Jody Kruskal called Waiting for the Boatsman, check that out here, I won first place in the fiddle contest (again), we shared the stage with some GREAT musicians, Austin Derryberry, Tater Carruthers, the 13-year-old fiddle and banjo prodigy, Roy Harper the Singing Brakeman, 91 years old and used to play with Jimmie Rodgers, and of course our Gallinipper pal Buddy who puts it all together. We also had a snake charming routine, a dancing gorilla, crankie shows, and a big Fathead representing our Possum Party. Vote Possum!
Well, then we drove straight home after the fair was over and got on a plane to Ireland the next day. Wow, that bluegrass festival at the Ulster American Folk Park was just fantastic. The weather was cooperative but just barely. Other than that the setting was beautiful and there were so many great bands to see. Our favorites (and our friends who were there) were Betse & Clarke, Dr. Grass & The Illbilly 8, Bluegrass Boogiemen, and new friends and favorites Red Wine, from Italy, and Sunny Side, from Czech. After the festival Lindsay and I went to France to visit some friends (such as Johannes, one of the founding members of my Western Swing band, The Froggy Mountain Boys) and attend a truly lovely wedding celebration that lasted for days at a chateau in the south of France… Maybe the best wedding ever… Best one I’ve been to this summer in any case. On our way home we got to spend the night with our pal Colin who plays with I Draw Slow. Those guys are all so talented and delightful. So glad we got to see Colin. Check out his band.
That brings us more or less up to the present. I did manage to read a short book while I was in France. It’s called The Roots of the Blues, by Samuel Charters. It’s a travelogue wherein the ethnomusicologist author travels to West Africa in search of connections between what’s left of traditional African musical traditions and the American blues. I like travel writing and I like to think about where music comes from and how it changes as it moves around in space and time, so I loved this book. I also watched about twenty movies on the plane over the course of the summer and can’t remember one of them.
I hope you’ve all had an excellent summer and I hope that you are, like me, looking forward to what lies ahead. See you out there some time soon!