Rick James Dance Party

January 15, 2018

Wintry Greetings and a Ho Ho Ho! It’s that time of year when the thing to do is either hibernate or head south. I’m doing a bit of both, been enjoying some time at home in Detroit to read and practice, and today I’m driving to New Orleans for a few weeks’ spiritual pilgrimage. I finally got the ole hi-fi up and running so I can play these vinyl LPs I’ve been accumulating, and man! I had no idea how much I was going to love Rick James! He’s like the missing link between P-Funk and Prince. So much fun to dance to and get the heart rate and body temperature up when you keep the thermostat at 60… New-ish Release In case you missed it, my album “You Bring Out The Hamster In Me“, recorded last summer with Joe Troop, is now available from CDBaby as a digital download! You can also stream the album for free as much as you like. Give it a listen and smile, knowing how much fun we’re having when we play together. And…

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I Was Attacked by a Giant Dancing Salami

November 11, 2017

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!…

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First Place, Second Place, Every Place

August 28, 2017

I got home to Detroit from Tennessee late last night and now I’m eating teriyaki turkey jerky (it’s just fun to say that) and listening to the rain outside. “Haaarveeeeeey!!” is what I’m thinking, although that storm is very far away. 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 – book club notes and that’s all I have in mind. Feel free to write me back any time, I love to hear from you! Upcoming Shows We start with some Lewis/Belcher Corn Potato Duo shows, featuring classic banjo duets and other fun things we only do as a duo… – This Friday at the G.A.R. Hall in Peninsula, OH, with Jen Maurer and Anthony Papaleo opening. (They are GR8) – Saturday at 20 Front…

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New Release – LIVE, Mostly

July 19, 2017

Hello hello hello! Here’s the big news — My live album with Ben Belcher is now officially released and available from CDBaby as well as all other digital media outlets (iTunes, Spotify, etc.). And here’s the back story: In 2012 we joined Thomas Dolby for a month-long North American tour. Ben and I played an opening set each night and I joined Thomas Dolby’s band for a few songs. Sean Haney, the sound engineer, recorded some of the shows and was gracious enough to let me release them. In preparation for our Home Routes tour last April Ben and I finally got around to listening through the old recordings, picking out the best ones, and adding a few home recordings we made at Ben’s house in Alabama of some classic banjo duets. Speaking of Ben, here is a link to the GoFundMe campaign that is raising funds to support him and his wife as they are going through some serious medical issues with their son. Also, Crazy Cats is now available as a FREE DOWNLOAD. I’m hitting the road again…

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“Good Job Everybody” + I Heart Canada

April 28, 2017

I took the plastic off the windows and opened up the house today. It’s not especially warm but it’s sunny and a fresh breeze is blowing through. It’s almost time for ice cream!   I’ve been home for almost two weeks and the time is flying by. I’m so grateful to have a lot going on. Between gigs and rehearsals with an array of local musicians (check out Escaping Pavement, whose new single I played on, Nick Adams & The Aral Sea Divers, The Flutter & Wow, David Simon), getting the new Corn Potato record into production as well as a couple more albums that will be released soon, getting ready for the American Banjo Fraternity rally in a couple weeks, and plenty of other more mundane tasks, I’m happy to say that I am staying well busy. Howdy Friends, In this email I will to tell you about  – New releases — You’re the first to hear about these new albums!  – Upcoming tour dates  – Highlights from the Home Routes tour  – Some books and records I’m currently enjoying  – One new video we made NEW RELEASES The…

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Babies, Banjos, and Britney

February 20, 2017

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…

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A Light Dusting

December 9, 2016

Hello Everybody! We have a light dusting of snow here in Detroit, ‘seasonal music’ is playing everywhere, and a certain feeling is in the air. This will be a short email as I don’t have a lot to announce, nor do I have a lot on my mind… Here’s what I have coming up: – Sunday, Dec. 18, at Tom’s Tavern with Corn Potato Duo (me and Lindsay).– Saturday, Dec. 31, at First Night Raleigh in Raleigh, NC – Jan. 5, 7, and 8, in NYC with Wild Hog, shows at Jalopy on the 5th, 68 Jay St. Bar the 7th, and Superfine brunch on the 8th. – Saturday, Jan. 28, Ann Arbor Folk Festival with Corn Potato String Band – Get your tickets HERE – Lineup includes Kiefer Sutherland, Indigo Girls, us, and much much more – Sunday, Jan. 29, Detroit Square Dance Society potluck and dance at the Gaelic League, with special guest caller Sean Fen and guest fiddler Henry Barnes, all the way from Columbus, Ohio. Whoopee! So you may be wondering what I’m doing if I’m not touring or playing lots of shows at home, or even teaching hardly at all, for that matter.…

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Still Wobbling

October 16, 2016

Hello Everybody, I’m home from tour now, no big travel plans in the foreseeable future (with just a few exceptions, see below), and I am really enjoying the autumn in Michigan. I’m going to catch you up on some of my recent activities and upcoming plans, but first I have to say how much I’m enjoying drinks. Most people who know me pretty well know how much I love drinks. I don’t mean exclusively alcoholic drinks, although those are of course included, but I’ve been getting excited about making (nonalcoholic) ginger beer and drinking lots of tea as the weather finally cools off. In February of 2015 my dear friend Ed Hicks came to visit me in Detroit and road trip with us to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. He brought with him a few years’ supply of great English tea, black tea, what you call ‘ordinary’ tea, but of course he brought us the best. We even had a tea tasting, which was illuminating, to say the least. Another drink I’m excited about is sake, Japanese rice wine. I got some…

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And It Happened Again

September 14, 2016

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 or for more infos Corn Potato Tour Dates: Tomorrow! In Toledo! House concert at 7pm. Check the website for…

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I Knew This Would Happen

July 11, 2016

I would get home from a truly excellent tour and once again have to face responsibility for more than being on tour (although there is plenty to deal with on tour, it’s just different and I could probably write a whole essay about it. For now I will spare you…) I have a big pile of things to catch up on, so for now I will keep this very short and some time soon (maybe when the summer is finished?) I will be able to share a bunch of fun things to look at and remember your Corn Potato friends by… And I won’t send an email that only contains upcoming gigs — Here’s the best joke I heard on the tour (thanks to Paul in Hawick): Two wind turbines are in a field. One says to the other, “What kind of music are you into?” The other says, — (scroll to the bottom for the rest of the joke!) Upcoming gigs! I am happy to report that I will stay quite busy all summer. I am leaving home again…

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