News

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.

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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…

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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,…

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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…

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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.

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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…

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Froggy Mountain Boys Featured in Blues-Finland and BluesWebzine

December 8, 2011

Next month my Western Swing band the Froggy Mountain Boys will play at the TunturiBlues Festival in Saariselkä, Northern Lapland, in Finland. I answered some questions about the band and about myself and the interview / festival preview has been published today (Wednesday) as the leading article in both Blues-Finland.com and BluesWebzine.com I’m posting Google’s translation of the Finnish article to English below, because I think it gives the best sense of what I really meant with my answers to the interview questions. To see the original article in Finnish please follow the link for Blues-Finland.com and to see the original English please follow the link for BluesWebzine.com

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The Tour Begins

October 28, 2011

My Nov/Dec tour has sort of finally started. I’ve been in London for a few days (see below for what came before that), rehearsing with Thomas Dolby and with Ed Hicks, even picking up some random gigs such as tonight with Dancing Slippers and tomorrow with Cut A Shine in Brighton. I’ve been navigating London by copying directions from the internet into a giant notebook and then crouching under an umbrella in the dark with guitar, banjo and fiddle on my back trying to read what I wrote and figure out which bus to take. Here’s what I wrote a few days ago when I was in Ireland, and after that I have a summary of my upcoming tour dates: I’m in Ireland! Wow, I’m really in Ireland. I spent two nights on the bus getting here from Berlin and now I’m here. (Scroll down to read about why I took the bus instead of flying.) I had a nice visit with Ed and Jo during my stopover in London and since I’ve been in Ireland I’ve been taking it easy and getting to…

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Why I Took the Bus Instead of Flying

October 19, 2011

I recently spent two nights traveling from Berlin to Dublin by bus. When I tell people this, they usually react with shock and surprise, even suggesting that I must be crazy. I know that most people who ride buses over long distances probably are crazy, at least in the States, where the only people who ride the bus are either too poor to fly or too disabled or too crazy to be allowed to drive, but not me. That’s why I want to tell you why I took the bus. Let’s start things right off by admitting that I can be a cheap bastard from time to time. I buy off-brand items in the shop just to save a few cents and I have taken the Chinatown buses up and down the East Coast in the US many times for the reason that they are horrendously cheap (and fast!) despite their usually miserable hours of operation (e.g. depart Richmond at midnight, arrive NYC at 6am). However, saving money was not my main reason for taking the bus this time.

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Last Concerts In Berlin for 2011, UK Tour Ahead…

October 3, 2011

Doot-doodoodooDootDootDoot DOOOOOO!!! (Ba-bum.) And now I have a NEWS page on my website. So I’m just sitting at the table in my lovely homey flat in Berlin, drinking Pfirsich Eistee, which I am totally addicted to (It’s 45 cents for a liter and a half, people) and listening to Daft Punk, which really helps me, you know, get things done on the computer. I feel really in the computer zone right now. Doing it, email style, creative traditional and jazz fiddling and banjo picking, emailing, yeah, I’m so grooving on this. This is more like a personal letter than a plea for you to buy stuff or watch my videos or anything. I just had a lovely visit from banjo/guitar-pickin and fiddlin Ed Hicks, with whom I will tour the UK til the end of the year, starting in just a few short weeks. Oh yes, this is the big exciting thing I’ve been waiting for since, I don’t know, my last tour in February. But I’ll tell you more about that in a couple weeks when I really have all the dates nailed,…

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