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…
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 here’s a fun collection of live recordings I made with Ben Belcher when we were opening for Thomas Dolby on his North American tour in 2012, plus a few bonus home recordings of classic banjo duets. It’s called “LIVE, Mostly.”
I’ll be in New Orleans getting into who knows what kind of trouble. I think I’m playing at house concert at Mark Rubin’s house, but I’m not sure what day. I plan to play a lot with a lot of people while I’m down there. Must binge on music before returning to cold Detroit.
– Saturday, Feb 24, Lindsay and I teach workshops, call and play for a square dance and play a concert at the Lake Erie Folk Festival, also featuring
Tam Tam Magic: West African Drum and Dance
Emily Keener: Singer/Songwriter
Fantje na vasi: Slovenian Singing Group
Ten Strings And A Goat Skin: FolkFusion from Prince Edward Island
– Wednesday, Feb 28, at Cliff Bell’s in Detroit, one of the swing bands I play with here, Nick Adams & the Aral Sea Divers, will release a new CD and play a concert. I’m excited to hear it and play with these guys again, they are a lot of fun and pick great tunes and make excellent arrangements.
– In March we’re doing a mini-tour with Roochie Toochie:
March 7 at Warren Wilson College in Asheville
March 8 at Farm & Fun Time in Bristol
March 9 at the Laurel Theater in Knoxville, and
March 10 at Soft Junk in Nashville
– The following weekend Lindsay and I will go to Columbus, Ohio, for a few gigs as Corn Potato Duo with our pals down there and a Monday night square dance March 19, with caller Sean Fen. Always a good time in Columbus!
– I’ll be on the road all of April doing a tour around Lake Michigan performing solo and sharing the bill with Escaping Pavement the first half of the month and playing in a band with fiddler Henry Barnes from L.A. to Seattle the second half of the month. Here’s a link to the album he made with Dan Gellert: Cat Town. Stay tuned for those tour dates…
I’ve been thinking about how many YouTube videos I could make this winter, but I’m still reluctant to give in technology replacing human contact. I can see so many possible benefits to having people subscribe to my channel, etc. but I still can’t bring myself to see the real value in it. I think there is so much to be gained from YouTube videos but it still doesn’t compare to spending time with another human. I’m trying really hard to condense a lot of thoughts into a small space here, but please respond if you have any thoughts on this, I’d love to hear what you think.
I just finished reading But What If We’re Wrong, by Chuck Klosterman, which I definitely recommend. It’s a collection of essays on the topic of looking at the present as if it were the past, and it’s very funny, slightly terrifying at times, and definitely eye-opening. Read it, or just some parts of it, and you will gain some valuable perspective, not in a hippy-dippy way, but in a contextual and critical kind of way.
Another book I’ve been reading is The Beautiful Music All Around Us, by Stephen Wade. It’s like a collection of deep liner notes for some of the most well-known and influential Library of Congress field recordings (e.g. Lomax), in which the author spends years tracking down the recorded artists, their descendants and people who knew them, collects information from the highly specific to the broad and general and presents a picture of how this particular music fits into the bigger picture of our American musical heritage. This book was recommended to me by my classic banjo guru, Greg Adams, and it is a powerful one. It’s got me thinking about the relevance and function of the folk musics we treasure so dearly, the importance and disappearance of living communities (i.e. groups of people that live and work together in the same place and share experiences), and I haven’t even gotten around to how I fit into all of this yet. I’m halfway through the book now so expect an update next time.
All right, I’m going to leave it at that for now. Make sure you take care of yourselves and each other this winter, and don’t forget to WASH YOUR HANDS!!