Greetings from Berlin!
I’m in my former home town where I used to live for a few years, catching up with friends and searching out all my favorite places for food and drink. The weather is great. Today we rented bikes and visited the Soviet War Memorial, an incredible place in Treptow. I’m winding down from nearly four months of incredible touring with only one more concert here in Berlin and another in London before I fly back to the US at the end of the month.
In this email I might give you some BRIEF tour highlights. (Just about every day had some highlights so I could never put it all in one email. Maybe I’ll put the tour log online like I did with the India trip
and you can see all the highlights there… But that will come later.) I will also include some videos from our tour, a link to download a free track from our session at RTE in Dublin, upcoming tour dates and plans, and a little book report, too, if I can still think clearly by the time I get there.
So where do I start with tour highlights? At the end of a tour what I remember first and best is all the great people I met who were so kind and generous, whether they put us up in their home for a week or bought us drinks and introduced us to their friends or just said hello after a show. I also think about how many different places we went — From Ireland to Germany to England with Tumbling Bones
, then England and Wales and Scotland to Ireland to Holland to Sweden to Denmark to Switzerland and Germany, back to Holland and now Germany with Corn Potato String Band. Whew! There were some crazy long drives but there were also stretches of days at a time to relax in Northern Ireland or in Galway or in Frankfurt. There were some truly great festivals like Pijnackerplein and Art Carnivale in Holland, Torsåker in Sweden, Fire In The Mountain in Wales, and more. There were fantastic house concerts in Cookstown and Milton Keynes and Edinburgh and more, and there were great arts centers, theaters and pub gigs all over. I just feel so lucky and so full of great experiences, and I’m looking forward to doing it all again as soon as I can. I’m also very lucky to have such a great band. I know from experience how rare it is to get some people together who can make great music and get along so well, and I’m grateful for that.
I have my only show in Berlin, at the Auster Club
, with my friends’ great swing band called Dizzy Birds
. Doors are at 8pm
, we play at 9 and Dizzy Birds play at 10, tickets are €10.
, in London we have a show with Ed Hicks
AND Ben Somers
joining us on banjo/guitar and bass, respectively. The show is at Myddleton Arms
, 52 Canonbury Rd, London N1 2HS starting at 8pm
, I think. I also think it’s free entry.
Here are my top three videos from the tour:
And here are some of my favorite bands that I saw, met, or even toured with (in the case of Battenkill Ramblers
): Most recently at Art Carnivale in Holland there was the Bluegrass Boogiemen
, high-energy, great musicianship and very entertaining. They even got me up for a couple of numbers. Similarly entertaining and hilarious were Dr. Grass And The Illbilly Eight
, who we met at Torsåker in Sweden. We also met and loved Spinnin’ Jennies
(pronouned Yennies) at Torsåker, who play top-quality bluegrass with all-Swedish lyrics. Another band from that festival whose banjo player I liked especially was Le Chat Mort
, they have impressive swing chops. At a garden squat in Den Bosch, Switzerland, we saw and loved Trikosis
with their Eastern party vibe. In Newcastle we loved Rob Heron’s rockabilly band, Bantamax, but they don’t have a website, but Rob’s band Tea Pad Orchestra
is also really great. We got to play with Loose Moose String Band
in Liverpool and Westport a few times, they are our old time musical kin. In London we got to see Ewan Bleach
and play with him a few times, classic swing and English music-hall numbers. Probably my favorite of all was Mik Artistik
, who performed at Fire In The Mountain. Not what everyone would like necessarily but I loved it. Loved it.
Time for the free download! We recorded Raleigh & Spencer, Little Black Train, and Route 77 at RTE studio in Dublin and appeared on the show Arena. Since we may put the songs on our new album I’ll give you this alternate (and really great) version of Route 77. To download it for free simply follow this link
And now, what’s next? I’m flying home to Detroit at the end of the month, then driving straight to Clifftop and then to Galax. After that I’m going to Minnesota for a square dance weekend with the Corn Potato String Band and Luke Richardson
replacing Ben for the weekend. After that I’ll have some time to work on the house in Detroit and make more plans. In November I’m supposed to tour with Tumbling Bones again for the American Musicians Abroad program, but since it’s run through the State Department we still don’t know when or where exactly we are going! At the end of November I’m teaching a workshop through FOAOTMAD
in England, where Luke is also teaching. Lindsay will join us and we plan to play some shows in the UK while we’re there, getting us back to the us mid-December in time for a whirlwind square dance tour before the year is over. Well, we’ll see how it all turns out…
Sadly, the book report part of this message will be brief. After the Tumbling Bones tour I didn’t have time to read books anymore because I was always driving! Yes, I did all the driving myself. But everyone else had to put up with my driving so I think it’s pretty fair.
I hope you are all staying cool this summer, enjoying the weather whenever you can, supporting live music and dancing!
See you soon,