Summer Is Here And It’s Time For Schwimmen!

Summer has arrived and I have partaken of some outdoor enjoyment, as I hope you have as well. I spent a day canoeing on the French Broad River in Asheville and about a week later had my first real swim of the season at Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia. I also had my first attempt at water skiing, which was not a huge success but was still a lot of fun and left my arms so sore I could hardly lift my fiddle case for a few days.

I just got back to Nashville where I will spend the next couple days until I go out on the road again with Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line. (Tour dates below…) And very soon I will be on my way to Finland for my much-anticipated reunion tour with the Froggy Mountain Boys!

I spent the last week or so in Brooklyn, playing with my friends The Brain Cloud, Hilary Hawke, and Sam Guthridge of Chester River Runoff, also of Square Peg Rounders. (By the way, we’ve only sold about ten copies of our Square Peg Rounders record online so far, maybe you guys can help us get the word out and share this link with your music-loving friends — On bandcamp you can listen as much as you like for free and pay what you like!) Other highlights from Brooklyn included hanging out with my pal Jerron ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton and later on cycling to Red Hook and dancing all night at Sunny’s to the wonderful music of Smokey Hormel. This past visit was my first time doing much cycling around the city and it was just glorious.

Speaking of cycling, here’s a video from Music City Roots, which I just played with Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line. The song is Bike Ride, and we recently shot a music video for the song which will be released soon. It was probably the best music video shoot ever because all we did was ride bikes around the neighborhood for a few hours, including a lovely tandem bike. And these lovely bikes were on loan to us from our local cycle shop, East Side Cycles. It’s so nice to feel a part of the local community and to get that kind of support from a local business.

Right before coming home we played a lovely festival in north central PA called Smoked Country Jam. It was a beautiful spot, everyone there was just great, and I got to see some my old friends The Hillbilly Gypsies and Hot Day At The Zoo, who I hadn’t seen since before I left the country. Great to catch up with those guys and hear them play again. And great to hear how they’ve developed their respective sounds! They are both such great bands and such good people, I encourage you to check them out and see them if you ever get the chance. Our last stop before heading home was in Cleveland, where we got to stay with some great friends and eat pancakes with homegrown blueberries and homemade maple syrup! I know, we’re really living it up.

Before I list the tour dates I’ll mention what I’ve been reading — Player Piano, by Kurt Vonnegut, a highly enjoyable novel of a dystopian world run by machines. I really liked how he handles the storyline while creating some utterly ridiculous scenes. The other one I just finished was Letters From The Earth, by Mark Twain. It’s a collection of essays and other writings published posthumously, classic cynical and sarcastic, grumpy old man stuff that made me laugh out loud. It’s surprising how relevant his criticisms are today, considering he wrote these pieces a hundred years ago. Last night I started reading Growth of the Soil, by Knut Hamsun and I’m already drawn into a beautiful and lonesome world in the wilderness of northern Norway…

All right then, here are my tour dates for the next month or so:
Thursday, June 27 – St. Louis, MO, The Gramophone w/Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line
Saturday, June 29 – Hastings, NE, Flatwater Festival w/Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line
Wednesday, July 3 – Helsinki, Finland, Liberte Cafe w/Froggy Mountain Boys
Saturday, July 6 – Helsinki, Finland, Juttutupa w/Froggy Mountain Boys
Wednesday, July 10 – Jyväskylä, Finland – Poppar (Finland’s oldest jazz club) w/Froggy Mountain Boys
Thursday, July 11 – Tampere, Finland, Paapan Kapakka w/Froggy Mountain Boys
Friday and Saturday, July 11-12 – Kaustinen, Finland, Kaustinen Folk Music Festival w/Froggy Mountain Boys
Friday and Saturday, July 19-20 – Oak Hill, NY, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival w/Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line
Tuesday, July 23 – Ridgefield CT, CHIRP w/Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line
Thursday, July 25 – East Lansing, MI, Pump House Concert w/Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line
Friday, July 26 – Detroit, MI, Detroit Institute of Arts w/Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line
Saturday, July 27 – Boyne Falls, MI, Aten Place Barn w/Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line
Sunday, July 28 – Glen Arbor, MI, Manitou Music Festival w/Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line

So I’m excited not only for my trip to Finland, but also to know that when I get back I’m playing at Grey Fox and touring in my home state of Michigan, where the summer weather is the best in the world!

For my final word I’d like to make a little endorsement for a product I’ve found to be of a rare high quality. It’s called Beard Balm but it’s not exclusively for beards. In fact, for the first year of having it I only used it on my cuticles. It’s great for fingers and lips and hair, very smooth and a little of it goes a long way. Find out more and order some here.