What a Strange and Funny World This Is

What a strange and funny world this is, I sometimes think. Then I think, Maybe it’s not a strange and funny world, maybe I just have a lot of strange and funny thoughts…

Here we are in the depths of winter. It’s the mildest winter Detroit has seen in years but it’s still pretty cold. I’m starting to enjoy this place a bit more, I’m finding more people to play with, more local gigs, but I am still adjusting to this place. Lots of great people here but no acoustic music scene. So I started a weekly series at my house with a fiddle and a banjo workshop once a month each, and two potluck jams per month. Last month I had my first guest teacher for the fiddle workshop, the one and only Erynn Marshall and her wonderful collaborator and husband, Carl Jones, and that was fantastic. The Detroit Square Dance Society events at the Gaelic League have generated a lot of interest, too. The last one we had was so crowded it was almost too crowded, but it worked and it was super fun.

I think this will be a relatively short email, I’m just going to skip over the past (although it has been good!) and throw the highlights of the near future at ya. Here we go!


– This weekend! Lindsay and I are flying Ben Belcher in from New Hampshire and driving to Chicago for the University of Chicago Folk Festival. We’ll play a show on Friday and a show on Saturday, and we’ll play (and Lindsay will call) for the barn dance on Saturday.

– On Monday, Feb 15, Lindsay and I will travel to Columbus, Ohio, to play/call for a square dance there. I met some great people from there during New Year’s in North Carolina, and I’m so excited that they are just a few hours from where I live.

– On Wednesday, Feb 17, Lindsay and I will play a duo show at Tom’s Tavern, one of our very most favoritest bars in Detroit. This place is historic (i.e. OLD) and the good vibes there are palpable.

– Thursday, Feb 18, I play with Detroit Pleasure Society for a special (sold out!) event at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, as part of the Brahms festival. We will play old-fashioned swing music (including Herb Alpert’s Whipped Cream) while burlesque dancers do their stuff and a beard contest takes place. It all makes sense if you think about what Brahms would have done.

– Wednesday, Feb 24, I’ll do my first solo set in years, along with Rollie Tussing and Erik Alan. This will be at another great local, St. CeCe’s Pub.

– Saturday, Feb 27, I play with Detroit Pleasure Society at two different events: First, the annual Doctors Without Borders Benefit at the AOH Hall in Redford, with many musical acts, including my pals Lac LaBelle and Behind The Times, as well as a bit of square dancing courtesty of the Detroit Square Dance Society with special guest caller Becky Hill! We will have to leave the benefit early in order to get to Plav Post #10 in Hamtramck for our second event of the night, featuring the Detroit Party Marching Band and the Black Bear Combo, from Chicago.

– Sunday the 28th is our third-ever Detroit Square Dance Society event at the Gaelic League. The band will feature members of Behind The Times and Corn Potato String Band, and we have a special guest caller from West Virginia, a Michigan native, Becky Hill! Potluck at 5pm, flatfooting workshop at 5:30 and Southern squares from 6-9 or later. Suggested donation is $10, no one will be turned away, all dances will be taught, no experience necessary.

– The following weekend, March 5-7, I play with four different groups all weekend long at the Hamtramck Music Festival. Check their website for all the details but I’m playing a Corn Potato Duo set with Lindsay, I’m also playing with Detroit Pleasure Society (I think!), Detroit Square Dance Society is putting on the day-after brunch dance, and a new project of mine, called Klezmer DetrOYt!, will make its debut.

– The weekend after that is also a big one as we’re flying Ben Belcher out to Detroit again for a few shows, first we have a hometown gig at PJ’s on Thursday, March 10. The next day we play a benefit for the Black Swamp Nature Conservancy in northwestern Ohio. And on Saturday, the 12th, we have the distinct honor of returning to play at Music In The Burbs, a truly beautiful house concert series in Bloomfield Hills.

I’m going to leave it at that for now. I hope to get in touch with you again before the next big things happen. Things like a new album release! A US tour in the Midwest and East Coast! A tour in the UK! A tour with Roochie Toochie & The Ragtime Shepherd Kings! But I’ll get to all of that later.

I have been reading, stories and essays, from the Best American series. Lots of good stuff there. And last night we watched Lindsay’s favorite movie and I loved it. It’s called The Accountant. It’s only 38 minutes long. It is dark and funny, my favorite combination. Highly recommended.

Right! That’s all for now, then. Stay warm, everybody.