All entries filed under Dave’s Night Out

Gigs are far and few these days, but I particularly enjoyed my Dave’s Night Out with old Shimersville Sheik band mate Roy Smith. The Sheiks were a really fine string band back in the 70’s, along with Jerry Bastoni, Chris Simmons and various other ne’er-do-wells. We were pretty esoteric in our repertoire, covering bluegrass, old country, jug band, Australian tunes and British Music Hall songs. We were an “art” band and got to play some interesting gigs at festivals, bars, and even opening night at Godfrey’s.

The Sheiks at Lehigh ’75.

Roy’s musical journey has been remarkable as he gradually lost his hearing in his 30’s. “A lifetime musician, Roy developed hereditary deafness, and now relies on MED-EL cochlear implants. He represented the United States at MED-EL’s International Music Festival for Deaf Musicians. Roy is not only an advocate for the transformative power of cochlear implants, but also a testament to their impact on musical expression.”

In this conversational format, Roy and I got to talk about his fear as his hearing subsided, what it’s like now to play music again, and other stops along the way. We played some old band tunes like Sheik of Araby, Gospel Ship, Ned Kelly as well as others from both of our current repertoires, including Simple Gifts, We Are Welcomed and others. We did a session earlier in the afternoon to help allay some of our questions about the material as well as catch up on how our lives have flowered over the last 45 years.

Open night at Godfrey's with Mary Faith Rhoads

Opening night at Godfrey with Mary Faith Rhoads – 3.19.76

He had the support of his wife Jan, incredible leaps in technology and the formitable strains of living in his own head for years. He even shunned music as it was noise to him. Sadly, he was unable to share his music with his daughter growing up. I think that I would have gone nuts with out my ability to perform and play music. Deep respect for Roy.

Sheiks at Muhlenberg College

Thanks to the cochlear implants (three generations now) the chips in his brain decode sounds for him, in both speaking mode and in music mode (more bass), but still he has to grapple with keys, intonation and more. Quite a struggle, but now he can communicate with the world. Wonderful!

The discussion was enlightening, and folks came away with a new appreciation for the power of music, modern technology and human spirit. It was a shame that we had such a small audience, though we recorded video from the set for future play.

A good night, all around.

 

I was looking forward to sharing the stage with Doug Ashby, bluesman, fellow radio programmer and folk historian. His band Tavern Tan is a regular treat at Godfrey’s and my respect for him as a musician in the Valley is quite strong. We’ve never had the chance to swap songs before so this was a good chance.  For extra credit, my sister Janet, daughter Rosalie and her fiancé Jourdan were in attendance.

My voice has been ravaged from this non-Covid flu, and I limped my way through my songs, avoiding some of the high notes. It wasn’t pretty but thanks to a hot microphone, I managed, to a degree.

Doug’s love of early blues has given him a strong repertoire of Robert Johnson, Memphis Minnie and other legendary recording artists. I started with Stealin’, a Memphis Jug Band tune and we were off and running. We swapped Robert Johnson tunes, and we talked about the poetry of these blues and went into detail on ‘she’s got Elgin movements’, something we seemed to return to during the evening.

I invited my friend Steve Capwell up on the stage about 45 minutes in, and, as I found out, Steve and Doug were former Tan-mates (no surprise), so Steve was able to fill in with some fine harp work. All of us are folk programmers and players, so it was muy simpatico. I was able to supply Walkin’ Blues, Santa Assassin (with Rosalie, in the house), Prodigal Son and a few others.

It was a good crowd, for a change, with about 25 folks in the house. The conversation was light but we were able to keep things entertaining and musical.

As I’ve been doing recently, at the end, I went around the audience asking what they liked. This has been a pleasant surprise with a DNO audience. Folks were open and forthcoming: the stories, the way we listen to each other, the instruments, Steve’s harp playing. One gentleman brought up my playing Magic Penny for his young son years ago. (I did a reprise.). They also enjoyed our knowledge and respect for this music and its history.

There were lots of great moments, some good music (in spite of my beat-up voice) and something we can do again in the future.

 

Rolly, Wendi and I did a Dave’s Night Out three or four years ago on Swing Guitar. Tonight’s was topic less and it proved, once again, to be an inspiring and creative evening of music and chat. As usual, there was a small crowd, but that’s not why we do this, and Rolly and Wendi recognize this. It’s good to have friends.

I started out with Roseville Fair, with a nod to Bill Staines, and it set the stage for our round-robin. Wendi brought out several sweet swing tunes, a very nice folkie song, sang some harmonies with me and gave a great exposition on vocal arranging. A smart lass, indeed. Rolly displayed his immense talents on guitar with fine backup leads for both Wendi and myself, several original and quirky original tunes and a spectacular instrumental. He talked about his weekly online concerts (approaching 600) and the community that he has developed as a result. He’s the best.

I tossed in Rodeo Rider, The Barnyard Dance, Sixty Minute Man and finished with Rosie Is A Friend of Mine. It was a good night sharing music among good friends.

Gregg, Bill and I decided to recast an evening we did five or six years ago: a song swap Dave’ Night Out. We had a great time. Gregg came up from Winston-Salem, NC and Bill from Morristown, NJ, and me from upstairs. Yes, it was a small audience but lots of Gregg’s friends came out so it was a fresh Godfrey’s audience.

I started things off and passed it to Gregg. Over the course of the evening, Gregg pulled out some great original tunes, including one he co-wrote with David Wilcox. Gregg’s a fine guitarist and uses some inventive tunings that really shape his sound. He also filled some nice leads on my songs. I supplied some mandolin on some of his songs.

Bill Hall, of course, has a delicious selection of original tunes, and he premiered a couple tonight, including one Legends, that is a nod to Gorka’s How Legends are Made and featured a phrase, “The Bard of Fourth Street”. As it flew by, it didn’t sink in that he was referring to me.  I don’t regard myself as a songwriter, but it was a nice gesture.

I did How Legends are Made, Don’t Call Me Early, Lessons from Pete, Ireland, Giants. I played pretty well and was glad I had several farmers’ markets recently to pull my chops together.

One question came up that spurred some discussion: What makes a Jersey song a Jersey song? Bill referenced John Gorka’s I’m From New Jersey about never thinking you’re good enough. I actually talked about my reticence booking Jersey songwriters while I was artistic director at Godfrey’s – too pushy. Gregg talked about his work with Christian Bauman. It was an interesting exploration.

I finished up with Lessons from Pete, and we disbanded after a very refreshing and stimulating evening, as are all of these Dave’s Night Outs.

This turned out to be a pretty good session tonight with Russ Rentler. We have a scattered past but enough to make it interesting. Russ is no slouch as a performer, instrumentalist and storyteller. He did a great job holding down his side of the stage. I could stay out of the way, for the most part, and ask questions, steer the conversations and encourage reaction from the audience. Quite a few folks showed up, especially friends of Russ’s. Russ played hammered dulcimer, octave mandolin, guitar and mouth harps.

I added Roseville Fair, Branching Out, Giant and July, all of which Russ added some fine back up. Actually sounded quite professional. I should not have been surprised but it was.

Russ had a great grip on his storytelling, several times looking at me and asking if it was okay to tell a story. That’s the beauty of DNO. Always a great night.

Ann, Cleveland, Dave, Danielle

A small audience for tonight’s Dave’s Night Out with poets Danielle Notaro, Ann Michael and Cleveland Wall. I looked forward to doing this format with my friends and with a spotlight on poetry instead of music. It was different and quite enjoyable. I

I started out with Rosie is a Friend of Mine which quite ironically features the words, “She’s like poetry that doesn’t rhyme.” A bit of whimsy to open up the evening. We did a round robin of the women’s poetry, and they are all professional readers as well as excellent poets.

Ann and Cleveland

Dave And Danielle

In the middle, I asked Cleveland about her work with “embodiment” in poetry, or how to intentionally incorporate (literally) physicality to the process of performing poetry. Great discussion. I did John Gorka’s Branching Out as a nice example of poetry in song, and it stirred up some poets from the ladies. (In the spirit of the evening, I didn’t do any instrumental breaks in the songs.)

I asked all of us why we do what we do, in my case, making albums and in their cases, chapbooks and live readings. Again, this format works well and we did some deep-digging on the creative process. I know the audience and my friends appreciated the session. “Make something out of nothing” was my response.

In my happy place

I finished up with Green Green Rocky Road (to clear the pallet, so to speak) and played it well. It was a good choice, especially with the verse “hooka tooka, soda cracker, does your mama chew tobacco”.

I then I realized that this was a good opportunity to employ my ‘reflection’ exercise, and asked the audience members, and then the poets to reflect on what they liked about the session. It was great to get the audience to come up with their thoughts and made for good way to wrap up the evening.

Sean, Fionna Hennessey are the backbone of Blackwater, the Lehigh Valley’s longest running Celtic Band, and the three of us did a DNO six years ago. Seems not so long to me. The topic last time and for tonight was Family Traditional Music, since we have a brother and sister. I remember sitting between them last time, getting lost in the familial harmonies.

Tonight I came in and found Sean and Fionna all set up, with a gargantuan pedal board set up in front of Sean, center stage. Cool. Sean does a lot of solo gigs where he has to fill several hours of Celtic music so this setup gives him a band – lots of tools (toys?) to play with. Sean also has a large Ipad with lyrics set up near the floor, with a foot switch device to scroll songs and lyrics. Last time I called him on it and he said he had stroke several years ago and can’t recall lyrics any more. I don’t blame him, especially with these long ballads. It is quite a set up.

I got a sound check in with “Part of the Union” and cooled my heels until 7 pm. I planned on starting with Don’t Call Me Early, and I had a very Sean moment: I had the Union beginning in my head, and. for the life of me, couldn’t remember the Don’t Call Me beginning. (I think I’m still functioning at lower level with my recovery). I shifted into We Are Welcome instead and I was back on my feet. Still….

It was a particularly good crowd for a DNO, in spite of being only 6 days removed from St. Paddy’s Day. We set off and Sean is well-versed in chatting with the crowd, opining on Celtic matters and introducing songs. A well-oiled machine so we had no problem with the show. The mix of Sean’s strong vocal and guitar, Fionna’s harmony and flute made for a very fat sound, with the sustain of the flute supporting the chord chops.

I chimed in with Roseville Fair and Giant. Towards the end, Fionna said that what seems to be her staring lovingly at Sean was simply trying to read Sean’s lips to anticipate his getting the words right. Chuckle.

A good night of music, and, as always, intellectually stimulating. Just what the doctor ordered.

 

This was an unique opportunity to have Cindy’s voice heard, especially since the GD book has been released. I had shortcomings (as pointed out by Cindy) in the book, especially with the omission of photos of Rosalie Sorrels. This was a small way to atone for that.

I planned on adding some songs from some of the folks we were to talk about. I worked up Rock Salt and Nails (Utah Phillips, covered by Rosalie), Roseville Fair (Bill Staines), How Legends are Made (John Gorka), Louise (Paul Siebel). I had a few others in mind but circumstances made me change to these songs.

The chat was open and interesting, talking about the early days about the club. It was particularly nice to see Cindy smiling, and, at the end, Cindy said there was so much more to talk about. Indeed, and I hope we have the opportunity to do this again.

 

Some video: https://www.facebook.com/danielle.notaro.12/videos/1293294011531368

 

I was looking forward to sharing the Godfrey’s stage with friends Tom and Betty Druckenmiller on Wednesday, rescheduled from a snow date the week before. I am still in recovery from my bladder operation (and cancer diagnosis), and still dealing with some fatigue and depression. I know I can count on playing some music with friends to help me out.

I had decided to focus our session on Family Music, and how we are shaped by making music with spouses and kids and parents. There were some interesting ideas brought up.

We talked about groups like The Carter Family, bluegrass brother acts, and other important folk acts like The McGarrigles, The Roches, Happy and Artie Traum and more, and how those collaborations functioned (or not..). Betty and Tom shared their history of making old time music together, Betty’s journey on taking up fiddle mid-life, and raising their son Nathan in the tradition.

While referencing my own family music history, though I never was able to play with my family members, I did recall singing in church pews with my family, and next to my dad Wayne, an accomplished choral singer in his own right. Though not in the folk tradition, it was an important influence in my singing in public and in a safe space. No small thing, and it was a pleasant reflection on my development as a musician.

As always, Dave’s Night Out was a stimulating experience for us all, and that includes the small audience.

Another stimulating evening with George Hrab, a prolific songwriter, performer and thinker. We’ve been doing these sessions the last week of the year for several years now, and they never fail to amuse and inspire me.

Tonight, we spent a lot of time talking about George’s Ukrainian heritage and he played two songs in Ukrainian. It was quite interesting. We talked about why Eastern European music is always in minor keys. We talked about his dad as a musician, playing in wedding bands and more. The audience seemed to drink it all in. And I loved the sparks.

I chipped in with Don’t Call Me Early and Giant. George liked that it was a waltz and how it is different than a straight 4 beat. There’s a lilt and swing to the 3/4 beat while the 4/4 is insistent.

I asked if he had “The Artistic Moment” when he realized he was an artist, not just a musician, podcaster, drummer, etc. and said he knew early on that he was an entertainer, even as a child. I talked about the moment, driving away from one of the CT Teaching Artist sessions when it dawned on me that I thought like an artist, not just a folk musician.

The series has financial support this year from Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission and it is living up to those standards: talking art.

 

I am constantly blown away with my guests on a Dave’s Night Out. Tonight was a particularly good one with two songwriters who have never met before, Andrew Dunn and Pete Gustavson. There were a few more people tonight, some friends of Andrew or Pete, but still not what should really be happening for this series. The format of conversation, music and philosophy is pretty radical but makes for some deep and satisfying (for me) entertainment.

The theme tonight was how the Covid lock-down affected our creativity and our songwriting. Both Pete and Andrew had divergent ideas, Pete alone with his wife and three daughters (no home studio there), and Andrew seeking community, and myself, with my 500 songs-a-day process.

I broke out my SE Martin tonight, somewhat neglected over the last few months, and it served me well. Clean and loud. I started with Don’t Call Me Early and passed it to Pete. Pete’s the real deal and over the course of the evening, his voice and his guitar set the bar pretty high for us all.

Andrew brought along a side man, Todd, on bass and guitar, and he chipped in a nice addition to the overall tone of the evening. I’ll admit that Todd distracted Andrew several times but no big deal. Andrew played some wonderfully emotional songs, as did Peter. I felt in awe of being in between these creative spirits.

I deferred to Pete and Andrew, and offered up Lessons From Pete towards the end, but also did Tropical Vacation, as I talked about my work writing songs with students. It worked well in this format and a rare chance for me to exhibit my Teaching Artist side.

Great moments throughout the evening and come away in awe of the creative friends I have in my life. Thanks, Andrew and Pete.

 

 

I was looking forward to spending some time on stage with my friend Joey Mutis, aka The Electric Farm. We have always shared a certain repartee with each other, our musical influences and many times listening to each other’s bands.  We are close to brothers.

Again, it was a small audience with several Joey fans in the house. Joey seemed a little more unsettled tonight, though he came through with several new (to me) songs. I started with Ground Hog, Rosie is a Friend of Mine, It’ll Be Me and closed with We Are Welcomed, with Joey filling some nice leads.

This particular audience had very little to say, and I admit somewhat put off by that. Usually there’s some interesting reflections that spur the artists’ conversation. Joey was a little scattered and I felt that made the audience a little skittery, too.

One interesting question came up at the end: What song would you play as your time ran out? Joey sang a little of “She’s Leaving Home” from the Beatles, among others and I chimed in with Here Comes The Sun, explaining its mystical beginnings for me, playing a really good Martin for the first time. Upon reflection, I also thought that I’d like to play it perfectly for the first time, at the end of my life.

Still, we got some thumbs up from the audience for the evening and the series, but I came away somewhat disappointed. So it goes.

I was a little bushed from a RockRoots doubleheader in the morning, but had some time to recompose for Wednesday’s Dave’s Night Out with my friend Jack Murray. We figured we’d explore the space between Country Music and Folk Music, and it turned out to be very good topic. Jack has a mind and a gift for exposition on stuff like this so he came armed for bear with a great list of songs, and I put some thought into it as well. The conversation was easy between Jack, myself and the audience.

I found out that Mike Duck is helping to sponsor this series by doing sound for free for mention of his Web Foot Digital web-building business. Big thanks, Mike!

Jack brought out Four Strong Winds, Last Thing On My Mind, If I Were A Carpenter, Irene Goodnight, Long Black Veil, and Girl From Mexico, a song from Ramona’s dad. Jack gave up early on that one, but I insisted on him reciting it. It turned out to be quite wonderful and I hope he does it again as spoken word. There’s power in that medium.

I brought out Bill Monroe Georgia Rose, Carter Family’s Wildwood Flower, The Byrds’ Farther Along, Bill Staines’ Roseville Fair, Dylan’s Girl From the North Country Fair, even The Temptations’ My Girl.

We were able to mark important shifts in the folk/country continuum like, the Dylan/Cash duet on TV, The Byrds Sweetheart of the Rodeo, the Will The Circle Be Unbroken album, Woody and Leadbelly’s Goodnight Irene, Tom Paxton, etc.

There were a few more in the audience, breaking into double figures for a change. I really am proud of this series for the content and the way it is delivered on this historic stage. Tonight was a perfect example. Thanks, Jack.

This was a flash-back to a DNO that we did four years ago, almost to the day, with my friends Bill Hall and Gregg Cagno. I started with Going Away from Utah Phillips and then passed off to Gregg. Early on, we talked about Jersey songwriters like them (I included John Gorka) who had access to the NYC folk scene and were able to head into the city to see the greats and play the open mikes, as well. As we rotated amongst the three of us, Gregg and Bill did some really fine original tunes. I was able to bring in my new arrangement of Imagine, Branching Out, Rodeo Rider (on 12-string), and my Lessons From Pete.

My friend and now Eastonite Andrew Dunn had chatted earlier.  I said how much I liked his Steel Is Strong song from the recent Bethlehem Steel album, and that I was playing it on my radio shows. He then said that it was based on my Lessons From Pete. I found that amusing, but, in playing it on stage tonight, I caught the reference. No wonder I liked it. Frankly, it was a honor to hear that.

Martin SC-13E

Bill had come in early to do some recording for his Rosie Project and had worked with Gregg already. When I came down around 4:30, things were all set up for my session. I brought my SC-13E down for this one and rolled through my version of Rosie is a Friend of Mine. The Rosie Project plans on having a multitude of version of his song on one album, with the other album Bill’s other material. Since we all set up, Bill suggested I try out a few more tunes so I stepped up with Stan Rogers’ Giant, John Gorka’s Branching Out and Alex Bevan’s Rodeo Rider (on 12-string). Bill and Gregg filled in some vocals on Branching Out. Amazingly, I was able to roll right through the songs on the first take, though the process is pretty exhausting.

Bill bought Indian food from Na Wab down the street, and it served as a nice break between the recording session and the show.

As usual, there was a dearth of folks for the show, but the music and conversation was stimulating and humorous. It was good to be with these good friends.

These Dave’s Night Outs were formed somewhat tongue-in-cheek back when I was gigging quite a bit. Well, not so much anymore as they are evenings when I actually get out of my apartment for some music with friends.

Tonight I got to play with Noah Gibney on his 15th birthday. Noah has been gigging with my good friend Kris Kehr in the Reading area, and is a wildly talented “old soul” kid who sings, plays and performs like someone twice his age (and unlike some folks I know, never get around to). Noah plays piano and guitar, writes some of his own material and, most importantly, listens before he plays.

Noah Gibney

Kris had told me that his instincts are off the chart and I could trust that he could pick up on songs on the spot. So, I had every confidence that I could throw stuff at him and he would respond. He did. Towards the end, I did Stan Rogers’ Giant at him, pretty much in a different tradition, and he added some great sound to the song. He was also open to improvisational techniques that I plopped in front of his ears. (Kris, of course, knows to expect that from me) He started off with a great (though long) version of Stormy Monday. Later on, we did several rondos where we passed leads among the three of us, just like old pros, unspoken on stage.

Kris Kehr

As usual, there were very few folks in the audience, but the conversations were quite interesting, talking about bridges in songs, and other musical esoterica.

It was Noah’s 15th Birthday. Amazing. I love these nights.

 

 

Alex Radus and Dave Fry

I’ve been lucky to present some of my friends who are quite talented songwriters, and Wednesday’s guest, Alex Radus, is no different. I’ve been an Alex fan-boy for several years now. His new album, recorded at Godfrey’s, is called Tributaries, and that was a good point to start from.

I took it as river-like tributaries that have shaped our music but he also mentioned that tribute is part of that equation. Spot on.

I started out with a Mississippi John Hurt as one of my early influences, especially with his two-finger picking. I did CC Rider, although rather sloppily. Alex picked up on that did some fine fingerpicking with one of his tunes. As we moved through the night, the mix of styles and songs was quite entertaining.

I ended up doing Barnyard Dance on my arch-top Martin, my Fountain Hill tune I Can Be… and Take Me To The River. We talked about how our instruments often shape what we play or write songs.

Again, a small audience that included my daughter Rosalie, so that’s pretty good. The conversation was stimulating and Alex’s songs were wonderful. He was a delight to have on stage with me.

Basic RGB

I was looking forward to getting back to my Dave’s Night Out series, especially since last month’s session was cancelled for Covid protocols. Rolly Brown is a world-class guitarist, excellent songwriter and we have developed a friendship over the last decades here in Eastern PA. I had tagged this session: Music Helps, Making Music in the Pandemic. Rolly had developed a wonderful series of live broadcasts online during the pandemic, and now hosts three shows a week, featuring three songs and an instrumental. We had a good chance to disect his philosophy on starting it out, and how it has blossomed into a nice community for his music.

I talked about my route through the last two years with the individual videos/songs that I did over 500 days in a row, and continue now by posting songs from my copious You Tube library. We had a good chance to get it all out and found, as always, a highly intellectual, informative and humour format.

Rolly backed me up on several songs (Simple Gifts, Rodeo Rider, Branching Out, Shoo That Fly, while showcasing several of his original songs and instrumentals. He is a brilliant player and storyteller. We’ve both upped our game during the pandemic.

Of course, there was under 10 people in the audience, several of whom came up to see Rolly. I find it disappointing to not have an audience for my work, especially in my home town.

Pealing the plastic off the pick guard.

I did introduce my new Martin SC-13E, and play a full song on it for the first time (Branching Out). As we sat on stage before the show, Rolly noticed that I hadn’t taking the plastic off the pick guard yet, so we decided to throw that into the show. It was pretty funny and raised some attention on FB. Made in Mexico, it has koa wood back and sides, a nice spruce top and an unique shape to facilitate playing up past the 12th fret. It played really well, and I could feel it teaching me things that all new guitars do. This is going to be a good guitar.

It was a good night spent with a fine guitarist and friend, and I can’t think of a better was to spend my night out.

I was looking forward to chatting with Christine tonight. She’s become quite a fixture on the LBGTQ circuit and is a regular performer now at Godfrey’s. It took a while to find a date since she no longer lives in the Philly area, but this worked out well.

Christine has worked her way through playing guitar with a kids’ music group (Cat’s Pajamas) a long time ago, playing small folk clubs like Godfrey’s and now is recognized as strong women’s songwriter. She’s got chops on the guitar to match her lyrics and also has become a confident performer. I knew this would work. I just had to figure how to get my music in sync with hers.

I started off with Branching Out (John Gorka) and mentioned that there was an artifact on the walls in the song. It was, of course, the Louisville Slugger bat that Christine Lavin gave John years ago. After the show, one woman said that this song took her in from the get go. A good choice for a new audience. We took off from there as we played songs, talked about her early days watching performers like The Story and Jonatha Brooks here on this stage, saying “that’s what I want to do.”

It was a good crowd, for a change, and she had lots of fans in the audience. This also afforded me a chance to play my songs in front of a fairly new audience for me. I played Rosie is a Friend of Mine, Giant, Lessons from Pete, and tried out some new ones: May You Never and What About the Bond, both landed well. Christine plays loud (too loud for my tastes) but that’s part of her aggressive sound.

It was nice to share our philosophies about love, in a global sense, getting people to sing along, songwriting, “taking it to the bridge”, open tunings and more. As usual, it was good session and folks really enjoyed the evening, as did Christine.

My Martin roared.

Back from two RockRoots gigs this afternoon, I had a chance to reboot for a Godfrey’s gig, a Dave’s Night Out. Tonight was Michael Johnson and Quentin Fisher from our emerging bluegrass stars Serene Green. I dreamed this up a long time ago so I was looking forward to this evening. Que and Micheal have been doing a duo for months, years, as friends and band mates. I asked them to work on Old Time Bluegrass Duos as a theme. They did great!!!

I’ve been working with a “sit-down” format, playing and conversing in chairs on stage. Michael emailed me that they were going to be standing, and working with a central mike, as they do with the full band. I negotiated a combination of the two and it worked very nicely. I trust my folk production instincts. As it turned out, it proved to be a very nice move.

I started out with Truck Driving Man, an old Steppin’ Out! tune that I pulled out of my ass for this one. But, it was a good way to have Q and M add some chops. Established the improvisation to the evening.

These guys are the real deal and they both work really hard on their songs, harmonies and mando/guitar work, with tremendous respect for the tradition. They have my complete respect for what they do. We had great conversations about the role of the instruments, the harmonies, the history of brother duos (Monroe, Delmore, Stanley, Traums, and more). Lots and lots of acoustic porn, actually.

Quentin has really accepted his role as lead communicator for the band, with humor, factual knowledge and a welcoming stage presence. Frankly, I told him I see a lot of me (with my Sheiks/Skiffle Band/Steppin’ Out! duties) in his stage craft. Q’s the real deal.

I pulled out the Delmore Brother’s Deep River Blues. It was good break to the countryish sound, with more of a blues tone. It was appreciated and surprised some of the folks who haven’t heard me play.

After some more sit and chat, I asked the boys to take the single mike set up to the side. , to demonstrate how they usually play. Bang. They played some flawless duo tunes and the audience got to see it done to perfection.

As we settled down again, I pulled out Golden Bird, a old/new tune for me, and one I had run through earlier at the sound check. Again, it was great. I asked to join their band and they asked to join mine. That’s pretty cool. We should do it.

We wrapped up after about two hours, and Q said we could have gone on. I agree. I was pleased to introduce both Quentin and Michael to the concept of a small stage conversation and they both came up big.

It was a very long day on stage(s) but quite a good way to roll.

 

I am in awe of George Hrab’s intellect and songwriting abilities; I was looking forward to having him on stage with me on Thursday. I wasn’t quite sure how to balance my portion of the show, but things turned out nicely. We had done this two years ago, so we were comfortable with the format.

I started out with Michael Cooney’s Figure It Out and it was a really good way to broach the philosophic endeavors of the evening. Short, sweet and slightly inane. And we were off.

There was a decent audience tonight, with some new folks in the house. George played some great tunes early on (Florida Man and I Hate Christmas) that set the stage for some interesting conversation. I asked about musical “bridges” and there was some great chat about that. We talked about playing for kids, songwriting in general and, as usual, the intellectual heat was good and entertaining.

Interestingly enough, I found my niches to comment, played some tunes that fit in the topics (Smokin’ Babies, Barrelhouse, Lessons from Pete, Santa Assassin…). And George and I have a palpable mutual respect that made for a balanced show. Lou did great on sound and we were really comfortable on stage.

As usual, the format continues be entertaining and electric, and something that I’m glad that my guests appreciate. Quite the unique evening that always surprise and delight me.