Sunday, May 31, 2009

Make A Bee-Line for the Beachland This Thursday

It must be all the pollen in the air because the Dixie Bee-Liners are coming back to Northeast Ohio this Thursday night, June 4, after they warm folks up over at the legendary Ark in Michigan.

These fine folks have so much going for them and have written or co-written some wonderful songs, but last they plowed through Ohio in January, they pulled off some old standards that had me up and outta my seat--in a good way. The Bees also gave themselves permission to dazzle us with some instrumentals so I hope if they're out there they'll do it again! This one, "Walls of Time," is to me, as loyal musically motivated readers will already know, just about my favorite all-time standard time Bluegrass tune. I can't wait to share singing it with pickers somewhere down my own crooked road.

For local folks, visit for details on the 8 p.m. show. Y'all check out to find out whether they'll be buzzin' your way during their Textual Activity Tour.

See you there!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Infamous Stringdusters - Rivers

Wow, where have I BEEN? Just found out these favorites of mine are playing TONIGHT at THE WATERLOO CAFE, up near the Beachland Ballroom, in Cleveland. Show time 8 p.m., only ten bucks. That's recession-friendly bluegrass.

Just a couple weeks ago I felt a little down having drifted away from music as I've been on the hamster wheel or waiting for the other shoe to drop. I've already called off my IBMA trip this year in favor of a couple badly needed new appliances. But yesterday morning early, before I went to work, I answered the call of my mando and pulled it out to pick a little while before it was time to go. It's time to get back on that, and to take a look around to appreciate all that's happening right here in Ohio. More could be happening if I put my mind to it. Ohio's got plenty of bluegrass and bluegrass fans. It's going to be fun getting around and meeting more of them, and maybe pickin' a little this summer.

This is a tune I can appreciate. I grew up in the Valley by the River, so to speak, and I guess it makes sense that I can't get enough of this music. Be sure to see these guys when they come to a waterin' hole near you.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

And I Thought They's From Virginia!

Well it's just about the end of another week on the hamster wheel. I've been too busy to sit down and tell you all about the surprise of my life Saturday night when I headed over to the Kent Stage to check out the John "I grew up in Solon" Cowan show. Prior to John's show the audience was treated to a set by JP and the Chatfield Boys, who hail not from Virginia but from the Southwest side of Cleveland. But these bluegrass cats play like they are straight from Clinch Mountain. I was mighty impressed and although this vid isn't the best, I hope you will check them out. I certainly plan to catch up with JP and the C boys whenever I can. Get on over to their MySpace at to hear more genuine fine pickin' and barn-burning bluegrass grown right here in Northeast Ohio!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Angel Eyes, John Cowan Band

Or, try this...

Time for a Music Break

Here it is, the Saturday before Mother's Day already. Where is the time going? Man, when you step off the hamster wheel for even a moment it feels like you'll never catch up. But if you don't get off that crazy thing, there won't be any you left to do the catching up.

It's hard nowadays because if you're lucky enough to have a job or two you don't want to appear as though you're not grateful for that. But the flip side is trying to stay human. Some days I feel like I don't work hard enough, and others I look back on the last few months and ask myself where I've gone.

But then there are moments like this one, early on the weekend, my daughter finishing up her breakfast and talking about what happened at school, like the duck that just had 12 babies. That's a lot of babies, and fortunately that duck has a bunch of devoted third graders to help out.

At some point this week I told friends that my anxiety about the economy is tied to the fact that while on paper I technically should be doing fine, it's the knowledge, or fear, that at any moment, more than half of what is on paper will dry up in a hurry. That's what makes this era different. And it's an era I've been living in for six months. To think that I know people who have been out of work for more than a YEAR -- how in the world are they coping? It didn't occur to me to acknowledge this very real fear and how it colors my perception in approaching most every decision that involves any money. And yet, there never have been any guarantees, for anyone, regardless. Does the knowledge I have now of the way things are, or the fact that I've experienced partial job loss, mean that those possibilities weren't there before? Of course not. Like most people I ambled through my days doing a good job and hoping that the stability of my industry would hold up. It didn't. And it may get worse before it gets better. Most of my days are spent with my colleagues trying to figure out how to prevent that.

I still worry about the near future, but I'm trying to take a deep breath. I did my resume last weekend, and it reminded me that I'm really pretty good at what I do. I can probably do some of the kinds of things I do for different kinds of organizations, too. Or I can try something new. The other shoe may still be out there somewhere; we are likely to scale back our summer plans to accommodate my unease. At the same time we drink in the beauty of now, and try to take advantage of the ways we can enjoy all that's in front of us.

As spring wears on and brings longer, warmer days to my part of Ohio, it's hard for even the grownups to stay focused. So it is that I give myself permission to live just a little. This weekend that means a trip to the Kent Stage to see one of American music's best-loved voices of .... well, I'm not sure he has a genre. John Cowan can sing just about anything he puts his mind to. You can sample some of his fine singing here on his MySpace. John is best known to bluegrass folks as the bass player for New Grass Revival (the Sam Bush-Bela Fleck-Pat Flynn operation that gave this music a kick in the grass). The first time I saw John was actually while he was standing in line two or three folks behind us at the Southwest counter a few years back in Nashville. The first time I heard John sing was a life-changing experience. He just put it all out there, nothing to hide really, which is what singing does. It exposes you. Having sung for many years, I think that knowing you have to make that connection through the instrument that is in you physically makes you feel a little more vulnerable, but if you don't over come that and put it all forward to deliver the song, you might as well not be up there at all. I wish I had the opportunities to sing now that I did when I was younger and didn't understand that as much. I just took it for the stage jitters.

I hope if you're in the area that you'll get on out to the Stage tonight to see John. Check out his tour schedule and catch him when he's coming through your town. He's got such a rich history, some of it fairly loaded, but he is devoted almost entirely to what he does musically.

There are so many tunes to choose from, I decided to go with one folks will recognize. I hope you enjoy John’s version of this goofy love song, Angel Eyes.

Monday, May 04, 2009

First Dragonfly

Yesterday I saw a dragonfly for the first time this season. It was warm and sunny and the little bugger zigzagged right around me before zipping across the path. To me these critters are full-blown summer fliers. It seems so early! I love to watch dragonflies. Their blue tails, their near gossamer-wings, long thin bodies are like little airplanes, like the first airplanes.

Spring is a time of invention. Pieces are coming together as we invent, or reinvent, our lives and ourselves. Spring here in the north feels especially fertile and strong after a long, deep winter. In these troubled times, confusion and loss, uncertainty and deprivation give way to a little hope.

Cold is over. New is now.

Things that might have bothered me in the past are now too expensive or too uninteresting to keep my attention. There are so many things that must be done. Now. First, survival. Then, success.

Shoo fly. Don't bother me. We got stuff to do.

The Blue Tail Fly

(Bruce Molsky, fiddle. LOVE THIS FIDDLER.)