MIDWEST // COLORADO // ORKNEY // SOUTHWEST // SARGE
Moses and Billy and I had a nice little run around New England last week, enjoying the seventy degree February days and contemplating the end of civilization. Ten thousand years is a pretty good run when you consider it. Dana Colley showed up in Somerville and played sax on the last few numbers, killing it in the most distracting possible way. I had a hard time remembering lyrics. Billy gave me a copy of Callan Wink's short stories, Dog Run Moon, which is good enough that by the last story I wasn't thinking about the language or the writer, but lost in the telling. I've been making my way through Annie Dillard's selected essays, The Abundance, a reminder what a first class mind looks like. Also the new posthumous collection of Jim Harrison's food writing, A Really Big Lunch, which makes me simultaneously happy and hungry, and wistful to know he's gone. I bought and listened to my friend Tift Merritt's new record Stitch of the World, featuring another friend and band-mate, Eric Heywood on pedal steel and electric guitar. No one these last years has turned the wheel in country music with anything like the subtlety or surety of Tift, and this record continues in that line. But enough about other people, let's talk about me.
MIDWEST - In the first half of April we’ll be on the road in the Midwest playing small towns in Wisconsin for the most part, with one appearance in Duluth where Billy Conway lived part of his boyhood and was apparently a speed skating prodigy. The tour starts in La Crosse at the Cavalier Theater (4/5), and proceeds to the Heyde Center for the Arts in Chippewa Falls (4/6), the Mineral Point Opera House in Mineral Point (4/7), and Thrasher Opera House in Green Lake (4/8). After a short break we’ll pick back up in Hayward - a town I’ve visited a number of times but only to canoe the Namekagon River - at the Park Theatre (4/14), and then finish back up in Minne at the Sacred Heart Music Center in Duluth (4/15). Our friends in the Minneapolis duo Dusty Heart open the Mineral Point, Green Lake, and Hayward shows.
COLORADO - In the first week of May we’ll start a Colorado tour at the Downtown Artery in Fort Collins (5/2), continue on through Society Hallin Alamosa (5/3), Brues Alehouse in Pueblo (5/4), Daniels Hall at Swallow Hill in Denver (5/5), The Sherbino in Ridgway (5/6), and finish up at the Sunflower Theater in Cortez (5/7), a town which is incidentally home to Curt Mangan Strings, the folks who make the strings I use on all my guitars. For those of you playing along at home, I like the medium light phosphor bronze (13-17-24-32-44-54) on my Gibson. They dead up about halfway real fast and then stay there for a long time.
ORKNEY - Last year in Denmark I walked up to a circle of men standing near the headquarters of the festival we were playing, in order to ask an innocent question about the hotel shuttle. Twenty minutes later I had been absorbed into that circle - a band as it turned out, called The Chair - and given a number of opportunities to share the bottle of whiskey that was handing around. That, friends, is how you get booked into a festival on Orkney Island.
SOUTHWEST - I've never been to the desert southwest in June, until now restricting my tours there to fall or winter, when relentless sun and the smell of an over-cooked rental car are not unwelcome. In June we'll survey the weather, possibly the fishing, and play the Highland Nature Center Amphitheater in Prescott, AZ (6/13), The Summer Nights Concert Series at the Albuquerque Biopark Botanic Garden (6/15), the Pecos Flavors Winery and Bistro in Roswell, NM (6/16) and Kitchen Sink Studio in Santa Fe, NM (6/17). We may add a date or two before we're done.
SARGE - If you came out to see us on our spring west coast tour last year you got to hear Laurie Sargent open the show and sit-in, and I’ll bet you remember it. Laurie plays a cream-colored Fender mustang tuned to an open C chord through a little old Supro amp, and that’s her whole rig, unless you count her voice, an instrument that can heal the sick or take the paint off the walls, just as she likes. In a career that's included stints fronting a major-label rock band, stunt-singing for Diane Lane in an ill-starred feature film, running an organic farm, keeping horses, training dogs, fighting fires, and painting pictures, Laurie just started performing solo for the first time a few years ago. She's whip-smart and funny as hell, an uncanny writer and performer with a natural connection to the dark fire of life. She's raising money right now to make a new album and the video alone is worth the price of admission. I hope you'll go watch it and then send her some money, because I want to hear that record and she hasn't made it . Did I mention she's been dating Billy Conway for about thirty years? We have a joint custody arrangement.
That about covers it. We'll play the Bob Marshall Music Festival and Red Ants Pants Festival in Montana in July, Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival in British Columbia and Jam in the Trees in North Carolina (locations which though near-rhymes are actually about 2,600 miles distant) in August, and tour North America full band on a split-bill with Kris Delmhorst for the release of her new album THE WILD this fall. If you know anyone in any of these towns, forward this email to them, tell them we're nice people mostly. New information could come in at any time. Put an ear to the tracks, but don't fall asleep there.