May 2017

May 2017


     We cut a new album in the middle of a Midwest tour, returning to Pachyderm studio in rural Minnesota, this time with both incarnations of the road band: Eric Heywood in your right speaker and Bo Ramsey in your left, Moses and Billy down the center line, if you can imagine that. It's a lineup to bead the sweat on your forehead, all available fire-power and titanic restraint. I don't have an album title yet, for once, and it won't come out until next winter but I'll keep you posted. It’s a home fires record, or maybe a collected reveries record, and there's a little more light coming in the window this time. I had six weeks to finish songs when I booked the studio, and I was still writing right up through the last morning of the session, so my mind was fairly shot by the time I got home and required a week of standing hip-deep in the river, and wandering around the house staring into space. But it was a beautiful time, and there was a lot of love in the room. Moses finally earned his Honorary Midwesterner badge. We knew he was ready when we offered it to him and he refused it three times and then bashfully accepted saying, "Well, I guess if you went to all this trouble."

     Here’s our deal in May, and if you’re not in Colorado or Scotland it may not be your cup of tea. But read on, Gentle Reader, and track our movements through the new year. There's a pile of new songs, and for now the only place you can hear them is wherever we show up. There are dogwood and peach cuttings on the sideboard, magnolia petals falling outside the kitchen window, and the yard is a slow-motion fireworks of cherry, crab apple, plum, and quince. What a hard time to leave, and what a fine job to have.

COLORADO - Next week we'll head back out to Colorado for a widely ranging tour of that state, visiting towns we haven't seen and some we have, while noting the progress of the runoff in the spring trout streams. We start up in Fort Collins at the Downtown Artery (5/2), continue on through Society Hall in 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). Denver's Megan Burtt opens all shows. Get your tickets now, some of these will sell out.

ORKNEY - At the end of May Billy and I fly to Edinburgh, and from there to the Orkney Islands off the northeast coast of Scotland for the Orkney Folk Festival. Once there, we'll play four nights and almost certainly go to bed early every night, make no friends, and observe teetotal abstinence from intoxicating liquor.

SOUTHWEST - In June we'll meet up with Eric Heywood for a trio tour of the desert Southwest with shows at the Highlands Nature Center Amphitheater in Prescott (6/13), the Fire Creek Coffee Company in Flagstaff (6/14), the Summer Nights series at the Albuquerque BioPark in Albuquerque, NM (6/15), the Pecos Flavors Winery in Roswell, NM, (6/16), finishing up at the Kitchen Sink Recording Studio in Santa Fe, NM (6/17), and with any luck getting home in time for Father's Day supper. I have a song about traveling from Hatch up to Santa Fe some years ago listening to my wife sing Neil Young's Albuquerque in the car. It's about as post-modern as I ever got.

MONTANA - In July we'll spend a few weeks in Montana to play the Bob Marshall Music Festival in Seeley Lake (7/14) and Red Ants Pants Festival up in White Sulphur (7/29). Both fests feature great line-ups in beautiful country, and we'll be out with the full band for the first time in Montana, an unalloyed pleasure. One of the reasons Montana is so beautiful is its long tradition of public lands, now under direct threat. Rick Bass has rounded up thirty of the state's best writers - including my good friends David James DuncanRobert Stubblefield, and Chris Dombrowski - to write original essays in defense of their home ground, and they're currently running a very modest fundraiser to raise the cash to get these essays into every paper across the state in time for the upcoming elections. If you believe, as Ed Abbey did, that wilderness is necessary and vital even if you never intend to visit it, for its influence on both the soul and the imagination, maybe you'll consider helping them get the ball rolling even if you can't get out to Montana any time soon. At least you'll know it's there.

     In August we'll play the Big Stars and Bright Nights Series in Park City, Utah (8/12), the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival in Salmon Arm, BC (8/18), and the Jam in the TreesFestival in Asheville, NC (8/26), before heading back west to attend the Beargrass Writer's Retreat at the E-Bar-L Ranch in Greenough, MT as Songwriter-in-Residence. That's a job title cooked up by my friend the author and poet Chris Dombrowski who founded the retreat, and it describes the weighty responsibility of performing at cocktail hour and fishing on the Big Blackfoot as much as possible, while hobnobbing with literary types.

     In the fall we'll tour North America family-style between October and December, on a full-band split bill with Kris Delmhorst for the release of her fantastic new album THE WILD, which I played on and co-produced. Keep an eye out for that.

We'll see you out there.