Getting out

keillorlaughsIt’s a lot of fun to see your hero. Though I’ve never really thought of Garrison Keillor as a hero, per se, after seeing him be on stage and in the audience for three hours on a chilly, misty night in Kettering, I have to say he is someone to be admired greatly.

We weren’t close enough to get pictures that would mean anything, but he did walk to within maybe 30 feet of us at one point. We were on a blanket by the wall on the grass area of Fraze, a little too stiff, wet, and cold to get up try to make closer contact. But it was still something we’ll always remember, I think. The cold night (well, 55 degrees. Not freezing, but around 20 degrees from ideal.), the misty rain that for a few seconds seemed destined to be much more. The strangers who left us their seats and back rests when they had to leave an hour into the show. The three senior community shows we’d done earlier in the day. Maybe that’s why we didn’t feel like getting up off the cold ground.

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Wonderful week in Wisconsin

Our first trip to Madison, Wisconsin has been a great week of Littlest Big Band music, culminating in a Raggedy Edge house concert, totaling eight shows over four days. The weather has been kind, coolish, and mostly sunny; the clean and foot-friendly downtowns of the various cities that make up the Madison complex have given good reason to gape and gawk unabashedly; and the wooded, natural areas help to bring us back to center.

We somehow met up with friends from Dayton all this distance away and spent a couple of hours visiting with them and their extended family members while listening to a local band play the dancing blues at an outdoor beer garden.

Our last few days were spent at an AirBnB hosted by the kind of people you want to have hosting AirBnB’s. They introduced us to some of their friends and family, fed us like rock stars, and allowed us to share our music and to hear their stories.

And now it’s time to return home and the weather reports promise clear skies.

We don’t do sad

Music is a gift we’re blessed to be able to share with many folks, and mostly we tend toward the upbeat and positive natured songs.

Many years ago, the mother of one of my friends listened to some of the songs I was playing then–mostly rock and roll tunes–but they all had downer lyrics. She asked me why all my songs were sad. Honestly, I hadn’t noticed because I was a guitar player and I didn’t listen to much else in the song. What? There are words? A bass player? Drums? Sheesh.

It took many years to come to the realization that my friend’s mom was right, the songs were sad and quite at odds with the way I really felt, not to mention the music.

Sadness is a universal trait, however. People write more when they’re sad or mad. A problem with a product is going to get a letter to the company much quicker than if everything is okay with the product. A case of “no news is good news” syndrome. My mom used to tell me that she figured–since I rarely wrote home after a certain age–that NNIGN.

Two of the three singers that we’ve gone to see lately proudly proclaim they’re all about the sad songs. Jeffrey Focault wants to make everyone cry. Justin Wells’ songs are all deeply sad, about loss of love and killing, but, he said, he’s “really all right so come on over and talk.” (And he was.)

So, we substitute a few slow songs for sad songs, try to interject a bit of humor into otherwise depressing situations, or tell a story in which the dire situation is relieved in a positive way. It’s easier to do when you write your own songs, too, let me tell. We’ve looked at adding many songs to our sets that didn’t make it because when you dig deeper into the lyrics, they’re appallingly depressing. (Take a look at You Are My Sunshine .)

Maybe being happy all the time isn’t the goal or a reasonable way to appear, and we don’t forget that to feel truly happy, you have to know a little sadness. And you probably already know that it takes way fewer muscles to form a smile on your face than it does to make a frown.

And knowing that sad songs mean a lot to people, we’ve steered toward a gothic or ironic sort of slowish folk song construction, like “Life Should Be So Easy,” one that also aims for humor in the first verse.

Life is pretty easy when you’re making ends meet by doing what you love, and that is position we find ourselves in, so we’re still finding enough positive in life to keep our music upbeat for the foreseeable future. It’s how we are and what we believe.

New EP free for the weekend!

Knowing how we all demand free music on the Internet these days, we’ve published our latest EP collection of four songs on BandCamp as a free download for all four songs. Probably keep it that way for a while. Individual songs are a dollar. Bit of an experiment, I suppose you could say.

Photos show the change we made in the “cover” (since there isn’t a physical CD, “cover” is a loose term). The one on the right worked way better as a very small graphic, as sometimes happens to these things. They were both fun to make. The background is from the same picture, which was accidentally made when I photographed something and moved before the camera/phone got done collecting photons.

We hope you travel over to our BandCamp page at https://raggedyedge.bandcamp.com/album/all-my-dreams and listen and download, even buy, if that is where you are these days.

Day Tripping Augusta Kentucky Regatta

 

A day trip to Augusta, Kentucky brought us to that town’s Ohio River Regatta and a stage where our friends Mad River Railroad were playing music. We took the $5 ferry across the river this time, after having driven along the Kentucky route to get there. On the Ohio side, we stopped at a nice little restaurant where we may someday play our own music.

This time, lots of pics

We had a nice couple of days of musicality Friday and Saturday, starting with morning bluegrass jam Friday, then another jam with Silvergrass Band and others at BellHOP. Last night, the weather was perfect for an outdoor concert by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy in Springfield (which convinced us of the need to add a couple of folding chairs to our traveling bag).

 

Double-neck guitar

JrBrown_July2017_Southgate House Revival

Had an inspired evening listening to Justin Wells last night, opening for Junior Brown, pictured above, a double-neck six-string/steel guitar, bass-voiced rockabilly country singer who was loud loud LOUD.

Saw them at the Southgate House Revival in Newport, Kentucky, where we found a nice meal at a place called the York Street Cafe. We had smoked salmon with capers, onions, and sour cream, green beans, and tabouleh in miniature pita pockets, all washed down with a Rhinegeist porter made in Cincinnati, some hard cider, and water.

It was muggy and hot, and earlier in the day we’d replaced two faucets in our house, not a common thing for musicians to do, but with the help of YouTube, we made it through with no leaks to show as of yet.

We crossed the Ohio River at a place we’d never done so, the Taylor Southgate Bridge, after having made it to downtown Cincy by the Reds’ Paul Brown Stadium. Rush hour traffic was a bit of a bother going in, but nothing like it could have been had we been on 75. By ten, when we were leaving, the streets were nearly rolled up, with only one minor setback on the directions due to somebody needing a street named after him.

I feel I’ll be inspired by Wells’s writing, much in the vein of Foucault, but quite a bit louder and gruffer. Still it makes me want to re-examine a few roots, and where they don’t stand the test of scrutiny, to make up something. But we won’t be playing loudly. My ears will be ringing for some time, over top of the usual tinnitus I have grown accustomed to over the years.