This second video is from the American Revival Tour in November 2009. I'm sitting in with Uncle Earl on what was typically the final number in their set. We do the breaks to the song in an old-timey way, that is, fiddle and banjo playing at the same time. Therefore it's not so much that I like my break on this song, but I do like my outfit!
Yesterday: last show of the tour. Cool old Vaudeville theater with a surprising amount of space in the dressing rooms. I had the BEST surprise. I knew that my cousin who lives here in Pittsburgh and her boyfriend were coming to the show. She came when we were soundchecking and we went to eat Greek food (the owner of the restaurant was Jackie O’s personal chef on her yacht). I knew that my cousin and his girlfriend who live about an hour away were coming. But when I walked into the lobby at intermission and saw two of my mom’s cousins who live in Georgia, I was bowled over. Butch Martin had already seen the show once in Atlanta and still wanted to see it again (that’s a good sign, right?).
It was a really good show and really good crowd last night. For the first time on the entire tour, we had trouble with our sign. We’ve been doing a text-in promotion, so we have the phone number on a big sign. Every show after we show it to the audience, Robin props it up in front of the monitor speakers on the stage. Last night for some reason, it would not stay propped. It actually slid off the front of the stage! On his third try it stayed, earning a nice hand from the audience!
The sweet Uncle Earl G’earls gave us a bottle of wine and made us this card:
We’ll miss you, too!! I’ll miss Paula singing baritone at my left shoulder during the finale songs. I’ll miss the theme songs. I’ll miss the jokes. I’ll miss hearing “Shiny Penny” and “Crayola” every day. I wish I had gotten a banjo lesson from Paula.
Here’s what I won’t miss: having to load the van every morning. Hotel breakfasts every morning. Riding in the van every single day. Having to wear the same clothes over and over and over.
Another thing I’ll miss is doing the pattycake on “Crayola.” Here’s Rachel and Sierra, trying to work up their verse, backstage in Hamilton, OH.
And I’ll miss everyone. I hope we get to do another tour together sometime!
This is gonna be a speed-blog because I'm running late and we're about to load the van to drive 4 1/2 hours to our LAST GIG OF THE TOUR!! We were all a bit disappointed yesterday when we realized what a long drive it was. Originally the tour book (our itenerary) had said it was only 110 miles. Alas, it's 293 miles. Bummer. Here's a concise view of our tour, courtesy of Uncle Earl: tour map.
First I have to say to my Dad: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! I'll call you later!
There are many things that we'll miss when this tour is over. Loading the van in the morning is not one of them. Inevitably we're always waiting on someone or other. So a couple days ago I took some waiting pictures:
We will miss getting to hang out with such great musicians and amusing people every day.
Here's the link to my third tour post over on the Bluegrass Blog.
Gotta run. See y'all in Pittsburgh tonight I hope! (I mean, we'll definitely be there, I just hope that you will, too.)
Our band did a school outreach yesterday afternoon at St. John’s Lutheran School. The entire school was in attendence, a couple hundred K-8th graders. The littler kids were totally into it, clapping to almost every song, though not at all in time (it sounded like heavy rain pounding on a roof), but the eighth graders in the back row were more aloof, watching politely but completely undemonstrative.
It’s a completely different experience playing for children than for adults. I like to study the kids and pick out who looks the most like me at that age. She’d definitely be obeying all the rules, sitting politely, paying attention, long brown hair, headband or ponytail, braces.
We had to adjust our material some, on account of all the singing about alcohol, suicide, and sex that we usually do. J We did “Bound to Ride,” and Buddy introduced it with a long spiel about crackers (the food, not the people). The next song was Robin singing “Nine Pound Hammer.” As he was singing the verse that goes, “It’s a long way to Harlan, it’s a long way to Hazard, just to get a little brew…” he suddenly realized he was singing about moonshine and improvised on the fly: “It’s a long way to Harlan, it’s a long way to Hazard, just to get a pile of crackers…” The band cracked up, of course, and the school’s staff was none the wiser. The kids didn’t care.
Our show tonight had a pretty good crowd, but they were a little too polite. We like the ones who will hoot and holler. Oh. Wait. I can hear them now. They’re hooting and hollering for Uncle Earl. It was just us. Okay then. Never mind….
Anyway. Uncle Earl does one of Kristin Andreassen’s songs, “Crayola Doesn’t Make A Color For Your Eyes.” I’m not sure if I’ve really written anything about it until now, but it is a totally awesome song. It won some kind of songwriting award, but it’s completely charming and the last line of the chorus is “Crayola doesn’t make a color to draw my love.” Their arrangement includes a hand clap/slap pattycake thing all the way through. They sing and clap simultaneously and I didn’t fully appreciate how hard that is until last night.
The G’Earls wanted to get all the women on the tour involved and on stage at the same time, so Rachel and Sierra learned a verse to sing while they clapped, and Brandi and I were hand jive partners. To keep the pattern going through the entire song takes a balance of concentration and not-thinking-about-it that I have not achieved yet. Maybe by tonight, or tomorrow.
We just have two more shows left. Two! Long drive today—six hours—and a show tonight in Hamilton, Ohio. We need to make sure to get a group picture before we all go our separate ways.
I’m sitting the lounge of the Hilton Hotel in Naperville, IL, near Chicago, writing this. Who knows when I’ll be able to post it because they make you pay for internet access here, which I’m not willing to do. Last night my phone told me there was a Caribou Coffee half a mile away, so I was planning on going there. But this morning my phone decided it was really two miles away and, since I don’t have van keys, it would have taken too long to walk there.
Yesterday was a travel day, nine hours from Knoxville to the Chicago area. Rachel decided to ride with Clay and Sam Hess, so I once again had the back van seat to myself (woohoo!). That made my trip easier. I finished my second crocheted scarf and finished Charlaine Harris’s new collection of Sookie Stackhouse short stories. Buddy and Jeremy did the driving, and a fine driving job it was, too.
Jeremy realized that we were passing very close to the Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe in Frankfort, Ky., so we stopped there for lunch. The Bee-Liners have played there a few times in the past, and the bookshelf-lined walls created an extremely comfortable atmostphere. I had the black bean salsa wrap and potato salad. Really, really good.
When we got close to the hotel, we decided to grab supper before checking in. We went to possibly the worst Thai restaurant that any of us have ever been to. Good presentation, but they fell far short in the taste department. You win some, you lose some. We certainly lost that one.
I took an early bed but Rachel decided to go to the midnight showing of “New Moon” with Clay and Sam. I was long asleep by the time they got back after 2 a.m. I'm still waiting for a report on the movie, since she was still asleep when I left the room this morning.
Today we’re playing a school show from 2-3 before heading over to the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage for tonight’s show. I really hope that we can hold the attention of a room full of first through eighth graders.
P.S. - A big thank you once again to Caribou Coffee, once again, for their internet access. And for my dark chocolate latte. Big yum.
Knoxville yesterday held many revelations. Among them Morelock Music, which is right around the corner from The Square Room, where we were playing. I happened upon it completely by accident. What caught my eye was the huge banjo
but what really drew me in was the dead cool vintage clothes. Not what I usually expect to see in a music store, but I went with it, and found a nice fleecy jean jacket for $15. They were playing Reed Martin (solo clawhammer banjo) on the store stereo, which made me feel right at home.
Second revelation: YeeHaw Industires printshop. They had a booth set up at the Clifftop old-time festival, where I spent too much money. I was saved from a similar fate yesterday only by the consideration that whatever I bought has to survive in the van for five more days. No poster has a chance.
Third revelation: Kopi Luwak coffee, which we fondly refer to as cat poo coffee. I had heard about this coffee for years. I think the first person to tell me about it was KC Groves. It comes from Sumatra. These animals called Luwaks (cat-like creatures) eat red, ripe coffee cherries. They digest the fruit part, but the beans pass through and end up on the forest floor, where people collect them, roast them and grind them, just like regular coffee. Except that this coffee is so rare it costs $480 a pound. Seriously.
Brandi and I happened into a shop called Coffee and Chocolate, just next door to the venue. They had this coffee. It cost $60 for two ounces. Brandi made a deal with the owner of the shop that we’d get a package of it, get them to brew it up, and split it between all of us, so it would only cost us just over $8 each. They had some of these Kopi Luwak coffee beans encased in a clear paperweight. We all thought this was very amusing and studied it very closely.
If you liked the Uncle Earl blog song, you’re sure to like this one. It’s the Uncle Earl Cat Poo Coffee Song! (You need a jingle, they got a jingle. Even if you didn’t know you needed a jingle, they’ve got a jingle for you.) I'm not sure this one is going to be as big a hit as their blog theme...
Before the cat poo coffee we played on the local radio station WDVX for about twenty minutes, advertising the night’s show and our new CD Susanville. Here’s a little photo gallery.
And here’s a shot from the show’s finale song:
Today is a travel day. We’re headed to Glen Ella, Illinois, near Chicago. I don’t think anyone is looking forward to the long drive!
Holy cow, day twenty! We've really been out for twenty days? It seems like a hundred. Just kidding. It seems like thirty.
News Flash: this afternoon (November 18th) around 5:00 Eastern time The Bee-Liners and (I think) Sierra Hull's band will be live on the radio--WDVX in Knoxville. You can listen online here, or tune in to the local FM frequency.
Last night was a truly exciting moment: Uncle Earl debuted the blog song on stage for our lucky Bowling Green crowd. And I got an MP3 version of the song, so everyone should be able to play it with no problem. Listen to the Murphy Method Blog Theme Song here. After they sang it I got several inquiries about the address of the blog, so a big welcome to any readers who were lured in by Uncle Earl's siren song.
I realized yesterday that I really hadn't had any pictures of Sierra Hull and her band on here, so I snapped one as were were hanging around, killing time backstage. Here's what Sierra does for fun:
This next story is about what Jeremy and I do for fun. We were in the green room backstage, which happens to be under the stage. Sierra's band was soundchecking and there was some foot pounding going on. Underneath the stage as we were, it sounded like someone using a sledge hammer. We decided walking around in the cool night air would be preferable. Jeremy found on his handy iPhone the Corsair Artisan Microdistillery, which was just next door to where we were (we took a roundabout route to get there, but we made it). The inside lights were on and the sign out front said "Distillery Gift Shop," so we took a chance and went in. The pungent smell of fermenting grain met us at the door. We didn't really see anyone, so we looked at the shirts, glasses, bottles of spirits they had there.
A couple minutes later a guy notices us, says they are actually closed, and introduces himself as Ben, one of the owners. We get into conversation and he tells us about their operation, which is less than two years old. Even though they're closed, he offers to do us a little tasting. We take him up on the offer. He first pours us their Rye whiskey, which is great. The Yazoo Brewing Company in Nashville made the mash for it, and it apparently really clogged up their machines so they'll never do it again. You better believe that Jeremy and I walked out of there with the last two bottles of that batch.
Then Ben poured their vanilla vodka for us. This was far and away my favorite. It tasted like drinking vanilla extract (made with organic fair-trade vanilla beans). I took a bottle of that home as well.
We moved onto Gin, which is not my favorite, but theirs was wonderful. Jeremy tasted the absinthe and liked it enough to buy a bottle. I'm not a licorice fan, so I just smelled its distinctive aroma and that was enough for me.
I would have liked to taste the Pumpkin Spice Moonshine that was running out of the still right at the that moment, but it wasn't ready for the public. Finding Corsair Artisan Distillery was by far the best impromptu side trip of the tour. We felt lucky to have happened upon them, and were so grateful that even though they were closed Ben took the time to introduce us to his wonderful products! They will make the rest of the tour much more fun!
Today we're hitting the road to Knoxville, Tenn., where we play at the Square Room.
Yesterday was a travel day, a rainy one, across Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky to Bowling Green. We Bee-Liners stopped to eat twice, once at Panera for lunch, and once when we arrived in Bowling Green at the Montana Grill, where the waitress seemed a little nonplussed by Robin's request for vegitarian nachos.
Jeremy and I then continued on to Nashville (thanks Uncle Earl for letting us borrow your van!!!) to our own houses, where we could sleep in our own beds. As I write this I'm in my own office and just almost burned my oatmeal because I was concentrating on writing a birthday card to my dad and forgot it was on the stove. My laundry is turning merrily in my dryer and I'm getting ready to re-pack for the last week of the tour with somewhat less stuff than I started out with. A blissful twelve hours at home. Well, actually a truly blissful morning wouldn't' include laundry, or unloading the dishwasher, but it was close enough.
We're playing at the Capitol Arts Theater in Bowling Green tonight, only about an hour from Nashville, so we expect to see some hometown friends. And, check it out, the show is free. That's right, completely free! So if you live nearby, come see us!
One picture for today:
This is our van, which we load and unload at least twice a day. Good times, good times.
Blog Theme Song
I mentioned yesterday that Uncle Earl has a daily blog theme song to accompany their van blog readings. Well, they really came through for me and actually recorded it so that we can all enjoy it. Here is the Murphy Method Blog theme song!! (It's a .m4a file, which will play in Quicktime. I'll try and figure out how to make it into an MP3 so that it will be easier for everyone to play.) Thanks, G'earls. You're the best.
Last night we were in Springfield, Missouri. There were a lot of young peole at the show and we got asked to sign more programs than on any other night so far. The Chapmans, who are from here, came out to see the show, and Rachel and Sierra and her band went out with them afterwards to Steak and Shake.
The last couple of shows I’ve had bad pick karma, and I’m hoping that by writing about it I can purge it. Two nights ago in Fayetteville I had a minor pick incident. It went like this:
Between the first two songs I have to change banjos, from my low-tuned banjo back to my regular Kel Kroydon, which sits in a stand just behind me. This time when I put my Gibson down, my fingerpicks got caught on the strap and came off. They both landed on the floor under the stand. Now, there is not supposed to be any time at all between the first two songs. I even leave off the last note of “Crooked Road” so I can switch and be ready for the downbeat of “Bugs in the Basement” by the time the applause has stopped. The extra time I had to spend putting my picks back on, in addition to being nerve wracking (“What if I can’t get my picks back on at all?!”) was awkwardly silent. But, I did get them on and the show continued apace.
Last night, though, came very close to disaster. A few songs into the set we do a song called “Heavy” on which I do not use picks. I’ve been taking them off and carefully putting them on top rail of our multi-intrument stand, which is just wide enough to balance them (since my stinkin’ stage skirts and dresses don’t have pockets). When I turned around after “Heavy” to put my picks back on they weren’t there. Just think about that for a second. THEY WEREN’T THERE.
I calmly figured that they must have fallen off onto the floor. So I looked on the floor and found one pick behind the stand. One. Holy crap, where are the other two?? I start to panic a little. I move the stand and look under it. No picks. I’m bearing in mind all the while that I’m squatting down beside this instrument stand as gracefully as I can in a short dress and leggings and they’re about to start the next song. Finally I spy my thumbpick and other fingerpick sitting on my banjo. How the heck did they fall onto my banjo? No time to think, I just picked them up and put them on. It flustered me a bit, to the extent that I was off by a fret on a couple licks during “If I Was a Carpenter” (sorry, Robin).
Disaster averted, I finished out the set with all three picks, only slightly distracted by thinking about how much worse it could have been, and how I was going to write about it later in this blog. As I said, I’m hoping that by writing about this I will apease the pick faries and turn my luck back to the good.
Now, a couple of things I meant to include yesterday. The corporate sponsor for our Fayetteville show was Mars (the candy company). They had made this cool poster for the lobby of the theater (Rachel got one to take home with her. She really liked the sexy green fiddle player M&M.):
They had these backstage. Has anybody ever heard of these before? I don’t like peanut butter, but other people’s reports were positive.
And here is how I’m pogressing on my scarf. I’m going for long and skinny. I’m almost done, I think:
This is a plant that I saw in Fayetteville. I’d never seen one before, I have no idea what it is, but I thought it was really cool:
Today is a travel day, heading to Bowling Green, KY.
Yesterday I found out that not only does the Uncle Earl band read this blog every day in the van, they have a song. A blog song that that they sing. A theme song, if you will. By the end of the tour I'm definitely going to get a recording, audio or hopefully video, that I can share with you.
Last night's show in Fayetteville was the best show that we've done so far. The crowd was wonderful. We Bee-Liners got a genuine standing ovation, at the end they gave Uncle Earl a long standing ovation, and again at the end of the encore. They really, really wanted the second encore, so we obliged with "Angel Band." We were competing with a college football game that night, and several people mentioned that they hated we were on the same night. Otherwise we would have gotten a much bigger crowd, they said.
There was a brew pub right across the street from the theater, so after the show two-thirds of the Bee-Liners, and two-fifths of Uncle Earl and Sierra's band came out for a pint (well, fifteen ounces). The beer was wonderful, and the company---entertaining doesn't even begin to cover it. I'd say more, but mostly it was too dirty to post on our family-friendly blog.
From somewhat earlier in the day I'd like to share this picture:
Rachel went to eat breakfast with Clay Hess, Sierra's guitar player. Walking down the street he happened to notice that her head barely cleared the top of the parking meters, and they decided to immortalize it on film, well, in pixels.
Today we're headed to Springfield, Missouri. Not a long drive. Yay!