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.
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!
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!
This is the seventh in my series of tour blogs from the American Revival concerts. In order for you to make sense of them you’ll need to know this: The Dixie Bee-Liners are Brandi Hart (guitar, vocals), Buddy Woodward (mandolin), Rachel Johnson (fiddle), Jeremy Darrow (bass), Robin Davis (guitar), and myself Casey Henry on banjo.
Today we traveled from the cute town of Newberry, SC, up to Morganton, NC to play at the Municipal Auditorium. This was a much bigger, 1000+ seat, hall, and the crowd was also bigger, but they didn’t give us back much enery-wise, so although our set was beter and we were more focused on playing as a group, it was hard to generate much momentum.
Sierra Hull had a fill-in fiddler, because Christian Ward had to miss this show: Jim VanCleave from Mountain Heart. Rachel took the opportunity to buy his new Become A More Complete Fiddler DVD so that she can steal some of his hot licks.
Another nice addition to the show was a little clogging riff from Rachel and Kristin Andreassen. Our finale number is “Sittin’ on Top of the World.” For the first week of shows Kristin and Bryn Davies have been doing a bass and clogging break. Last night in the dressing room Rachel and Kristin worked out a little back and forth routine, so now it’s a bass-and-two-cloggers trio break. It rocked, and the crowd loved it.
We had a second encore all ready—“Angel Band”—but the crowd wasn’t that interested, so we didn’t do it. Next time we have an enthusiastic crowd, though, they’ll get to hear it.
The dressing room last night was busy with business. I worked on sending out a Murphy Method newsletter promoting the remaining tour dates, and Kristin was working on an Uncle Earl newsletter. (I’d like to mention how wonderful it is when theaters have a good wireless internet connection. It makes it so much easier to get work done.) Brandi took a much-deserved day off and got absorbed in Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels.
Today: The Carolina Theater in Greensboro, NC.
Here are some memorable moments from the last two days:
Backstage at the Birchmere, Ron Block and Chris Eldridge hold a mini guitar summit, talking about everything from Tony Rice’s Church Street Blues album to pick angle. Clay Hess joins in and it morphs into a guitar jam.
On stage during Uncle Earl’s set, Kristin introduces a song and calls it an old chestnut. Some guy in the audience yells out “chestnut!!!”. Kristin says it’s nice to know that the crowd is really listening. She gets the whole audience to yell out “chestnut!” A few songs later Stephanie introduces a song and tries to use the word chestnut, but says “chestnurt.” Hilarity ensues.
Bryn, who is playing this tour with injured tendons in her right hand, starts to hurt during UE’s set. But the audience can’t tell a thing because she doesn’t miss a note but merely turns her head to the rear of the stage and grimaces in pain.
In studio at WAMU The Dixie Bee-Liners are performing live on the air with deejay Jen Hitt. Brandi, for some reason, mentions that we all love chocolate and Thai food. Jeremy and Rachel echo “chocolate….Thai food!” Rachel gets a text that says, “I love chocolate, too!”
Riding down I-95 in our white van. Rachel and I share the back bench seat. Brandi works on catching up on email/Facebook/Myspace for hours; Buddy plays pinball on his computer. I listen to Wil Wheaton’s Just a Geek audiobook on my iPod.
Stopped at a Pilot truckstop for a quick supper. We’re sitting in the Subway/Dairy Queen when a disturbingly over enthusiastic employee comes over the loud speaker and tells us about the daily specials in a manically happy voice. She ends by saying, “Dairy Queen, what do you have on special?” Dairy Queen doesn’t answer.
After said supper, back in the van, Brandi asks us if we’d like any chocolate because she has some in her purse. We answer yes, and then she can’t find the chocolate. Robin calls her a “choc tease.” (She does eventually find it.)
Today: Newberry Opera House, Newberry, SC.