Tag Archives: American Revival

Casey Henry

Casey Henry

Yesterday was a long drive from Texas to Arkansas. It took us about nine and a half hours total. I had a difference of opinion with the GPS, which took us on an indirect, but mostly interstate route, passing by Dallas, where we ran into slow traffic, of course. I wanted to go the very direct but slightly smaller road route, which would have saved gas if not time. Oh how enslaved we have become to this device that is supposed to make our lives easier.

We stopped at a buffet-style restaurant called Sam’s for lunch. It had the most hideous gift shop I’d ever seen, full of stinky candles and tacky “personalized” souvenirs. We were forced to wait there for five or ten minutes until they seated us. Brandi later speculated that it’s probably a marketing plan to make people to spend time in the gift shop so they’ll be more likely to buy something. Because there were plenty of empty tables.

My first crocheting attempt.

My first crocheting attempt.

Rachel showed me how to crochet and I made good, if uneven, progress on a red scarf. (I know it doesn’t look red in this picture.) By the time we made it to Ft. Smith, Arkansas, we were all very ready to be out of the van. Rachel joined up with Clay Hess, Cory Walker, and Jacob Eller from Sierra’s band and ventured out to the Choctaw casino, where she watched them win some money, and lose some money. Playing at the casino tonight are the Dan Tyminski Band, the Grascals, and Earl Scruggs. Can’t we just stay here and watch them play???

Jeremy and I sought out the local mexican restaurant where margaritas and guacamole erased our travel fatigue. On our walk there we spotted a coffee shop that looked promising for breakfast. This morning after my workout I walked down there, bringing my laptop and planning to blog from there. What a surprise to find that they are CLOSED on SATURDAYS!! What kind of coffeehouse is closed on Saturday morning? The kind in Ft. Smith, apparently.

Tonight we play in Fayetteville, AR. Hopefully everyone from there won’t be driving down here to hear Earl play!

This is just too weird. It says it has "natural flavor and certified color." What the heck does that mean--certified color??

This is just too weird. I saw it in a Texas convenience store. It says it has "natural flavor and certified color." What the heck does that mean--certified color??

P.S. - Here is the link to by second weekly report on the tour for the Bluegrass Blog.

Casey Henry

Casey Henry

Yesterday was interesting. I feel like touring is starting to wear on us a little bit. We had a 300 mile drive to the gig yesterday, from Baton Rouge, LA, to The Woodlands, TX. Our band stopped at Al T’s Seafood and Steakhouse for some cajun food for lunch. That was a total success.

When we pulled into the Dosey Doe Coffeehouse, there was no one there. The other bands weren’t there yet and there wasn’t a single car in the parking lot. Actually it turned out there was one guy there, and he let us in so we could unload instruments and equipment. The Dosey Doe is a cool venue—a 150 year old barn from Kentucky that they disassembled and moved to Texas, reassembled and turned into a restaurant, coffeehouse, and music venue. Great coffee, really good food, and a nice atmosphere. And wireless internet. Kudos.

But. They don’t have a backstage or dressing rooms, which makes it hard on us, what with sixteen people needing to put cases and bags somewhere. Soundcheck wasn’t going to happen until much later than we thought, so we went to our hotel, checked in and chilled out for a little while. I got my laundry done (that doesn’t really count as chilling out, does it?), and Rachel and I made a Wal-Mart run.

The crowd at the Doesy Doe.

The crowd at the Doesy Doe.

Back at the venue we soundchecked and ate (I highly recommend the cream of mushroom soup). It got to be about half an hour before showtime and there weren’t very many people there. We began to get concerned. Turns out we had a good reason to be concerned. The crowd that night totaled fifteen people, which meant that all the band members officially outnumbered the audience.  🙁

The show, however, was very good. All the bands were more relaxed and really interacted with the crowd. And the people who came were really a great audience. They clapped loudly and often and really did their part to contribute to the show. We can’t thank them enough for coming!!

Uncle Earl

Uncle Earl

It’s funny how when the gig is very low-key, we have lots of time to tweet. Bryn posted this, which made us all crack up. She’s kidding, of course, but we are on that middle plateau of the tour where we’re starting to get a little bit tired of everyone else, but the end is not quite in sight. Today is a longish travel day, about nine hours, and we play in Fayetteville, AR, tomorrow. Rachel’s going to teach me how to crochet.

Casey Henry

Casey Henry

Today we’re in Baton Rouge, LA, where none of us have ever been before. Brandi is especially pumped to be in Louisiana because that’s where the Sookie Stackhouse novels are based and she is pretty sure we’re going to see at least one vampire before we leave the state.

We’re playing at the Manship Theater, which is in a big huge building that also houses the Louisiana State University Museum of Art. We didn’t go to the museum. However, Brandi and I did go to Louisiana’s Old State Capitol museum, which is across the street. When we get to a venue we always have time to kill because Uncle Earl soundchecks first. That can take anywhere from one to two hours. So Brandi and I wandered across the street to the building about which Mark Twian said, “It is pathetic ... that a whitewashed castle, with turrets and things ... should ever have been built in this otherwise honorable place.” After seeing pictures of that incarnation of the building, I have to agree with him.

The building now houses a museum about the history of Louisiana’s governors and government and it is one of the best museums I’ve ever been to. It successfully does the thing that many modern museums try to do, which is to be interactive, without being a bit cheesy. It conveys lots of information, especially about Huey Long, quickly and elegantly and is just really, really cool. I certainly never thought I’d say that about a Louisiana government museum.

The Manship Theater is a medium-sized space with two, count them two, balconies. They also had the best backstage snack spread I’ve ever seen, as evidenced by the pictures below. At the end of the night I filled a plastic bag full of the fruit and brought it back to the hotel for breakfast--kept overnight in the ice bucket. Tonight’s show followed the trend of our last couple of shows—small but enthusiastic crowd. They really seemed to like what all the bands were doing.

Tomorrow will be a long day: a five hour drive followed by the show at the Dosey Doe Coffeehouse in The Woodlands, Texas.

Casey Henry

Casey Henry

We had a long, rainy drive yesterday through Hurricane Ida, which lasted from Atlanta all the way across Alabama. Jeremy and Robin split the driving duties, Rachel crocheted a scarf, both Buddy and Brandy were immersed in Sookie Stackhouse novels, and I read and finished Julie and Julia, which I liked. I especailly apprecited the author’s consuming love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A woman after my own heart.

Once we arrived that the Hyatt in Baton Rouge, Jeremy, Buddy, Brandi, and all the members of Uncle Earl went to see Darrell Scott play at the Manship Theater, where we’re playing tonight. Bryn (Earl bassist) played a lot of the show with him. She has said he is her absolute favorite person to tour with. Once while on tour, Darrell took his band biking down the Virginia Creeper trail in southwest Virginia. He’s also a total foodie and knows all sorts of chefs, so he finds the best restaurants to eat at in every city where they play.

As ashamed as I am to write this, Rachel and I stayed in and watched TV. It sounds completely lame, but I was SO tired and downtime on the road is very important. Most of the band had downtime in Asheville, but I was at my aunt’s birthday party and I badly needed a night to veg out and do nothing. Four episodes of The Office, M&Ms for supper, ten hours sleep, and a good workout this morning were just what the doctor ordered.

Here are a couple pictures from Monday night at the Red Light Café. I’ve completely dropped the ball as far as taking pictures is concerned, so I have my friend Myrna Talbot and uncle Mike Johnson to thank for these:

The Dixie Bee-Liners at the Red light Cafe in Atlanta.

The Dixie Bee-Liners at the Red light Cafe in Atlanta.

Casey Henry, Buddy Woodard (hidden), Brandi Hart, and Jeremy Darrow.

Casey Henry, Buddy Woodard (hidden), Brandi Hart, and Jeremy Darrow.

Casey Henry

Casey Henry

Let me just tell you the lengths to which  I will go to blog for you people. Today started out great with my friend Myrna picking me up at the hotel so we could go to hot yoga. Awesome. Wonderful class. I get back to the hotel and take my coupon for our complimentary breakfast down to the restaurant and sit down to eat my eggs and oatmeal. Only after I'm halfway done with my meal do I learn that the breakfast is NOT in fact complimentary, but we have to pay full price for it, which is $15. That's the first bummer.

Then I go back to my room, wallet lighter, to post this blog, only to find that the hotel DOESN'T HAVE FREE WI-FI!!! So. I walk down the street to the Caribou Coffee, which does have free wi-fi (thank you Caribou!). No big deal, except that there's a hurricane here and do I have a rain jacket? No. Do I have an umbrella? Of course not. Even still, everything was okay, if a little damper than usual, until I get right in front of the store and step in a four-inch deep puddle. So my shoes and socks are SOAKING wet and I'm not sure even our eight-hour drive to Baton Rouge today will be long enough to dry them out.

And now I'm about to run out of time before I have to go back and load my stuff in the van, so I'd better say a word or two about the show last night and make this a somewhat legitimate blog. The Red Light Cafe, Atlanta. Small bar, great crowd. Really fun show, especially when we squoze all sixteen of us on the small stage for the finale. It was like a clown car, only it was a clown stage. We just kept packing people onto it.

Tonight once we get to Baton Rouge we're going to go see Darrell Scott play at the same theater where we're playing tomorrow night. Completely pumped about that. We're just hoping that this hurricane rain doesn't last all the way to Louisianna!

Casey Henry

Casey Henry

If it wasn’t for having to title this blog every day, I’d have no idea how many days we’ve been on tour. Today I was criticized by my tour mates for not updating the blog yesterday, which, I might add, was our day off, so I’d better get with the program today.

Friday night’s hotel was a little weird. It was called the Country Hearth Inn and it still had that new construction smell. There was a high school sports team staying there, as well as a huge group of women who were very enthusiastic and loud, and the walls were very thin, so I could hear people talking in the rooms on both sides of me, and they weren’t even talking loudly. I tried to turn on the AC to drown out the noise, but the fan wouldn’t stay on, so I resorted to ear plugs.

Then in the morning the hot water they had for tea had obviously been run through the coffee maker and tasted awful. And one of the lamps in my room was missing a lightbulb.

But the whole experience was redeemed as we were loading the van, when Robin donned one of the Uncle Earl Halloween wigs:

Robin Davis will wear that starry crown over there.

Robin Davis will wear that starry crown over there.

After that highlight I broke off from the rest of the band, rented a car, and went to my aunt Laurie’s fiftieth birthday party. Great food, great wine, two different chocolate cakes. What more can one ask from a party?

The rest of the band drove to Asheville and took it easy. They had the best Indian food that they’ve ever had (so they tell me) at a restaurant called Mela. Brandi finished book four of Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels. Jeremy practiced mandolin. I’m not privy to what the other bands did, but everyone really, really enjoyed their day off.

I re-met the rest of the band today, dropping my rental car off and getting Rachel and her boyfriend Chris to come pick me up and take me to our hotel. Tonight’s venue was the Orange Peel, a club, rather than a theater, which is what we’ve mostly been playing up to this point.

After our load-in and soundcheck Jeremy, Robin, and I walked down the street to a noodle shop for supper. Jeremy had won ton noodle soup, Robin had seseme noodles, and I had tom tom noddle soup. All was well and good until Jeremy bit down on what he thought was a tough piece of cabbage. Unfortunately it wasn’t. This is what is was:

Jeremy Darrow with the rogue soup ingredient.

Jeremy Darrow with the rogue soup ingredient.

In case you can’t tell, it’s a piece of paper, like the kind of seal that’s on top of the parmesean cheese container under the cap that you have to take off before you can shake it out. Yeah. And they tried to charge him for it anyway. He made them take it off the bill.

The crowd tonight was very enthusiastic, if not very large. They genuinely seemed to like what we did, and that made us feel good. Alas, they didn't seem to like it enough to buy CDs, though. You win some, you lose some.

Tonight's post-show libations were at the Irish pub down the street, Hannah Flannagan's. Boddington's for me, Guinness for Jeremy, not sure for Robin. Boy that really hit the spot.

Today is a short drive down to Atlanta, where we're playing at the Red Light Cafe. I know at least eleven people, my family and friends, who are coming tonight, so we should be able to pack the place!

Monday night's marquee.

Monday night's marquee.

Casey Henry

Casey Henry

This is the eighth 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.

Tonight, I thought, was the best show that we’ve done so far. A lot of that had to do with audience response—they hooted and hollered (I don’t think it was just my relatives yelling…)—and that makes such a difference. We also had a chance to warm up before the show. That helps, too. And for some reason we really seemed to groove. Maybe it was Rachel’s new sweater (bought on her K-Mart shopping spree yesterday). Maybe it was the pre-show glass of wine.

On stage I was momentarily distracted when I realized that the crotch of my tights had slipped lower than was really comfortable, but I persevered. I’m also not really liking how constricting my new pencil skirt is, but I think I can get my tailor to make the slit up the back bigger to give me a little more room to move around.

Our text-in promotion is going great. We got the most texts we’ve ever gotten last night: fifty!! Yet still, one of the winners didn’t stop by the table to pick up their wristband. Hmmm.

The day started off with a quick two-hour drive during which, I’m proud to say, we did not make a single stop. That’s almost unheard of in this band. Since we got here so early I went on a nice little walk around downtown Greensboro and found an awesome bakery and coffeeshop, Simple Kneads, where I got an amazing scone, a latte, and some hummus and bread for my supper later on. (It also turned out to be my breakfast…) Right next door just happens to be a yarn shop, which I’m going back to tomorrow to pick out some yarn for Rachel to crochet me a scarf.

Our post-show libations were at a wine bar called Rioja where they had lots of cool art, including this nifty painting:

The totally coincidental painting of a banjo at the wine bar.

The totally coincidental painting of a banjo at the wine bar.

We are all looking forward to tomorrow, which is a day off—on a Saturday! How ‘bout that. I’m spending the day in Charlotte, attending my aunt’s 50th birthday party, and I’ll meet up with the rest of the band in Asheville on Sunday for our show at The Orange Peel.

Casey Henry

Casey Henry

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.

Rachel Johnson and Kristin Andreassen working up their clogging bit. (Paula Bradley in the background.)

Rachel Johnson and Kristin Andreassen working up their clogging bit. (Paula Bradley in the background.)

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.

Casey Henry

Casey Henry

This is the sixth 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.

Since we’d arrived in Newberry, SC, the previous evening, we had the entire morning free to do whatever we liked. Today we liked to go on a hike. I googled and found Lynch’s Woods, a park that has several miles of hiking trails and was only about six minutes from our hotel.

Bee-Liner day hike.

Bee-Liner day hike.

All the Bee-Liners except Buddy, plus Uncle Earl’s KC Groves, came along. We walked for about two hours. The trails in this park were not well marked and they twisted and turned in random ways. We were all little worried that we’d get into the middle of the woods and not be able to find our way back. But all was well in the end and we felt hale and hearty from the crisp outdoor air.

We were due to load in at the venue at 2:00, and I can’t tell you how excited we were that the Newberry Opera House is RIGHT across the street from the hotel. We could walk there. It was awesome.

I ate lunch at the Flying Pie. I had wonderful Dill Pickle Soup, and bruschetta. Then I wandered down the street to Books on Main where I exercised great restraint and only bought one book: Julie and Julia. That’ll be good van reading.

After load-in and soundchecks we had the luxury of coming back to our hotel rooms to change and get ready. The crowd for this show was the smallest we’ve had so far, which was disappointing to everybody. The promotion for the shows on the tour hasn’t been as good as we’d like, so we’re trying to come up with ways to drum up more people for the rest of the shows on the tour.

As far as our set went, I think our day off on Tuesday made us a little rusty. I know I made a couple random and stupid mistakes that I’ve never made before. Today we’ll definitely find time to run our entire set before getting on stage.

Post show we went to the Storm Cellar for drinks and watched the Yankees beat Philly in the World Series. We were rooting for the Phillies because Jeremy used to live in Philadelphia, so were were very disappointed.

Tonight: Morganton, NC, Municipal Auditorium.

Casey Henry

Casey Henry

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.