Monday, August 20, 2007

Ahhh, back to the desert where I was born

I wasn't born in Arizona, but I was born in the southwest. Dry heat is something I can deal with. Phoenix has been around 110 degrees F- this week and I'm loving it! Anything's better than all the rain and humidity that I had to deal with while driving Interstate 10 to get over here. Getting caught by tropical storm Erin was sort of scary, especially when the frontage road flooded and lifted the front end of my rental car off the concrete. I stayed in Houston for the night, but missed a couple of stops that I wanted to make. What are ya gonna do?

The next day, I drove from Houston to Phoenix - and it was partially because Texas has implemented an 80 m.p.h. speed limit along the western portion of I-10. Of course, I drive about 10 miles over the limit, so I was flying through the rest of the state, which got me into Phoenix at a pretty decent time.

It's been beautiful here - Amy Clair of the Phoenix Dulcimer Players set up the workshops and concert along with putting me up at her parents casita in Anthem. Sweet digs! I just love being back in Arizona, hearing the coyotes howl at night, seeing the red rocks blazing in the afternoon sun. The workshops were full and the concert went great. Amy's parents, Steve and Louise, are super-nice and I had a good time hanging out with them, having dinner, talking American Indian culture. Their house is gorgeous, filled with Native American art and artifacts. They gifted me with a really neat necklace of a mask painted by Two Dogs Doyle. Funny this. My gold dolphin chain, which I've worn for years, broke a link about two weeks ago, and at last week's gathering of the Florida Sunshine Dulcimer Society, Suz Chapman gifted me with a frog totem made of Chinese turquoise. Then, the gift of the mask this weekend. It feels like a real big blessing, and an omen of something to come. I'm looking forward to whatever it is.

Tomorrow morning, I head out for Colorado where Rick Laurenzi is awaiting my arrival. It's going to be a fun week - I'll be back with more when I get settled in at Manitou Springs.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sit Long, Play Much

The Florida Sunshine Dulcimer Society is now a reality, thanks to Dennis Waldrop, John Morgan, Della Ashton and others who have rallied 'round to create a unique group in which mountain dulcimer players (and other instrumentalists), can get together and enjoy some "no rules" jamming in a friendly and challenging environment, other than their local dulcimer clubs.

The "Jam 'N' Bag" this past weekend was a fun-filled time of playing, visiting and eating - though I was having so much fun, I forgot to eat. Events will be sponsored all over the state of Florida; visit the website above for more info.

Heading Out

This past Sunday was a nice way to relax with fellow dulcimer players and enjoy the music and company. Today, I finally bounced back from the road-tripping to record some new episodes of The Dulcimerica Video Podcast that feature song demos and workshopping. Wednesday, I hit the road once again for Austin, Texas; Phoenix, Arizona and Manitou Springs, Colorado. Hope to see you at a show!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Back and Rolling

It was a brief but exhilarating swing through Louisville, Kentucky for Kentucky Music Weekend; so many sights and sounds, so many wonderful moments and visits. I spent two days standing up on concrete while shooting video for the event, so I didn't get as much time to hang with people as I would've liked.

Friday was interesting: hopped on a US Airways flight in the early a.m. and arrived in Charlotte, NC for a switch - which was canceled due to mechanical issues. The airline was going to put me on a flight to Cincinnati three hours later and *then* put me in a van headed to Louisville. Thankfully, Tom and Missy Strothers live in Cincinnati, so they planned to pick me up from the airport. I spent the time playing music and chatting with a very nice gentleman about the war in Iraq, the state of alternative news and his venture into home made chicken and dumplings, offering to ship me a box. I traded him a CD for the gift, and he bought me a drink for the entertainment. I love traveling with the dulcimer - talk about a conversation piece!

Kentucky Music Weekend was incredible - and what moment stands out in my mind? Jean Ritchie walking backstage, seeing me and saying, "hi Bing, how are you?" She's just amazing - so is her husband, George Pickow. I wish I had met them sooner in life, but I'm sure glad to know them now.

Another moment that stands out is hearing Small Potatoes play a song called "Knott!" I'd never heard them before and enjoyed their sets immensely, but this has got to be one of the most incredibly clever and funny songs I've ever heard. I bought the CD just for that tune and listened to the whole thing on the way back from Louisville. You ought to check them out.

Third big moment was seeing my adopted nephew Josh Noe (middle, holding the dulcimer he won) take first place in the Kentucky State Mountain Dulcimer championship on Saturday. I met Josh last year at Kentucky Music Week and we hit it off immediately, sharing a room at Kentucky Music Weekend later in the summer. He was my roommate again this year and the night before the competition, we talked through what he was going to do on-stage. He was coached by a lot of people, but I think he ended up making his own decisions up there and he beat Louisiana State Mountain Dulcimer Champion Aaron Thornton, who took second place!

I could go on about the weekend, but now I'm home, sick, and have a pile of work to finish amidst the clutter of a house undergoing cosmetic surgery. Sick sucks, but it's better than dead. Amen.