Thursday, June 23, 2011


I hung out at Sampson State Park for all of the morning, grabbing my mountain bike and going for a ride along Seneca Lake and around the museum before coming back to breakfast and a quick visit to the dumping station before heading out for Voorheesville. Rita got a good taste of the New York rollercoaster roads as we got into Poestenkill and stayed the night camped near a creek on the Langley property. Morning brought a trip into Voorheesville for a day long workshop and concert event at the Old Songs Community Center. A great group of folks gathered together for the classes and hung out for the show afterwards with a break for supper. With a 1 pm start time in Stroudsburg, PA the next morning, I headed south after the concert and camped in a Walmart parking lot about halfway, making up the rest of the trip in the morning. The Pocono Dulcimer Club was behind the two-day stay in Stroudsburg and the first day consisted of workshops and an informal jam. The next day brought some private lessons conducted inside Rita, parked at the church, and also an evening workshop. There was plenty of downtime for relaxing and also catching up with administrative things. Great seeing Jody Sebring and Norm Williams again!

Tuesday morning, I set out to visit my friends Kristy and Kevin in Milford, PA and I've been here since then, hanging out, making music, watching Disney movies and checking out some of the local sights and produce (Rita's fridge is filled with local goodness.) One of the things that is really nice about Rita is that she's like a window to the world. When it's raining, when wild animals are about, you can sit inside and see it all through the big windows and observe. I don't know what it is about this space - but I've been loathe to leave it. Maybe it's a bonding thing. All I know is, when I pass by hotels and motels, I laugh and keep right on driving. So nice to have my home right behind the driver's seat!

I'll roll out from here in a little bit, take a quick trip to a dumping station and then it's three hours to the Altamont Fairgrounds where Old Songs Festival is taking place. This is a pretty big deal and I'm very excited to be a part of the line-up. This may require a couple of different posts over the weekend and I'm looking forward to all of the music that will be made and shared.

Till soon,


Friday, June 17, 2011

Rita at Sampson State Park

From Ohio To New York

My apologies for the lack of updates. Wi-fi has been selectively available and I've been playing catch-up; doing things the hard way due to the lack of my personal assistant and concierge, the iPhone.

Thankfully, Doug Snapp had an old iPhone 3 and gave it to me, along with some of his delicious "Dulcimer Blend" coffee, in Lancaster, Ohio.

Laura Elder orchestrated the day of workshops and concert, which was extremely well-attended. It was, by far, the biggest group I've had for "Performing For Others" and the overall response was enthusiastic, with a lot of folks ready to take their act to the public.

I had a great time hanging out with Laura, Marge Diamond, Mike Sutter and the other folks who joined us for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant as well as a post-concert jam. While camped at the site, I also managed To rope Laura into recording a tune with me for the RV Project: Official Album.

From Lancaster, I rode up to visit the Brouse Family in Wadsworth, only to find that they were at Epcot in my home town. Ha! But Danny was there, and we jammed and recorded a little bit as well.

From there, it was up to Mentor, Ohio to have lunch with Guy George and then an arrival in Erie, Pennsylvania for a nice stay with Michael Vickey which included breathtaking views of Lake Erie from his property as well as a great jam with Vickey and Mark Zimmer, a member of his Good For Nuthin' String Band.

Morning brought a little rain, but that didn't deter me from cruising up State Road 5 and ending up at spectacular Niagara Falls, a side trip suggested to me by Guy. Wow. What a magnificent sight and sound! I set up recording equipment and got a track of Native American flute with the roar of the falls in the background.

Which brings me here - after some detours of S.R 20, I checked in for the night at Sampson State Park on the banks of Seneca Lake in Romulus, New York. My first state park experience while camping and it is simply incredible. Thanks again to everyone who helped make this a reality.

In a little while here, I'll roll out for Vorheesville, New York in anticipation of tomorrow's day-long eventatt the Old Songs Community Center. Will check in again soon!

Sho na bish,

From iPhone with love.

Thursday, June 09, 2011


It has been a busy week here in Black Mountain, North Carolina at the 2nd Annual Dulcimerville. After check-in on Monday, there was a get acquainted meet-n-greet and concert which kicked off the first workshops. Tuesday morning, we began classes in earnest.

I've got the Advanced Beginners for the two morning sessions, a total of 13.5 hours for the week. In the afternoon, it was Mountain Dulcimer Blues; I've got about 15 students in each of these groups. The Blueridge Assembly is an incredible location nestled in valley of mountains here - lots of hills and creeks, lush forest and gorgeous scenery.

I'll post pictures eventually - been taking stills with my video camera and can't seem to remember how to extract them. Definitely missing my iPhone, but it looks like I'll inherit a used one next week, so I'll be back on track with updates.

Last night, I performed in concert on a bill that featured Don Pedi, Stephen Seifert, Randy Adams, Terry Duggins, Ehukai Teves, Nina Zanetti and Joseph Shelton. Quite a distinguished group and it was an honor to share the stage with them at the Washburn Auditorium. My selections were Richard and Mimi Farinas "House Un-American Blues Activity Dream" (first time performed at a dulcimer festival for me), "If We Hold On Together" from "The Land Before Time" and, natch, "Juke Joint Hen." I also played a little Native American flute at the start of the set. (The flute wasn't little, it was - oh, nevermind.)

The sounds of breakfast have erupted downstairs in the dining room downstairs, so I'm going to go mix in and prepare for morning workshops. Hope you're having a fantastic day!

Monday, June 06, 2011

RV Project Tour: Tennessee to North Carolina

(photo courtesy of Suzanne Shires Upton - who happened to drive past and saw Rita parked there at Walmart in Asheville.)

El More cooked another fantastic breakfast (he makes the best eggs over easy that I've ever had) and took me on a little tour of the area, including the site where Grandpa Jones is buried. After saying goodbye and thanking him for his peerless hospitality, I hopped on the road and it was about five hours before I got into North Carolina. It hadn't been too long since I was here the last time (late last summer), so finding my way to a local Walmart in South Asheville was fairly easy.

After obtaining permission inside (gotta know your parking lot protocol), I picked up a few sundry items and then proceeded to fix up a spinach salad and then seek out a pay phone on my mountain bike. (Good thing it's a mountain bike because, you know, I'm in the mountains.) Turns out that public pay phones, even inside the local Applebee's, are becoming an endangered species and I had no luck. Feeling a little disconnected from the world I spent so much time in, I opened the windows, folded out the couch and had a very nice sleep with the mountain temperatures and a slight breeze keeping everything nice and cool.

I awoke at around 7:30 a.m., prepared a breakfast of bacon and eggs with some ground beef and cheese, then headed out for Black Mountain, where I picked up a Virgin Mobile phone, activated it and then sat in a parking lot, having discovered a wi-fi signal, and did a little catching up.

Registration begins in less than three hours for Dulcimerville. I'm looking forward to a fantastic week of music and fun on the mountain! I will have wi-fi in the room that I'm sharing with Stephen Seifert, so if you're trying to get ahold of me, I will be checking my e-mail frequently.

The adventure continues....

Sunday, June 05, 2011

RV Project Tour: Day One

After leaving the house about 6 a.m. on June 3rd, Rita The RV and I headed down to the local CAT scales to be sure we weren't overweight before sailing north on the Florida Turnpike. The drive to Tennessee took longer than it normally did, of course, but was made all the more pleasant by listening to tunes and occasionally pulling over into rest stops to raid the fridge and use the facilities (without ever leaving the RV - which was awesome.)

After talking with Butch Ross, I decided to make a quick pit-stop in Chattanooga and visit with my fellow dulcimer-playing madman before pulling into Nashville and hooking up to shore power in the the front yard of the man known as El More. All in all, the trip was uneventful and Rita handled the miles, the heat and the psychotic Atlanta drivers with nary a hiccup.

First Official Day

After sharing breakfast with El More and his family (all of them just a wonderful bunch of people), we headed out to conduct workshops at Davidson Academy with a sprightly bunch that included Nancy Seifert (Stephen's mom.) I was able to park Rita in front of the school with a shore line that would keep the interior cool and the fridge running.

I conducted two workshops of 90 minutes in length, going over fundamentals of rhythm and chording while also teaching more advanced concepts and finally getting into some tunes. It was a couple of very good sessions with skill levels ranging from very new beginner to experienced musician. All seemed to have a great time!

Sometime about halfway through the session, I went outside to get something from storage and noticed that the inside of the RV was anything but cool. Thinking maybe the roof air had frozen up, I turned it off and came back later to see if it had thawed. There was a mighty shudder from above. It sounded like a death rattle.

In short time, after the last workshop, I had taken the advice of one of my friends who was in the class and gone to Camping World to have it looked at. It was going to be a hot summer and it would totally suck to be without air conditioning while trying to sleep at night. The service department had gone for the day, but Aly was able to secure a phone number for Road Ready Repair. After calling and getting no answer, El More and I headed to Richard's Cafe where a spot had been secured for me as an opening act for the owner's band.

Cajun dinner was wonderful and I had a nice little jam session with Richard on-stage before things got started with the scheduled musical acts. My iPhone finally rang and I spoke with Neal, who said he'd have a look at what he surmised might be a blown compressor. After my brief set opening for the Gator Bait Band (featuring stand-in bassist Woodstock, who was also bassist for Jason Link and the Family Band that I jammed with on Broadway in Nashville a couple of years back, small world), El More and I headed over to Goodlettsville and met up with Neal. I pulled into the back of the yard and hopped out as Neal told me to move forward just a bit more. Getting back in, I gained a few more feet and then got out as he positioned his ladder and got on top of Rita's roof. Thinking this was a great picture, I reached for my iPhone to find that it wasn't there. Remember that I'd had it out in the cab when El More had called at some point during our trip, I looked on the seat, but didn't see it. I looked on the ground. Didn't see it. El More called me. I didn't hear it. Very strange.

Then, it hit me.

Walking back to where I had first hopped out, I spied it laying on the ground and picked it up. It had fallen off of my lap and onto the ground where, after being told to move up, it had rightly been rolled over by the outside rear driver's side tire.

If it had been a normal vehicle with both tires in line, I would've missed it by that much. But the outermost tire had caught it squarely and shattered the face, surprisingly the integrity of the case remained fairly intact. But no denying - lights were out.

The good news is, Neal fixed the roof air by rewiring a spare capacitor that he had lying around. Besides being quite a technician, he was also a very big-hearted guy and I'd trust him with any repair on Rita in the future (615-390-3851, if you're ever in the Nashville area - he's the man.)

The bad news is - I really can't afford a new iPhone, so I'm looking into some options. In the meantime, I've printed out my maps for the trip to Black Mountain today and just thanking Creator for all of the good people that I get to meet every single day. People like El More and his family; Nancy, Aly, Richard, Woodstock, Neal and the folks who let me know that I had a brake light out (need to get that changed out today, mental note to self.) As the U2 song goes, sometimes you can't make it on your own. And when you can't, it's just beautiful that there are people who can and will help you on your journey. El More was musing over the fact that what seemed like bad news, and a test at the beginning of this tour, was being greeted with optimism from me. Every test is something to be anticipated and looked forward to - it means you're worthy of the challenge. And how much better for it are you after sailing through with your sanity and hope left intact.

I can't think of a better way to have kicked off this tour. Onward to North Carolina!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Shakedown text

5:30 am - Went for a three-mile walk around Fort Wilderness Campground at Walt Disney World after a lovely first night and comfortable slumber. 

6:50 am - Made coffee and took the dulcimer outside to pick awhile and enjoy the sunrise. 

8:01 am - Recorded a slow, finger-picked version of my original tune "Campin'" for THE RV PROJECT: Official Album.  Why finger-picked?  Because, along with a bigger measuring cup, grease jar and other sundry items, I forgot to bring picks.  Sssssh....... Don't tell anyone. 


Bing (via iPhone)

Shakedown Cruise at Disney