Monday, June 30, 2008

Connecticut Blues Challenge

Jon Swift and I have been accepted into the Connecticut Blues Society Blues Challege in the solo/duo category. The preliminaries will be in late October and early November, and the winner will represent the Society at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in February.
The band competition has been under way. See the society home page for schedule information.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Jerry Douglas - artist in residence at HOF

Congratulations to Jerry Douglas for being named an artist in residence at the Country Music Hall of Fame. According to the official announcement, "Dobro in hand, Douglas will host four memorable evenings in August and September, each carefully curated by the artist to illustrate different facets of his glittering career. He will hold court in the Museum’s Ford Theater on August 19 and 27, and September 16 and 30; each show begins at 7 p.m."

I wish a little more care with spelling had been shown in the the announcement's headline:

“Dobbro’s matchless contemporary master,” JERRY DOUGLAS TO LIVEN FORD THEATER as Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s 2008 ARTIST-IN-RESIDNECE

Tickets ($30) will be on sale exclusively to Museum members July 14-20 (a one-year Museum membership is $25 for adults, $10 for youths). Tickets will go on sale to the public at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, July 21 and should be purchased online at For more information, call (615) 416-2001. Museum doors open at 6:00 p.m. for the 7:00 p.m. shows.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Watermelon Slim

I learned a little bit more about Watermelon Slim in this Columbus Dispatch interview. Slim is one of the most interesting personalities out there - a former truck driver, Vietnam vet, farmer, newspaper reporter, member of Mensa; and he has a unique dobro style, playing it lefthanded upside down, and with a personalized method of gripping his slide.
I do a cover of his "Black Water," about Hurricane Katrina. It's on his 2007 album "Wheel Man." Slim and his band, The Workers,

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Usually they would drop down tens and twenties..."

"...but now it's just one dollar at a time," Chicago street musician Michael Upton told CBS 2 in a story about the depletion of the American Red Cross disaster fund.
I don't know Mr. Upton, and I certainly don't want to publicly question his veracity. But 10s and 20s? The people of Chicago must have been very, very, very, very generous compared to most other cities. Very, very, very generous. Again, very, very generous.
Even if now it is "just one dollar at a time," the fine folks of Chicago are very, very generous.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gathering of Resonateurs

The following is from Pammy Davis, chair of this year's Gathering of Resonateurs in Wilkesboro, NC. Reprinted with permission.

You are cordially invited to join us at the 4th annual Gathering of Resonateurs 'ResoGat 2008' at the Holiday Inn Express in Wilkesboro NC to be held July 9 through the 12th (checking out and heading for home on Sunday the 13th). Get your reservations in by June 27 at the Holiday Inn Express 336.838.1800 to get the block room rate of $85 per night. Be sure to reference the Dobro Festival event.

So who are the Resonateurs and what exactly is the Gathering of Resonateurs, or ResoGat for short? Well, the quick answer is, we're a loosely knit group of individuals who are drawn together out a love or fascination for the dobro, or resonator guitar. Invented and developed in the late 1920's and early 30's, the five Dopyera brothers presented America and the world with a totally unique instrument centered around a mechanical resonating sound or amplification system. The brothers tossed around the question of what to call this new class of stringed instruments and finally coined the term 'Dobro' which was a combination of the words DOpyera and BROthers.

Following WWII, electrified instruments appeared and interest in the Dobro subsided somewhat until bluegrass music appeared. Josh (Buck) Graves converted the Earl Scruggs style of banjo picking to the dobro and the rest is history as notable players (Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas, Rob Ickes...) made the instrument ...a bunch of 'cone heads ''main stream' .

Knowing the contribution his father had made to the world of music, John Dopyera and his wife Margaret threw out an open invite for anyone with a strong interest in the dobro / resonator guitar...luthier, collector, musician, connoisseur, or ? join them at their home in Pennsylvania for a week long 'Gathering in the Woods' during the Fourth of July week of 2000. From this beginning it has grown every year up to, and including, the recent Annual Gathering of Resonateurs held at Wilkesboro, NC.

Following the 2004 Gathering, John and Margaret made the hard decision to sell their Pennsylvania wooded retreat and a committee was formed to see if the Gathering could successfully transfer and find a new 'home.' The communities of Wilkesboro/N. Wilkesboro rolled out a 'red carpet' invite to our group which still left us with the unanswered question..."would people be willing to relocate to a new location some 600 miles from John and Margaret's home?" The pleasant answer was a resounding 'yes'...with over 100 attendees from 20 states and Canada.

So we are proceeding with plans for the 2008 Annual Gathering. It's important to note that we've intentionally maintained an informal unstructured style to the event...with the only rule being that there are no rules. All levels of players are encouraged to attend, whether an early-on beginner or a full up professional. The main 'requirement' to attend is a desire to become involved with other devotees of the resonator guitar. Most of the Gathering time is spent in totally unstructured "fun", jamming, looking at the exhibiters’ wares, sharing ideas.

Here is a description of the activities that occur at the Gathering for the pickers and non pickers alike. Among these are : Informal Workshops, Jam sessions, Bingo, Live Radio Show, Jam Sessions, Community Concert, Jam Sessions, Dinner & Awards, special guest Speedy Krise, Amazing Reso-player Johnny Bellar, Exhibitor Room, door prizes, raffles, group pictures, and let’s not forget .. Jam Sessions !!

The activities schedule will be posted on the big board in the main lobby of the hotel. We suggest that it be checked often as some schedules may change during the event. The typical tentative schedule is:
Arrive on Wednesday and jam all day with friends and Johnny Bellar
Special Guest Speedy Krise arrives on Thursday, more jamming, bingo
Friday morning you can play on the Hometown Opry live radio show WKBC
Friday afternoon everyone will get together for the group picture
Friday evening we will put on a concert for the community and a presentation to honor Speedy Krise.

Saturday will include jamming, bingo, and a group dinner in the evening with door prizes and special awards.

In addition to the planned activities the local area has many interesting attractions, historic sites, shopping and dining opportunities. Those attending for the first time will find the people of this area to be very friendly and hospitable. For those of us returning, this is like a homecoming to visit old friends. The atmosphere of the Gathering has always been very relaxed and informal. The only rule being - there are no rules. Feel free to join in the jam sessions or just sit and listen if you prefer. Enjoy the bingo or other activities as you wish.

We want to say a special thank you to this year’s sponsors. The majority of them have never attended the gathering but didn't hesitate to help us out when asked. Please show your gratitude to them and let them know how much you appreciate their contribution. They are listed on the website’s 2008 Sponsors page. To date, we have received over $3,000 worth of items donated from the reso community including a 2008 Reso Gathering custom strap made by Bobby Poff. All these items will be used for door prizes or raffles.

If you are in the market for a custom made resonator guitar, you will find an excellent selection from some of the finest luthiers in the world. The sponsors exhibiting at the 2008 Gathering of Resonateurs at this time are:
Jim Adams
Hobart Beavers
Dick Deneve
Tut Taylor
Hopefully you can plan on joining us at this 2008 Annual Gathering of Resonateurs. If so, please contact Pammy Davis so she can make names tags for your party. Please include your address and phone numbers. Don’t forget the June 27 deadline for reserving a room. If you would like to pre-order a Tee-Shirt in your size, contact Pammy with the quantity and sizes desired by Thursday, June 19 for the pre-order.

You do not have to purchase the Tee-Shirt if you do not like it but if you do, you will be assured of getting your size. Now hurry up and prepare yourself for a great time with good friends old and new! There is nothing else like the Gathering so enjoy every minute of it and plan to come back next year.


Your 2008 Gathering Of Resonateurs Planning Committee

Pammy Davis, Chair ( or 336.202.1536)
Doug Couts, Don Doggett, Carlene Economy, Larry Maltz, Jim Nagle, Jan Newsom, Bill Payne, Olivia Wittman

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Key West

The New York Times today profiles Reid Fierheller-Conklin, a 16-year-old, who's been juggling at the Key West sunset celebration since he was 12.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Jim Hinde, Seattle street musician, dies in his sleep

If you've ever been to Seattle's Pike Place Market, you've probably seen Jim Hinde, who's played there past 19 years. Jim, 56, died in his sleep late Sunday or early Monday. Here's a great article by Stuart Eskenazi of the Seattle Times.
Mr. Eskenazi noted that the market wanted to pay tribute to Jim by playing CDs and placing an open guitar case in the spot where Jim busked. However, Jim's wife said the tribute should last only an hour so that another busker could have the spot. They both sound like very cool people and my thoughts go out to them.

And here's where to buy one of Jim's CDs.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bucket Boys of Wrigley Field

The teen-agers who play drumsticks on the plastic buckets at Chicago's Wrigley Field (home of the Cubs) are profiled in this feature by Lauren Ruth. The bucket boys arrive in a large group, then disperse around the periphery of the ballpark. Most do not have the $100 permit required of street musicians.
Frankly, a steady exposure to bucket music would drive me over the edge. But when passing by beaters, I can't help but lift my feet and feel a little more alive.
And the young men profiled and in the video are doing something positive, and, obviously, they have rehearsed and worked on their routine. Tim Nutt of, a street musicians' advocate, is quoted as saying: “There’s a triangulation that happens between the city, the street musician, and the passerby, and that triangulation actually develops a sense of community where otherwise it wouldn’t exist. The ultimate goal of a city is to put everything in its place,” he said, “and street music adds a little bit to that otherwise isolating environment.”

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Stratford Day

The Bristol Boys played Stratford Day today. Fortunately, we were in the air-conditioned senior center, rather than outside. Unfortunately, most people chose to stay outside.
Thanks to Mike Chavel, entertainment chairman, and all of the volunteers.
The highlight to me was seeing Mrs. Price, a sweet woman from West Virginia who wants us to learn "Country Roads." We did get a couple of requests - one for Ring of Fire, which we don't do, so we did Folsom Prison Blues instead. The other request was for Spanish Eyes. I love the tune, and used to play it on the accordion. What I like about playing with Dave and Tex is that they're willing to give just about anything a try. I think that we pulled it off pretty well -- we may have to add it to the set.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Farmers Market Season Begins

Thanks to Barbara Shaw of Shoregrass, I learned about the Madison Farmers Market, held on the green along Route 1.
I played there Friday, which was about a perfect day as one could expect -- warm, dry, light breeze. Tony Pagliaro, market master, suggested bringing a full sound system rather than my Crate Taxi, because the green is such a large space. I was glad I took his advice.
Special thanks to the folks from Wave Hill Breads of Wilton for giving me a loaf of French country bread at the end of the day.
A pared-down version of Shoregrass will play at the market on June 6, 3-6 p.m.
I have a busy market season planned - I'll be in Madison again in September, and also at markets in Hartford, New Haven, Deep River and Old Saybrook. The schedule will be posted on my website and myspace page.
I love playing at the markets, largely because I love to watch people. When someone stops by to listen or chat a bit, that's an bonus.

Street Musician/columnist

I don't know what instrument Rick O'Keefe plays, but the Athens, Ohio-based street musician writes a column for the Athens Messenger newspaper. I would think that he would have a unique perspective from which to write about this city that is home to Ohio University or a "Harvard on the Hocking," referring to a local river.