Playing Tupelo Music Hall, White River Junction VT Friday night was a blast. Our line-up for the show included Jamie Masefield, Doug Perkins and Tyler Bolles and they played a set at 8 pm that was a hard act to follow. I love these musicians not only for their innovative, tight jazz approach to whatever they play but also for their straight forward friendly way of working with others. I think the operative phrase is: "plays well with others". It was a pleasure to be paired up with them in a co-bill, and to steal Tyler for our own purposes, as he is the phantom fourth member of Bow Thayer and the Holy Plow and whenever we can lure him away from his responsible life in Burlington VT we do. Special thanks to Tim Mikovitz and Doug Phoenix for excellent sound reinforcement, and general management of onstage issues. Also thanks to an enthusiastic crowd who gave us a standing ovation (thank-you!) and we will definitely return to this venue.
Saturday afternoon The Holy Plow made its first official appearance at The Clear River Tavern, Pittsfield VT although Bow has played there many times in various incarnations. Patrick and I made sure to run out and get a shot of the marquee, which said: "Bow Thayer - Ham and Leek Party". This was our first ham and leek party, I'm sure. Good home-style cooking and pub atmosphere, a gathering place for locals and tourists alike. We appreciate a venue like this not too far from home, and that embraces the values we share: good food/good music/good times.
Topped off the weekend with a visit from Finnish musician Risto Saarinen of the band Hillman Hunter, and his partner Susanne Vuorinen. They made a special trip to visit us on their way between Montreal and NYC - we loved showing them our corner of Vermont and then in the evening sitting around the dinner table over glasses of wine talking about culture and philosophy. In many ways our common northern climates bring us together, the main difference being that in Vermont we have NO SAUNA!!
Big snow flakes were an inspiration this morning flying like fairies over hundreds of rivulets and streams brought on by the spring melt. This is a wonderful time to be out looking at rivers, so cold, so deep. Julie James was in session and happened to bring along her pro-video gear, so we did a little hunting for beautiful shots of the natural world right around the neighborhood, before settling into recording. We worked up guitar parts this week and cut vocals, very heady and analytical at times, very intuitive and inspired.
The best new place we've discovered for a mid-week afternoon rehearsal is Red Hen Bakery in Middlesex VT, thanks to bassist Tyler Bolles who will be playing with us Friday night at Tupelo in White River Junction VT. Tyler works there part time and as it turns out, his bosses love his music.
Ahh. Three days working with Robert Resnik on an album project that I'm producing and engineering (okay, AND playing on) with advice, support and harmony vocals from singer-songwriter Mary McGinniss. They came down from the big Vermont city of Burlington with boxes of food (this is a requirement for sessions at Pepperbox, that clients bring food and drink in multiples of ten) and too many accordions to count so I won't try, also a bottle of pretty nice whiskey. We took a few photos last night and put 'em up on Facebook but mostly we were too busy for such frivolity, between setting up, knocking out tracks, editing, eating, listening, analyzing our work, redoing things, researching songs and lyrics, laughing, tuning, working out parts, discussing arrangements and being bossy by turn. We are working on a full length CD which is taking on flavors partly celtic, partly french and with great songs harvested from the brain of Robert, with brilliant assistance from Mary who has a similarly encyclopedic catalog of material in her memory banks. I am very excited about this project.
The Extra Big Holy Plow Southern Tour that extracted us from the snow drifts and muddy ruts of Vermont this last weekend was a grand success and a comedy of errors; errors first:
It started with a "thump, thump, thump" only heard by Patrick from his position in the back seat of Bow's Subaru Forester. It ended with the car somewhat accidentally locked in a mechanic's garage in Duxbury, MA along with half our equipment.
Thanks to Bow's parents, we got a loaner car for our last leg into Cape Cod, but the gear had to be left behind. Everything we normally use to plug into amplification and tune with? Not.
All right - that was Saturday but going back to the first gig of the Extra Big Holy Plow Southern Tour before the car began to have its car troubles, the tour opened smoothly at the Inn at Willow Pond, Manchester VT thanks for our host and bartender extraordinaire, Mike Farkus and the hospitality of the crowd. It was also a pleasant surprise to see William Seeders Mosheim showing up with his banjo to lure us once again into some late night picking. An altogether satisfying visit, including a slow morning-after in a cozy ski condo and lots of good coffee.
The car malfunction began to really make itself obvious at this point (on Friday) as we sought out consultations with local Manchester mechanics. The general/average response?
A shrug and "... it might be this it might be that but I can't really know without putting it up on the lift and I'm too busy today ..." etc.
So we kept driving.
In Hull, MA that night it was fun on the boardwalk with the Aldous Collins Band at The Red Parrot supported by a fantastic sound system/sound man and off-season tourist town locals flooding in.
The wide picture windows of the spacious upstairs lounge gave us a breath-taking view of the sun going down over the Atlantic and the winking street lights, head lights and neon of a working class Main Street.
And then finally, arriving by way of the borrowed car and without our electronic gear, we landed in Eastham MA at the famous First Encounter Coffeehouse, an acoustic music venue that's been in operation continually since 1974. The beautiful Chapel in the Pines delivered to us a night of jolly good fellowship thanks to the many First Encounter volunteers, including founder Karie Millard Miller, and a host of regional DJs who stay close to this venue and give on-air support to First Encounter's visiting musicians. Despite all our missing cables, LED boxes and plugs we were able to find a comfortable pocket for conveying our signature Bow Thayer and the Holy Plow magic and were warmly received. Special thanks to Scott (didn't get his last name) and Chuck Cole for gently and deftly attending to our technological needs. It was a great first performance on Cape Cod and we're going to try to come back down as soon as we can and check out other venues. Thanks also to writer Rich Eldred for his great write-up on our band in The Cape Codder newspaper.
Today the weather turned rascal again, with rain, snow and rain slicking up the road. What can I tell my studio clients except to make sure to bring their all-wheel drive vehicle or none at all? I worry about the pesky rattle of the roof metal and those gusts that whistle through every crack - something we don't want on our tracks, mostly.
Singer-songwriter Mary McGinniss and filmmaker Alison Segar down from Burlington, VT to work on a soundtrack for Alison's newest film. I can't tell you how pleasurable it is to work with people who are just plain folks playing at such a fine level and nice as they come. It allows the creativity to run like a river. Thanks for that opportunity to support a worthy project. I hope this film about Alzheimer's makes it out to score a larger audience at national film festivals.
Starting off the month right: a recording session with celtic guitarist Pam Bockes, who is exploring some of her original arrangements for acoustic guitar. Rumor has it she'll soon be bringing in fiddler Susan Reid with her, in a first attempt to capture - in high fidelity - the fine duo work they have performed live for years. A great pleasure and honor to work with Pam, a former guitar student of mine who took the few tidbits I was able to offer her and developed a celtic style approach to guitar that melts the heart. Very beautiful work!
Wrote, rewrote and recorded a new song the last couple of days, called "It's A Strange Bliss". In the back of my mind I wanted something to offer my band The Holy Plow, with Bow Thayer and Patrick Ross for the next, newest album that we're working on, so I made my mp3s and sent them out last night. We'll see what they think about it's ability to morf into a group experience. Although I fulfilled all my duties and obligations to others, the song privately stole my attention for the duration of this week. Guess I needed to get something off my chest.
Got a confirmation to play Friday April 22 at Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction with a stellar lineup: Bow Thayer and the Holy Plow, with special guests Jamie Masefield, Doug Perkins and Tyler Bolles. Now THAT will be fun, because I can promise some lively cross pollination will occur between our bands. For anyone who doesn't know Jamie and Doug's music, I can tell you it is some of the finest, tightest jazz and improvisation on acoustic guitar and mandolin I've heard. Note: Doug has a NICE little tube preamp that lights up his already slippery, stunning guitar work.