After recovering from having too much fun at the Champlain Valley Festival, It was back to the studio with Scott Davis tweaking mixes for the last time. Yes, it is actually important to get the lead track (#1) as right as it can be. Now the disk goes to Scott's buddy Dino Distefano in Pittsburgh, PA for mastering. I am really looking forward to hearing the end result.
Next, a trip to the Institute of Musical Arts (IMA) in Goshen, MA to assist for the first half of Recording Camp for young woman, ages 16-21. I had the pleasure of working with engineer Leslie Ann Jones who brings her expertise to IMA each summer, along with a good natured, patient teaching style. Our days started with strong coffee in the IMA kitchen and a little hang out time on the back steps of camp - a perfect time to coax some quiet tones from the acoustic guitar and commune with the other staff, bagels and birds. By the time the girls got up and were ready to go, we had a jump on the day, and were properly fueled and fortified to meet their enormous waves of youthful energy. I was in awe of the originality, talent and confidence of this group - thank you Hannah, Rebecca, Saera, Dov, Orenda, Hillary, Adina and Emily for inspiring me with your enthusiasm and production ideas.
A short but sweet session followed back at Pepperbox Studio, with Mary Sayward, recording a folk song in the simplest style, which oddly can be tricky maybe because you can hear everything so accurately with no hiding. I tried a new micing technique learned from Leslie at IMA camp, to get the best separation between Mary's loud vintage Martin guitar and her vocal. She left with a reconfigured demo of four songs to use for auditions.
Fiddler Scott Campbell led the way to a gig in Lyme, NH where we played for reunioning Hanover (NH) High School Class of '74 or '75 I can't remember. We played celtic tunes (mostly) into the starlight, joined eventually by fireworks, barking dogs and happy old friends. Always a good time to fly in formation with Scott.
Trucked myself out to the Tweed River Festival, in Stockbridge VT, later that same night to catch the final set of the Perfect Train Wreck, led by my band mate and friend Bow Thayer. The band hosts this family friendly, small eclectic festival located on the Tweed River in beautiful, wild country just this side of Killington. My cousin Steve Mayone, a former member of the Benders and PTW, was encamped and relaxing after his portion of the stage show so I hunkered down with him and his wife food blogger and writer Suzi Cope, along with Boston musician Tim Gearan for some meaningful conversation - at the huge warming campfire next to a free stage where all manner of acoustic musicians were trading licks for hours.
The next afternoon things shifted gears, as I headed up to South Hero, VT in the Champlain Islands (north of Burlington), to sit in with singer-songwriter Mary McGinniss, to celebrate her new CD "Red Tails and the Road" recorded here at Pepperbox Studio. Under moody, wind swept skies, we set up our gear just inside the wide open doors of a barn and played to a crowd ensconced in lawn chairs. For this project my instrument of choice has been a mandolin - I expect to be part of Mary's entourage in the next couple months playing my lovely 1917 Gibson mandolin - as we share the fruits of our labor and bring "red tails and the road" to a wider audience. It's been a joy to get to rub shoulders with Mary's long-time collaborator Juliet (Pearl) McVicker and bassist Kirk Lord.
News Flash: our (Bow Thayer & Co.) acoustic project accidentally stumbled backwards into naming the trio "Holy Plow". I believe it was in response to Patrick's latest suggestion ("Snow Truck") that Bow quipped in return: how about holy plow? We played in Rutland, VT at the Friday night street party 8/20 a party that shuts down a whole city block, filling it with vendors and stages of live performance and fun. Apart from a little hassle with parking at the onset, we rocked into the sunset in the open air, took a few passersby by surprise and reunited a clatch of appreciative senior citizens with good old fashion fiddling, something many older Vermonters grew up with but have not had the opportunity to enjoy since Grandpa's fiddle went up to the attic.
Most fun of all: our arts council gig in Lancaster, NH, organized by bandmate (the aforementioned fiddler) Patrick Ross. That long road east out of St. Johsbury VT that rides through northeast kingdom towns like Lunenburg and (almost) Victory (I have a fondness for the four corners town and have written a song called "Backway to Victory" that has not been released yet) is a journey every Vermonter should do, just to remember the land and it's lonely sweep. As I passed the "Welcome to Lunenburg" sign I realized a phone call I should have made to generator repairman Jake Fournier, whose hails from the town and who might have come out to hear us. But being one of the last hold outs sans cell phone, there was nothing I could do. We all know that pay phones are practically a thing of the past. Oh well, many other fantastic people came out to hear us in the old town hall/masonic temple building, a good portion fans of Patrick's having watched him grow up in the Canaan, VT area fiddling his way through all the competitions with flying colors. For me it was great to spend the night in Groveton, NH, and get a tour the next morning of Gray Mist Farm, a dairy barn and milking operation where Patrick and his fiance Cindy have worked at and where they live.
Of course next weekend was our annual music bash called "Summer's End Gathering", an event over run by chef/musicians and various and sundry friends for three days - it has just worked out that way that the kitchen becomes a veritable hive of not only guitars but sushi, homemade pizzas, lasagnas, wild mushroom sautes, and eclectic pot luck. This year we had at least a couple mushroom walks, with an expert, and picked some of what he said were "the last chanterelles". We saw many a jam session coalesce, shine brightly and dissipate in genres as diverse as blues, breton, americana, singer-songwriter, celtic and quebecois which was only the half of it. Bright skies blessed us, a few camped out under the stars and the dog chaos was kept to a minimum.
The last Sunday of the month, Holy Plow headed back up the mountain road to "Jax" in Killington, VT to play by the light of arcade games and televisions. Always a good time, we had some die hard fans show up, took requests and Bow also pulled out a few new ones that really got us going and looking forward to working on a new acoustic album this winter. First though, I suppose Bow should finish up his new release with his rock band The Perfect Train Wreck and I my next solo album on Sweetgrass records, and Patrick has ten thousand of his own irons on the fire. Okay, yes, we can do it all but we must pace ourselves.