April has been a roller coaster, but I'm still hanging on. I got back from Italy and survived the NJ Transit system without getting on the wrong train and ending up in NYC. Phew. Had a great visit with my brother Marek, his family and friends including Robb Zenn of Alto Music in Middletown NY and Leah Farrar, a talented film producer and musician. The big news was a pile of at least ten electric guitars sent to Marek for his review. Being my brother, he set me up with an amp and put each one out on his huge leather couch for me to sample, even though I was obviously suffering from a desperate case of jet lag.
Thanks to a night on the town galavanting with fellow troubadour Robert Resnik, I finally caught Brett Hughes honky tonk show (w/ bassist Tyler Bolles) at the Bluebird Restaurant - and followed up with an afternoon of swapping songs with him - he's another hidden gem of a player known mostly only to Burlington VT. Hoping to figure a way to play out with him one of these days. Also enjoyed a couple hours picking with bluegrass mandolinist Adam Buchwald - Adam recently moved to Vermont from NYC to build and repair instruments in Post Mills VT - and man, he knows how to play. We hope to join forces with Doug Perkins in May to play at an open house featuring Adam's work as a builder.
Busy days in the studio as well, with several new clients including roots man Derrick Semler laying down tracks for his daughter Bridgette's new project and pastor Donna Colletti Lowre with her pianist Jean recording here at Pepperbox for the first time. Mary McGinniss, on the tail end of her project brought her usual good cheer, good food and laughter to Chelsea; our three days together brought intense work on three new songs, as well as revision and mixing for songs previously recorded. And she didn't have to twist my arm too hard to get me behind the microphone with my mandolin, tracking parts on a couple. I 'm really looking forward to hearing local DJs spin that disk in the near future. Scott Davis is also getting ready to have his disk professionally mastered, after months of layering fine percussion playing and vocals that are totally original and definitively hot.
The Worker's Center "Health Care is a Human Right" campaign brought us together with many fine musicians Friday April 16 at the UU Church in Burlington - I'm still stunned by the fire power of that gathering and happy to have contributed to the cause. Promoter-activist James Haslam pulled together this benefit, opened by Mayfly (Katie Trautz and Julia Wayne), MC-ed by the wonderful Scott Ainslie who also played a set of his amazing blues and originals songs and then the Bow Thayer acoustic project including myself and fiddler Patrick Ross, brought it home with a final set of Bow's originals. Guitarist Doug Perkins joined us at the last minute making beautiful, extraordinary string noise - in an effort to bring the Worker's Center message and hard work to a higher level of local awareness. Thanks to all who contributed to the evening, including Jack Donovan of WDEV in Waterbury VT who had us on the air to talk about the event and our recent musical endeavors.
Our social calendar this month has been full of music:
A concert by Chad Hollister at the Chandler Music Hall in Randolph VT, with an opening set by guitarist singer-songwriter Sara Grace and Giovanni (who's last name eludes me at the moment) - great to finally experience the energy and high powered musicality of Chad and his band and to meet Sara after months of near misses. I'm hoping she'll "grace" me with some drum tracks on my next newest recording project.
A house concert featuring Nashville guitarist David Grier, hosted by the Vermont Instruments School of Lutherie in Post Mills (also showcasing guitarist Doug Perkins and mandolinist Adam Buchwald in an opening set of tunes). Somehow David identified me, my husband and a couple others as being especially appreciative of his more "off-color" jokes and came directly to us after the show to share a few more. We think that perhaps the only person who can rival him would be Patti Casey with her sheep joke (which i can never remember when I try to retell it, so I'll just have to ask her to). Great music, very low key and friendly, a fabulous little venue for hearing acoustic music that I recommend heartily to anyone who really likes to see what guitar players do close up and hear it without amplification.
Also made a night of it and after a bubbly social frenzy of a dinner hit Higher Ground to see rocker Graham Parker, whom we met in the pub at Ariel's Restaurant in Brookfield not long ago. One never knows who is going to turn up in the outback of this amazing state. The show was backed by a band called The Figgs - good songwriting, lots of spirit, no pretentious posturing, friendly vibe, solid talent. I'm going to keep tabs on Graham because I think we'll be seeing more of him in the state.
And when the snow came back this last week in April, there was nothing to do but drive south and visit Verdant Studio in Athens VT, the marvelous creation of studio owner-engineer Pete Weiss located on a back road that even I had never been on before. Verdant has an exceptional spatial concept that includes a cool one room recording area, additional isolation booth and great hang out area with cozy wood stove. Set up to support the out-of-town bands which make up most of his business, his facility has dorm space and a kitchen too. Pete's demeanor surely provides a calm, thoughtful balance to red-light anxiety. And the results of his mixing and other skills can be heard on several of VT rocker Bow Thayer's CDs, and include some of the Levon Helm sessions. Glad to have finally connected!