Thursday, January 29, 2009

Frosted Hair

Ditto to all of John's comments. Thank you to Mary the high school oboist from Bozeman who made us sound especially good on John's waltz Last Call at Hawley-Cooke on Saturday night. Such a sweet sound! Good luck at college next year, Mary!

One highlight John neglected to mention (because he sensibly stayed back for some rest and down time) was the trip to Norris Hot Spring on Sunday afternoon for an exciting soak in the outdoors with temps near 0 degrees F. Except for the 3 minutes before and after getting in the hot water, it was a wonderfully toasty experience. No heated changing rooms or toilets made for the quickest changes ever. Whew! I'd never seen "frosted hair" like this. The freezing steam made for cool, crunchy hair. There is a small geodesic dome with a clear plastic front on it on one end of the pool. It houses live folk music at times (not while we were there) that gets piped out to the pool. How amazing is that! Even though we were jolted by the news that we forgot our towels at home, Rab magically teased some from the management. We look forward to more good times with all the great folks out there!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Back from Bozeman

What a time we had! The Wintergreen dance weekend folks were the perfect crowd for our music, even though this was our third time playing for this event. It was our first chance to work with the remarkable Cis Hinkle and I have to say that we hit it off right away. Cis is a very musical caller who exudes energy and confidence and was open to anything we wanted to try. We also got to play more than the usual number of square dances and we had several opportunities to turn Patrice loose on old-time oboe and even (God forbid!) piano.

As much fun as we had working with Cis we had nearly as much fun listening (and dancing) to Fiddlerats (for this weekend, Caroline McCaskey, Cole Ingraham & Eric Anderson). They are wonderful players and every set they played was exciting. Caroline, Cole and Eric were also very open to collaboration and some of the highlights of the weekend involved them joining with us for a few special numbers. I should also mention that Fiddlerats has an excellent CD for sale titled Contraband.

During the post-dinner concert on Saturday night Caroline and Cole came up to add percussive spice to Pat's great tune "Two Bits" (formerly know as "Pat's African Tune") and then Eric joined us for a special one-time-only take on Handel's "Arrival of the Queen of Sheba". We had two fiddles, oboe, flute, concertina, guitar on chords and piano playing the bass line. For me, the whole thing peaked late on Saturday night when I think we played one of the four or five best hours we've every played. Everything seemed to line up and it was great.

As always in Bozeman the hospitality was amazing. Oshi, Mark, all the folks on the committee, Mitchell Frey handling the sound, all the callers (there must have been at least a dozen) who came to study at Cis' feet, all the young fiddlers and musicians, the folks who came to our workshops, every single person was warm and friendly and made us feel great.

Special thanks, of course, go out to Rab, Mich, and the boys for taking us into their home again. This time even Sugar the dog was my pal. Also, a big hug to Oshi for loaning us a vehicle. This allowed Pat to take us on a death-defying journey up past Bridger Bowl on Friday morning and around to a delicious lunch in Livingston.

As always it was great to see former Decorah area resident Steve Marty and get to play a little music with him. One of the highlights of the weekend for me was jamming on my tune "Canny Crow" in the upstairs hallway of the Emerson with Steve on guitar, me on mando and the wonderful sound of two oboes. Steve's band Weatherwood has recently issued their first CD and will be a featured band at Wintergreen 2010. Their CD release party is this coming weekend at Equinox Theatre in Bozeman.

Just like last time Pat and Rab took tons of photos but I have none at this point. Hopefully we'll post a few of the better ones here in the near future. With luck we'll be invited back again someday!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Winter Flurries

It's a new year and we are gearing up for our winter flurry of music and travel. In two weeks (Jan. 17) Erik and I will drive up to Minneapolis for a full day of music: a band rehearsal, followed by a Mostly Waltz dance at Tapestry from 3-5 in the afternoon and a full-length contra at Tapestry in the evening.

This will be a kind of boot camp for the following weekend when Erik and I will drive to the MSP airport (notice a pattern here?) to meet Patrice and Pat for our flight to Bozeman. There we will spend 3 wonderful days (Jan. 23-25) playing, workshopping and jamming with our Montana friends at the Wintergreen Dance Weekend.

A month later, on Feb. 20, Erik and I will travel north again. This time to Northfield, where we will play with our musical better halves (halfs?) at the 3rd(?) annual Winter Stomp. This amounts to a short tour for the Decorah guys because we then will drive on to Minneapolis to play at Tapestry on the 21st. Hopefully Pat will lead us to a good old-time jam session that Saturday morning. Maybe we'll even get to visit the Pickin' Parlor or the Podium while we're in the Big Cities.

Since Decorah set an all-time record for December snowfall (no climate-change doubters here!) we fully expect January and February to co-operate with our travel plans and keep the roads and the airways clear for us. Hope to see you at some of these events. Stay warm.