Spring Update

News March 2012

I know it has been quite a while since I wrote last and thought it time to bring yall up to date on what’s been happening here in the desert as we pick our first spring tomatoes.

It is hard to believe it has now been three years since we have been year round residents of Yuma, AZ. Well, except for my touring time and stops east to run my camp. But, it has been less travel for me each of these last three years and most of that touring time has been solo since Miss Jennifer has a full time gig working here as well. And that is a trend that appears to be continuing.
This year for the first time in MANY years, I do not foresee a trip east. That’s right, it appears that I’ll be staying west this year and will have to miss many of my favorite events back there like the Evart Acoustic Music Funfest in Michigan and even Clifftop! No homestead camp this year either I’m sorry to report.

I’d say this year gas prices are the largest factor in my decision as with costs at about twice last summers’ prices, it just won’t make economic sense for me or many others who have said they are staying closer to home this summer instead of traveling to distant events. There are other reasons as well, but gas was kind of the last straw for me.

It has been a slow and steady but curious change for me. It started with deciding not to resume teaching in San Diego this past fall which turned out to be quite a great decision as I now have about a dozen students here in Yuma who come for weekly lessons and even a couple of regulars taking webcam lessons via Skype and other methods. It has been wiser to stay home for them than have to travel 3 hours each way and stay in hotels and such. So, while we replaced the Expedition in late August (the old 2008 had 109K miles on it!) with a new one, I have only put 7,000 miles on it so far! That’s record for me for sure.

As I said, it has been a curious transition but with three books under contract with Mel Bay and another in the works for the Clawhammer Masters series (the Wade Ward book came out in December), combined with my current student load and activities with the Old Time Fiddlers here in Arizona there has been no end of work to keep me busy. Add to that a few instruments being bought and sold and keeping up with a real house, hiking and yoga, and we have a full time gig right here!

I WILL be traveling some out this way this summer. I have been hired as a Judge for the Nevada State Fiddle Contest the weekend before the Weiser, Idaho contest so it is looking like I will finally get to go to Weiser for the first time. Nope, not competing, but just to check it out and play some. I have no idea what to expect there so any advice is welcome. I am planning to take the Airstream but will likely be going up and back in just a short two-week window.

The folks in Nevada are also talking about a workshop (fiddle) and looking for a concert venue for me so keep an eye here and on my website for more on that. Mike “Bluesage” Iverson is also looking into a workshop venue near Salt Lake during that same time period and you are always welcome to help me with gigs along the way. House concerts, workshops, demos – I’m open. Another event in the early planning stages is a banjo workshop in San Diego which is a pretty cool place to escape the Yuma heat in the summer AND get to go to Trader Joe’s so lets work on that and keep in touch for more on that. There has been a movement afoot (like since yesterday!) to bring me up to Peter Rolland’s Fiddle Camp in Westcliffe, Colorado July 8-14 (http://www.peterrolland.com/Rolland_Fiddle_Camp.html). I would be teaching banjo but there is a great fiddle stable there as well.

August also finds my Boiled Buzzards Old Time Stringband workshop happening again at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas. I’ll be leading the fiddle/mando/melody instruments, Miss Jennifer taking the banjo players and Miss Annie Trimble again working with the guitar and bass players in the am and forming up bands to perform each afternoon. It was a hoot last year! Over 20 players joined us for this and we look forward to at least as many this year.

On the retail front, all of my CDs remain in hard form (real cd’s) as well as downloads as do all 7 of my current Mel Bay books and plans are to keep that up regardless of the e-revolution that seems to be hitting both the print and recorded music world. As long as you want them, I’ll keep em.

I have in stock a couple of the new Eastman Whyte Laydie banjos for sale as well as some Gold Tone OT’s. I like to keep a few instruments available for my students but will gladly ship one to you if you got to have one now! I even have a couple of used fiddles and even that Chinese Er Hu I got a few years ago and just never played.

I am also continuing to write for Banjo Newsletter including my Old Time Way section that so many of you have told me you love.

Like I mentioned, it has been a busy winter and Spring is now here looking to be as busy as ever.

Play Nice,