2016 is Shaping Up to be a BIG year!

Wow! We’re barely into the new year and I’m already overwhelmed by all the great happenings coming up just in the first quarter! We’ll be laying down the final tracks for the new album in February and shooting for a street date in late March. Also, I just got word that I’ve been accepted into the IBMA Leadership Bluegrass Class of 2016…what an honor!

birthday cake

AND, to top off this first quarter of the new year, I’ll be having a BIG birthday celebration on January 10th. No, I’m not telling you just how big, but believe me when I say it’s a big one! So in honor of all the great stuff going on, I hope you’ll give your local bluegrass DJ a call and ask them to play a song by yours truly to help me celebrate! It’s certainly the best gift for a musician!!

Warm Wishes for a Happy Holiday Season!

As I walk around in shirt sleeves and sandals, I’m reminded how blessed I am to be here in sunny Arizona and to be doing what I love the most…making music. The new album is in it’s final stages and I just get more excited each time we complete another song. Life is indeed good and I have so much to be thankful for, including all of you! I hope and pray that you and your loved ones have a safe, wonder-filled and peaceful holiday season.

Just Call Me Hurricane James

Raleigh Paper

It’s been a hectic 4 weeks! I was back east recording four more songs for the new album, running the Park Slope Jamboree, and then attending the IBMA World of Bluegrass Conference. I feel like I’ve been through the wringer, wrung out and then hung out to dry!

There’s just too much to tell in one little bitty blog so I’ll save the full story for the newsletter which should be coming out in early November. It felt great to be back in the recording studio with long time bandmates Mark Farrell, Doug Nicolaisen, and Nick Sullivan with special guest Kenny Kosek who is an amazing fiddler. Now the album is almost 2/3 done and we’ll be wrapping up the remaining songs over the winter in sunny AZ.

The Jamboree was another rousing success. We had a terrific bunch of bands for the Saturday concert. I even ran into a couple of bands from the Jamboree at the World of Bluegrass showcases. It was such an honor to award the Brown Jug to Drew Smith this year. He may have a bookcase full of trophies, but I know he’ll treasure the Brown Jug for years to come!

And speaking of Brown Jug winners. I ran into Bill Keith at World of Bluegrass and got a chance to congratulate him on being inducted into the Hall of Fame. The IBMA Conference was a whirlwind of activity and not just because Hurricane Joaquin chose that weekend to make landfall! I have no idea how the organizers and the City of Raleigh managed to move all the outdoor events into protected areas, but they did! I was on pins and needles during the Special Awards Presentation as I waited to hear the winner of the Bluegrass Event of the Year. It was heartwarming to have photos of our little Jamboree up on the big screen for everyone to see. We didn’t win, but we were up against some real giants with RockyGrass and the Lester Flatt Celebration tying for the trophy. Thank you all for your support and best wishes, this nomination meant so much to me. I just love our happy little festival in Brooklyn!

Woohoo!!! Jamboree Receives IBMA Nomination as 2014 Event of the Year!

Jamboree Poster 2015I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled I am that our “happy little festival” in Brooklyn has been nominated for the IBMA 2014 Event of the Year! And “YES!” it is an honor just to be nominated. Wow! This is just so exciting!

The Park Slope Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Jamboree has been a labor of love for me for 16 years now. I almost chucked in the towel on the Jamboree after my partner, Tina, passed away but something deep inside me just wouldn’t let me give it up. And I’m so glad I didn’t!

Last year’s festival honored Bill Keith with the Brown Jug Award for his contributions to bluegrass music and I’m proud to see that he has been selected as a 2015 Inductee into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame.

I hope the news of this nomination encourages more folks to come out and join us on September 25-26 for our 16th Jamboree. We’ve got a great lineup of artists and workshops planned! More information is available on this website under the “Jamboree” tab.

“Bluegrass in Baltimore” makes a great read!

Bluegrass in Baltimore Book JacketI was so excited to receive my copy of “Bluegrass in Baltimore: The Hard Drivin’ Sound and Its Legacy” by Tim Newby. A while back, Tim had asked me to contribute information about my hero and friend, Walter Hensley, which I was more than happy to do and then, quite frankly, I totally forgot about it.

To say I was thrilled by what I read is an understatement, I’m overjoyed and overwhelmed with gratitude to have been a part of this wonderful contribution to the genre I love so much. Not only did Tim capture the flavor of bluegrass in Baltimore, he conveyed its’ very essence. In a fluid style that captivates the reader from the preface to the final chapter, Tim’s passion and depth of knowledge regarding this rich and “woefully under-documented” history of bluegrass permeates every page. I couldn’t put it down. I was especially touched by the tribute this book pays to Walt as well as honored to be included in a work that is destined to be a bluegrass classic and must-have for any bluegrass historian. Hats off to Tim Newby for a delectable slice of bluegrass pie!

The book is now available on Amazon, at Target and probably a bookstore near you. Click HERE to see a video about the book.

Cooling My Heels Back East

Sure had a great time back east and catching up with folks. Our concert at the Jalopy Theatre was fun as always. I just love the intimacy that venue provides. And then the band and I headed off to Pennsylvania for the Wind Gap Bluegrass Festival. You couldn’t have picked a nicer weekend or prettier spot for a festival. It’s always a rip-roaring good time at Wind Gap and this year we raised the bar even higher.  If you missed us in June, I’ll be back east again in July for a special performance at the First Unitarian Church in Brooklyn as part of the Good Coffeehouse Concert Series. Tickets are on sale through Brown Paper Tickets.com. See you soon!

You did it!!

I felt like it was New Year’s Eve all over again this weekend as I watched the clock countdown the final hours of the Kickstarter Campaign for my new project, Rhyme & Season. If I had thought to purchase a bottle of champagne to celebrate, I would have been popping the cork…instead I popped the top on a can of soda and pretended. But nothing could dampen my excitement as the campaign reached the goal and I realized that I could start booking the recording studio! Thanks to you, the album will remain on schedule for release in November, 2015. I’ll be posting album updates periodically here on the website just to keep you informed about the album’s progress so check back regularly. Woohoo! I’m still celebrating!

It’s the Final Push for Kickstarter – We’re Almost There!

Goal ThermometerThe last days of the Kickstarter Campaign to help with the production costs of my newest album, Rhyme & Season, are here. The campaign will end at midnight on Sunday, May 31st. I’m so close I can taste it!! But, if the $5000 goal isn’t reached by midnight on 5/31, then the campaign will be terminated as if it never happened at all. I won’t receive a penny and none of the pledgers will be charged.

I just need $1500 more and we’ll make it. If you have been waiting to see if this project is for real, check out the article that appeared last week in Bluegrass Today. If you were waiting to see if we were going to fund…stop waiting and start pledging!

This is it…if the campaign doesn’t fund, then production will be delayed until I can raise the money. Putting out an album on your own has it’s perks (artistic freedom being HUGE!) but that means that I also have to lay out a lot of money upfront for licensing, studio rental, mixing, graphics as well as paying the special guests that will appear on the album. That adds up to a pile of cash and last time I looked, I hadn’t won the lottery yet. My well is just about dried up and I sure hate to delay this project. Please, dig deep and support this project now.

In the News

Bluegrass Today Article 5:18:15

 

Hey folks, in case you didn’t notice Richard Thompson of Bluegrass Today ran an article about my new album, Rhyme & Season, on May 18th. This guy has a great way with words and turned just a few comments from me into a beautiful, well-written article that I hope you enjoy reading it!

 

Honoring the Spirit of Motherhood

Mother’s Day invites us to honor the strength and courage of mothers past and present. Not so long ago, mothers held their little ones close and offered hope for the future as the family farm fell to the auctioneer’s hammer. Today, homeless mothers and their children litter our streets in a scenario that hasn’t changed much in a hundred years. Mothers are still the glue that holds families together.

This Mother’s Day I hope you’ll request your favorite DJ to play a song I wrote called “Troubled Times,” the title track from my CD of the same name. This song embodies the faith and love of mothers everywhere when faced with hard times. The lyrics are just as true today as more and more families become homeless due to foreclosures.

I am continuing to prep material for my newest album, Rhyme & Season, which I hope will raise awareness about those who are homeless…but I need your help. If you haven’t already contributed to the Kickstarter Campaign, please listen to “Troubled Times” available for a short time on my website. This heartfelt song represents just one of the stories of the homeless. I hope you’ll help me tell a few more.