It’s All In The Family

Tempe Fest of Arts 2 The Tempe Festival of the Arts was this past weekend and I was thrilled to be a part it. This show featured over 400 artists in 18 different categories plus performances by 12 different bands and I don’t know how many street entertainers. What a great family-friendly event! And even though it was primarily an art crowd, they sure loved our bluegrass sound! We had ‘em dancing in the aisles and stomping their feet. The kids in particular seemed totally spellbound by the lightning fast licks from band members Billy Parker and Tyler James. I saw lots of old friends and made a whole batch of new ones!

One of those good friends that made it out to the show was Carolyn Szatkowski. She is one fantastic autoharpist! I had the pleasure of performing with her last year and she wowed the audience so much they jumped to their feet in a standing ovation! Well, seems that Carolyn has a new album out entitled “Gratitude” and I urge all you autoharp afficianados out there to check it out. The album also features another performer that I have had the pleasure to work with, Doug Bartlett on fiddle. When Carolyn and Doug lay into “Sweet Somethin’ Steady” you have to resist the urge to get up and dance!

Once again, the Mill Avenue District in Tempe has proven why it’s called the entertainment center of the Phoenix-Metro area. If you missed the Tempe Festival of the Arts this year, shame on you and I sure hope you don’t make the same mistake twice!

The Meltdown is Coming, the Meltdown is Coming!

Hey folks, I figured it’s not too early to start priming the pump for what’s shaping up to be a fantastic show at the Durango Meltdown on April 19-21. I just got my copy of Pow’r Pickin’ from the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society and saw this article about the Meltdown from Tommy Frederico which I plan to shamelessly “borrow” and post here! So enjoy these well-crafted words from a Meltdown insider.

Durango Bluegrass Meltdown 2013

“Much of this festival’s character is wrapped up in [the historic Strater Hotel], this unique corner lot on Main Avenue in Durango. The Strater Hotel’s history, authenticity and Victorian charm is kept beautifully intact with Bradbury wallpaper and rich antiques spread throughout, the furniture of the historical period, three fine restaurants, and marble-lined restrooms. The Strater is the main hub of the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown. The Henry Strater Theater [known as The Hank to its friends!] located inside the hotel is one of the oldest, most renowned theaters in southwest Colorado. During the Meltdown weekend, the Strater Hotel is packed with bluegrass sounds bouncing off walls, curved and carved ceilings, and ancient walnut accents. You can find a jam happening in many of the 93 distinctively decorated rooms, in every common area, stairwell, elevator, main lobby and anywhere else pickers desire to let their instruments ring and their high-lonesome voices sail.

The Durango Bluegrass Meltdown is a unique festival that envelops the talent of nationally recognized bands, great bands from the region, local bands, and even a band showcase that gives newer bands the opportunity to perform at a live show. From its inception, the originators of the Meltdown have made a pledge to local bands, giving them the opportunity to perform on a great stage, with professional sound and a very attentive audience… The Meltdown prides itself with garnering a high level of musicianship in all the bands it selects and this year will be no exception…  The 2013 Meltdown also brings a small, but powerful, number of national bands… This year the 2013 Meltdown is excited to announce and welcome the New Reeltime Travelers, featuring Roy Andrade and Thomas Sneed (formerly of Reeltime Travelers) with Betse Ellis of the Wilders. Larry Gillis and Hard Driving Swampgrass will hopefully bring an assortment of rattlesnake banjo straps to Durango. Blaine Sprouse joins James Reams and the Barnstormers on fiddle…

More information about the entire line-up for the 2013 Durango Bluegrass Meltdown as well as tickets and accommodation information for a fabulous bluegrass weekend can be found at”

Hope that whets your appetite for what looks like a fantastic weekend in Durango! We’ll be playing at 7 PM at the Durango Arts Center and at 9PM at The Hank on Friday, April 19th and you can catch us again on Saturday, April 20th at 1PM at the Durango Arts Center and at 4PM at The Hank. Come on out and show Durango that Arizona has bigger and more varieties of rattlesnakes than you can shake a stick at. See you there and wear those rattlesnake belts and hatbands!

California Dreamin’

Redwood Bluegrass Associates Concert Series


Just got back from a great weekend in northern California. Met up with the folks at Redwood Bluegrass Associates for a concert series on Saturday night in Mountain View. The venue was packed and the atmosphere was charged! We had a foot stompin’, roof raising, good ole time. It’s always great when Blaine Sprouse can join us as a featured artist. Man, that guy can fiddle! I love working shows like this because of the interaction with the audience and meeting all the folks after the show. They paid me the ultimate compliment by buying up all the CDs that I brought with me. Didn’t even have one left over for the festival on Sunday!

RBA Blaine Sprouse

Blaine Sprouse

And speaking of the show on Sunday…what a super event! If you’ve never been to the Sonoma County Bluegrass and Folk Festival up in Sebastopol, then put it on your calendar for next year. Mark Hogan really puts on a terrific festival and gathers quite a diverse group of performers from all over. Met up with lots of folks from the local radio station, KOWS FM 107.3 (shout out to Mark, Arnold, and Phil!), and the President of the California Bluegrass Association, Darby Brandli. Everyone in California is just so outright friendly.

I’m dreamin’ of heading back that way again in September for the Bluegrassin’ in the Foothills festival in Plymouth, CA. Hope to see you there!

Hootin’ and Hollerin’

January 26, 2013: Coast-to-Coast Tour Gets Started in Yuma

We kicked off our 20th Anniversary Coast-to-Coast Celebration tour in style (or should I say mud!) this past weekend in Yuma, AZ at the Bluegrass in the Park festival playing with such well-known performers as the Get Down Boys, Larry Gillis and Audie Blaylock.  Like I always say, “It’s not a bluegrass festival unless there’s mud!” And that proved to be true last weekend as Arizonans were treated to a rare rain shower that blew through on Saturday. Though it was wet, the weather didn’t faze the crowds’ enthusiastic response to our music. For many, it was the first time they had gotten a chance to hear us perform live and see Blaine Sprouse perform since he was with Jim and Jesse McReynolds. In fact, the crowd hooted and hollered until we performed 2 encores!