I'll be playing old country songs with the Hoyle Brothers.
Tonight at 7P I'm kicking off the historic opening of Chicago's elevated park and trail system, called the 606, with a set of rocking summer music that I'm going to do with a 6-piece group. Co-fronting the band with me will be Tawny Newsome, former shining star of Second City and current hotshot of greater Los Angeles. In the band will be Scott Ligon of NRBQ, and several others not in NRBQ, so you really don't need either to like or dislike NRBQ to enjoy this show. Canny marketing!
This Monday there's no Hideout since I'll be travelling afar. The shows with Redd Volkaert this week have been delightful beyond my expectations, which were high to begin with. The conversation in the van has been alternately informative, provocative, mind-expanding, and hilarious, and each successive night on stage I got a little more out of my mental straitjacket -- attending to structures of songs I wasn't intimately familiar with, playing off of someone whose instincts I wasn't altogether dialed into, and trying somehow to complement his insanely high-voltage soloing with something plausible of my own -- and more into the moment, so I could groove with the goings-on and maybe pick up some ideas. By last night (we're in Buffalo at the moment) I felt pretty on-track; certainly I couldn't take pride in all I played, but I could relax at times and enjoy Redd's work, which is mainly why I'm out here.
Under the influence of rye whiskey I've done a couple odd things recently. I took out a subscription to the New Yorker magazine, which is going to send many hours of my week spiralling into a wormhole and reduce the number of books I read annually by as much as 50%. I woke up the morning after with that troubling sensation that you've been in a fistfight or had intercourse with a shrew, and there it was in my inbox, a note of congratulations from Mr. Remnick. The other thing I did was to join Twitter. The thought had occurred to me whilst sober, but it took the willpower offered me by the Bulleit corporation to change thought to action. So in case you don't get enough of me here, or if you get too much of me and would rather read a lot less, go hit a button and see me over there.
You can see a well-recorded clip from a trio performance of "Georgia Hard" from last year's Pickathon festival in Oregon on the Bluegrass Situation website:
In the copy accompanying the footage I'm called "venerable" (which is probably worse than anything I've called Ryan Adams) and in the still shot, the three of us, Don Stiernberg and Chris Scruggs and I, look like some of the most unsavory life forms imaginable. I look like a transgendered copy of my mom. Don looks like he's orgasming. Chris is looking grimly into space. You shoulda been there!
If you like a crowded stage emitting many decibels, this is for you. This Monday I'll ring in the summer with a bunch of summer-themed pop covers (Sheryl Crow, hello! Coconut Records, high five! Astrud Gilberto, 'sup? Marvin Gaye, duck!) accompanied by Scott Stevenson, Scott Ligon, Alex Hall, and Liam Davis. They'll all be singing, I'll be singing, and singing more than probably anyone will be the high priestess of modern-day Second City, the divine Tawny Newsome. Come drink and dance with all of us.
I Heart Roger Miller. Me and three other weirdoes play 18 great tunes from Roger's catalog, leaving 35 other great tunes from his catalog unplayed. Emotional forecast: jittery highs, soul-smothering lows.