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What Do Bad Masonry, Hillsdale NY, Northampton MA, Philly, and Aaron Neville have in common...?

Hi VanceFans and Friends,

Aug 3-5 - Hillsdale NY (corner of NY, CT, & MA.) The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival

Aug 11, Northampton, MA - Iron Horse Music Hall

Aug 24, Phila PA -
(With James Maddock!!)

Aug 30, Shirley MA - Bull Run Restaurant OPENING FOR AARON NEVILLE -

What a wonderful 2 weeks I've had! The Flying Aces Model Plane Nationals was stupendous, despite incessant winds that prevented my new monster mailplane from putting in an official flight. This video does show it flying in the calm, post-contest after hours, however. Not very long, just a proof of concept flight, but worth the trip:

My other stuff flew well too. I won a couple of things, caught up with friends. THIS I can do.

Then came teaching at the Swannanoa Gathering. Highlights were:

- The classes. People got close. People were supportive. The more I taught the more I learned

- Sean McGowan. Guitar instructor and the best guitarist I believe I’ve ever known. Imagine Tuck Andress, Wes Montgomery, Richard Thompson, and Thelonius Monk all in one human. His version of Round Midnight was transcendent.

- My mainstage set of two songs. Opened with Old White Men. Closed with MY version of Round Midnight as a dare from someone whom knew I was massacred by Sean’s version. Post 1958 Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, and Louie’s trumpet showed up. I called Sean out every time I played a minor 7th flat 5 chord, giving him a hard look. Great response. THIS I can do

- Emily, Olivia, Ashley, Aron, and Mac, my scintillatingly-talented under-18 posse that worked like all get out, trusted me, cried on my shoulder, sweated, and shone. Bless you kids.
Aron’s jazz song is like Gershwin. Ask Ellis Paul. Frightening.
Olivia, the Broken Mom tune just hurts to hear. You’re a brilliant kid
Emily, your crystalline, perfect, broken-winged bird voice and choice of imagery matching is beyond what I am capable of.
Mac, you’re a natural - everything...
Ashely, your first song, and you choose to honor a friend and ask her, and God, why she is how she is. Wise and kind beyond your 3/4 score years. Your tears are my tears, kiddo. Thanks for letting me in, kids. You make me feel like the most grand facilitator. And you give me hope.

- Jogging every morning with Peter Mulvey.

- Grammy Winner Kathy Mattea just looking at me post-set cockeyed and sayin “Do you know how brilliant you are?”

- Grammy Winner Don Henry jamming his foot into the elevator to stop it to get on and tell me “Old White Men is genius, Randy Newmanesque”...

OK, I feel like an assheel with this bragging and name dropping. But please understand, I have to pump myself up a teeny bit. I need these victories. I came home, post-model plane success and teaching kudos extravaganza with a singular domestic purpose - to do work on the railing and to fix the cement on the front steps.

I have proven that I am no mason.

Pic #1 - Started like this - oh yes, I had a plan

Pic #2 - Hmmm, more damage than I thought...

Pic #3 - OK, now I feel like friggin Louis Leaky as this slab breaks away in thin sheets of my pending hell. My foot, the broom, and the pitchfork looks like some weird take on American Gothic..

Pic #4 - There. Glued down. That looks like...I’m screwed...

Pic #5 - Look, it was me or the garden - and the garden will grow back. The cement steps are forever. Everything’s covered with Gorilla Glue construction adhesive. Yes, that leaf is permanently cemented to that glove. Like some weird PBS British mystery crime scene.

Pic #6 - More cement will help. Sure.

Pic #7 - Screwed

Pic #8 - Very screwed

Pic #9 - The steps look better when wet! Maybe I can keep them wet until she gets home. Maybe I can just leave the hose running just a teeny bit until one of us dies.

Pic #10 - So I tried the hose thing for about 1/2 hour. It did get the 2nd box of quick cement irreparably wet. Some may see that as unfortunate. Some may see it as merciful.

Pic #11 - That ivy needed a home anyway.

The railing is strong.

I hate masonry.
Deborah will hate masonry too when she gets home.
Or she’ll love masonry but hate *this*
Or just be driven to hate the Negroid Masons Association, whom I’ll claim was responsible.
Wait, that’ll happen, masonry or not.
And not to all Negroes.
Just specific ones.
Ok, one specific one.

OK, Vance Fan, you have to know this secret. I belong to a secret sect called the ShitMasons. People see our work and fall down laughing long before they fall down due to the badly done set of stairs which makes it so that we, as ShitMasons, don’t have to do quite the job that other Masons do.

For some reason our fez over the centuries has developed a pointed top. And the logo, originally depicting one of our brethren with their finger in the air denoting our status as Number One, now has the finger in said brethren’s nose sporting previously mentioned hat.

That railing is strong.


Come see me. Hire me for private parties. Come to me for performance and songwriting coaching. Get ready for me to beg for money for my new album, due out in the spring. Treat each other well. You’re the only you guys I got to come to shows.