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Vance gots NC to NH and Stuff In-Between Covered!!

Hi All,

First thing out of the gate is a hello to all of the Swannanoa People. Hey, I got your names from the master list, and I’m formally asking you today if I may send you the occasional, like a few times a month, newsletter thingy like this one here. If no, please just respond in the subject line “unsubscribe” or “no thanks” or something like that, no hard feelings. I’m told it’s a decent read, so I hope you stay.

That said, here’s where I’ll be:

8/29 - Sykesville, MD,
Baltimore Metro area fun. Nice place for dinner

9/8 - Chocorua, NH, -
"Feeling the Barn Concert Series”. Now you know what I know, I’m ready to have fun!

9/14 - Jersey City, NJ,
Hudson West Folk Festival

9/20 - Greensboro, NC,
Been playing for these wonderful folks off and on for years!

9/26 - South Orange, NJ South Orange Performing Arts Center -
I’ve been the opener for folks here, now I have my own show!!

**9/27 - Northampton, MA The Iron Horse **
I think we’re calling this my first official album release show (WEST)!! Tix early as this being one of my homeshows, it will probably sell out!!

NEWS: I’m planning on having the new CD, Good Good Man, in hand in about 3 weeks. I’ll put it up on CD Baby for download too. There will be a video “dropped” (I don’t even know what that...I can’t even...OMG I’m so old...) so look out for that too. I’ll have it over on Spottedfry and Pandabeara or whatever too. I listened to it the other day and I still like it very much but My God is it ever stylistically all over the map. Celtic, ’70’s R&B, swing, spoken word, Country blues...I’ll bet critics will pretty much pan this album but you’ll love it, I promise. If not, send it back. And I’ll send you a CD from my collection that I can’t stand. Fair enough?

Coaching of songwriting, performance, voice, private parties, custom used hotel soap carvings available upon request.


So he’s gone. How I possibly woke up to the next day without Roscoe in it is beyond me. I wrote this a few years back for a friend’s dog passing, so I now share it with you. And me:

you’re going to see shadows

when you smooth a sheet or bedspread
it will sound like his tail against
the kitchen table bottom

you’re going to see shadows

there will be a flash of white
when you go from room to room

Someone flipping pages
of a good vacation book will sound
like happy panting

you’re going to see shadows

you will never trust again
the corners of your eyes
with their tears and apparitions

and never mind the bastard breeze
that scatterer of the cruelest tufts of fur
from where you swore you cleaned completely
and happy now you didn’t

and all the faucets tight to stop
the drip that you mistake
for tippy tappy nails on tile linoleum tile
how many times have you cleaned what
from that so gladly

and damn the couch cushions
that hide a spitty tennis ball
two fingered icky toss down the hall
bounce one, two, three and rest
no one to return

you’re going to see shadows

I contemplated holding on to
this warning as this is
yours to own now

It’s just a way of saying
I’ve seen them too a time or two
and you are not alone

and you will never get over

you’re going to see shadows

Somehow I managed to get on a plane 50 hours later and get myself to Colorado to teach at the Rocky Mountain Song School. I put my "let’s go do this" face on, reconnected with friends, took in the love from those that knew my deal, coached and hopefully changed some musical lives. Then six days later came three more planes to The Bear Creek Folk Festival in Grande Prairie, Alberta, and where and what the hell is and why Grande Prairie. Tired, I really I wanted to be done with music and such.

Just prior to boarding the last plane to Grande Prairie from Edmonton, I saw a whole band’s-worth of Black men line up. Guitars over their backs, etc. I nodded - you know how us Black folks all know each other and stuff. They kindly nodded back. Now, I’m thinking to myself, “…is Grande Prairie some sort of Canadian Black Music enclave? Where and what the hell?…these cats cannot be going to the FOLK festival…why, no one is wearing a dashiki!….. “

Now, I check my guitar neath the plane, so no one knew I was a musician. I had my still too-full backpack and a pair of old British Civil aircraft books in one hand to muse and gander as my distraction, hand carrying them to save their ancient bindings from the ravages of being jammed under the seat in front of me in that backpack. One of these gentlemen, a keyboard player named KG, asked me out of the blue as we were boarding, “Excuse me Sir, but can I please ask the nature of the very old books you’re carrying on?”

Well, you know me. I went into it. Aviation hobby, research, model aircraft builder. He told of his mom who was an observer for the U.S. Air Force, charting bombing accuracy of new recruits. He was a model car building kid, and it was he that offered a lament how kids today “even with opposable thumbs, don’t make anything with their hands anymore”. Fast friends with me you think? We flew, we landed, and we were off to our respective hotels.

I don’t know who festival producer Susan Card and her crew think they are. They stuck me on a workshop stage, entitled "Lightning In A Bottle,” with Americana group The Brothers Landreth, Canadian blueswoman Rita Chiarelli and her guitarist Emily Burgess, and a funk Gospel group from Nashville called The Rev. Sekou and the Freedom Fighters - yes, those same Black fellows from the plane. Those guys and I were laughing that we ended up on the same stage together, as I was a solo, everyone else was a duo or more.

You must understand that while enthusiastic to a point, the crowd was in pouring rain the whole weekend. Vertical multi-colored triangles of clapping plastic on a hillside. Bless you, cheesy-fries-with-gravy-eating music lovers...

Two drummers at hand had to share the kit when their respective groups played. Both large fellows. Both about the same age. One Black, from Nashville. The other a quiet red-headed White kid from Winnipeg. The White one was the drummer for the Brothers Landreth. They kicked off the swap with some original, and I swear it was like Little Feat, Parliament Funkadelic and Lyle Lovett were forced at gunpoint to form a band a band. Joey Landreth sings like Chris Stapleton and Aretha Franklin had a Country Soul baby. His brother on bass, and a kid named Liam on keys, all doing harmony. Like Heaven opened up.

The The Rev. Sekou and his band. An ex-Baptist preacher now doing R&B, moving the crowd, unbelievable soul.

Rita Chiarelli and Emily did the blues as a duo. Rita’s worn, warm, expressive voice doing its thing, Emily playing fills on a semi-hollow body with some vocal harmony. Then my solo ass. I did Rainy Night In Georgia as my opener, singing Rainy On The Prairie. Suddenly there was a full band and I looked like a friggin musical genius.

When I say that soon magic happened, I don’t care about cliche. Cliches happen because something defines a situation or a genre, and the cliche part is the numbing repeat of the event. This magic felt like the first magic ever. The drummers switched off seamlessly on other people’s tunes to the point you couldn’t tell who was playing unless you looked back. The bass players traded bases for various tunes. Joey from the Landreths and Phil from the Freedom Fighters were and are some of the best guitar soloists I’ve ever heard live, playing solos on people’s stuff when invited, trading off with each other in mid-tune on a Rev. Sekou song. To break up the testosterone string slinger club, the shy Emily stepped out and took a solo on a Sekou song that had us all jaw-dropped.

I played Old White Men and dedicated it to the memory of the folks that taught me and keyboardist KG how to use our hands. Imagine 5-6 voices in harmony shadowing “Old white men...” after I say it. I just made it through. KG got up from his keys, walked clear across the stage, and hugged and kissed me thank you. We just barely held it together.

Then Joey played a song called Salvation Bound. Played slide. Brother David next to me and Liam sang harmony. Out of Joey's face came these lines:

You can’t
Bring them back
Those that are gone are just gone
And that’s that.
Dusty photograph
Tired ball cap
Crooked old song sung out of tune
And out of time.

And sometimes a lyric like this - it hits you. I listed to one side, pulled my hat down, sobbing, done in. Phil the guitarist had one hand on me, David Landreth had his hand on my other shoulder, finishing the song with me in grip. What do you do? You get up and sing harmony on the finale. It was a chant by Rev. Sekou where he said “no more weapons”, and yes we started with 6 part harmony that grew as the audience found theirs. Really, somewhat about guns, maybe I guess I’m sure, but more about the weapons we bring to the table in words, action, ignorance.

The drummers were taking selfies with each other. Walter and David were huddled talking about the bright red 5th string on Walter's 5-stringed bass. IPhones and Androids were buzzing with the traded vitae. Later, there were meals together. You couldn’t tell who was in whose band.

This was a little festival in the middle of almost I don’t know where with big ideas. You US festivals? - step up your game. Less solo Kumbayah-assed artists like me, more roots stuff with actual rhythm sections and God forbid - drums. Here was Ruthie Foster, Feist, Crash Test Dummies, Blue Rodeo. All with killer bands, and not just about a stage where you can have a pick-up band with a cajon if you ask ahead of time. And the musicians aren't all proprietary about being accompanied on “their song”. You want the pure version to be disseminated?? Tell the audience to get the CD…

You wanna survive? Cup your hands behind your ears and listen up and out. Get some younger people on your search committees. Massage your definitions. We’ve got a lot to think of down here when we think of “Folk Music”.

Thanks Susan Card. I needed that.