Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes We Can!

Today is election day and I am posting here with the single purpose of urging you to vote for Barack Obama for President of the United States. Our country will be better for it. Here are a few videos that I find inspiring:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


According to the Washington Post, Gov. Sarah Palin said this at a fundraiser in Greensboro, NC:

"We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation."

I wonder if she'd think this fine video featuring friends Dirk Powell, Christine Balfa and Linzay Young is pro-America? I certainly do!

If you've never been to Louisiana, go now. It's one of the most unique and wonderful cultural experiences you can have in this country. And the food isn't bad either.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Contrary to rumors you may have heard, I did not open my own bar and I do still have a blog.

What's my excuse for such a long absence? Mostly procrastination but also a good deal of general laziness.

For the first time since April, I have a full week at home. That's right, I haven't been at my home for more than four consecutive days since April 28th. I'm now looking at eight days in a row. I'm not sure such a drastic change is healthy so I was thinking I should load my car up with all of my gear and drive around for a few hours and then unload it all just to ease into things a little. A couple of days of that and I'll be ready to jump back into domestic life!

Seriously though, I'm back in Brattleboro after a ten day tour in the south that started with a few Crooked Still gigs and ended with a week of shows with Lissa Schneckenburger and Owen Marshall. It was a great run and we got to visit with lots of old friends.

We concluded the tour with an amazing show at Pete's Candy store, our favorite Brooklyn venue. We played the late set and after the show we all crowded around the TV in the bar to see our friends, Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, Jake Silver and Ruthy Merenda perform with Pete Seeger on Letterman. It was truly amazing. Here it is:

Here are some more videos and photos to get you caught up on some things I've been up to this summer.

On Mountain Stage

The Alberta Street Pub, Portland, OR

On another note, you should all go out and buy Mark Erelli's new CD, Delivered.

I think it is his finest work to date and in the singer songwriter world, he is a beacon of light in a shit storm of mediocrity.

And you also need to hear Charlie Haden's new CD, Rambling Boy.

I've been trying to sound exactly like Charlie Haden ever since I first heard his bass playing with Ornette Coleman. His new project is a country album that features the amazing singing of his three daughters as well as Ricky Skaggs, Bruce Hornsby, Rosanne Cash, Pat Metheny and an unbelievable version of Old Joe Clark sung by Charlie's son in law, Jack Black. You heard me, the star of School of Rock, High Fidelity and founding member of Tenacious D is now singing old-time music with jazz legends. It's a strange strange world.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Helpless Trailer

After an amazing three night traveling triple bill with the Infamous Stringdusters and Chatham County Line, I'm now in Boston for four shows at Club Passim with Crooked Still.

Last night was the first night and it was probably my favorite show with the new lineup to date. Playing at Passim is always special for us and this being the first Boston area show with Brittany and Tristan it was even more memorable.

Check out this clip of Neil Young's "Helpless" from show at the Bowery two nights ago.

The other big news is that Crooked Still now owns a cargo trailer to haul our gear around. I was really excited about this but let me tell you, parking a trailer in New York City is no picnic! The good news is that we now have tons of room in the van for an entourage!

That's all for now. I'm off to buy an iPhone. I might try my hand at some live blogging from the stage. Not sure how the logistics of playing the bass and surfing the web at the same time will work.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Captain, Captain

Check out this performance of Captain, Captain from our recent Nashville show at the Basement!

Thanks to Bill for all of the great video footage of the show. Most of the set is up, so check it out!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Still Crooked World Tour

For those of you wondering what it's like to travel with a double bass, here's a photo taken at the Kirkwall airport in the Orkney Islands.

After an amazing tour in Denmark with Lissa, I met up with Crooked Still for the start of our summer CD release tour. Still Crooked, our third CD and first with new members Brittany Haas and Tristan Clarridge will be officially released on June 24th, but we decided to jump the gun and make it a world tour by spending a month in Europe before heading back home for festival season.

After Denmark the next stop was the Orkney Islands for the amazing Orkney Folk Festival. The lineup at this festival was amazing and we got to collaborate with our friends Kris Drever and Eamonn Coyne as well was Irish music powerhouse Solas and English folk singer Martin Simpson. Martin blew me away with his version of Little Musgrave, a song I perform with Lissa quite often. Here I am sitting in with Kris and Eamonn at one of the concerts.

It was an amazing time and I don't think any member of Crooked Still went to bed before six AM for the entire festival. It never really gets completely dark in Orkney this time of year which I think helps with the party stamina.

In an odd stroke of luck, the weather was perfect for the four days we were there and we were able take an epic 12 mile bike ride out to see some incredible standing stones and a 5000 year old village called Scara Brae. This place is older than Stonehenge and the Great Wall of China! Not to mention these things are huge!

After Orkney, we headed back to mainland Scotland for some gigs in Glasgow, Edinburgh and a quick trip down to Newcastle, England. Here's us at BBC Scotland after performing live on a radio show.

Except for our excursion to England, we relied entirely on public transportation for this portion of the trip, which is no small accomplishment with a double bass, cello, 5 people and all of our gear!

Here's slightly dark, but nice sounding clip of us at our Newcastle show.

We're now in Ireland and have had a great week of gigs! We also had a day off where we were able to hike out through a cow pasture to get a view of the Cliffs of Moher from the south, away from all the tourists. Ireland is a pretty stunning place.

We're here for two more nights and then head straight to California for a few shows! Check out the brand spanking new Crooked Still website for details. www.crookedstill.com

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Shetland Ponies.... and Fiddlers

There are tumbleweeds blowing across my blog! Sorry for the lack of activity here the past few weeks. I'm back.

I spent the past week playing at the Shetland Folk Festival with Lissa Schneckenburger and now we are starting a week of gigs all around Denmark. Once again, we are joined by Keith Murphy on Guitar and Stefan Amidon on drums.

The Shetland Folk Festival lasts 5 days and is sandwiched between twelve hour long, over night ferry rides from Aberdeen to Shetland and back. All the performers for the festival are on the ferry together, so it's a huge party from the start. Here's a typical daily itinerary at the festival:

3:00 PM - Ride bus with four other bands to a remote village
4:00 PM - Sound check for concert
7:30 PM - Concert
11:30 PM - Ride bus back to Lerwick (the biggest town in Shetland)
12:00 AM - Party at the festival club. Huge sessions, dance parties, late night concerts
4:00 AM - Festival club closes, head to house party. More sessions etc.
7:00 AM - Breakfast
8:00 AM - Head to pub. More sessions and wackiness.

Stumble home sometime between 8:30 AM and noon.

And this goes on for FIVE DAYS STRAIGHT!!!! It's insane.

Even though Americans are not cut of for this level of partying, we put in a solid showing. We really bonded with the great French Canadian band, Le Vent Du Nord, and shared the stage with them a few times. Shetlanders are known for their fiddle playing and partying stamina but the Quebecois boys gave them a run for their money and did us proud. It was a blast.

Here's a couple youtube clips of us at one of the shows:

Shetland is also insanely beautiful in a kind spare and stark way. This is the typical look of the countryside.

Tons of sheep, puffins, seals and of course, Shetland Ponies!

I really love coming to Europe to play, but I have to say the one thing that drives me up the wall is the currency. Don't get me wrong, I love that all of the bills are different colors and that these days as the American dollar continues to tank, it's like getting a pay raise over here, but the amount of change I end up with is staggering. My pockets are always loaded with fistfuls of change! And the coins here are freaking heavy. I guess they don't call them pounds for nothing!

That's all for now!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Not in Kansas...

I just received this email from some friends who are performing in a month long Irish dance show in the mid-west. To protect the innocent, I'm changing the names and details, but you'll get the idea. It sounds amazing and bizarre. Here's the recap I received:

We are part of an Irish dance show that runs for 5 weeks and goes like this:

1) Fire dance + pretty girl dancers skipping around with bright orange scarves
2) Michael-Flatley-Riverdance-knock-off moment with boy dancer
3) Band number: two trad Irish tunes, goes into reggae groove in the middle
4) Mark comes out as emcee in green velvet jacket with gold sparkles
5) More music: Mark & Sharon sing a song, there's harp moment and bouzouki feature
6) Dance challenge! Mark introduces the contestants wrestler-style...
7) Square dance (hearing Mark say "allemande left, and around you go," is priceless)
8) GOSPEL NUMBER! Sharon & Liza, dressed in white bridal-style gowns (I am not kidding...) sing a glory-hallelujah-televangelist song. This is supposed to be a slick "Irish Gospel" number, whatever that means. This is an amazing and FIERCE dodgy moment. It's definitely my favorite part of the the show.
9) Finale, complete with percussive a cappella dance line

Oh, and shows begin at 11am--and the theater is full from the first show. It might seat 2,000? Not sure there... At each show I get one or two religious pamphlets, or Books of John.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Ok. I admit it. I have a google alert set for my name and the names of every band and project I am associated with. Lame? Perhaps. Self indulgent? Most definitely.

Anyway, this just appeared in my inbox and comes from the Sunday Times in London. I thought I'd share it with you since Crooked Still is part of it and a large chunk of the piece is about my good friend and sometimes neighbor, Sam Amidon.

Sam Amidon and the folk revival

Also, Sam's mother Mary Alice Amidon has a blog, which you should read!


Last but not least, hip hop legend, Coolio, has a cooking show which is needless to say, amazing.

That's all for now. Happy Saturday night without a gig!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Way Life Should Be

I just got back from a run of shows in Maine and Boston with Lissa Schneckenburger! It was a great little warmup tour getting us ready for a bunch of CD release shows next month, which will celebrate the release of her new CD entitled "Song." Here's what it looks like:

Check out her spiffy new website too!


One of the shows was a house concert in Camden, ME at the home of Tess Gerritsen who is a New York Times best selling author! Traveling around as a musician, you meet a lot of relatively successful and famous musicians, but it's not everyday you meet an author whose work is consistently listed with genre fiction heavyweights such as Stephen King, Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton! She's also a pretty damn good fiddle player!

I love artist residencies at venues. Giving a musician a weekly time slot for a set period of time where they can be loose, experiment with new material or new collaboration and simply play music they would otherwise not play if it were a typical gig. I think that sometimes musicians, myself included, get too caught up in putting on a "show" and forget to be spontaneous and relaxed and play for the sake of playing. A residency allows a musician to get away from their typical thing in a format that gives the audience a glimpse into their creative process.

I've recently been a part of two fantastic residencies in Boston. I mentioned a couple of posts ago being a part of Rose Polenzani's Sub Rosa series which is a residency of sorts and last Saturday night I played a bit with fiddler Hanneke Cassel at her late night residency at Club Passim. It was a blast and great to see and hear Hanneke in some different musical settings than her usual trio!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


In honor of my love for the absentee ballot, which I cast here in Vermont a week ago, I have posted a video of Crooked Still rehearsing "The Absentee" in the studio! I hope you like it. Please get out and vote!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Bluegrass, Limos and Espresso

People love Bluegrass. I mean, I love bluegrass too, but some people love it so much that they'll park themselves in a hotel lobby for four days straight, in the middle of February, and play music with everyone and anyone who comes through the door.

Indoor bluegrass festivals such as Wintergrass in Tacoma, WA generate a kind of hive mentality, with musicians and fans swarming to listen to and play as much music as they possibly can before they have to go back into hiding before the summer months. I think because it is indoors and the frenetic energy can't escape outside, it creates a sort of human equivalent to sonic feedback. It's actually pretty cool.

Anyway, Wintergrass was an amazing time! It was Crooked Still's first festival appearance with the new lineup and it went great. We had Casey Driessen filling in for Brittany Haas on fiddle (she's in panama studying sloths or something). For a cool review of our set check out www.festivalpreviewblog.blogspot.com. Here's the view of Mt. Rainier from my hotel room:

I also heard some great music, the highlight of which was a late night jam session in a hotel room with Darol Anger, Mike Marshall and the Swedish band Vasen.

Before heading to Tacoma we were in Big Sky, Montana a week earlier where our ride to the airport was a SUV stretch limo! As if the SUV wasn't obnoxious enough, someone had to create this beast:

I have to say, it was pretty awesome to ride in it!

Other than all the great music at Wintergrass, the high point of the weekend was taking a trip with Aoife O'Donovan, Kimber Ludiker and Margaret Glaspy up to Seattle to an espresso place called Vivace. Seriously, there is no better espresso in the country. If you are within a hundred mile radius of Seattle, you have to go!

mmm, mmm.

I also got to visit the Fremont troll, which is very cool, if not a little creepy. That's a real VW bug it's holding on to.

This week I went into Boston to participate in Rose Polenzani's crazy monthly event at the Lizard Lounge called Sub Rosa. It is sort of a curated open mic. Well, actually, it's more of a closed mic, but I think that's a good thing. Different people get up and sing a song or two and nobody knows it and you have to learn it on the fly. It's awesome and so is Rose. Check her out at www.rosepolenzani.com.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Snorkeling and Skiing

I decided to take a couple weeks off from the old blog while I went on my honeymoon. Nothing says romance like wireless internet, but I decided it was best to spend my time enjoying the Caribbean islands of St. Croix and St. Thomas with my wife, rather than with my eyes glued to my laptop screen.

The trip was a honeymoon for a week or so which then morphed into a gig/island vacation with Wild Asparagus on St. Croix. Both events were a huge success!

I think it's a bit tacky to blog about my honeymoon so here's my thoughts on the working vacation portion of the trip!

St. Croix is a cool island with amazing beaches, outrageous snorkeling, a rain forest, and a vibrant local culture. It's also home to a very cool kind of music called Quelbe. Here's what wikipedia has to say.


I got to hear an amazing set by a musician named Jamesie Brewster. There are varying reports, but everyone is pretty sure that he is between 80 and 90 years old. When I saw him and his band, they started playing at about 9:45 pm and Jamesie wore dark sunglasses the entire time. He's now my hero. Needless to say, he sounded amazing, as did his band. Here's a youtube video about him and Quelbe music.

A percussionist named Juni Bamba, who used to play with Jamesie, sat in with Wild Asparagus for a few nights. We ran into him one day on our way home from a beach on the west side of the island and he informed us that he had just acquired a four foot tall drum that "sounds like thunder!" Here he is with said thunder drum.

I'm now in Big Sky, Montana for the Big Sky, Big Grass festival with Crooked Still. Tim O'Brien, who recently sang a harmony part on the new Crooked Still CD, is also here, as well as our good friends the Infamous Stringdusters. It's been a blast so far!

Those of you who know me, know that skiing is my favorite thing to do, so to say that I am excited about the 40 inches of snow Big Sky has received in the past week is an understatement. The skiing has been amazing! My camera battery died on the slopes today but here is picture of me from last year at this event!

Also, my good friend and fellow blogger Sam Amidon got a mention in the current issue of the New Yorker. Way to go, Sam! He is mentioned briefly in a piece about composer Nico Muhly, who did all the orchestral arrangements for Sam's new CD, All Is Well. It's a great story and you should all read it. Sam's CD is amazing and so is his coop blog, www.speakpeppery.com. You should buy his CD and read his blog too.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Celtic Connections

After three different flights and 30 hours of total travel time, I finally made it to Scotland! My bass and luggage however were lucky enough to spend an extra night in London. Thank you American Airlines.

Celtic Connections was amazing. I played two fantastic Concerts with Lissa Schneckenburger. We also taped a performance for Scottish television which will air sometime later in the spring. The band for this festival was Keith Murphy on guitar, Stefan Amidon on percussion, me on bass and of course, Lissa on fiddle and vocals.

It's really great to play with Keith, Stefan and Lissa. I think we really play well together and we performed a lot of music from Lissa's new CD, which has just been finished up and will be released in April.

The first night we opened up for the wonderful Irish singer, Heidi Talbot. It was a great show. The venue was a beautiful converted church here in Glasgow. It seems that this city is filled with one stunning venue after another. Check it out.

Scotland does have some odd food though. Everyone knows about haggis, but I discovered this on a menu:

Rumbledethumps? What the hell is that? Seriously, that's the weirdest, most non-descriptive name for food I have ever seen. At first I thought is was some sort of inside joke to puzzle Americans, but it turns out it's mashed potatoes with cabbage and onions in it. It was actually pretty darn tasty. Here's some more information on this delightful cultural cuisine.

The other surprising thing that Scotland has a lot of: Starbucks. Within three blocks of our hotel in Glasgow there were four Starbucks. Seriously. Now don't get me wrong, I'm thankful to have reliable espresso while in the UK, but this was a bit out of hand. Considering it's so hard to find decent coffee in Europe (Italy excluded of course) I was thinking that some of these could perhaps be more evenly disbursed throughout the EU.

Much of the fun of this festival is the late night party. After all of the concerts are over everyone convenes at the hotel where there is a festival club. Bands play informal short sets there and inevitably, you find yourself up until dawn playing music and hanging out. Here's me and tenor banjo whiz, Eamon Coyne getting a good start.

We even managed to keep Keith up until the wee hours, which is no small feat. Here's the proof.

The highlight of the festival for me was a concert by the Swedish band, Vasen. I think that this was the most exciting musical performance i have ever seen. Seriously amazing. It was as close to perfection as it can get. I was blown away, inspired, and humbled by their performance.

Here is youtube clip of them on tour in Japan

Monday, January 21, 2008

Elephant Seals, Scotland and Eric Clapton

I'm back. After a fast and furious start to my blogging career, I hit the wall and needed a few days off.

I've just spent the weekend in San Luis Obispo, CA playing at a dance festival with the very fine contra dance band, Wild Asparagus. The music has been a blast and it's always great to get to play with this band.

Yesterday, I drove about 30 miles up the coast to see the elephant seals calving on the beach. This is truly one of the craziest natural things I have ever witnessed. It's like something out of Doctor Seuss. I mean, these beasts are freaking huge and weird looking and there's hundreds and hundreds of them. Check it out.

They can dive 5000 feet under water and the mature bulls weigh two tons!!!! It's crazy. I saw some good fights for dominance and thought I was going to see one of the cows give birth, but we had to get back to the gig before it happened.

This trip is the start of my crazy travel schedule the next month or so. Here's a list of the places I go, in order, between now and February 24:

San Luis Obsipo, CA
Glasgow, Scotland
Brattleboro, VT (for two days)
St. Thomas, USVI
St. Croix, USVI
Big Sky, Montana
Vancouver Island, BC
Tacoma, WA

Not bad. I'm not even sure I'll get jet lagged because it's so insane. I'm currently sitting in the San Jose airport, waiting for my flight to Scotland to board. My flight leaves here at 7 AM and I don't arrive in Glasgow until 10 am, Scottish time on Tuesday morning.

I'm always amazed at how crazy people get in airports. I think that everyone should be required to fly with a double-bass at least once so that they mellow out when they realize how much easier it is without a seven foot long coffin containing a valuable musical instrument in tow.

I am so excited about heading back to Celtic Connections. I've been there twice with Crooked Still and am excited to be able to return to play with Lissa. She's just finishing up a new CD as well, which will be released in April. It really came out fantastic and I am very proud of it.

On another note, I just watched a DVD about The Band and my conclusions are that Levon Helm is the man, Robbie Robertson is an ass, and I can't freaking stand Eric Clapton (he is interviewed several times on the video). What's the deal with that guy? How is it that he's considered an expert on anything?

Monday, January 14, 2008

It's Only The Beginning

It's been an amazing and crazy week, but we are finally done at Allaire. We finished up Saturday night a bit after midnight. It was an incredible week and one of the coolest experiences of my life.

It's really hard to express how excited I am about this music. It's exceeded every expectation I had going into the process by miles. It really feels like we are a band now, both musically and otherwise.

Recording this way was such a bonding experience and in hindsight, I can't imagine doing it any other way. In the end, we recorded 13 songs and I am so proud of every single one. Here's a picture of all of us at the end of the night after the mics and gear were all broken down.

from left to right:

Nick Brough (our assistant engineer) , Eric Merrill(producer), Aoife O'Donovan, Erick Jaskowiak(engineer), Corey DiMario, Greg Liszt, Brittany Haas, Tristan Clarridge.

We left the studio Sunday morning and headed down to New York City. It was a really weird feeling to not be in the studio anymore. The lower east side is about as different a place as could be from the serene mountain top retreat of Allaire.

Last night we played at GlobalFEST, a one day festival showcase at Webster Hall in New York City. According to their website it is the "greatest nightclub in the world." The stage we played on had two metal poles on it that have only one purpose, as far as I can tell. This seems like the kind of place where some crazy shit went down in the 70s. Needless to say, their were no strippers during our set, but I thought Greg and Tristan might be tempted, since they were closest to them on stage.

Here's a picture, courtesy of No Depression photographer, Jacob Blickenstaff :

GlobalFEST features some of the premiere bands in the world music scene today. I don't really think of us a world music band, but I guess the term is vague enough to include us. The club had a crazy, electric energy and was completely packed. Our set was the live performance debut of the new lineup and we performed seven of the songs we just recorded, as well as a couple of Crooked Still classics, reworked of course to accommodate the new instrumentation. It was such an amazing feeling to finally play a show in this configuration.

Check out these two videos:

Playing with Tristan and Brittany feels so good and natural. The transition has been as seamless as it could be and I am so honored and thrilled at the way we've really become a band. It was a special way to start things off and I cannot wait for more!

I'm back in Vermont now and gearing up to head to Scotland to perform at Celtic Connections with fiddler/singer Lissa Schneckenburger. It's one of the most amazing festivals in the world and I can't wait to go!

That's all for now.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Low Down with Amy and Ruthy

Last night was our latest night of the week. After not leaving the studio all week, we were feeling a little stir crazy after the Absentee was finished so we went into Woodstock for our first meal out since entering the studio on Sunday night.

When we returned to the studio, we decided to work up an entirely new arrangement of an original song by Aoife called Low Down and Dirty. We had made a demo version during rehearsals, but it just didn't seem to work with the mood and character of the song. The song has a real spooky, moody vibe and I think our late night arrangement really brings that out.

Today is our last day of tracking here at Allaire. It's also harmony vocal day. Amy Helm, from the band Ollabelle, just arrived to sing some harmony with Aoife. We really bonded with Amy and the rest of Ollabelle at several festivals last summer so it's great to have her here in the studio contributing to the album.

Our good friend Ruth Ungar Merenda, from the Mammals is here as well. Ruth has sung on every Crooked Still CD and it just wouldn't be right to make a record without her. Ruth and Amy, besides being amazing singers, are both very pregnant, so we are adding that powerful energy to the mix.

The thing I am really loving about recording here at Allaire is that there is so much character in the sound of the room and the environment. The record is going to have some serious mojo. In a world of increasingly clean and sterilized recordings, this approach really gives it something special that is hard to achieve in a typical recording studio setting.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Thank You, Mr. and Mrs. Sams

Day Five at Allaire.

Today, we are working on a song called the Absentee. It's a hairy little number with a crazy frenetic energy, which is really fun and challenging.

We learned it from an old recording from Kentucky of a couple named Mr. and Mrs. Sams.

Here's a picture of them playing on the porch:

Here's a picture of us playing in the foyer:

On the recording, Mrs. Sams starts out a cappella and it's kind of what you might expect from a scratchy field recording of an old lady singing. About halfway through, Mr. Sams enters with the most frightening guitar backup you've ever heard. Greg says he sounds like a guy who was once pretty good, but is now totally deaf.

The really cool, and unsettling part is that he messes up the timing at his entrance, so for a few seconds the beat is turned around. I think it's one of my favorite musical moments of all time.

OK, enough of this shenanigans, I need to get back to work.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

buzz, buzz

Today I took Eric and Tristan with me on my morning excursion. We headed up the mountain again to see if there were any other cool things to find on this hillside. Once again, the grounds of Allaire did not let us down.

At the point where yesterday I had taken a sharp left to find the creepy couch, we decided to stay straight on the path. This lead us up to another lookout with this cool tower on it.

We were unable to gain roof access because of a padlock keeping the second floor shut. We briefly considered pulling a mission impossible maneuver and scaling the wall, but thought better of it as it might be considered irresponsible to put the lives and well being of the producer, cellist and bassist on the line all at the same time!

As Tristan's hat suggests, the temperature has dropped about 15 degrees today, which has not gone unnoticed by our instruments. The bass, cello, ukulele, and fiddle have all acquired some new buzzes. It hasn't been a deal breaker, but it has required a certain amount of attention.

Luckily our esteemed producer Eric Merrill is also an accomplished luthier and has been able to get us in working order. We're ahead of schedule, so taking a bit of extra time for the instruments hasn't set us back. We've put two more songs to bed today and will hopefully get another before the end of the night.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

twin fiddles, banjo

Tristan, Brittany and Greg are recording some of the most glorious twin fiddle and banjo music of all time for the instrumental outro of a song called "Poor Ellen Smith" that we learned from the playing and singing of Frank Proffitt.

This song also features some baritone ukulele playing by Aoife and tenor guitar playing by yours truly. It's my recording debut on the tenor guitar! This song has been so much fun to record and really shows a different side of the band.

Windy As Hell

I woke up this morning to the wind howling and rattling my windows. It's a spectacularly clear and beautiful day, but holy god, the wind is crazy!

As part of my morning routine to prevent muscle atrophy, I went for another walk, this time up to the top of the mountain we are on.

As you can see, it was amazing up there, but I did find some more weird shit in the woods.

Check this out:

It reminds me of the fancy, old school furniture from my grandmother's house. Grandma always refers to the furniture not as the couch or the love seat, but instead uses the brand names, such as the "Davenport" or the "Chesterfield." Finding such a couch all decayed in the woods is starting to make me think there might be some spooky history on this hillside.

When i got back to the studio, I found Erick Jaskowiak, our engineer, out on the sun porch trying to decide which expensive mic would best capture the wind. It's pretty amazing what a 35 mph gust sounds like when recorded on a $2000 microphone.

We were all feeling a little fuzzy today, so we blew of some steam with a nice little old-time jam with me on tenor guitar, Erick on bass, Eric Merrill on claw hammer banjo, Brittany Haas on fiddle and Tristan Clarridge on cello.   Then it was down to business.

The tracking is going really well so far. We've got six songs done and have two more scheduled for today. I really can't wait to unleash this music on the world.

That's all for now.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Day Two

Welcome to day two of my blogging life.   It's also day two of my  life at Allaire Studios.  I feel like a new man.   

More impressions of Allaire

It's unbelievably awesome to sleep in a bed that is literally down the hall from the recording space.

This is my first time in a residential studio and so far it's way better to do it this way.  

The only foreseeable risk of this approach, both to my mental and physical health, is that there is the very real possibility that I'll never go outside for a week or two.  

To counter that, I made the extra effort to walk around the grounds this morning. This is what I found:

It's not everyday you find a giant ball of trash while walking in the peaceful, snowy woods.  This thing is literally as tall as I am.  

Ok.  Time to record! 

Monday, January 7, 2008

First post from Allaire Studios

Hi everyone! Welcome to my brand spanking new blog.  I had an epiphany late last night that the world just didn't seem right without one more person ranting, raving and pontificating about meaningless minutia.  So... in the grand tradition of Yankee ingenuity and shameless self promotion, I've appointed myself the man for the job!  Go me.  

I am sitting here in the wonderful Allaire Studios in Shokan, NY recording with my band Crooked Still.  Check out the view!

We got in late last night and here are the highlights so far: 

1. Being woken up at 3 a.m. by our producer Eric and our banjo player, Greg, who were blasting Greg's yet to be released banjo rap album in the car outside my bedroom.  Yes you heard right, I said banjo rap album.  

2. Having the two best sounding mics on my bass be taken away to be used on the vocals and the fiddle, respectively.  I guess I now know  where I stand in the scheme of things, although now we have a good method for choosing the mic for the next person to play.

3. Coming to the conclusion that our producer, our engineer and I can't agree on our likes and dislikes of  Paul McCartney, Geddy Lee and Led Zeppelin. I think we're screwed. 

That's all for now.   I'll be updating all week.