September 2023

Back In the Saddle; September 12, 2023: Welcome to the New Normal. We spent 2020 in shock, 2021 in limbo, and 2022 in musical rehab, working on getting chops back we never knew we had until we lost them. 2023 has brought us to new levels of soul-searching anxiety, at the crossroads of old and new versions of ourselves. The best therapy we've found by far is work. September is bringing us back to what we call reality: driving around, setting up sound, playing, breaking down, rinse, lather, repeat. The other night we played a sold-out show at 19 Carter, a restored 19th-Century church in Berlin, MA. It is a beautiful community space where everyone felt welcome and welcomed us in turn.

We have more shows on the near horizon: on September 23 we return to the sweet Lizzie Rose Music Room in Tuckerton, NJ. The Lizzie Rose started life as a Victorian tea room and it's now the serving the music-loving public with a steady stream of live concerts that draw audiences from all over.

On September 30 we'll be playing in Needham, MA to launch the Homegrown Coffeehouse's 41st season. It will be an emotional night for us as it will be our first time playing there since the coffeehouse's founder, Jim Sargent, passed away last year. We're honored to help carry on along with Jim's wife Beth and good friends and volunteers who have made the Homegrown a real home base for us over the years. We're also stoked to make a live recording of the show as we document our pilgrim's progress this year.

In October we're headed out on the road again, to Pittsburgh, PA, to play a show for the Calliope Folk Music Organization on the 7th. It's another maiden voyage, this time a new venue, the City Winery in Pittsburgh. It's an early show, starting at 6:30, and the Winery has a full dinner menu.

On November 4th we're returning to John Henry's Hammer Coffeehouse in Worcester, Massachusetts' own Home of the Blues. The duo of Hazel Royer and Ira Klein will open the show. Paul was awarded a Mass. Cultural Council Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant to teach Country Blues music and history to Ira, and this is the second year of their apprenticeship. Hazel is an amazing musician who can channel Appalachian voices while creating innovative melodies on the bass. We're lucky to play with these two before they become world famous. We have also been very fortunate to have gotten to know so many amazing young musicians during our time as Visiting Artists in Berklee College of Music's American Roots Music Program. We're grateful to Bob Davoli and Eileen McDonagh for founding the Country Blues Visiting Artist Chair and we're looking forward to continued collaborations with Berklee faculty and students.

On Veteran's Day Weekend we will take part in our first weekend workshop since before the pandemic. NEHI - the New England Harmonica (and Guitar) Intensive - has evolved from a one-day seminar into a weekend of classes and events. This will be the first one in downtown Boston, and we'll be joined by Global Harmonica Summit's Ronnie Shellist and hosted by Shane Sager, fresh off his world tour with Sting. We'll be updating the site with more information in the next couple of weeks. 

In between these forays we're making trips to Brad Bensko's Bearded Cat Studios in Mystic, CT, to record some "new old songs" we've been working on. We're recording to 2 inch tape in the hopes of making a completely analog product that we can put out on vinyl as well as in the standard digital formats. It's been about 20 years since we last worked with tape and it's a real pleasure to experience the depth of sound that's possible with these old machines and materials. We're also working on digitizing many of our old live recordings and videos to document our 30 years of playing music together.

This year feels like the first cycle of regeneration, the formation of buds and new blooms. It has been a struggle but also a beautiful transition as we reunite with old friends in mourning and celebration. We hope you are likewise feeling lifted out of the confusion of years past and reconnecting with a sense of purpose, becoming more sure-footed with each step of the dance. Please stay safe and if you come to a show come up and say Hello! We look forward to seeing you.

Best to all,

Annie and Paul

photo by Michael Kurgansky;