Dear Friends & Fans,
Well here we are in Petaluma California! September already! Lots of Miles, Lots of smiles....Hope Your Summer was good....
Was great to land at Kennedy Airport and get back in 'The Bus' and on the road again. The Black Potatoe Festival in NJ was our first gig and that was pretty cool. On the Friday night, the show included John Hammond, Chris Smither and The Book. We had the largest crowd of any stage that weekend! It was the first time we heard Chris with a band and that was cool. And it's always great to hang out with John & Marla Hammond. We all go way back. I remembered that in 1968, Chris stayed on my couch after his first NYC gig at The Folklore Center!
Next Nancy & I headed North to Maine for some "camping", lobster eating and a few New England shows. One Longfellow Square is a very cool concert room in one of Portland's up & coming neighborhood in Portland and we did get to visit with some old friends while we were there.
Nancy flew home from Providence and I headed to The Ashoken Center back in NY for a Guitar Workshop with Jay & Molly Unger, Russ Barrenberg, Matt Ministarri and Happy Traum. Had a fun time there, the weather was thankfully cool and the 'pickers' in my classes were great. After dinner each night, I enjoyed watching the turtles and beaver in the stream behind the dinning room. Nature!
After a fun week at camp , I picked Nancy up at the Airport in Albany and we drove up into The Aderondak Mountains for a show in Hope NY. Sometimes we forget how beautiful NY State is....
A little bit of a booking boondogle, the next gig was in Ft. Worth Texas! "Who booked this tour", I kept saying. But that's the way it goes sometime. We stopped off to visit our friends The Hopkins' in Lebanon, Ohio, but only got to see Sue, Andrew had to work and we had to boogie on.....Spent one day in Tunica MS. for a campout, a swim, a meal and a little "gaming" at Harraha's and then we had to get underway. Hot weather was the rule all the way to Texas.
Got to visit with old pals Shelly Pain & Paul Porter in Ft. Worth and had an ok gig before we split for Oklahoma City. "Lord have mercy".....Enjoyed our show at The Blue Door and drove into the night headed West, again.
Drive, Drive, Drive.....Finally made it to Tucamcari, NM, for our regular stop at The Lizard Lounge for the best Chillie Rellenos in the country. I always get 6 to go! Nice to have a vehicle with a fridge!
At last we were in Overgaard, AZ, (cooler weather) for a visit with Nancy's Brother Ed and Lenda. They both retired from US Forrest Service a few years ago, but Ed was called back to set up and organize the "Fire Camp".....down South of Peyton at Long Lake I think it was called. We did go down to meet Ed for a lunch, as the fire was finally put out and camp was beginning to break.
Off again the next morning, we met up with our transplanted Cleveland Pals, Terry and Jan, who now live in Prescott, for dinner in Williams AZ, on our way to Las Vegas. Williams is the gateway to The Grand Canyon. They have a train there, that makes tourist trips to the rim, but we had to "shake some dust" and head West by the time morning came. Next time we're gonna plan to do that trip!
Hot weather. and more hot weather. By the time we got to Las Vegas things cooled off to the high 90's! It's always great to spend a little time with my old friend and "manager" Tex Whitson, who has more stories about Country Music Singers & Poker Playin' Legends then anyone. Tex managed Merle Hagard during the glory years and spent many years with Benny Binion (The Horseshoe Casino) in LV when he was a young man....You gotta meet Tex!
Heading out of LV, we followed our buddy Pat, who I met at The Fur Peace Ranch, out of Sam's Town Casino Campground to have lunch with his wife, Rio and son, Zeb in the pouring rain! I had never seen rain like that in Las Vegas. The next morning we learned that 1.65 inches of rain had flooded the entire city! Our campground was completely under water and they said it was a monsoon! One person was swept away drowned.....Wow! Almost a years worth of rain in a day! Temps dropped from 99 degrees to the 60's.......
Making our way through the desert, I never thought we'd get to the next show! Ridgecrest, CA was on the Western edge of the Mohave Desert, by China Lake (no water). Back in WWII, there were many factories there making war related materials and that meant lots of jobs. Merle Hagard did his first shows there back in the late 50's. Tex who spent his youth there told us the story that back in the day, there was a law that stated there could not be more bars than churches......so at one point a few saloon owners built two churches......
The gig was at The Historical USO Building which had been restored into a museum and community center. The stage was 3 feet off the floor and was set up like we were doing a theatrical production! Old time furniture, a console radio, and old photos etc. The audience sat at tables like at "The Copa". It was very cool. Thanks To Alan Alpers for arranging everything and for Tex insuring that the joint was packed! "A large time was had by all including Me! It doesn't really get better then that!
I'll catch you up later how the rest of the West Coast tour was...Thanks for being there!
Bye For Now,
The Book & Mrs. Book