Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Notes From the WoodSongs Fireplace - Show 379

The final show of 2005.

The house was packed again. It was pretty slim a week ago, but this amazing audience showed up and by the weekend all the seats were reserved. To think that hundreds of people will go through the hassel of downtown traffic at rush hour during dinner time - on a Monday night no less - to be at WoodSongs is awe inspiring. And humbling.

It makes everyone want to deliver the best show possible.

It was great to have Ben back on stage. We've missed him. He came to us when he was 17 and we've watched him mature into a truly brilliant player. He's been on the road some with Abigail and it is a fine pairing. Although I can't say how good it will be for WoodSongs to have Ben back on stage again.

Cherish the Ladies are, in a word, brilliant. And incredibly easy to work with. So was Abigail, of course. No wonder they do so well. The true masters and pros are always the easiest to have around. They can go with the flow, nothing rattles them, they can play through any problem.

The amatures rant and rave and stomp off because things are what they wanted. Fortunately, that only happened once at WoodSongs.

And speaking of pros, Bela Fleck showed up :)

If you didn't hear it on the air, you can watch on the archives, he came onstage during the encores.

Have fun, See you all on 2006 and Folk On!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Notes from the WoodSongs Fireplace - Show 378

I love our audience.

A big chunk of Lexington had a power failure that started about an hour before showtime and they still showed up and filled the theatre.

Certainly, it was worth it.

Pam Rose is a brilliant songwriter with a lovely voice. Truly a fine instrument. She and I had dinner at Natasha's after the show and had a great conversation - everything from songwriting to the Beatles to Janis Ian. I think she is the sister I didn't know I wish I had.

It's always good to see Phil, Curt and crew. Genuinely nice guys and great musicians. Performing with Uncle Phil during our song was a real treat. He made the song sparkle.

Regarding the iPod issue ... let's everybody just say "uh-huh" :)


Monday, November 28, 2005

Notes from the WoodSongs Fireplace .... Nov 28

Show #377

David Schnaufer is my hero.

Here's a guy who took an old mountain laptop dulcimer and, for a time, traveled the world stage with it. I remember watching his video on CMT, back when the network was run by Stan Hitchcock and still adventerous and good, in total amazment that David was even on it at all. He and his performing partner Butch make a great
musical team. You should watch the video broadcast on our archives page and notice how clean and light David strikes the strings when he's playing. And his instrument is perfectly intonated. Just beautiful.

And the Peasall Sisters are still a delight. What great kids and what a great family. My son, MichaelB was at the show tonight for a while and got to play with their young brother Jeffrey Peasall backstage. I so loved that my son was there and part of it. Of course he had way too many donuts, but that's another story ...

It was a stormy day in Lexington. Tornado warnings everywhere but the audience showed up and filled the theatre. What a great hometown. Of course, the real thunder wasn't in the skies tonight ... it was on the stage.
Folk On!
Michael Johnathon
folksinger - tree hugger

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Notes from the WoodSongs Fireplace - Nov 23

One of the most romantic melodies I know is the title cut from Acoustic Eidolon's album. You can hear it on the encore portion of last nights show. I think Joe and Hanna, aside from being good friends, are great musicians. They came to the show with their son Zack this time, a fine and well mannered young boy. MichaelB should have been there to hang out with him. I wish schedules would have let us have some down time, last time they visited the show we all got together and had homemade pasta and wine in front of the fireplace at my old farmhouse. It is always wonderful to see them.

Jamie Hartford is a great singer. I know he's gotten his reputation with his guitar (he plays the driving electric guitar in the new Johnny Cash epic motion picture) but he is also a great singer. He can really reach the bottom, much like Randy Travis. Low and clear. Our friend Mike Bubb, who we kid around with mercilessly, was part of the band. As was Randy Kohrs, a twin son of different Mother of Rob Ickes.

I'm really happy that Scott Napier has joined the Folkboy Orchestra. What a great player and a good hearted guy. He certainly fits in. He and his wife dismantled an old log cabin they found and reassembled it on their property. How totally WoodSongs!

As much as Scott adds to our music I still miss my friend Harsha. We all do. This coming Monday he should be back from his trip and we can say a proper Thank you and Farewell, musically anyway.

And by the way, thanks to all of the folks who listen and write. This whole effort is for you.
Michael Johnathon
folksinger - tree hugger

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Notes from the WoodSongs Fireplace - Nov 15

We had two moms on the show last night.

I never really know what the theme or underlying point of a show is until the last 5 minutes. That's when it always seems to hit me or come together. Lot's of listeners think I go into the broadcast with this idea already structured ... but I don't. The show is done with the barest of notes and, to be honest, I don't even look at the artists press kits until the morning of the WoodSongs taping.

I force myself absorb the show as if I were one of the million + listeners. And last night it was about moms. Moms who do so much so well and still let music and art be part of their life. What a very beautiful thing to behold. Both Alison and Beth had their children at the theatre, on the road with them. OK, Beth's was on stage performing but Alison and Garry have a very young, adorable blonde haired toddler.

I love it when my children come to WoodSongs. Because of things I can't control, they rarely do. They are not encouraged to be part of it or to enjoy wha t their daddy does. So it is very difficult at times to talk about families being musical togehter when my own children are not part of what I am doing.

Sometimes, the very best lessons in life are learned from loss. That's why I don't want others to lose the chance to make their music a living part of their families.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Notes from the WoodSongs Fireplace - Nov 8

Tuesday mornings are always a bit tough, especially after everything goes so well ... as it did last night. I sit in my farmhouse, sipping my coffee wondering "How can we ever do better than THAT?" I think this must be sort of a musical, artistic version of post-partum depression. Not that WoodSongs is anything like childbirth. I couldn't begin to imagine what this is like.

The Cherryholmes are a remarkable group of young musicians, their mom and dad love them very much. Cia will be a standard-bearer in the world of traditional bluegrass banjo. She is following in the solid footsteps of my friend JD Crowe.

I can't help but think how hard it must have been for this family to loose their sister and turn all that frustration and pain into their music. They came from literally nowhere, learning their instruments from scratch and in a few short years beat out Alison Krauss and Del McCoury to become the IBMA Entertainer of the Year.

And musically they deserve it, no question about it.

It made me wish my dad was alive, that I had even met him at all. I wonder if he would be as supportive and ecouraging as Jere is with his kids? Would my dad be sitting in the audience while I was onstage? Would he be playing bass behind me?

I would like to think so ...

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Schedule Blog Split Out

The schedule was moved to a separate blog. Please see our website for a link to it and its RSS/Atom feed.

Notes from the WoodSongs Fireplace .... Oct 31

WoodSongs show taping on Monday October 31:

Well, this was a good one that meant a lot to me. I was performing a concert in Connecticut (really nice theatre outside of New Haven) when Bryan called me to say that John McEuen agreed to hustle all the way up to Lexington to replace Tish Hinajosa, who dropped out because of management issues at the last minute. I was looking forward to seeing Tish ... my friend Kari Estrin worked with her and, although I'm sure she doesn't recall, we shared a stage at a folk festival in Tuscan AZ a few years ago.

Jamie and Jonathan of HANNA-McEUEN did great, I liked their stuff and they have personality on stage, a lot of banter and humour. Of course, doing anything with John is like riding a roman candle heading straight into the fiery furnace of the sun. Lord knows what he's going to do but it is always wonderful. I loved his banjo playing during the encore (you can see it on the archive broadcast) and we even traded some pretty horrid banjo jokes.

Wasn't thrilled with my opening song, The Wishing Well. I played it in Connecticut as the encore song and the crowd roared in laughter but the folks in the theatre Monday didn't seem to connect. It shows the difference between a WoodSongs broadcast and concert performance ... they are VERY different and I should have remembered that.

Oh well ... :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Notes from the WoodSongs Fireplace - Oct 25

Thoughts from MJ on show 372:
I hooked up with Happy and his lovely wife Jane at the Gratz Park Inn in Lexington for breakfast early Monday morning. We tried to get together for dinner Sunday night but they came in somewhat late from Nashville. I hoped to have them at the farmhouse for a home cooked pasta dinner with my home made organic Pine Nut pasta sauce (it simmers for 16 hours people!!)

It was great visiting with him and just getting to know this wonderful musician. It made me wish WoodSongs was longer than an hour, he has accomplished so much.

Toshi got to the theatre about 4:30, right oon time. She is a very sincere and socially aware woman with great insight into how people, the audience, feels.

The show went smothly enough for folks not to notice the inevitable flaws. The crew, as always, was wonderful. Especially KC who comes through for us week after week. It would be a lesser show without him running the load in and load out.

After the show, the Traums, Toshi and I went to Natashas Cafe. Nikki Finney came along, a fine poet and social activist who was absolutely delightful. She doesn't have a website up but when she does you should Google her name and read her poetry. Very moving.

Got home about 11PM and spent sometime in front of the fireplace working on song lyrivs for todays recording session. I hope to begin mixing the Evening Song album next week.