Friday, June 29, 2012

Bootlegger's Bluegrass

In the past few weeks, I've played three times at Bootlegger's on Thursday nights.

The first time, Ashleigh Caudill asked me to join her along with Ned Luberecki, Dave Goldenberg, and Paul Kramer. Our slot was midnight to 2 am. Jack was in Virginia with his grandmother. I put Cora to bed, and John went to sleep with the monitor by his ear. I hoped for the best.

When I showed up downtown at 11:30, Noam was standing out front. Punch Brothers were on the stage, sitting in. While we waited, I picked with Paul on the sidewalk. Because of the week-long CMA festival, the town was packed with country fans. Tourists walked by and stared, thinking we were trying to busk. But for me, any opportunity to pick is golden. It seems rare these days that I am not in charge of at least one non-sleeping child. 

The picking was fun. I drove Ned to his house, got home at 3:30 am, and realized happily that Cora had not woken up the entire time I was gone. How lucky!

The following week, Brad Tucker asked me to join his crew for the 6 pm slot. This time, Bootlegger's hosted a Full Moon Festival, for which they rented out the adjacent parking lot. We played inside with Aaron Till, John Tomlin, and some other folks I hadn't met before. Then we went outside and watched Ronnie McCoury and his crew. These new festivals are an awesome idea, and I hope to return. John had agreed to watch the kids, because he was leaving for Cowan tour at 10 pm. Unfortunately, Cora gave him a run for the money. She refused to sleep for him, and he was frantic trying to get packed when I returned home. 

Tonight I joined Tomlin once again for the 6 pm slot. I met some new folks. There was a fiddle player in the crew named Brian Arrowwood. He was ridiculously great. His passion for music and for his fiddle was obvious with each solo he took. He looked familiar to me, but I couldn't figure out why. I asked him who he usually plays with. He said, "Everyone." Suddenly it hit me: I asked him if he'd been to Steve Kaufman's Flatpicking Kamp. He said, "Yeah, a long time ago, when I was a kid." Bingo. I'd attended the camp when I was in college, and Brian had been a teenager there. He had really impressed all of us, even back then. Brian is 30 years old, and I can't help but refer to him as the kid from flatpicking camp. Now "the kid" plays with Travis Tritt. The coolest thing about him is that he is not jaded about music. Not one bit. He says he plays in the hotel rooms every day on tour. I've been around a lot of traveling musicians, and it's rare to see people practicing in their hotel rooms. I'm guilty of using my hotel time for emails, phone calls, and "vegging out." I'd like to take a tip from "the kid" and use my time a little more wisely. Hey, at least I'm not on Facebook yet!

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