Monday, August 15, 2005

The Great U.P. Whirlwind Tour

Our great U.P. whirlwind tour was a blast!

For you undergraduates, "U.P." is Michigan shorthand for "Upper
Peninsula" (or Eastern Wisconsin, depending on which time zones you
live or work in).  Just a short drive over the Mighty
Mackinac Bridge (um, across the bridge) enables you to drink in the spectacular Lake Huron-becoming-Lake Michigan view...Okay, too big to drink in.  Just take it in.

We headed up to the Soo ( "Sault Sainte Marie" Are you taking
notes?) and were greeted by the smiling face of Simon Couvier, the
stage manager for the Sault Sainte Marie Summer Arts
Festival.  After some generous hospitality and a couple of
stints on the stage (sound eptly engineered by Taylor Brugman) we spent
the evening and morning in the company of Jean and Chuck Jones.
(Jean is a cornerstone of the festival, she's chairman of The
Sault Summer Arts Festival)

Between Jean's home cookin', the view of Lake Superior from their flower-filled deck, and the
great conversation and camaraderie, we were slightly less than willing
to hit the road for Kingsford.


We flogged ourselves to the van and headed for the Wisconsin border,
stopping just short of it in the twin towns of Iron Mountain and

We enjoyed the comfortable, spacious showroom Liz Wheeler has set up in her Koinonia Cafe.
We had gourmet food, wonderful coffee, a really fun audience (many of whom were from Wisconsin) and the evening was over too soon.

 Liz opened her home to us, and after a completely comfy night's rest, the open road gently growled our names.

With the exception of a brief game of "chicken" with a truck in a
one-lane construction zone, the short hop to Escanaba and The 8th
Street Coffeehouse was uneventful.

Some remodeling has greatly improved 8th
Street's showroom, and Judy was only slightly distracted
during our performance reading the many tiles on the ceiling that
have been signed by past artists...

...names like Jack Williams, Claudia Schmidt, Hoolie, and, well...others! Next time you're there, look for ours!

Our bookings behind us, we returned to The Soo.  Chuck and Jean
had sweetly extended further hospitality so we might have the pleasure
of attending one of the opening performances in the (partly) renovated
Soo Theatre.

Again, we had such a good time there, the after-brunch fun and conversation nearly made us late!

The program began with a  locally-written, produced, and
performed play highlighting the Soo Locks' history (it's the Locks' 150th Anniversary.)

Then, after an intermission, they presented an amazing array of variety acts--dancers,
Gregorian Jazz, Michigan songs of the voyageurs, a composite chorus of community groups, excerpts from a nearbyproduction of "My Fair Lady,"--there's a lot of talent up there!
After three hours, our bottoms were numb with delight!

Seriously, it's great to see the progress made by a determined and
dedicated crew of volunteers, and even better to witness the tremendous
community support and response. 
Way to go, Sault Ste. Marie!!

Now we're back "down below" trying to remember we are really "trolls" (people who live under the bridge), and trying to come up with some valid excuses for another trip U.P. north...the list is growing!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Good Sam's Club Samboree a new experience for MWT

We have some catching up to do, newswise, so we'll start with

the Good Neighbor Sam Samboree "down" in Midland.

It was the very first Samboree we ever attended.  Our dear friend, Gloria Lynne (Northern Michigan's country music sweetheart) hooked us up, and it was wonderful seeing her and Dwight there!  (We saw her perform in Comins a while back, and Dwight joined her onstage and sang!  Keep it up, Dwight!)

From the time we hit the front gate (ok, we just entered it) of the Midland State Fairground, we could tell it was a well-run event.

The audience of 300-400 was quick and enthusiastic, and many friendly faces greeted us at the after-party. (Some of the faces were even attached to bodies.) It's like a huge family reunion, and we were made to feel totally welcome.

If you do any RV-ing, we highly recommend visiting and joining these folks. Good Neighbor Sam Club is nationwide, and they do all sorts of fun things, as well as providing road services and other RVing necessities.

Best of all, they always have the very best entertainment at their Samborees! We're looking forward to our next opportunity to play at one. Maybe we'll see ya there!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Close-up of our stage box.

As we travel we try to find stickers of the states we pass through-the more old- fashioned the better!  Here is  what becomes of them...Whitt also keeps an eye out for bumper stickers (upper right-hand corner).

Eerie phenomenom in skys over Michigan!


Image captured by Michael Emig of Comins Michigan.

Finally...our name in lights!

to John Zollars!!

...John's curbside sign at
North Woods Fine Art Gallery & Coffee House...
this gets our "Best use of possible space" award for sure;
but, it also gets the "What was so hard about that?" award for being the only promoter or medium to get our name right consistently!
Beautiful sign, John!  Thanks for the time and effort!
(We have been extensively promoted as "The McKinley Washtub Two," "McKinney Washboard Two," "The McKinny Washtub Two" "The McKiney Washtub Two" "The McKinney Washtub Two Band," "McKinney Washtub II," and "Englebert Humperdinck." Ok, maybe not the last one.)
The latest addition to the Mckinney family name walk of fame is: "The Mickinney Washtub Two".
But wait! That's not all!! There's "Washtub Duo" and even "The McKinney Washtub Trio" ! Yup. No joke. Hot off the presses.They even gave us top billing! (We're thinking of changing our name to "The Mickinly Washboard Duo Band" and seeing if that doesn't result in their actually getting it right.)
p.s. Here it is 2008 and the new year began with getting introduced as "The McKinney Washtub plus Two"! (So now our washtub is actually getting it's own billing!)
The Tampa Tribune (bless it's heart) wrote us up in an article with the headline, "Washtub, Comedy, Two" for which we are entirely grateful!
But wait, there's more:
"The Washboard Band"
"Washtub II"
"The McKenny's Washtub Two" (Apparently we are owned by some big corporation or something.)
(We are NOT making this up!)
and  completely off the wall, we were called "The ubiquitous Steve & Holly" by someone at the Moon Shadow in Tucker, Georgia.
The fall of 2008, we recently appeared on  lobby billboards as follows:
McKinney Duo
"The Washtub "
(So now we guess, we're just opening for the washtub!)
"Husband & Wife
McKinney Duo"
2009 and we're still at it.
For your consideration:
"The McKiddeys" ( has a certain ring to it actually)
"McKinney Washtub" (Suppose we could just take the evening off)
and  the not very inventive, "McKinney Washtub Duo". Although all the elements are there except the "The" (and what's so hard about the "The"? Can you spare us a "The" please?)
"The McKinney + Washtub Two..technically true as Whitt's the only blood McKinney in the group...
"The McKinney Washtub for Two" is sweet, but hopefully not exact as pertains to our audience.
July 2009, and we couldn't wait to include this new one which appeared on the billboard in the lobby:
"Olde Tyme Washboard  Dance with The Olde Tyme Washboard Band."We kid you not. Actually, we'll give 'em a few points for the "Old Tyme"
just for creativity, but we're subtracting them due to the excessive use of end
word "e".
Dec 2009. Our latest addition was printed in a full-color glossy monthly newsletter, where we were billed as "Washtub Band with Whitt & Judy" (always happy to be included) and we also got another mention on the back page as "McKinney Washtub Band." Course we've had lots of repeats of the aforementioned misnomers, so maybe someone is actually reading this page!

March of 2010. There have been a lot of duplicates which we won't bore you with, the only two new ones we have to add in three months of touring (c'mon Activity Directors where's your muse?!) are "Washtub Duet", which we'll leave you to make up your own sub-title for, and the simple yet elegant "Washtub Trio", a variation on a familiar theme.
April brings us The McKenny's, and "McKinneys-The Washtub"
                     Washtub-2, not to be outdone by "Judy McKinney and teh Washboad and."


Stay tuned for our latest incarnation...

Saturday, April 16, 2005

A dream of a radio appearance for MWT

Judy and I have each, and both, spent enough time in radio that we both still have what we call, predictably, "radio dreams."  Basically, they are manifestations of the particular brand of PTSD inflicted upon those denizens of the very air whom we knew then as "disc jockeys".  Getting radio product on the air in a tight, synchronized manner with specifically timed elements which had to happen at exact time cues, commercials logged, discrepancies noted, make-goods scheduled, wire ripped and read, weather service called--all done manually...not a single computer or digital anything anywhere--music cued by hand, commercials on continuous tape loop cartridge running on three or four decks (it was like being an octopus on meth just "running the board")--records to pull before your shift and file after, and always the relentless pressure to have someting on the air at all times, and something cued to be next!  And, kid--try to put some personality in it, will ya? 

Anyway, the nightmares consist of none of the elements being reliable--turntables not working, mic switch open, commercials not there, not logged--on and on.

All this was flashing through my gourd as our limo rolled up to the backstage studio door of WVXA radio (96.7 FM, hereabouts, and part of NPR and the X-Star Radio Network) hidden in the Northern Michigan countryside.  Okay, picture an Astrovan pulling up to a small farmhouse.

This is the station where you can hear Prairie Home Companion, or Riders In The Sky, or the great radio shows like Jack Benny, or Big Band, or my favorite "The Music Shelf" with Jim King.  Jim runs on a bit and is sometimes a little stilted; but, he bothers to find and share something with us about the music.  I'm so old, I like that.  And, of course, it's music we all grew up with and can't hear anywhere else.

We had a great time!  Bob is really an old-school radio guy who has done his best to provide truly local intelligent talk about efforts folks are making in our area.  There is precious little airtime devoted to such concepts anymore.  They don't pull any numbers.

Bob knows how to make you feel comfortable on the air right away, and helps you set up the info you're trying to get out there. (This was about our concert at North Woods on Sunday, and we broadcast Thursday.)  Listening on the cans as he faded out of applause on our CD and chuckled his way into his own comments while recuing and switching over so our mikes would be on (there's always some left-handed engineering thing to work around in every studio!)--it all took me back to radio the way it used to be.

Thanks for a great time on the air, Bob!  I hope your career as a music producer takes off.

Of course, the station has been sold.  Another family of stations loses the fight to present what radio presents best:  "The Theatre Of The Mind"

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Big Night Out In The Hinterlands

We tippy-tired down to Mio last night in our dear old decrepit van and attended a benefit concert for the Nor'east'r Folk Festival, a local fest getting ready for its third annual in June.  (We played the first year, and haven't been asked back; so, it must be a really high-class deal, right?)

We caught up with Bob and Ellen Doster, Tex Ragsdale, and Bob "Doc" Mariott, or "Death By Accordion," as they are known collectively. We enjoyed their Irish pub music without having to dodge any stray bottles or take up second-hand smoking again.  Great fun!  Good songs!  We always enjoy talking with them--great sense of humor, every one, and, since they're closer to our age, none of that indulging-the-old-folks attitude we get from the likes of Seth and Daisy Mae and other such whippersnappers who sing and play better than they should at their age anyway.

The second act, "Mustard's Retreat," is the duo of Michael Hough and David Tamulevich. These two guys have been together for 31 years, so when they sing an acapella folk song, the harmonies just soar--actual traditional sound!  ("Shenandoah," especially--one of Whitt's faves.)They did a variety of songs, from the typical singer-songwriter stuff to some very cute Michigan humor tunes and an original by Michael about a voyageur and his Indian wife and their part in the war between the British and French at the fort at Detroit.

Both these groups have CDs, websites, and itineraries; if they show up near you, we recommend them both!

Monday, March 7, 2005

Why Am I Always The Last To Know?!

Another 20th century titan has left us.  I understand it took place last Wednesday. I'd like to know why--WHY wasn't I informed?  You'd think a death of this magnitude would be common knowlege, or at least would have elicited a prayer chain effect email-wise.  I am devastated all the more because I had just become acquainted with him, and had always harbored a secret hope of some sort of deep personal relationship with him...and now he's just...gone!   Can't ...type...any...more... see for yourself.

Monday, January 31, 2005

No, we're not back...We never left!

Our trip south was put on hold 'til next winter, and we are currently hiding from the myriad of friends and fans to whom we said "Good-bye."  It's either hide or return all the lavish going-away gifts and throw them a party!

Although we were really looking forward to lying on a beach somewhere and flinging monkeys at the coconuts, we had a suspicion our van wasn't up to the trip.  Whitt is quite the shadetree mechanic, and his acute senses discovered the engine was missing a little.  Okay, it was missing completely.  We hope when the snow thaws we'll find it in the driveway.

Winter is a great time in Mt. Misbegot for getting things done inside, bringing in wood, getting caught up on various projects, bringing in wood, talking on the phone, bringing in wood...well, you get the idea.

We recently went to a great birthday bash at the Wolverine Camp for Will Rowland, one half of the great duo "Floodgate".  Ann (another half) put on a delicious spread. She looked just great in it.  Lots of good food and good music.  Will is in his 40s now.  He turned 40-10.

This coming Thursday (Feb 3rd), we're going to sneak into the Northwoods Gallery and Coffeehouse in Atlanta (MI) to listen to The Posey Lake Akademy Band.  This is a quartet, now, since Claudia Wolper has been playing first class bass (different then first base) for them.  Bob Miller holds forth as their "leader," being Dean of the Akademy, playing a wide variety of instruments with his gift for melodies.  Jim Daws serves as usurper, spokesperson, guitarist, and bodhran beater par excellence.  Marty (whose last name is too obscene to include here) plays squeezebox with equal parts skill and alacrity.  We'll be the ones in the groucho noses and glasses.  We may don a disguise as well. Hope to see some of you there, depending on how much of you is visible.