Monday, November 24, 2008

MWT shares fairgrounds with Obama!

Considering Nov. is almost kaput, it must be time for our Oct. news update.  (Hey, this ain't
Time Magazine, okay? We catch up when we can.)  We'll be brief and painless, we promise (and we'll also lower taxes, just so we're clear about what we mean by "promise.")
Fall was only beginning to show its orange warning cones when we left N/E U/L MI, but our autumn was stuck on slo-mo as we traveled south and fall continued to begin.  (Our favorite time of year, so no complaints!)
Perfect weather to enjoy the Kendallville (Indiana) Apple Festival. Everyone in pioneer costume, apples the theme and main food ingredient everywhere, and rustic as all get-out. (What "got out" anyway?) Johnny (Chapman) Appleseed & Abe Lincoln are usually somewhere on the grounds, entertaining as they teach.
We always enjoy seeing other performers--some even use antiques instruments at events like this; but what fascinated us this time was a "ride"--a wood & rope contraption, with a hexagonal bench hanging from ropes on a giant maypole. The Boy Scouts build & operate it. Six brave souls, who haven't even signed a waiver, sit on the bench and hang on for dear life while a few big guys wind the whole giant macrame project up around the pole and let'er fly! It winds back & forth, rope and timbers and phys  sics. It's 'way fun, simple as can be, & "green" as--well--all get-out.

In political news, we performed at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, where (then) presidential candidate Obama was addressing a huge crowd. Technically. Just not in that exact part of the fairgrounds.
When we arrived for the Senior Expo (yeah, that's more like where we belong, eh!) we were floored by the 1/2-mile long line of pedestrians waiting to get in. Folks must have heard we were going to play! We had no idea we would draw so many people!  We soon learned the line went past the convention hall where we would be, to the next building, the stadium where Mr. Obama would be multiplying loaves and fishes or something. They had to have been there since 'way before we arrived at  8 am, and he wasn't speaking until 1! The cheers we heard from the Indy crowd (again, not for MWT) must have reached Ft. Wayne!
Our audience, just as diverse, was a little smaller, but very receptive. If you are over 50 and have never been to a Senior Expo, we encourage you to attend one. They are basically a trick-or-treating opportunity for grown-ups. It's free to get in (our favorite!) and the vendors are wall-to-wall with free stuff, drawings, games, and screenings, & most of them had a candy dish out front as well, so you can use the big bag they give you when you arrive to collect your booty. (Yes, your booty will grow.) Free diabetes testing and a sack of candy! Cool!
A big stage was kept busy with speakers & entertainment, which brings it all back to (our favorite) us!

We ended the month in Nashville, (Murfreesboro, actually) with our first ever Folk Alliance conference, where we met and heard some of the best talent the Southeast has to offer, and that's sayin' somethin'. We ate too well, shmoozed to our heart's content, & stayed up waaaay too late at the  "guerilla" showcases (which start at 10 pm!) Them gorillas sure can pick & sing.
We also attended some very helpful, informative workshops on voice, website building, "home" recording, & touring tips. This took place within the facilities of MTSU, which has a huge department devoted exclusively to preparing students for the entire spectrum of the
music & recording industry. The physical plant is state-of-the-art and totally high tech, their staff shared invaluable info, & all the staging & sound was done by the world's first fraternity for recording industry students! It was a pleasure to see young people hustling to make showcases run smoothly. (Also kind of a pleasure not to be the ones hustling!)
We're looking forward to next October's SERFA meet-up in Mt. Pleasant, Arkansas.
Time to start working on to ya soon!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Missouri Loves Company

(Who hasn't waited years to use that?)

We made it past the R.O.U.S.(rodents of unusual size) leaving Michigan--van intact this time!

Had a great time with the Illinois Samboree folks. The theme was "Roman Holiday" and we'd have suggested "Roamin' Holiday," but then we would've missed Jim Frcka's legs in that toga!" The long two-lane into Henry, Illinois walled on both sides by one endless corn field.
Our thanks to the Frka's for having us (we always love being had).

We made our way ever westward and encamped upon--er--visited family in North K.C., MO. (There were some crazy little women there, but Whitt graciously declined to get him one.)

Missouri is "The Show Me State" and Judy's sister and brother-in-law did their usual fine job of doing just that. (In a good way!) One of our favorite times was a large, well-attended arts fair downtown on the plaza in K.C. with a live jazz band on one of several performance stages.

A new festival towards the end of September, The Kewanna Fall Festival is held in a tiny town (a crossroads, really) that comes alive during the three-day festival each year with a parade, circus (elephants, tigers, and mares-oh my!), mule-wagon rides and even amusement park rides, some of which are free every day!
All this plus two stages of free entertainment, which included MWT for the first time. If you're in that part of the country the last part of Sept., check it out! It's a lotta fun for not much cash outlay.

That's it for September...
See ya on down the road!


Click here to see our lasted name incarnations!


Not-so-common-sense from the road: "There you go" and "Have a good one" do not constitute a "Thank you."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Late McKinneys

Yeah, once again, the rumors of our dismise are greatly exaggerated...we're alive and kicking and on the road again!

The summer streaked by (Wait! Was it wearing pants?!), and we played many favorite places as well as a few new ones.

Got rained out half way through Our Grayling Summer Music & Art concert, but they promised to have us back for the second set! Great group of people too, so we're looking forward to it!

Petoskey was as beautiful as always (everywhere you look is a wonderful view of the lake, not to mention the flowers that abound in that town!)  and the Charlotte Ross Lee Concert we played was nestled into a really pretty park, and again, just a great audience. We also got to perform in the air-conditioned comfort of Petoskey's Horizon's Book Store. The best part of it was the intelligent, fun audience of children who stayed with us all afternoon, and even wound up doing a few songs with us. Who knew they were still out there?!

The Evart Dulcimer Festival was a highlight of the summer. We're constantly wowed by the musicians that just sit around and jam, as well as the big shows on the main stage every night, and how fascinating the hammered dulcimer can be in all it's incarnations: celtic, bluegrass, country and folk to name a few.

We played Jeff and Toni's Oscoda County Summer Music Series in Mio, to a bigger than usual, and responsive crowd. We were a little bummed by Bud and Sandra not being able to come out and play this time, but a conglomeration of folks called "Just Jammin'" filled in for them with a buffet of old timey and country music.

Rogers City has a huge band shell we played under, in a lovely park, right on lake Huron. Another big, fun crowd who made it a special evening for us--they want us back next year, so we musta done something right! 

We finished the month in Harbor Springs  for their "Street Musique." It's  beautiful little village on Lake Michigan. Four different acts play right on the sidewalks every Thursday night, during the summer...we were only about 20-30 feet from a professional juggler, and we'll add "juggler" to the list of whom you should never perform with or near (you know, like" kids or animals"), That guy was terrific! Even we can't compete with a unicycle, and a guy who juggles fire! When he wore out, the crowd finally moved our way and we had lots of fun. We finished up the evening with the best ice cream and gelato from "Yummies" on Main Street-we highly recommend it!



Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Whitt Speaks!

I am really grateful to all of you who expressed concern and offered prayers on my behalf.  I am recovering well, and able to speak--beginning to gently vocalize in a limited range--and gigs coming in 3 weeks.

You probably guessed from our sudden schedule changes that we didn't get to play our Chicago gigs.  It was disappointing for us, certainly, and we hope we get another shot. 

God has been so good to us for so long....He truly "maketh us to lie down in green pastures."  One reason for that may be the unseasonably cool temps and rain that have shown up everywhere we've gone since first leaving for the road last Oct.  Coincidence?  Maybe we can get a gig bringing cool wet weather to hot dry places?

Anyway, thanks, again, for all the love and concern.  Prayer changes things!


 *To see the most recent way our name has been manhandled click here.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Whitt is Speechless!

It's true. Five years of performing togther, and this is the first time Whitt's lost his voice. (I'll let YOU make the jokes), and the first time we've had to cancel shows due to illness, which is really upsetting and disappointing on top of his being sick. ( Our continued heartfelt apologies to the cancellees, who were most gracious and understanding.) We were also unable to hit The Bluebird Cafe open mic in Nashville this lap around because of it, but God willing, there is always next season!

We feel Whitt's on the mend-just can't talk or sing yet, which puts a rather large crimp in the crumpet, to say the least, so we're resting up here in Shelbyville, Indiana, to be back to our special sort of "normal" by next weekend for the Chicago leg, and then it's on "home" to the pleasant penninsula of Michigan.

I just read that Dolly Parton had to cancel some gigs due to a back injury ( I am NOT making this up!) I imagine there is more disappointment for her fans (as well as more fans!) than ours, but it made me realize stuff happens to everyone, regardless of talent, wealth or cup size.

Hope to see you all soon!

Judy (The prevailing voice of the McKinney Washtub Two.)

*To see the most recent way our name has been manhandled click here.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May might...

Tanker Tale
Well, let me tell you what happened to US the other day! We leave our gig at Winnwood (went well-they loved us) and Whitt says a little prayer for safety on the way home (as usual) and we are driving around 285 (ATL's beltway) and there's an accident. A trucker has obviously jammed on his brakes to avoid hitting someone (skid marks) and jack-knifed on the right side of the road. So now everyone's in a panic to move into the left lanes and rarely even signalling to do so. We stop, creep along, stop and a TANKER decides he wants to move over, and just starts coming, expecting us to just disappear I suppose. No one will let us in to the left and they are at a complete stand still anyway...but that doesn't stop Mr. Tanker. He gets his nose in front of us and just keeps coming-Whitt's honking like mad and we stare helplessly as he wedges us in and comes to a stop about an inch from us.
Now we are at an impasse. no one is letting us left and Tanker man can't really move without wiping us out...but does that stop Tanker man? You guessed it...He tries to point his nose back in his lane and continues to pull up which produces a hellacious scraping down the side of our van, jams the right rearview mirror back into the wing vent and pulls away.
Open mouthed, we jotted his license & company info and the mile marker down, noting the time of the vehicular assault, and proceeded home without the use of a right hand mirror, thinking, "Guess the answer to that 'get us home safely' thing was 'no'..."
We pulled in the driveway and got out to see the horrible damage and there, down the entire side of the van was....nothing. Not a scratch. The mirror was not broken; we moved it back in place and the wing vent was fine. As you can imagine we were mightily relieved and thankful.  Gosh! Is our life thrill packed or what?
Meanwhile, back at The Old Tucker Fountain...
Mike Holcomb is the proprietor of The Old Tucker Fountain, which refers to an actual old ice cream fountain located inside the Old Tucker Pharmacy, now turned diner. The original lunch counter still stands and tables and a stage have been added, with room for dancing to the oldies, or concert style for Sunday Bluegrass and B-B-Q night (a weekly event), and other soon-to-be announced upcoming events--
It's a comfortable family friendly place, where a few parents brought in their youngsters just to introduce them to live music while we were playing lunch hours there. Mike is a lifelong resident of Tucker and very committed to the community, as well as the idea of encouraging (and thereby preserving) live local music. (We were able to squeak by as "local" since Whitt's son, Justin, is our host here and a Tucker resident. How we passed for "live" is another issue.)  Stop in and say "Hi" to Ramone and Jada if you 're in the area!  They both made us feel welcome and cared for.
WRFG 83.9 FM--Radio Free Georgia!
WRFG is located in the large community center building near "Little Five Points,"  a picturesque area that still smacks a bit of the whole hippie thing.  Whitt thinks he may have had a flashback.  Or it may have been acid reflux.  
J.R., the host, included us in his weekly Bluegrass/Americana show or "The Peachstate Festival" as it's formally called.  
We filled an hour chatting and playing songs, and answering questions from listeners like,  "What's it like working and traveling fulltime with your spouse?"
We had a great time and so, apparently, did J.R., who immediately invited us back on the show live when we come through again in November!  Meanwhile, he's added our music to his airplay rotation, which, as every songwriter knows is the golden refried bean in the burrito that is music.  We are humbled and tickled, which may be wierd.
Well, kids, we're sorry but story time is over for now.  Stay tuned to this frantically-moving dot of phosphorescence for more exciting updates!
Americana for everyone!
Whitt & Judy
The McKinney Washtub Two

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Catching you up-to-date, grab a cuppa coffee...maybe a sandwich.

It's time (McKinney time) to get past the Christmas news here on the ol' website...let's see...New Year's, President's Day, Valentines Day, St. Patricks Day, Passover, Resurrection Day...voila! Here we are, up to speed again! 
You might want to take this "article" in small bites, since it really could be a few articles, and should have been. 
It's long, but, we hope, interesting.  It all was to us at the time, fer sure!
If you saw the gigs page, you can see we've been busy, and not always as e-cessible as we had hoped. 
(Wi-Fi is its own portion of the road situation.)
Florida was an educational adventure.
We learned you can't download photos from your camera onto a computer that doesn't contain your camera's program, or  the computer's drivers will overtake and render your drivers inert. (Hence the lack of pictures).
...learned it could be cold in Florida in the winter (in the 30s a couple of times!)
...learned it could be cold in Florida in the winter morning and hot in the winter afternoon (80s)!
Also learned you can't "boondock" at Walmart in Sarasota County, where there is a county ordinance prohibiting anyone from sleeping in their vehicle.   Not truckers--nobody. "If you can't afford to rent a space, leave the county, there'll be no sleeping in your car here."
"But officer, I was just resting here on the pavement, not in my car."
(Stay tuned to this opus for the cool part about Sarasota.)
In Zephyrhills, where 1 out of 4 plates is from MI, an officer on horseback offered no other reason than MI plates to question us and check out Whitt's license while we were parked in the parking area of a public park. 
His first line was "Whassup." 
While Judy was finding Whitt's wallet in the bed, Mr.--(what's a mountie in Florida?)--
Mr. Flountie's horsie pooped three feet from a sign reading "CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR PET." 
Oh, no, he dih-unt!  Yes, he did. And, no, he did not.
We learned you can spend three months in Florida and never get into a pool or ocean. :(
...learned there is a never-ending stream of jams wherever mobile homes and RVs gather--mostly country--but mostly very welcoming to what we do anyway.  (More about that later in this exciting episode!)
...and we learned that, with a few minor adjustments along the way, living in a van is just dandy!
We made some great new "Florifriends" from Canada, New York, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and, 'course, Michigan.
We couldn't have made this trip successfully without each one of these folks we're mentioning here!
We met George Hill from Java Delights (which has really nice food & drink, by the way!) when we broke down in front of his coffeehouse one night.  We wound up becoming real friends and playing there several times. He truly opened his hand to us that day, extending hospitality while Whitt replaced the starter, and again when we needed a place to have the van towed to sit the two days Whitt worked on the steering column and ignition lock. He helped us with many free hours of wi-fi, sipping delicious coffees or cold drinks. 
His partner, Kim McGuire, solved a major logistical problem for us by allowing us to park our equipment trailer in her driveway. 
His Dad's buddy, Lee "don't-tell-anyone,-'cause-he's-retired" Bosci,  rescued our road-weary home computer (with everything we actually use on it) so we could set up our office, print shop, and duplication studio on Jeff & Toni Felmlee's screened-in porch. 
We met Lee Buschbacher at a Good Samboree in Indiana last year, but we saw her again, and met her cohort in entertainment, Nancy Gooding,  at the Webster Travel Park.  This pair--and this place--are wonderful! 
They took us to an agent's showcase--18 acts in 6 hours!--where we learned a lot!
All these parks have clubhouses, some capable of seating 200 folks or more; but these folks had a real stage, with actual cross-lit stage lights with gels that flattered green even!
This is also where we got to know Dave & Kaye Gow.  Dave, and the other three "Darryls," are as fun a country combo as you ever heard, and Kaye makes a taco salad that's home cookin' to us former Southwesterners!
This park has some overnight spaces, and is quiet but active, beautiful, clean, friendly, has great facilities and reasonable rates!  Yes, it's a freakin' commercial.  We would love to send them some bidniz!
We met Bob & Laura Madigan at a couple of jams in Bushnell, and learned we haven't scratched the surface of traveling. They treated us to lunch and regaled us with their history--fascinating! Check out their website!
We got to see Scott Franks perform--part of the Music Matinee series Jeff & Toni produced for their park this season.  You'd think the Oscoda County Music Series would be enough, but, oh no...
(Oh, yeah, we'll be performing at the Mio gazebo, again this year. See "gigs" page on website.)
...and we got to visit with Scott & Lori at their spacious waterside home near Crystal River while the van's front brakes were being completely replaced.
Each travel park or resort we played had it's own character and spirit and usually, a good one! Those folks are ready and willing to laugh, and are quick on the uptake! It's the best keep secret from the kids.  They don't really go down there to play shuffle-board and sit around.  They play shuffle board, ride bikes, dance, golf, dance, go to concerts, dance,  play music, join clubs, dance, take classes, and generally run circles around anyone who thinks retirement is endless hanging out!
"Jams" are everywhere in Florida, it seems It took us three months to get around to the ones in just a small area: Z-hills, Dade City, Webster, Bushnell--Wow!  We got our first list of them from Lee & Helen Pelkey after seeing Lee play and sing at the Tourist Club.
There are more different formats than we've seen anywhere, and we learned some Canadian jam techniques we found helpful.
Each of these jams is "hosted" or "emceed," of course, and what a great bunch of characters these folks are!  Some were particularly sharp, courteous, classy, even fun, and most anchored as a musician and singer, as well.  Bruce & Richard, Don & Joan, Gary, Barb, Bob & Pat, and Ron & Helen, of course, which brings us to the two most charming and talented females of this lot, the aforementioned Helen and Dorothy.  These two host jams separately and together, and do a great job playing and singing at every one!
(If there's someone we overlooked, maybe you'll do better next year.  Only kidding!)
We fondly look forward to spending time next season with these folks who give so much to the lives of musicians and fans at a grassroots level no other age group in America is even considering.
Did we mention how well some of these get-togethers treat the players?  Goodies, coffee, and cold drinks abound, and some outdo the usual stacks of cookies with actual snacks!  There's often a warm-up room where it's usually tricky to really warm up because there's jammin' goin' on there, too!
We made it as far south as Punta Gorda, where there is a jam in the park every Thursday evening that seems like a folk festival. There were two gazebos of country music, one of folk/acoustic rock, and, in the grass, a polka band, a celtic group, a blues area, and one or two we missed...and hundreds of folks milling around among them soaking it all up.  Locals call it "Guitar Army," but it's lots better than that.
In Sarasota, on the way to Punta Gorda (or "P-G", as Whitt likes to call it), we had the opportunity, thanks to Jean Hewitt, of playing at the open mic put on by the Sarasota Friends of Folk right before their monthy concert at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron yacht club.
We had loads of fun doing our 4 songs--a chance to use some of our material that's wasted on our senior friends, but right up Folk Alley.
Great crowd seemed to be having fun, too!  (Laugh with us, at us--whatever.)  We got the next available booking, 2010! (and a call recently to fill-in in March of 2009)
Currently we're checking out the scene in Atlanta (Georgia, not Michigan!) and finding there's a lot here in The Big City.
Folk, Roots and Americana music are alive and kicking and not likely to pass out of fashion anytime soon.
Our time here is relatively short and we are working on some new music and material, the beginnings of a new CD,  and getting caught up with the kids, so we really aren't getting out to play much. But we're always interested!
Meanwhile, our trusty, comfy, humble, hardworking van hunkers in the carport, whispering when Whitt walks by,
"Rear brakes...still need rear brakes..."
We're seriously going to try to keep this fresh with shorter reports.  Please stay tuned!