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!