Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Year-end Rear-view...(or is it the other way 'round?)

The devil isn’t the only one who went down to Georgia. 
(Happily, we don’t frequent the same places!)

Having had a gig-filled summer, we were looking forward to “time out” in December in Atlanta, GA to record our long-awaited CD. 
(Stay tuned to hear how that went.}

Summer in Michigan evokes their state motto "Catch us between the snow and mosquitos"...(actually it's "If you seek a pleasant peninsula" and they both really are!)  Highlights included, once again, doing the Gospel “service” at Bluegrass in the Park in Atlanta, MI. What a great event put on under the leadership of “Doc” and Luann Bungard. Ya cain’t beat free, and a variety of opportunities abound for pickin’ and singin’ or just enjoyin’. www.bluegrassinthepark.com should tell you all about it. For our part an appreciative, if somewhat sleepy,audience joined us for an hour of our particular strain of gospel music. (And when we say “strain,” well, that’s the audience’s problem!)

Northwoods Gallery, also in Atlanta, MI, started hosting music again and we partook. Played an open mic and then a concert for John’s usual intelligent, appreciative audience. Performers love this place—it’s a sweet venue…
More folks need to support such things.  (Meaning, spend money there!)

Music on the River in Mecosta, MI is “on again” and the park fills up for another free concert sponsored by the good townfolk of Mecosta. This year it didn’t rain and we got to watch the kids running and shrieking joyfully around the playground (and we without our water pistols!)  as the adults enjoyed the show.  The best part of the Mecosta stop, though, was the time we spent visiting with Ray and Alice.  Ray is a country (and rock) music pro and host of one of the last—and best—remaining local broadcast radio shows; so he and Whitt always have a lot of tales to swap.  After the concert, we spent a fun evening sitting around Ray and Alice’s with Polly and Mark trading tunes and jamming.

We played many new places and made lots of new friends--we won’t burden you with a detailed account.  An overview of our recent (and future) route can be clearly seen at our website.  (The 2009 list is still posted under the new 2010 schedule.)

Fall would not be the same without the Kendallville Apple Festival and the Kewanna Fall Festival, both in Indiana, the heart of the heartland.  Whitt claims the best part of his boyhood was spent outside Terre Haute, so he’s part Hoosier anyway. This year for Kendallville he set to music a James Whitcomb Riley poem, The Raggedy Man.  Go to www.kendallvilleapplefestival.org  and check out this growing event.

Must mention the West Texas Bluegrass & Traditional Music Assn., www.westtexasbluegrasstraditionalmusicassociation.com ‘cause not only did they feed us like kings, they were one of the best, quickest audiences ever!  Most significant to MWT insiders, they were excellent "bawkers"!  (It’s extra fun for performers when a crowd really gets it, and this bunch had definitely caught something!)  Great event with several rooms of jamming and a several good local acts before the touring act, guess whom…Of course, we’re talkin’ Lubbock, TX here—home of Buddy Holly, Mac Davis—well, you get the idea.  There’s a vital live music scene there, and we hope to be back!

We’re in Atlanta, GA at the moment, Judy recovering from what the doctor called a “nasty (is there any other kind?) virus” going ‘round that morphs into brochial asthma, which brings us to the excuse for no new CD…yup {cough, cough} sorry…
We will try again in the spring after a couple of months warming up our voices (and bones!) in Florida.

We “lost” both our laptops this year (may they rest in pieces); so, still no photos to share--(no still photos, either)—and another reason we can’t record or put our new live DVD together. Surgeons were able to save the hard drives, so all is not lost!  We are keeping their brains alive in special little boxes, waiting for a fresh host body to which to upload them to resurrection, that our data will once again flow like honey in the desert!  (I will not calm down!)

In the meantime, entertain yourselves briefly with the current mangling of our name:

Happiest of New Years to you all!  We hope to be seeing you in it!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Most expensive yard sale ever & a concert...

The latter part of 2009 saw us in Lubbock, Texas (hometown  of Buddy Holly), helping a friend with a huge estate sale. Judy had the chore of un-boxing  and preparing all the clothes that had sat for a year, and when she shook some out a big cloud of white powder rained enveloped her. A week later she began coughing and didn't stop for 5 months!

                                           yard sale of doom>>>
There were times we were able to perform when she was under the influence of powerful cough suppressants and steroids(!), but other than that it was pretty noisy and irritating, which actually fits right in with our act.
Fortunately this took place after our concert for the West Texas Bluegrass and Traditional music Association at Hillside Country Club.  That's not us--it's the opening act--and the house did fill up a bit more. Great audience, maybe the best bawkers ever!

By the way...does this seem right to you?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A town with our name & the Rainbow's End

We've always felt a need, somehow,
to check out McKinney, Texas.

Once we had decided to, we realized that our handy Harvest Hosts membership pointed us to Wales Manor  www.walesmanor.com., a lovely winery & vineyard where we met and were given a tour by owner John "Josey" Wales.

Since our visit we have learned that the outdoor performance area Josey was working on has been completed, and he's bringing in lots of great performers (mostly bands), making Wales Manor a great stopping place for RVers.  (The road to Wales Manor is a little tight and gravelly, so proceed with care, as we know you always do.)

Now it was time to work our way south with day gigs, which took us over to Arkansas and down through Louisiana,  then west again to our "home" at Rainbow's End,  the Escapees headquarter park in Livingston, Texas.

We had a lot of fun putting on an impromptu concert for the folks there.  They're like family to us.  (But, then, who isn't?)

After a week or so at Rainbow's End, we were off to Houston, where we performed day gigs for a few weeks before our stop in Corpus Christi.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Kendallville's Apple Festival

Fall would not be the same without the Kendallville Apple Festival in Indiana, the heart of the heartland.  Whitt claims the best part of his boyhood was spent outside Terre Haute, so he’s part Hoosier anyway. This year for Kendallville he set to music a James Whitcomb Riley poem, The Raggedy Man.  Go to www.kendallvilleapplefestival.org  and check out this growing event.

Here we are, all dolled up for the event, performing on one of several stages around the fairgrounds.

 This is a view of the same stage as our friends (and accomplished artists) Jim & Suzanne click here performed. 

We also played the "Prairie Stage." a larger stage with bleacher seating.  It was kind of hectic there, so we didn't get any shots of that.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kewanna Fest--a fond recollection

Once in a while we get to perform at a community event.  Of course, the more rural the community, the more wholesome and genuine the fun seems to be.

Our list of favorite memories of such events will always include "Kewanna Fest," as a little Hoosier town eponymously calls it.

This is the stage...>>>

Friday, July 17, 2009

13,000 miles, and two blinks later...

Are any of you are experiencing this? 
We turned around (and around and around) and it was July, of all months! 
Cool and pleasant here in N/E U/L Michigan, where we'll be 'til the first couple of weeks
in September, when we head south, stopping first in Indiana.
We successfully booked our way to Eugene, OR for our daughter Rachel's wedding,
a long and meandering route that included Hutchingson, KS, Lubbock, TX, Las Cruces, NM, and Tucson, AZ.  We saw friends and family we had not seen in 15 or 20 years!
Then we shot (or plodded) straight up to Eugene (as lush and beautiful as everyone says), and then straight across the northernmost tier of states, entering MI via the UP.
What an incredible country we happened to be born in--rich with resources and scenery...
DO NOT miss Yellowstone Park if you're up that way!
Madras, OR.  our last big stop, was host to the Oregon's Sam's Club State Samboree--as wild a group of RVers as you'd hope to find! Loads of fun and a great audience. Our thanks to Uncle Sam ( State director Wayne Swanson) and Betsey Ross ( Co-director Mary Swanson)  for making us feel completely at home...(still not sure if we had to do the dishes and vaccuum, but it's great to be part of a tradition.)
We could  say the same thing for Hutchinson, KS! Every state has it's own flavor, and there was nothing flat about the Kansas Good Sammers! State Directors Nancy & Sonny Crook, took us right in (we love being taken in)! And a riotous time was had by all, which included multiple Paul Bunyan's, Babe the Blue Oxes (Oxen?) including a shovel of "Babe's" droppings tied to a string so it could be scooped up over and over! Oh yes they DID!
In Lubbock, TX we met up with fellow musician and old friend Ron Huntley, whom we hadn't seen in 20 years, and who treated us like royalty...Let's just say we ate waaay too much of the finest Mexican food Texas has to offer!.

When we got to Tucson to play the only gig we had booked (a wedding-timing problem) waaay up in the foothills, the guard at the big gate said "Name?"  When he heard, "Whitt McKinney" he did one of those slow sitcom takes as he raised his head and said, "Whitt McKinney?!" Whitt then immediately recognized him as "Frank,"  the brother of Ron, whom we had bade farewell the week before in Lubbock.
"But wait...there's more!"
As we were setting up to play, a familiar face appeared in front of us.
Having traversed the country, and met hundred of folks, sometimes it's hard to immediately recognize faces out of their context.  When dawn burst upon the brain, we recognized that Sally Sulfaro, her son & talented musician Josh, and friend Judith from back in N. Michgan (and Noreast'r Festival fame) had come to see us & say "Hi." (Turned out the guard knew us so he let them in!) The more we travel the smaller the planet gets! Of course, Tucson (our hometown) has some of the finest Mexican food anywhere, and we did our part to help the economy and reduce the supply.
The kicker to that last story is that when we arrived up north Whitt went into a little hole-in-the-wall place, in a tiny town to order a pizza, he turns around and there stands Sally again. She may be following us...she may even be the first Tubhead! (We love ya Sally!)
Las Cruces, NM, home to Banjo Bob and Melody, is one of our favorite places.--just the best of the southwest. We played the Railroad Museum as guests of Bob and Melody, following their RR set with a few of our own and then, as a quartet, polishing off probably every noteworthy RR song ever written. We enjoyed the local model train club's amazing displays and then,
well, we were forced by peer pressure and hospitality to eat waaaay too much wonderful Mexican food.  Travel has proved very broadening for us.
In West Palm Beach, FL, looking for a spot for our rig so we could go to a beach (for once, after months in FL), we followed some "public parking" signs that soon found us very out of place among swanky shops and automobiles the price of homes in Mt. Misbegot.  A cop began to follow us, turn after turn, and then pulled us over. 
Were we lost? 
Yessir, we are.
Where in MI are you from? 
Turns out the officer was a very nice young man from Lewiston, a small town half an hour from the small town where we had lived in Northern Michigan! 
He was very friendly and polite, and clued us in to a free local parking spot that put us right
next to a very fine beach! Yee-Haw and Hallelu-Jah!  Thanks to Officer Morine for aid and comfort in an intimidating environment...He is a credit to his department, and to small town upbringing.
We have some Michigan gigs coming up, and hope to see and catch up with all the rest of our old friends. Seems most of our friends are old...what's up with that?  Except YOU, of course, and we hope to see you, too!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Move 'em out head 'em out..

Yes, we are still The McKinney Washtub Two,
or The Artists Formerly Known as "Hey You!"...
This despite  the continued efforts of bookers to modify our name
...And we haven't gone missing.
As you can tell from our last update, we've been AWOL since November.
Being really, really busy is good, but not when it comes to keeping in touch with
our friends. All we can say is a promise to be better--write less more often...
We enjoyed the end of our long southward autumn in Atlanta (Georgia, for our
Michigan friends, and not your Georgia for our Russian friends).  By "enjoyed,"
of course, we include some sweating bullets and whitening of knuckles in 6-lane rush-hour traffic. City gigs...
Our first stop "on our way" to Florida was Savannah, GA, where we met a great
audience of true folkies at "First Friday of Folk" put on, appropriately, by
the Savannah Folk Music Society. Two other acts preceded us, Laura LaPointe
and Andrew McKnight, both fine singers and songwriters (with two-letter prefix last names...coincidence?); but we had the nerve to follow them anyway and had a great time, and the audence claimed to as well. The Weisman's were kind and generous hosts and Hank a sound "sound man."
Florida had it's share of 30-degree weather this year, and we were safely tucked (plugged!) in at some fine RV parks, performing for the greatest audiences of northerners we could hope to find!
Ocala RV Resort deserves a special mention 'cause it's a great faciltiy with a fun group of travelers. We played there in January and being gluttons-for-punishment, they asked us back for St. Paddy's Day...more Michiganders and Canadians than you can shake a stick at (Really, don't even try!) One couple raved, in compoundly fractured English, how they had enjoyed the show, even though she spoke very little English, and he understond none! (Apparently the music is better than we thought!) Clever Quebecers!
Gulf View Resort in Venice (Florida, for our Californian and Italian friends!) was also notable, goodtimewise, as was Vacation Village in Largo.  We got some miles under our figurative belts. And inches under our actual belts! (Tough to get exercise while traveling, sometimes.) Again, LOTS of Michiganders and Canadians...Is anybody left up north in the winter? (We kid 'cause we feel safe from your snowballs here!)
We played a block party for La Plaza MHP in Clearwater, and got to watch an alligator surface in the park pond to chomp down on a black plastic garbage bag that had gotten loose and invaded his space...good alligator...nice alligator...we just kept on schlepping our gear back and forth near the pond like this happens every day and is normal, which apparently it is in this neck of the swamp!
We made it over to the east coast this year, just north of Miami to Sunrise. We were able to have dinner with Judy's cousin who stayed to see us perform at the Daniel Cantor Center. (Then flew out the next day to Boston to the bedside of her son. (Bea you're the greatest!)  Traffic was definitely reminiscent of Atlanta (GA, still) so, although we enjoyed the folks we met (and a tasty pre-shabbas chicken dinner--got the whole shema with candles, cantor and everything! Very nice!)  we were happy to be back inland and on the west coast.
The 6th Annual Sarasota Folk Festival was definitely a highlight. The Sarasota Folk Club did an amazing job of pulling this off and smoothly!  They have moved it to the Oscar Sherer State park and had record attendance. With so many fine performers, it was hard to tear ourselves away for our own workshop and two sets Saturday and Sunday. Wendy Simmons, Jim & Carolyn Dunn and Jean Hewitt-you're our heros!
Nestled in among the crowd of fine performers were a couple of folk music treasures (and treasuries!), Carl Wade and Barbara Shaffer.   carlwade.com  They were "Something Special". You thought Whitt was a collector of old songs? We spent a wonderful evening and next moring jamming and swapping songs in the performers' campground.
We had another shot at the Folk Fest audience and some more like 'em when we played an hour at the Sarasota Folk Club's Concert at the beautiful outdoor stage at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron yacht club.
Sunset over the bay...deliciousl
Back in Atlanta, now, having just played the renown "Grounds 'n' Sounds" Coffee House at Gwinnett Historical Museum, we thank Jennifer and Keisha for their good nature and hard work that evening. We entertained a small but appreciative audience while tornados whipped across the countryside, and intelligent people cowered in their basements.
We are currently contemplating our journey across America to our daughter's wedding in Eugene, (Oregon, for friends of Eugene!) Stops along the way: Chattanooga, TN, Hutchingson, KS, Lubbock, TX, Las Cruces, NM, & Tucson, AZ in just the next few weeks. Hope to see some of you along the way!
We're really going to try to keep the travelogue up-to-date, so,
if you are at all interested, check back here from time-to-time. 
Something we've noticed:
You can't have it all. You can't even have most of it.
Enoy what you do have to the fullest!