Saturday, July 30, 2011

A surprising treat in Grand Rapids!

Annually, now, our Michigan sojourn includes a tour around "the Mitt."

On our way, we often pass through Chelsea in southern Michigan, and this time we captured one of our favorite landmarks.  It reminds us of a bygone day when a local business could grow and prosper and not get sold out, relocated, and outsourced.

And their products are good!

Hang in there, Jiffy!

We sometimes treat ourselves to an overnight at Robinette's Orchard and Winery, just outside Grand

It's a piece of "country" that is grand rapidly being surrounded by development, and it's occupied with a family orchard & winery business that seems to have done everything right to become a first-class tourist destination.

Gorgeous wine cellar/shop/tasting room, charming gift/produce shop, museum, diner/ice cream parlor, picnic area, activities & demonstrations--what's not to love!



Here you can see our luxurious "rig" basking in the peaceful scenery of the RV parking area.

Now we must plug another wonderful organization we belong to, "Harvest Hosts,", which caters to the RV crowd. For a modest annual "dues" you can "dry camp" at a number of orchard/vineyards across the U.S., affording nice opportunities to act like a tourist, shop, and make new friends.

At a T/A outside TC, we had a lovely flashback we want to share:

Hope to see ya out there!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Much more than a dulcimer festival!

There's an annual festival in Michigan we want everyone to know about--the Original Dulcimer Players Club music fest in Evart, Michigan the 3rd full weekend in   It's way more than a dulcimer fest, but be assured you will hear truly amazing hammered dulcimer playing, even at 2:00am most nights!

We usually get onstage Friday night and for the gospel music on Sunday morning.  (In order to play the main stage on Saturday night, your act must include a hammered dulcimer.  As yet, Judy has not been coerced encouraged into this instrument, mainly because Whitt can't figure out where to carry it.)

Here's our (partial) view of the grandstands from the stage:
This is not only an affordable and enjoyable festival--it's well organized and includes hours and hours of excellent workshops in a wide range of music and performance related subjects.
We usually present two workshops, one of which is on Humorous Songwriting, where we teach (in the barns and chicken coops) an overview of types and structures, perform examples, and provide tips on methods.  Time permitting, participants share their efforts and, when they request it, Whitt helps them work out any problems.
Our other workshop, The Laundry Lesson, usually draws a large group interested in learning about the washtub bass (our notorious trademark) and the rhythm washboard.

We present detailed information about construction and use of these traditional, home-made instruments.

Participants often bring their own inventions to share. 
This one's pretty fancy.

There's usually some time for folks to get a hands-on try at playing ours.

Whitt lays down a little chord progression and class members get to see how the techniques really work and where the instruments fit into an arrangement.

Of course, since the washtub is played entirely by ear, folks quickly realize that it's not quite as easy as it looks!

This festival is a lot of fun, and we often run into old friends there from all over the country!

Next summer you're in the "pleasant peninsula," check it out.