Sunday, September 30, 2012

Here we go again...

Well, well...Quite a job we've done "keeping up with it," lovl!
So, we'll try again.   See, things have been changing so rapidly and we've been so busy trying to make lifestyle adjustments...Better back up and restart...

We've "gone ashore" for a while, something we'd been praying about for some time--the opportunity to stop chasing gigs around the country and just woodshed for awhile, getting geared up for what must be, of necessity, the next phase of our career.

This was facilitated by Judy's taking a job.  She is currently the Dean of Girls at the Christian boarding school where our daughter, Rachel, spent her Senior year.  It'll give us a few months to make repairs and upgrades, develop our online skills & marketing, and do some recording!!

We haven't put out a new CD in an embarrassingly long timeIt's not something you just whip into a campground and set up and do.  We squirm at the idea of folks taking home a recording that is, by mere dint of its age, not nearly the quality of performance they just enjoyed; so that's our ONE BIG GOAL for this time off the road.

So, we will be available on a limited basis this winter in Michigan; but we won't be heading out to tour again until Spring and Summer, when we'll probably be working in the upper Midwest.

Meanwhile, stay tuned, and we'll try to make this an entertaining stop for you in your e-travels!

This is a cop we saw in Carmel, Indiana.  We waited several minutes for him to wave us on.

Dude never moved a muscle.

Art, go figure!

Hope to see you out there.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The 38th Johnny Appleseed Festival

Festivals, fun as they are, can be a real trial for performers.  We're usually "dry camping" on the festival grounds, and having to cart (or dolly) all our gear to any number of stages or performance sites during the event, often struggling through the large crowd traffic a successful fest generates.

Then, there's the costuming.  Period-themed festivals require authentic costumes, which must be acquired and assembled, packed separately, then dug out, freshened up, and donned for the event.  Every evening, of course, the costumes must be shaken out or (in the case of certain clumsy guitarists) cleaned of food stains, and hung up somewhere to be ready the next morning.

This time (our 2nd year at this festival) we were already involved in the new "onshore" phase of our life, in the middle of moving in, with Judy learning her new duties, which we'll tell more about in the next post.  Then, we dropped everything, reloaded the rig to some degree, and set off for Ft. Wayne.  Three nights later, we were back, nothing left of the festival but memories (and food stains).

Here's a shot of good friends and excellent artists Jim & Suzanne, illustrating perfect period outfits and displaying her handiwork as an apple pie baker.  She shared the pie with us, and she's as talented in the kitchen as she is onstage!

A nice feature at the Johnny Appleseed Festival (Ft. Wayne, Indiana) is a tent adjacent to each stage where performers can warm up (and otherwise find comfort) in the shade and out of public view.  Really nice not to have to stand in line at the port-a-potties!

Meanwhile, the audience settles in on the "period seating."  We find festival audiences particularly attentive and polite.

Colorful and authentic ceremonies from the past really enhance historical festivals, and this is one of the better ones we've seen.

In place of the carnival rides one would find at a fair, here's a remarkable human-powered ride we've seen at another festival that meets non-motorized period criteria, still providing quite a thrill.

As volunteers wind the ropes around the mast, the seats rise.  When released, the ropes unwind, spinning the riders faster and faster.

The screams of delight sound just like the ones you'd here from a gaudy modern contraption, but with no mechanized racket!
Some performers, like Dr. Barth here, bring their own period stage and put on independent shows.

This is a great festival, with loads of great performers and craftsfolk.

To find out more about this event click here

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ohio Samboree

It was a Good Sam rally--they're called "Samborees" for those of you who are new to the planet--in Wapakoneta, Ohio, and they wanted a whole concert.  That's rare for us and our usually senior audiences; it's a lot of bottom time, even with an intermission, and there are other considerations, like meds, rally fatigue, and, of course, the bathroom.  Almost everyone stayed for the whole thing,

Here's the good-looking side of the crowd...

Don't let the midwest image fool you.  These folks came to have fun, and they did!

And here's the intelligent side...

If you're considering RVing, even for vacations, there are several RV clubs that offer a wide range of services and advantages that keep road life from feeling so lonely when you need help, and most of them hold rallies that create opportunities for fellowship, fun, food, daytrips, and shopping at vendors who cater to the mobile lifestyle.  Check out The Good Sam Club--one of the oldest and biggest--and they might even save you some dough on insurance!  They did for us.

Monday, May 21, 2012

We get to be the audience!

In addition to the many amenities we enjoyed during our stay at Treasure Lake Resort, Becky, our boss for this gig, turned us on to some show tickets.  For once we wouldn't be leaving an interesting area without having seen some attractions;  we had the time, for a change, and now we had complimentary tickets!

Now, sometimes, free tickets turn out to be worth every penny; but, this time we were in for some really pleasant surprises.

First, we saw a new show produced by The Hughes Brothers called "It."  Five brothers started together 17 years ago and now their show includes 45 family members performing in what can only be called an extravaganza.  It was spectacular, of course, as a big Branson show must be, and it was thoroughly entertaining, packed with great music, dance, & comedy.

We tried to get a shot with something on the big video sign out front.  Lots of area theaters have these spectacular displays; but, they move, ya see, making it tough to catch an image. Should have tried video and then captured a frame.  Oh, well.

Every member of this huge (I know, it's "Hughes") family performed flawlessly, right down to the cutest toddlers ever. The teen numbers were even good--well-done medleys of contemporary stuff presented with imagination and performed with skill & energy.  Through a constant flow of costume changes, complex blocking, & tightly timed interactions, everything was smoothly coordinated--not one missed cue, not one fidgety kid.  Made us wonder how things were organized backstage.  Must have been something to see in itself!

The first half of the show was a mix of contemporary music favorites & oldies, and the second half an ambitious menu of hits from musicals, all in costume, of course.

There was a very skilled combo onstage for most of the show, in the background of a staging scheme that was cleverly flexible.  These musicians were sometimes joined by family members for solos, and sometimes yielded the stage entirely so some family member's instrumental virtuosity could be showcased--and there was plenty to enjoy, especially from the teens, who drummed, fiddled, and played guitar with flair & poise.

There's a hand-jive type routine in this show that involves a looong bench with a couple dozen (I think) family members, arranged by height & wearing boaters, that is delightfully quick, complicated, rhythmic, and tight as can be!

Like most showrooms nowadays, the stage was flanked by big projection screens and effects smoke was employed to show up the lighting effects.  The "legs" were panels with translucent squares that could be lit with different colors, used really well to complete the set's look for a scene.

Of course, there was ample opportunity for singing along and some cute interaction bits.  All told, we had a great time, and other than the usual harmfully pounding bass at times, we really enjoyed seeing a production that was professional in all its aspects.

And, what a family!  Mom & Dad (Grandpa & Grandma) even ran concessions!

We'll share about the other show we saw in the next installment.

Meanwhile...this local landmark In Memoriam:

Monday, May 14, 2012


We arrived in (cue reverb) Branson just before the start of "the season," the very weekend some of the shows were opening for the first time since Christmas or the previous Fall; so, traffic was not bad.

We had heard, as did everyone within reach of media, of the tornado that hopped down Branson's "Strip," Highway 76.  Like any tornado, this one seemed to pick and choose ts targets, wrecking some places and sparing others.




 ...and undamaged, actually...


..and actually built to look this way!

Even local landmark, The Blue Bayou Motel, took a hit....

But, it's still Branson, operating full tilt, no delays, new shows popping everywhere, and a whole community focused on offering a quality service environment everywhere.  What a concept!

Next episode, we'll share a little bit about the entertainment we enjoyed there!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

MWT plays Branson...really!!

Remember, you can see videos on our "welcome" and "gigs" pages!

We have a lot to share about the fabled, recently-tornadoed capital of mid-American entertainment, Branson, Missooruh; so, we'll do this in installments, beginning with our actual booking at a lovely mid-town RV resort called "Treasure Lake."  This beautiful member-owned facility has almost 600 spaces, as well as a tent camping area, and a number of "park models" and rental units!

We performed in the clubhouse shown above.  The building on the right is the heated poolhouse.
There's a small gym, a well-equipped game room, video library and theatre, diner (great fries), and, of course, showroom.


Here's a shot of Whitt,
warming up his axe onstage...

...and, the best part--our audience!

This good-looking section grew as folks realized they might want to see what was going on, and dragged their chairs over from...

 ...the sides. 
The right side finally filled completely, but when it was time to snap their shot, it was just these stubborn few who wouldn't budge.

The left side filled in last, long after these folks gave us a big "Howdy." 
Notice how blurry they were.  (They may have been drinking!)

Man, some folks took their time gettin' to the show, and found out that even though they missed a chunk of fun, there was still plenty left.

This is the Lodge, featuring extensive library, dining room, ice machine, TV, etc...

We had a great visit, and Becky Phillips, the Activity Director is a wonderful new friend. 

Thanks, Becky, for making us feel so welcome,
and all the kindnesses you extended to us!                               

Stay tuned for more Branson coverage.
                                                Hope to see ya out there!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

MWT plays Austin City limits!

                               Please note: Videos are on the Welcome and Gigs pages.

Yes, the Austin Lone Star RV Resort is literally at the Austin City Limits, and we performed there Friday night!

Faithful to our policy of showing you our audience, even if it hurts, here they are:

(We think the gentleman at the faaaar right may have been exercising the "witness protection option" we usually offer.)  Here's the rest of the "crowd."
That's right.  Fourteen, counting Managers Sharon & Chuck, on the right in the photo just above, and, of course, witness protection guy.  But we had a lovely week at Austin Lone Star (a Carefree Resort) and, as usual, met some great folks.

Judy needed the week to relax after all the excitement meeting more celebrities in Boerne, Texas.

John looked pretty good, for being late and all, but Lou seemed a little pale.  (Whitt actually met Lou Costello in the flesh in a friend's kitchen in Tucson when Whitt was in the 6th grade.  The famous comic was in the rodeo parade that week.)

Now we're off to visit old friends, north of Houston and south of Dallas, and then, we'll be performing in Branson!
No, really.  Stay tuned, and you'll see.

Hope to see ya out there!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Passport Card update

Please note: Videos are on the Welcome and the Gigs pages.

Well, we made our little trip to Old Mejixo using our receipts from the Post Office as proof we had "applied" for our right to cross our own border, which was evidently verified by computer upon our return.

We have been "rejected," meanwhile, because something, different in each of our cases, was "wrong" with our birth certificates.  Seems there's no uniform system state-to-state that meets all the U.S. State Department's requirements.  More fees and info from states is required.

One item is Judy's driver's license with our current address.  She couldn't get one from Texas because they require your original social security card (you remember, that card that says "not to be used for purposes of identification?), which she doesn't have.  Now the State Department has her original (remember they take your original only) birth certificate, wanting to see a license she can't get because ...well, you get the idea.
So...Do we wait 90 days for the application to expire and forget about the passcard in the hope least, we'll get our birth certificates back?   By that time, we'll be out of Texas, and tougher to get a license still

Thank you, kind Father, that we do not get all the government we pay for.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Winding down in the RGV

See videos on our "Welcome" and "Music" pages!

We booked this season in the Rio Grande Vally without a lot of info, so some dates were scheduled for after a lot of "Winter Texans" had left.  So, by the time we got to Palmdale Park in San Benito, the place was not exactly packed.

By the time they were all seated, it was a little better, and what was lacking in numbers was made up for by enthusiasm.

Of course, the usual group of adventurous souls came forward to experience the tub.  (Not the one seen at the far right.)

Have we mentioned our new invention, "The i-Tub"?
Don't worry...we will.

Paradise South, in Mercedes, was out next show, and this stalwart group of handsome folks with remarkable taste welcomed us.

Once again, a fan mobbed the star of the show, and Whitt helped.
One more gig down here in the tippy-tip of Tejas, and then it's back on the road.

Hope to see ya out there!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Gomer's Cowboy Show

Among the hundreds of folks trying to make a living in the Rio Grande Valley by entertaining is a really sweet couple who are billed as "Gomer & Patsy."  You can probably guess that he does an impression of Gomer Pyle and she sings Patsy Cline songs; but there's much more to it than that.

We met at the "showcase" (a truly hilarious misnomer) last year, and have now become good friends.

Gary Crain is the real name behind a number of characters who manifest onstage in monologues and multiple-personality conversations--Gomer, Pat Buttram, John Wayne, Don Knotts, Walter Brennan, Jimmy Stewart,  Foster Brooks, and, of course, Elvis--all put together around lots of good clean comedy.

Gary also sings (to tracks--but we forgive him), alternating throughout the show with songs from his truly sweet and lovely wife, Patricia (aka "Patsy"), who is now branching out into the material of other great singing femmes like Connie Francis.

They're very popular around the RGV, so we were flattered when Gary invited us to participate in a Cowboy Show they were getting ready to do at Tropic Star RV Resort in Pharr (not that pharr, really).  They needed someone to fill some time while they changed costumes for the different parts of their show, and, since we're putting together our own cowboy show, it was an opportunity for us to try out some of our stuff (at someone else's risk)!

In spite of some rough spots (as will happen the first time a show is performed), the audience was great, and we had a ball.

As usual, we begin our coverage of the event with a photo of the audience.  Not, however, the usual photo...
Recognize anyone?  (Well, the old guy standing at the front looks familiar.)  Just a precursor to the overall unusualness (?) of the evening.

"Patsy" started the show off in a darling Calamity Jane outfit she made, which, of course, we don't have a shot of, singing a number from Annie Get Your Gun.  John Wayne dominated the program, interacting with Buttram and Brennan, and at one point reciting his famous "Why I love America" monologue.

One of their more popular sketches is an encounter between Patsy and Foster Brooks. 

She's not having any.

Is that a cute outfit, or what?
(Patsy looks good, too.)

Then it was time for the fill-in act--us.

At this point, Judy revealed that she, in fact, had a cowgirl hat.

                                                     Oh, yes she did!


We happen to have a lot of photos of Judy with her fist in her face, taken by kind folks who don't seem to notice that her lovely physiognomy is obstructed.  But, how about that hat!

Now, the moment has arrived we've been covering for:  the arrival of Gary on horseback...

Patsy also made the horse, replete with rider's big, uh, bottom and short legs!

Anyone recommend a good equine orthodontist?

Not easy to hold the reins and a microphone!  The horse was so skittish, he was prancing and sidestepping all over the stage.  Well, it was his first performance, and it was more than cute.  And that horse left more than hoofprints on that stage!  (Theatrical magic!)

We must not have done that badly at our part, because we were invited onstage for the finale, a brief rendition of the classic "Happy Trails," written by Dale Evans.
How 'bout all those shiny domes!  If they had all leaned forward, Whitt might have had better lighting!

Watch for our new Cowboy Show (sorry, no horse), making its debut this coming season, and if you ever get an opportunity to see Gomer & Patsy, do it.  And tell 'em Whitt & Judy say "Hey"!

Friday, March 2, 2012

MWT launches new website/blog

Well, here we are, wondering where to begin…or re-begin.  To improve aspects of access, we’ve moved our site; and now we’re going to try to use this amazing internet tool to share our little adventure and interact more with all the new friends we're making as we travel.

(Some of us are making more friends than others...Watch that paw, buddy!)

For years we relied on (and under-utilized) our site designed by young genius Josh Way, receiving many compliments on the site’s design.  We want to point out, and thank him profusely for, his generosity .  He did the whole thing for us just to help us get started. 

As it inevitably will, online tech passed us by, rendering aspects of our site unworkable.  Between his real job as webmaster for a university, and the burgeoning success of his own projects, Josh simply could not afford the time to redo our site.  We understood completely, and are still very grateful to him for getting us started in such style.

Soooooo, we’ve moved and retooled with the help of another “web-ista, ” Donna McNicol, who was kind and patient and eased us into our new setup.  Donna is a full-time traveler too.  We may have finally exhausted her interest in webmastery; she is now focusing her attention on her writing!

We hope the change suits and works well for you, our guest, and we'll try to keep it all up to date, interesting, and (very important in our line of work) fun!
Due to dichnical tefficulties inherent in this format, we had to give up our playable washtub bass gimmick (a very popular feature thought up by Josh) for the time being, but we think we'll be able to get it working again, once things are less hectic.
So, to our four or five previous followers, “welcome once again,” and to you newcomers, “welcome once!”

We thank you for joining us, and hope you’ll be with us a long time!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Home stretch in the RGV

We enjoy the audiences we've found here.  They've seen their share of shows, and they appreciate a lot of the finer points of our show.  When a group is pretty much getting everything and singing along at every opportunity, it makes it great fun for us.
 We found just such a crowd at Eldorado Acres.
Aren't they handsome folks? And what excellent taste in entertainment!

As always, there was some interest in the old tub;
but he managed to distract them with the bass.

Next on the agenda was an out-of-the-way date in a town 85 miles northwest of the last burg in the archipelago we've been working in.  Off to Zapata...Shoe, Texas.  
Actually, that would be zapato; so it's really named after Emilio, we suppose.
There, at the Four Seasons RV Resort, we received a warm welcome.
(Ok, the gentlemen in the front looked a lot happier when we finished!)

And the tub, once again, got its share of attention.

There are still a few shows left for us here, as well as a special appearance with one of the better-known duos in the Valley, Gary & Patricia Crain of the very popular "Gomer & Patsy Show."

We'll be joining them for their new Cowboy Show, debuting at a private event for Tropic Star, one of the many resorts here.  Should be a lot of fun, 'cause, after all, that's our job!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Passport to dentistry

Passport card...Interesting...You go to Walgreen's and stand in front of a screen while a young lady snaps you with a digital camera, and $10 and ten minutes later (if there's no one waiting ahead of you for anything), you're on the way to the Post Office, official photos in hand, for a 15-minute procedure they get $25 for, at which time you are sold a US Postal money order for $30 which is attached to your application and your original birth certificate and mailed, ominously by the same Postal "Service," to Washington where the State Department will perform a background check all over you.

Meanwhile, we were told, we could use the receipts we were issued to re-enter the country until our cards arrive in the mail!

So, we did.Thanks to our friends Cheryl and Don for taking this photo and showing us around!

There's nothing like a beautiful Mexican ciudad, with mission-style architecture balanced among adobe, brightly-painted stuccoes, and a fountain in the center of the square.
And Progresso is nothing like that.  Not the part we had time to walk to.
  Pretty much the best-looking part.
But, in truth, we went not as sightseers.  It was a quest for full-fillment.  We both needed dental work, which appears to be the prime service business in Progresso, pharmacies being the principal retail enterprise.  Must be a hundred dental offices & clinics, and half that many farmacias.

We had heard great things about the professionalism of these state-of-the-art competitors, the best part being the low low prices.   All true.
And it's not like we didn't see anything special.  We did.

Are these the ancient Aztec monuments to the Ghost Chickens of legend?  They had no appetite--must be stuffed already.

So, we finally did it: got the card, went to Mexico, got in the chair.


Ahhhh.  Back on American soil at last.

America--world leader in literacy!