Back In Blythe

Well it’s been a while since I’ve been here and also a long time since I’ve posted here!

I’m on the road with Mike and Flamekeeper for the first time in 2012. We flew from Nashville to Phoenix and drove here to Blythe, CA to play at the festival here tomorrow. This is my third time here in this town…I previously performed here with Alecia Nugent and Special C.
Blythe’s a small town, and it’s always funny to me how my travels take me to these same random places quite a bit. There’s a great Bluegrass festival here, so I’m not complaining…just observing!

Every once in awhile I meet people and even if I hear a slight accent, I can usually guess where they’re from. Most people are amazed, some are a little creeped out.
I can usually pull some small town out of my mind and mention that I’ve spent days of my life there and people say “how did you ever wind up there?”
Seeing different places and people is what’s the most interesting to me about this traveling life.
Speaking of which, I’m headed back to one of my favorite places in March…Switzerland! So if I still have any readers from Europe, come see Flamekeeper in a month and a half! I’m excited about getting to return to the mainland of Europe that I got kind of familiar with when I was with Special C.

As far as in town work, I’ve been doing random studio work here and there, and Mashville is still doing some select dates at the Inn. One is coming up this Tuesday (1/24).

Also coming up shortly is the debut of a new Americana/Country Band that I’m thankful to be a part. The members are Deanie Richardson, Brandon Bostic, Austin Ward, Melonie Cannon, Garnet Imes, and myself. We’re kind of “known” as bluegrass players, but this is going to be a little different. Still very rootsy, but leaning towards the country/americana side of things.
We’re called “The Likely Culprits” and our first show is at the Station Inn on Saturday Feb. 11th!
We’ve been practicing quite a bit, and I think it’s going to be something very special!

Ok, time to chill out and relax and get ready for the show tomorrow! Hope everyone had a great new year and a great year to come!

Update

Well once again it’s been a while since I posted an update here. Sorry about that!
It’s been one of busiest summers on the road that I’ve ever worked, which is a good thing! We’ve had a great string of gigs with Flamekeeper…stretching from Rangely, Maine to the Ford Amphitheater in Hollywood, CA.
If you came to see us out there somewhere, I greatly appreciate it.

We have one more hoorah this weekend before a break off the road until mid-November. Tomorrow we’ll be in Farmer’s Branch, Texas near Dallas and then it will be a marathon drive to southeast Ohio for the Bob Evans Farm Festival on Sunday.

I must admit I’m ready to be back in Nashville to start a few different side projects a little extended R&R!

Speaking of side projects, Mashville Brigade rides again on Oct. 27th at the Station Inn at 9pm, featuring Brandon Rickman, Randy Barnes, Jim Van Cleve, Scott Vestal, and myself (Hi my name’s Ashby). We need a packed house because it’s being filmed by the Music City Roots crew, so come on down!!!

Until next time, check out my Facebook Artist page for more frequent updates!
Thanks for reading.

Washington State!

TPictures from Washington State trip with Alecia Nugent Band:

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Flamekeeper

Starting in July, I will be the new Mandolin Picker/Singer with the four time IBMA Instrumental Group of the Year, Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper! Check out the whole story on the Bluegrass Blog here.
I’m going to try and blog more as my travel increases, so everyone keep checking back here!

Please remember to go click LIKE on my Facebook Artist Page here, and check out the band schedule here!

Off to Scotland again!

Since I last posted, I’ve been doing this and that here and there… January’s always a slow month for musicians!

I was fortunate enough to be invited by my friend Josh Williams to perform with his band at the Loveless Cafe’s Donna the Buffalo New Year’s Party, and I had a blast! Met some new folks, and ate some good chicken!

The Loveless Cafe is pretty close to where I live here in Nashville, and is famous for it’s Chicken and Biscuits. While the biscuits can’t compete with my mom’s (seriously), they were good enough to be part of the “Biscuit Throwdown” on the Food Network. I was a happy camper! Get to pick good music with Josh, Randy, and Jason, and eat! Good New Year’s!

The first official Mashville road show in Lebanon, VA that was scheduled for the next weekend,  had to be called off due to weather. I’ll be sure and let everyone know when it’s rescheduled.

So this week…I’m picking with Mashville tonight,  writing a little bit this week, and then on Saturday it’s off to Scotland to perform with my former old-boss-lady, Alecia Nugent. 🙂

We’re doing a BBC taping on Monday, then performing for the Celtic Connections crowd on Tuesday! I’m really looking forward to it. Anybody have any suggestions on what to do when in Glasgow? Be sure and let me know!
I hope yall are staying warm this frigid winter! Cya on down the road…

Back in Nashville

I’m back home again after almost 2 weeks of continuous travel in planes, boats, buses, trains, and a van.

The remaining two shows after my last post here were a lot of fun and were very well received… a great way to end the trip!

I had been to the venue we played in Germany before, and the crowd’s enthusiasm didn’t dissipate from our last visit there over 2 years ago. We were practically sold out of band CD’s after the show, and some of the band’s friends from around the area treated us to some awesome food and hospitality afterwards. Thank you!

The Czech Republic was a new place for me. It’s a beautiful country, with really nice and hospitable people. A few minutes after we crossed the border, a country music station came through on the radio.  After 11 days of hearing nothing but American, British, and German pop on almost every radio station, it was pretty strange to hear Johnny Cash covers in Czech mixed with original country classics in English! Even though the English language was spoken far less there than most of the other places we went, you can sense an appreciation for traditional and acoustic music in the people there… and what an awesome bluegrass community of pickers and singers!

Sometimes I feel a good bit ignorant and lost when I travel to a new place, and they can speak a little bit of English and I can’t speak any word of the local language. It’s hard not to feel pretty stupid when you go in a store and start pointing at things and counting change very slowly! Every time I’ve been in that circumstance, the locals have been so nice and helpful. So I take that as a lesson… be nice and give directions to people that aren’t familiar with their surroundings when you can! You never know when you’ll wind up in the same boat(or train, bus, van, or plane)!

We had a little bit of delay in getting back, and I’m still lagged quite a bit from the 20 hours or so of airports and layovers yesterday so I’ll have to keep this story short and sweet.

Thanks to all of the bluegrass music fans in Europe for making this tour possible! Hope to see you again soon.

Next week it’s Mashville Brigade at the Station Inn on Tuesday, and then Special C’s off to Waldo, Florida!

Two Days in Switzerland!

After our train ride to Copenhagen we rode the long road to the Netherlands, had two shows there and had a good time. Even though we were pretty tired from all the riding and moving around to get there, it was a really nice place to visit. Nice hospitable folks there… but beware! Our hosts introduced us to these waffle and caramel cookies called Stroopwafles, and now we’re all addicted to them! I’m going to have to go on a serious diet when I get home.

Anyway, we made the long van ride from Holland here to Switzerland yesterday and got here just in time to eat dinner and play a little show in Lausen (right outside of Basil) and then we got a good night’s sleep. In attendance at our gig last night was a professional classical guitarist that grew up just about 15 or 20 miles away from where I grew up in North Carolina, and has lived in Europe for 40 years since he graduated from the School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. I guess there’s Tarheels everywhere! Small world!

I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but for this trip we’re in a decent sized van that’s a little larger than the ones we have rented on previous trips. Still it’s still pretty cramped for all of these 5-8 hour trips. Vehicles are much smaller on average here in Europe, so I guess we’re lucky that we’re in something that we can all fit in. At least we’re not in this:
tinycar
Now we’re spending the afternoon before our show at a friend of the band’s house. This is the first time we’ve had Wifi in a few days, so we’ve turned her dining room into a computer lab.

After our show in Feuerthalen, Switzerland tonight, we’ll be back in Germany for a show in Bochum, then our last show will be in the Czech Republic. Never been there before, so I’m looking forward to it!

I’m having a great time here, but after 8 days I’m starting to look forward to going home and being in my own bed, not having to travel hours and hours every other day, and not trying to figure out what kind of money I’ve got and how much I’m spending! We’ve been on four currencies so far, and one more to go!

Regardless, it’s nice to be here reporting to you from Switzerland! Maybe I’ll get one more update in before I go home.


Taking a fast train through Sweden…

Today is day 6 of the trip, and I’m writing this on a train from Stockholm to Goteburg, Sweden.

After our two dates in Denmark, we left early Saturday morning on another extended hour excursion from Copenhagen to Stockholm for our first show here in Sweden last night. Due to construction on the train tracks in Copenhagen, our first train was delayed forcing us to miss our connection that was supposed to get us into Stockholm early enough to settle into our room and do a sound check. After talking to quite a few people at the ticket counters that said there’s no way we could make the show (PANIC!), Greg found a supervisor that got us on another train that took us out of our way a little bit, adding a couple of hours to the already 6 hour train ride… but it got us to the show!

Taking the train is pretty nice here. There’s room to move around, a “bistro” car that has snack food for purchase, there’s nice scenery with the Swedish countryside just outside the window. It’s nice to be able to spread out here using my PC listening to my Ipod without being scrunched up in a rental van. I was so inspired that I just wrote a new bluegrass train song!

I was just thinking that it was kinda funny that the only other times that I’ve been on a train outside of Europe was once or twice to get downtown Chicago, as a shuttle between airport terminals, and when I was a cap gun shooting kid in a cowboy hat at Tweetsy Railroad in Boone, NC. It’s way more common for people to travel from place to place by train here, and it’s nice… except when they’re late.

The places and people have been great so far. With the little bit of free time that we had in Denmark, a few of us went downtown Copenhagen late Friday night after our show and it was awesome! Despite it being the coldest October they’ve had in recent history and some rain, it was great to see the city lit up with people biking and walking around. I want to come back, but maybe when the dollar’s stronger! Eating and getting around here in Europe is very expensive for this North Carolina boy. Still an awesome experience… Copenhagen was great.

We saw less of Stockholm just because we barely had time to get there, play the show, and go to bed so we could get up early for our train today, but it’s a beautiful old city. The city is build around a lot of different islands and little ancient streets. I will for sure spend some time looking around there one day. We drove by the palace this morning and I really wanted to go in and say hey to the King, but we didn’t have time. Everyone was so friendly there in Stockholm, and I’m sure he is too.

Special C with G2

Special C with G2

Some of our friends from the Swedish bluegrass band G2 came by last night, and we got to pick a few tunes after the show. They’ll be touring the US again next year, so check them out if they’re ever in your area!

Tomorrow it’s another early morning and another train, and then we drive to Holland. These days of 8-10 hours of moving, lots of coffee and tea, and two hours of picking surprisingly haven’t worn me or my voice out yet so I’m keeping my fingers crossed! 3 shows down, 7 to go! Signing off from Vagn (Wagon) 13 of the Stockholm Center City to Goteborg City Center Bluegrass Express!

Another Marathon Bluegrass Journey

Tuesday night was another blast at Mashville, even though I’m still fighting off the remnants of the IBMA bug. The lineup was Josh Williams, Jenee Fleenor, Randy Barnes, Thomas Wywrot and myself. We went a little bit late with the show because our resident “country star” and good friend Dierks Bentley made an appearance and brought a crew from CBS Sunday Morning with him to film his activities for the night. They set up all kinds of lights and did some interviewing, so our break was a little longer than normal, but it didn’t really bother anybody. I’m not sure when it will air, but look for Dierks Bentley with the Mashville Brigade on CBS Sunday Morning some time in the near future! hehe

Got home around 1:30, and Wednesday I slept until 9:30 or 10 and got up to finish packing then it was off the the airport. Our flight to Chicago left around 4pm CST and landed safely an hour and a half later, and then we had a little layover at O’Hare before the 8 hour flight to Frankfurt, Germany. I tried to get a little sleep towards the end of the flight, but woke up around 2AM my time, or 9AM Frankfurt time for the breakfast that the crew was serving. We landed around 11AM Frankfurt time, and then our fearless leader Greg gathered the rental van, and we were off to Denmark!

None of us had much sleep, but we had a 9 hour drive ahead of us. We went from Frankfurt through Hannover, then had a quick schnitzel at some road side place, and then it was on to the ferry station towards Denmark.

By the time we got on the ferry we had all been up and traveling for well over 24 hours, minus a few uncomfortable naps here and there. We still had a few hours to go before we arrived here outside of Copenhagen, but we made it in ok! There was a little bluegrass welcome committee to greet us, and give us the keys to this hostel-like place where we’re staying.

Danish Welcome Party

Danish Welcome Party

This is my first time in Denmark, and just like most everywhere I’ve been over here in Europe they speak enough English to help me get around and everyone is very helpful. Had a great breakfast already today, and now it’s time for a little rest before the show tonight.

Battery’s about to die, and I’m power adapter-less at the moment, so that’s all for now.

Hopefully I can update again soon! Goodbye from Denmark!

Wow…

Well, considering I participated in a seminar at IBMA about blogging, I really have fallen behind during this busy month.

After two days at Silver Dollar City, we had a all night, no sleep, drive to Denton, NC. We made it to the show with about an hour to spare before our first set. Cutting it close.

My mom out-did herself once again in bringing food for all the performers at the festival. She’s becoming more famous for her food then I am for my picking. hehe. Just fine with me. The crowd wasn’t as big as expected at Denton, but it was a fun show and a lot of my family came down to listen. That always makes me feel good.

I was pretty beat down after the all-nighter, but we got up and drove to Nashville the next day. The driving never seems to end. This should be called Ashby Frank’s driving and riding blog.

Once I made it home, being a glutton for punishment and for good music, I met some of my friends at the Station Inn for the annual Ronnie Bowman IBMA Week Kickoff Concert. It didn’t disappoint. Ronnie’s one of the greatest singers of country and bluegrass music, and I know from the little bit of time I spent on the road with him that he’s an equally great guy. First late night of the week… more to come.

Sunday was a day to kind-of relax. I did some quick graphics work, printed up some cards at Kinko’s, then I picked up one of my friends at the airport. We went to meet some more out-of-town musician buds at a restaurant to watch some football and eat some wings. We stayed up kinda late, but that’s the theme of the week.

Monday I went down and did some old fashioned networking and howdys. After that was a rehearsal with the new Special C w/ Ryan Roberts, then 3 after hours showcases (which start at 11PM and end at 2:15ish). Hung around with all my friends afterwards, and got to bed around 5am.

Tuesday, I got to participate as a panelist in a Blogging seminar (apparently people actually read what I write here!) and much fun was had. Heard a lot of good ideas and hopefully someone got something from me. After that was the 3rd annual, totally unofficial and unsanctioned, IBMA poker game (I lost). Then it was off to the Station Inn for a practice for a later showcase, and then Mashville.

Mashville was awesome! Everyone was on their game, and the crowd came to listen from far and wide. We got to debut the Mashville road crew with Terry Baucom, too!

After that, I dashed down to the Station Inn to play that showcase I had practiced earlier for with my buddy Brandon Rickman. Brandon has an awesome new CD out, and is one of the great undiscovered song writers here in town. Anytime he wants to sing and pick, I’ll be there if I can!

I got done with that by around 2:30, then I got to jam some with The Chapmans, Kenny and Amanda Smith, and Thomas Wywrot.  Good times. I think I got to sleep that night some time after 6.

Wednesday, more talking and rewiring my bluegrass networking, then 2 showcases with Special C and a Mashville guest spot at the Mountain Heart 10th Anniversary Concert. Sleep time…4AMish.

Thursday, went and shopped for a new tie then headed on down to the Awards Show reception. Gathered my date (who got me an awesome 4th row ticket) and then headed down to the Ryman. The Awards are always fun, and this one was no exception. I was especially pleased that Jesse Brock won Mando player of the year. He totally deserves it.

After the awards, Mashville played at the big McCoury Music Afterparty at BB Kings on 2nd Ave. The sound was kinda rough at first since there was no time for a soundcheck, but after all that got straightened out it was a blast! I greatly appreciate the McCoury Clan having us down there.

So I got out of there around 2:30, and went back down to the hotel for no real reason. Like I said, I’m a glutton for music… and punishment. Listened and jammed, and got to sleep around 6.

FRIDAY, had to get up way too early to go play our FanFest set at 11:50. Now that doesn’t sound way too early, but consider that I got in bed roughly 6 hours before I was supposed to be on stage.

Special C set over, and then it was time to practice for sitting in with Alecia Nugent for her FanFest set at 3:30…but only for a short while, because Special C had to go and give a workshop on  teaching bluegrass. After that was over, I ran back to the stage and did the set with Alecia. Shew! Bed time…for three hours! I took a nap, and then it was time to go back to the hotel to do a set with Terry Baucom at the Deering Banjo Showcase at 11:30. I jammed for awhile after that, then I went home around 4.

Saturday I got up and was a fan for awhile… watched some FanFest, then it was time for another workshop. This time for the Mando with Alan Bibey, Andy Ball, and Sierra Hull… three of the best players around. It was a huge honor to sit on the same stage as these “guys”… fun too.

When the workshop it was over, it was time to drive north of town to meet the Turtle Top and ride to Chicago. We made it up there, and played the next day downtown at the Chicago Country Music Festival. Awesome day, good crowd. Yep. Ryan and I wrote a good song after the gig, too. Productive day.

Today we had to wait around for 4-5 hours later than we thought because the bus was once again in the shop, but we left out from Chi-town and made it home for me to type this from my own bed tonight.

I’ve got a case of the confused mental clock/exhausted/allergy body aches, but I’m sure I’ll be ready to pick tomorrow night at Mashville.

WOW. What a long trip. Even though I was in my own bed for a portion of it, that was pretty much 3 1/2 weeks straight of work. I’m going to start making the rounds and calls to some of my favorite festivals to try and get some new gigs for Mashville starting tomorrow, but I’m going to set aside some time for the gym and for sleep. I need both very badly right now! I don’t regret one bit of it, though! IBMA week is so much fun for me.

Until next time…