Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bobby Lee Rodgers / Overdrive

Bobby Lee Rodgers has kept me waiting long enough, but the new album is finally out, available for immediate download on his website, and I couldn't resist!
The album does not disappoint. Put it on, crank it up, and sit back and soar!
It is all BLR; rock, jazz, fusion, funk, blues, whatever! He is a world-class talent who can do it all from composing to playing to singing and he always manages to assemble a group of killer musicians to play and record with him.
The new album features Jimmy Herring on guitar, Marcus Williams on drums, and legendary Ike Stubblefield on the Hammond B3. And yes, they do "kick it into overdrive".

Good luck finding any additional info on this album. I couldn't. It runs about 55 minutes.
Here's the song list:
1 Mary
2 Soul Recovery
3 Miles Ahead
4 Overdrive
5 Just A Day
6 Masters Of The Obvious
7 BellyFlop
8 Sentence
9 Time For The Future
10 Fall Into The Sky

Friday, November 20, 2009

Songs From The Road Band at Jack Of The Wood Pub, Asheville, NC

Here's more video I shot at the Jack of the Wood Pub, last Friday night.
What a bunch of fine pickers, these guys do Asheville proud. We couldn't of had a better night, anytime, anywhere!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Songs from the Road Band / Give me a Ring Sometime

Man, what a bluegrass show at Jack of the Wood last night in Asheville!
If you haven't heard the two CDs by the bluegrass supergroup, Songs From The Road Band, you need to check them out!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Railroad Earth // For Love

Railroad Earth gave a stellar performance at the Orange Peel on Friday. The Chicago grass band, Cornmeal (driven by fiddle player Allie Kral) opened with lots of energy and then we were treated by two full sets of pure jamgrass bliss by an inspired and awesome Railroad Earth. It was a hobo's delight, for sure!
I was fortunate enough to video a couple of minutes of Todd Sheaffer singing Robert Earl Keen's "For Love". If I could have requested a song, this would have been it, I must be living right!

The tapers already have the show up on archive, check out the twin fiddles of Tim Carbone and Allie Kral on Cuckoo's Medley for a special treat:

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Greensky Bluegrass / Beat It

The Michigan bluegrass jam band, Greensky Bluegrass played the Grey Eagle last night. I hadn't seen them since they opened for Del McCoury at the Orange peel a few years ago. This band consistenly gets better and better. Their latest album, Five Interstates, produced by Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth is one of the best studio albums I've heard in a while. I hope to see them again, soon.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bristol Rhythm and Roots 2009

Just home from another great year of kickass music at Bristol Rhythm and Roots. We enjoyed seeing Jeni and Billy again, we first met them at Sugar Hollow Campground in Bristol, four years ago during our first visit to Rhythm and Roots. This year they were performing and we got to enjoy listening to them sing their old-time Appalachian ballads and coal mining songs from the stage of the Bristol Theater. Big time, J&B!

Their new CD is called Jewel Ridge Coal, check them out, it's the real thing. Their website is :

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My grandson, Wyatt

Grandson is like granddad, he enjoys listening to some tunes while he works.......

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bristol Rhythm and Roots!!

Black Betty and I are getting psyched for our 4th year at Bristol Rhythm and Roots!

I am looking forward to hearing some great music, and as usual the problem is that there is too much to choose from, too many stages, and I won't be able to see everyone that I want to!

This year some of my favorite performers (besides Larry Keel) will be The Hackensaw Boys, Corey Harris, The Steeldrivers, Sam Quinn and the Japan 10, Jim Lauderdale, Scythian, Paleface and Mo, Ras Alan, Billy and Jenny, Town Mountain and The Belleville Outfit. Also we want to check out Trampled by Turtles and Holy Ghost Tent Revival.

Hopefully I'll have some great videos to post when we get home, come join us for the weekend!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Jason Krekel and Woody Wood

Man, I could watch these two guys play together every night and never get tired of it.
Jason Krekel (Mad Tea Party) and Woody Wood (Hollywood Red) are as good as they come, it was a thrill to watch them jam together during the Blue Rags reunion this weekend at the Grey Eagle. We want more!!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Blue Rags

The Blue Rags blew the roof off the Grey Eagle last night with their rowdy and raucous "Rag 'n' Roll". Black Betty and I became one with the boogie as the Blue Rags played their first show in three years.

Woody Wood, Abe Reid, Jake Hollifield, and the boys ripped it up and burned it down while giving us another memorable night of energetic and enthralling live music in Asheville!

Here is the Mountain Xpress article about the band and their current projects:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Burningtown Ride

I live in the most beautiful place in the country to ride a bicycle! This is the Rose Creek bridge across the Little Tennessee river, part of my loop ride of Burningtown Valley this morning.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

One Year Ago

Has it already been a year since I completed the hike of my life time on the summit of Mt. Katahdin? I'd do it all over again, just to touch that sign!
I miss all my hiking buddies, I miss the trail, I miss all of those 2,176 miles of roots, rocks,and mud!
Here's my journal entry from August 13, 2008:

What can I say? After 2176 miles of trail, I have reached my goal. I've kept my eye on the prize (touching the sign on top of Katahdin) since March 21st. Through good times and bad, cold, heat, rain, magic moments, killer sunsets and sunrises, mosquitos and ticks, beautiful landscapes, great company and fellowship, excrutiating pain, blisters, sore feet and bum knees, inspired conversations, annoying irritations,and occasional boredom, I have arrived at the end of the trail. I am grateful to be here.
Katahdin was even more majestic and grand than I thought she would be. I had beautiful views on the way up and then clouds on the top, as it should be. I kept thinking about how Henry David Thoreau described the mountain in 1846 as "primeval, untamed and forever untamable nature". The climb was tough, the biggest single climb of the entire trip, with more than 4,000 feet of elevation change to reach the 5,267 foot summit. I don't think I really even noticed, though. I had really spent the last 146 days training for this very day. I felt nothing but adrenaline.
It was very special to finish with my trail buddies, Rethinker, SiteSee, and Apostle. I had hiked with these three guys at different times since Virginia, and the odds of us all finishing on the same day had to be be slim. It was also a great pleasure to meet Start and the Twins on their way up the mountain, as we were descending, knowing that they were on their way to finish. It was an honor to share this day with my fellow hikers, they were true friends and an inspiration at all times, I could not have hiked alone. After experiencing the Appalachian trail as a thru-hike, I have the upmost respect for any man, woman, girl, boy, or dog that has been through the challenges, hardships, and glories of the trail. I now know what they have been through, and it ain't easy!
Finally, I want to thank my family, friends, co-workers, fellow hikers, and journal readers for the monumental encouragement and support that I recieved while I was on the trail. I can't emphasize enough the importance of the emotional and mental boost that I got from the guestbook. I couldn't have hiked without it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Spiral performs on a steel hoop at Floyd Fest, VA

The beautiful and talented Spiral entertained us with aerial feats of human flexability and strength.

I wonder if she rides a bicycle?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

More from FloydFest

Here's a little teaser from FloydFest of the legendary Peter Rowan joining Railroad Earth on stage. Andy Goessling, RRE's multi-instrumentalist (usually on banjo and guitar) plays flute.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Railroad Earth at FloydFest, Va.

We drove to Floyd, Va on Sunday, July 26 to see one of my favorite bluegrass / jamgrass bands, Railroad Earth.

Our friends, Marie and Aimee and Aimee's son Isaac, came along. It was our first visit to Floydfest, although it had been on my radar for several years (bad timing, it's on the same weekend as Bele Chere).

RRE "kicked grass" as usual and gave an inspired performance. What can I say? I'll let the video speak for itself....

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ras Alan and the Lions at Bele Chere Festival

Bluegrasstafari! The originator of Appalachian reggae played Bele Chere this year. Ras Alan is the real deal, what you see is what you get. He's all southern Appalachian country Rastaman.

Here's his bio from the website:

Ras Alan - Appalachian Reggae musician
He celebrated Bob Marley’s TALKING BLUES reggae release in Jamaica with Ziggy, Stephen, Julian and Rita Marley; he picked informal
gospel and swing tunes with American music icons Doc Watson and Jethro Burns; he
learned ancient tribal rhythms and melodies at the feet of African blues master Ali Farke Toure and Nigerian Master drummer Babtunde Olatunji. His original “reggabilly” songs and self-produced CDs have navigated the
Grammy@ process, enlivened the Archives of Appalachia and represent “Contemporary
Southern Appalachian Culture and Music” in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington,
DC. He’s been featured on Country Music Television, PBS and NPR stations nationwide.

He is a devoted father, architect, carpenter and organic gardener. He lives in the mountains just hours from where he was born into a large, close-knit family and
continues to pick Carter Family and Jimmy Rodgers tunes with his father and uncles at
various reunions and yearly gatherings. He plays a flat top guitar he built in 1980.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mac Arnold and Plate Full O' Blues

Last Saturday we caught legendary blues man Mac Arnold at Bele Chere Festival in Asheville. During his career Mac played, toured, and recorded with the best blues singers around: Muddy Waters, BB King, John Lee Hooker, Eric Clapton, Paul Butterfield, and lots more. In his retirement Mac returned to South Carolina, where he is an organic farmer and tours with his band, Plate Full O' Blues.

In this video, Mac is playing one of his famous gas can guitars that his brother Leroy learned to make as a boy in the 1940's.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Todd Snider at the Orange Peel

I'm really behind in my posting, and Black Betty and I have seen tons of good music this month. I'll try to catch up as I can get videos loaded in the next week or two.

We caught the barefooted Todd Snider at the Orange Peel on July 17th. We absolutely love his music and we were treated to a killer show with just Todd, his guitar, and a room full of his loyal Asheville fans! Sweet!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Music Camp 2009

Hi everyone, I'm back from a little camping trip that Black Betty and I took up to the Maine woods. More about that later, I want to get this video up from the hot (literally) little festival that we attended in Spartanburg a few weeks back. We really enjoyed the music and vibes at the Music Camp. It was a real small crowd (I don't know...maybe 1,000 people?) and a young crowd (majority under 29) which we enjoy more than the older crowd (our age). The weather was HOT (South Carolina in June) and our fragile mountain thermostats would have boiled over if it hadn't been for the wonderful wet and refreshing Pacolet river. Jumping in the river several times a day actually saved the whole experience for me..........

So, the music...high energy performances by Donna the Buffalo, The Duhks, The Stringdusters, and the host band, The Belleville Outfit.........and many, many more good shows. What's not to love? We'll be back next year with bathing suits!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hike Naked Day

Segue and Houdini on the A.T. in Virginia.

June 21st is traditionally the unofficial "hike naked day" on the Appalachian trail.
My buddy Segue sent me this picture of him and Houdini doing their best to expose themselves to nature.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Music Camp

Black Betty and I are packing up the popup and heading towards Spartanburg on Friday to try a new festival experience. This will really be the 5th year for this little festival put on by members of The Bellville Outfit, but will be our 1st experience with it.

I actually learned of both the band and the festival while driving home from Asheville last month and listening to WNCW. The Bellville Outfit were live guests and I really enjoyed their music. They talked about the festival and I came home and purchased the incredibly affordable tickets ($60. each for the weekend and $30. a carload to camp).

The line-up looks awesome, the crowd should be small, and the camping fun! What's not to like?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

Kitchen Jams

We had a big Thursday night family dinner last night. I cooked the last of our spring lamb, a nice leg over a hickory coal fire, Jeff brought delicious garlicky kale, and we roasted a big pan of potatoes, onions, garlic, red peppers, and mushrooms in olive oil. It was a great feast, the lamb was sooo tender and scrumptious, I hate to wait until next spring for another.

After dinner we had a kitchen jam with John on guitar:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Madison County Ballad Singer

Denise Norton O'Sullivan singing Rose Connoly in the Madison County, N.C. Courthouse.
What's there to say? It's beautiful...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Trail Days 2009

I had a wonderful reunion with lots of Appalachian Trail friends last weekend in Damascus. It sure did me good to reunite with Rethinker, Pineknot, Tree, Moonpie, SuperChunk, Segue, Floyd, Mr.Burns, Creek Diver, Sampson, Butters, Shuffles, Stomp, The Tennessee Twins, OrangeDust, Bones, and TroutBum from my 2008 hike.

The stories were better than ever, the memories flowed in great torrents, it was just like I was still on the trail (without the soreness and hunger).

There is nothing sweeter than trail friends, I love each and everyone of them like a brother or a sister!!

I'll leave you with a video I shot while inside the maelstrom of the Hiker's Parade, where the spectators attack the hikers with various water was a blast!!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Trail Days

This coming weekend I will attend Trail Days in Damascus, Virginia. It's the big hiker bash and reunion get-together for Appalachian Trail hikers, past, present, current, and future.

The masses of unwashed pedestrians will descend on this sleepy little trail town like a biblical plague of locusts. There will be lots of activities: a hiker parade, free meals provided by local churches, gear demos, talks, eating contests, dog shows, book-signings, and so on...

The big thing for me will be a chance to reunite with so many great friends who I had the pleasure of meeting on the trail last year. Here's hoping that that they ALL attend!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Overtakers!!!!

The Overtakers from Jamaica rocked Asheville last night at the Grey Eagle Music Hall.
We were fortunate enough to be there on a Wednesday night, and got to listen to Ruben, Ruth, and Leroy sway the crowd with their own brand of roots rock reggae.
Positively ASSKICKING!!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Larry Keel and Natural Bridge Live @ French Broad!

Here's another video I shot at the French Broad River Festival in Hot Springs last weekend. You'll see why we are such hard core "Keel Heads"

Monday, May 4, 2009

French Broad River Festival

We had a wonderful weekend at Hot Springs for the French Broad River Festival. In spite of some rain (what's a festival without rain?) we boogied 'til we dropped to some of the best music in the region.

A great time was had by all, what a cool vibe at this little festival. I can't wait for next year!

Highlights of the weekend include:

The Will Ferrell Loofa.

Meeting my Blog Buddy, Caroline Pond (emcee and Snake Oil salesman).

Visiting with some Appalachian Trail friends.

Eating some delicious camping meals.

Larry Keel and Natural Bridge ripping it up, Acoustic Syndicate tearing it down, dancing to Rosie Ledet and the Zydeco Playboys. Snake Oil Medicine show in the big tent.

Black Betty and our daughter Becky

Mark Schimick showing his stuff on the mandolin.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Smokies Hike 2009

I had a great Smokey Mountain hike with Segue this week. We enjoyed beautiful weather, an unbelievable wildflower display, and met many interesting hiker-type-characters who kept us entertained. It was great to back on the trail.

Segue and Hometown at Newfound Gap

Friday, April 24, 2009

Heading out to the Smokies

I met Segue last summer in the Whites, while I was thru hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Rethinker and I had been hiking in a deluge (and met up with SiteSee, Apostle, and Sir Bacon along the way) and we all headed into Crawford Notch to escape the rain. We found a bunk house at the campground where we met fellow hikers, Segue and Boy Floyd.

Segue and Hometown in the White Mountains.
Rethinker and I ended up taking a zero the next day because of continuing rain and I really enjoyed getting to know Segue and Floyd. We hiked with them on and off through the Whites and spent a memorable night at Lake of the Clouds Hut at the foot of Mt Washington. We ended up parting company close to the Maine border, but as thru hikers tend to do, we were destined to see each other again.
Segue hiked into Franklin this week and spent a zero with me and Black Betty at the Hometown Hostel. I'm awful glad that he did because I'm going to spend the next five days hiking the Appalachian Trail through the Great Smoky Mountains with him.
I can't wait to reconnect with the trail! Thanks, Segue!

Friday, April 17, 2009

5th-Graders assault Siler's Bald

On Siler Bald (5216ft)

  • Today was the big hike day for the 5th grade class at Cartoogechaye Elementry School. It turned out to be the most beautiful of Spring days, a great day for a hike.
  • We broke the 70+ kids into groups of 5 and hiked on the Appalachian Trail for the 5-mile round trip to the summit of the grassy Siler Bald and enjoyed lunch surrounded by the stunning panorama of the beautiful Nantahalas of Macon County.
  • The kids did great, they are lots of fun to be around. I wish more folks would spend the time taking kids into the outdoors. They really did enjoy it and maybe some seeds were planted for future hiking endeavors.
  • Man, we are so lucky to live in such an awesome place!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Services 2009 with the Dead

Black Betty and Hometown ready for Shakedown Street!

We enjoyed a glorious and celebatory Easter at the first show of The Dead last night at the Greensboro Coliseum. We arrived with family and friends early enough to enjoy several hours of parking lot hippie action before seeing the big sold-out show.

All in all it was great, the band seemed to really gel, Phil's singing really didn't sound too bad, Billy and Mickey kicked ass with their drums, AND the band threw a pretty cool Watchtower to Warren. The band sounded good and the vibe seemed right. The set list seemed a little strange, but who am I to complain? I had lots of fun!

Set List 4/12/09 Greensboro Colesium
set 1)The Music Never Stopped>Jack StrawEstimated Prophet>He's Gone>Touch Of Grey>I Need A Miracle>Truckin'
(set 2)JamShakedown Street>All Along The Watchtower>Caution>Rhythm Devils>Space>Cosmic Charlie>New Potato Caboose>Help On The Way>Slipknot!>Franklin's Tower
(encore)Samson And Delilah

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Confessions of a Southern Appalachian Ramp Eater

We've had a nice visit with Scott (Schooner) and Megan (no trail name) from Indiana. They are staying at the house for a "zero" day today as the snow showers fly, and we've really enjoyed the company.
Jeff and I went and dug ramps yesterday and we came out with Black Betty to Miss Janet's Hostel in Franklin this morning and cooked up a big breakfast with lots of pungently delicious ramp goodness! We cooked up 10 pounds of potatoes, 5 pounds of sausage, 6 dozen eggs, tons of ramps, and Jeff even brought a pan of his killer cheesy biscuits along. Hikers filled plates to overflowing and everyone ate to their hearts content.
The smell of ramps filled the air as Miss Janet enthralled us with the tale of her unintended night spent in the woods (the night before) as she got turned around and off trail while she went to retrieve her dog. All in all a great morning!

AT hikers ready for a ramplicious breakfast.

Ramp cookers: Jeff, Hometown, and Schooner going all rampy!

Hometown sharing photos of his hike with Megan, Schooner, and Jeff.

Wyatt loving on Megan.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sam Quinn and the Japan 10

Sam Quinn + Japan Ten: "Hello" @ Ramseur Records HQ from Ramseur Records on Vimeo.

I just can't resist mentioning Sam Quinn + Japan 10 this morning. We've been big fans of the Everybodyfields since we first saw them a few years ago opening for the Avett Brothers. As a matter of fact, I even hitched a ride into the Grey Eagle from Hot Springs during my thru-hike to see them play.

The Everybodyfields, featuring the song writing and singing of Sam and Jill Andrews, are "on break" and Sam Quinn is touring with his own band. Sam's haunting voice and beautiful lyrics have a way of reaching deep into your soul and grabbing hold. I can't wait to see them again....

Franklin Hosts Fifth Annual Hiker Bash

The Hiker Bash is ready to pop this weekend. Ronnie Havens has done a great job promoting this thing and turning it into an event. Appalachian Trail Hikers will be literally coming out of the woods to partake in the fun and games. I'll be there tonight (sorry, I have to work Saturday and Sunday) to help with the feeding of the masses. I'm looking forward to seeing lots of friends.

Here's the article by the MaconNews:

Thursday, 02 April 2009

Events will include town’s first-ever Hikers Appreciation Day
By Tony Wheeler Staff Writer
The Town of Franklin will sponsor its first “April Fools Trail Days” on Friday, April 3, and Saturday, April 4. The event will celebrate Franklin’s appreciation of the Appalachian Trail hikers, whether they are long distance thru-hikers, section-hikers or day-hikers. The event is a partnership with the fifth annual Hiker Bash hosted by Ronnie Haven, owner of the Budget and Sapphire Inns in Franklin.
Haven, an avid hiker himself, is dedicated to the AT hikers, and worked in conjunction with the town and the Main Street Program to consolidate the annual bash with the hiker appreciation days.
“This is the perfect place for a celebration of hikers,” Haven said. “Almost 2,000 people showed up for the bash last year.”
Franklin is located 100 miles north of the traditional Spring starting point of the 2,175-mile trail at Springer Mtn., Ga. The trail’s northern terminus is Mt. Katahdin in Maine. The trail runs through Macon County about 10 miles from downtown Franklin, at Winding Stair Gap. Haven said that at one time, before Franklin became recognized as hiker-friendly, the trekkers would resupply at Hiawassee, Ga., and not stop again until they reached Wesser, N.C., 14 miles west of Bryson City. He has provided free shuttle service to hikers over the years and is well-known along the trail, having contributed his local knowledge to a series of AT guidebooks. He once hauled a record 216 hikers from the trail to town and back on a single day, in April 2007. “I’m trying to do a good job of representing the town of Franklin to the hikers,” he said.
Ronnie Haven, owner of the Budget and Sapphire Inns of Franklin, is an avid hiker and Appalachian Trail enthusiast.The celebration starts on Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. with a cookout and live music at the Sapphire Inn. Saturday morning, the day begins with a free breakfast for the hikers sponsored by the First Baptist Church. Then on to the Big Bear Shelter on the Greenway from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be food, entertainment by the Frogtown IV, educational booths from the Nantahala Hiking Club, the Appalachian Trail Conversancy and other organizations, book signings and hiker games. Bill Dyar and the Boy Scouts will set up their historical camping display. The Franklin community will get a chance to meet the hikers and learn about their experiences on the trail. Thru-hikers that have hiked the entire Appalachian Trail will be on hand to answer questions. On Saturday night from 5 to 9 p.m., the Sapphire Inn will again host food, live music, book signings and a talent show.
Linda Schlott, executive director of the Franklin Main Street Program, encourages the community to come to the Big Bear Shelter on Saturday for a day filled with fun, food, entertainment and a great learning experience. “We know that the Appalachian Trail hikers have a positive economic impact on our town and we want to celebrate that.”
For further details, contact Linda Schlott by calling (828)524-0476.
Admission will be $10 per person to cover entertainment and food expense at the events held at Sapphire Inn. There will be shuttles available from Fontana and the Nantahala Outdoor Center to and from the bash with Starlite Limo Service in Cherokee for a fee. Call (828)586-5466 for information. Budget Inn of Franklin, (828)524-4403; Sapphire Inn of Franklin, (828)524-4406.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Suwannee SpringFest 2009 or How I got the Spirit of the Boogie!!!

We enjoyed a wonderful weekend at Suwannee Springfest. In spite of a little wet weather and a few manly gusts of high wind, the music went on and the Festivarians festivalized as only those who are unbathed and barefoot with divine purpose and mystic insight can.
We were pleased to be joined by cousin Amy (Amyl Nitrate), Jesse (Fighting Cock), and the one and only SuperChunk.
The music kicked ass, the dancing was dirty, and the spirit was alive! Reverend Jeff Mosier laid down the gospel of Garcia and Boogie Cat proclaimed, "I never eat while I'm on the boogie!" And the Tornado Rider taught us all to "be a vicious bird!" What can I say? I am a believer!

Drew Emmitt and Billy Nershi with Tyler Grant. The Emmitt Nershi band played like they were on fire!
Mike Merenda (with baby on back) on banjo and his wife, Ruth Ungar (of Mike and Ruthie) with
Jordan McConnell of the Duhks.

Festivarians "Hometown" on "Superchunk", Jesse (sometimes known as "Fighting Cock")and "Amyl Nitrate"
"Fighting Cock" "Amyl Nitrate" and "Black Betty" ponder the true meaning of "I'm a Falcon!"

Monday, March 23, 2009

Suwannee Springfest

BlackBetty and I are heading down to the beautiful Spirit of the Suwannee music park in North Florida on Thursday for Springfest. It'll start the 2009 Festival season for us. I'm looking forward to seeing all the great music. (It'll be the first time I've seen Guy Clark since June 1981!)

Suwannee is a great venue, it's usually a smallish crowd, two stages, has a mellow and friendly vibe, and of course the music is great. We bring our bicycles, tent camp, and chill for the weekend. No worries.

We are also looking forward to camping with my AT buddy, Superchunk and also our niece Amy and her boyfriend, Jesse. We should also reunite with other festivarian friends who we see there.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Curtis Blackwell

Curtis Blackwell is a local bluegrass legend. Here is a video I found on YouTube by his granddaughter showing a mountain family jam session. Curtis is in the plaid shirt on your right, playing the guitar. These boys can pick! Mighty Fine, Mighty Fine.........

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The 5th graders at Cartoogechaye

I gave a presentation the the 5th graders at Cartoogechaye School this morning about my Appalachian Trail thru hike. As part of their P.E. program they learn about the A.T. and actually go for a day hike. (The hike is to Siler's Bald.)
So, Hometown was invited to come and talk to the kids. It was actually very enjoyable. I brought my backpack and passed around my gear. I used a question and answer format, which from previous experience with kids works real well, keeps them from being bored, and is pretty entertaining overall.
I would say that the animal questions topped the list, and I told them of bear, moose, and snake encounters. One kid actually asked me, "what hardships did you endure on the trail?" I think he may be destined for a career in journalism. Of course I had the obligatory "did you carry a gun?" and "where did you go to the bathroom?" questions also.
What can I say? It was lots of fun, they invited me to hike with them to Siler's Bald. I may just do that............

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Deep Elem Blues

I've not blogged in a while, so I'll post a quick update.

We went to the Garage at Biltmore (a great little place to see music) last Saturday night to watch Blueground Undergrass tear down the house. Jeff Mosier's brother, Johnny was playing electric guitar with the band and they really rocked more than they rolled. Bobby Miller from Asheville sat in on fiddle and there was a new bassist and drummer whose names I did not catch. Anyway the show was killer and I had a great time.

I'm still singing, "Oh sweet mama daddy's got them Deep Elem Blues".

Monday, January 26, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hometown Paper Interview

The hometown paper decided to interview the hometown hiker:

Appalachian Trail Adventure: Local man thru-hikes ATBy Andy Scheidler
While attempting a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, Chuck Allen stopped at a small town in Pennsylvania. He met a Mennonite family that had two sons who had completed the trail. The family brought Allen and a few other hikers back to their dairy farm, fed them and allowed them to spend the night.
That type of hospitality and community support was easily Allen's favorite part of completing a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.
The relationships developed during the hike made for a great experience, as Allen met people from all walks of life. From high school students who graduated a semester early, to 70-year-olds, to hippies, to a guy who worked at the Pentagon, to Iraqi war veterans, Allen came to realize how similar everyone really is.
"I think it made me more laid-back, more tolerant," Allen said. "It's easier to kind of see, that same kind of community extends to this community. Everybody out there is pretty much the same. I think we kind of dwell on it more out on the trail because you're stripped of all this stuff, so you have a simplistic physical relationship. Whether it's using privies, using tents, or eating out of the pot, you don't have all the distractions, so you have more time to sit down and communicate with each other and talk about what's important."
A Franklin resident for 20 years, Allen set a goal to complete the entire length of the AT. He was 40 when he set the goal, and gave himself 10 years to get financially prepared for the adventure (i.e. paying off his house and getting his kids through college).
He also needed to take six months off from work at Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva, where Allen works as a registered nurse.
Allen attended a Christmas party/social gathering for aspiring thru-hikers in December 2007.
Ronnie Haven hosts two such gatherings each year, one around Christmas and another larger gathering in April (this year's April Fool's Bash may be held in conjunction with the Town of Franklin at Town Square on April 4).
Allen didn't have a trail nickname. Some people name themselves, while others may get a nickname if something happens to them on the trail.
Since the gathering was held in Franklin, Haven suggested that Allen go by Hometown.
"Whenever you finish, you'll be our hometown hero," Haven said.
Allen liked the name and decided to use it.
"I was the only Hometown that I met out there," he said. "So that ended up pretty cool."
With his leave of absence granted from work and nickname established, Allen embarked on the journey. He began at Springer Mountain, Ga., on March 21, 2007.
Life on the trail
The AT runs from Georgia to Maine, crossing 14 states and totaling approximately 2,175 miles. Typically, it takes about six months to complete.
Allen set off with a goal of completing the hike in five months. He had section-hiked parts of the trail before, and figured he could cover an average of 15 miles per day.
He began the trail with a friend from Asheville, though the two didn't plan to stick together for long. He was technically hiking the trail by himself, but was rarely alone and almost always camped with other hikers.
He spent his evenings writing letters for his online journal, and reading paperbacks he picked up in shelters along the way. He read a lot of science fiction in the evenings before exhaustion set in.
Allen said he didn't miss watching television in the least. He didn't carry a cell phone, though a lot of other people did, and relied on pay phones to call home.
"I kinda wanted that experience," he said. "I was afraid if I was calling home at night, it would be too easy to get homesick. Or the first time something happened, you'd be like, 'I'm out of here.'"
Allen is married to Susan, who teaches English at Franklin High School. They have three daughters: Holly Parlier teaches fourth grade at Cartoogechaye Elementary, Becky works at Three Eagles and Sara Beth lives in Massachusetts.
"I really missed my family," Allen said. "It's a long time to be away from home."
Though he didn't bring a cell phone, Allen did carry an mp3 player with an FM radio, allowing him to listen to music and catch the occasional ball game.
He kept a paper journal each night about the day's adventure, and would mail them to his wife. Susan would then post them online, allowing Allen's family, friends and co-workers to track his progress.
"The best thing was them signing my guest book," Allen said, "because it was really encouraging. It was another thing that really motivated me and helped me finish the trail."
Another source of inspiration was local hero, Rufus Morgan.
Morgan helped establish, and ran, several churches in Western North Carolina. He started the Nantahala Hiking Club, and continued hiking into his 90s. For many years he maintained a 55-mile section of the AT, and earned the nicknames "One-Man Hiking Club" and "Moses of the Mountains."
"(Morgan) was a big inspiration for me," Allen said.
Allen's journey through the Great Smoky Mountains went great. He said the weather was beautiful, which is rare for the springtime.
The Virginia's offered some great views on the Shenandoah Mountain.
Everything was going smoothly until Allen reached the White Mountains in New Hampshire and Maine. Though probably the most beautiful part of the trip, they were also very rocky and featured poor weather.
"I had rain all through New England, so that really made it hard," Allen said.
"About the last month, I was in rain every day. The hardest thing was to get up every morning and put wet clothes on, wet shoes, wet socks and go out there and hike 20 miles."
Allen stayed dry at night by putting on dry clothes that he kept in his backpack.
But a more serious problem struck with only about 60 miles left on the trail. While at camp and wearing his crocs, Allen slipped and stubbed his toe. It hurt, but he was OK until the next day. After hiking about five miles, he felt the toe snap.
Allen hiked 23 miles that day. He wrapped and taped the toe, but the pain was pretty severe. However, he had gone too far and wasn't about to let it stop him from finishing.
"I'd climb Katahdin on crutches if I had to," he said.
Allen hiked about the last 800 miles with a guy from Johnson City, Tenn., who was about the same age. He reached the finish with three other hikers who he had hiked with during periods of the journey, making it more special.
Allen reached Mount Katahdin on Aug. 13, meaning he finished the thru-hike about a week shy of five months.
It was a great experience for Allen, but he didn't know what to think when it was all over with.
"It was kind of a mixed feeling," he said. "It's a relief that it's over with. But at the same time, it seemed odd not to have to wake up the next day and have to hike."
His wife Susan has family in Maine, and she drove Allen back to Franklin.
Goal achieved
It took about three weeks for the pain to disappear from his knees and joints, as he could barely walk after periods of sitting. But he knew of 21-year-olds who experienced the same discomfort, so that made him feel better that age wasn't the main factor.
Allen lost 27 pounds during the hike, as he said it was almost impossible to eat enough food to counteract the loss of calories. His friend from Asheville, who completed the hike about a month later, dropped about 60 pounds from his 300-pound frame.
Approaches to hiking the AT vary, whether it's blue-blazers who take side trails, slack-packers who skip certain portions or purists who hike every section and see every white blaze.
Allen was a purist. But it really doesn't matter how you approach the trail, as a common AT saying is "hike your own hike."
"It was something that I always wanted to do," Allen said. "And I wanted to experience it on a thru-hike. I just kept that goal in mind and did it."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

David Bromberg at the Orange Peel

We went to see David Bromberg play at the Orange Peel on Thursday night. It was a thrill for me and Black Betty. I have been a huge fan since the 70's and we never got the opportunity to see him live, and then of course he "dropped out" for twenty-two years. You know, he was really good, engaging as ever, and he played to a crowd of true fans who not only appreciated him, they really loved him. It was honor to be there!

Friday, I was interviewed by the Franklin Press about my AT thru-hike. I felt like a babbling idiot, we'll hope it doesn't translate that way into print. I'd hate to embarrass my family:(

Tomorrow is my Birthday. I'm working (as is my custom). I'll celebrate by going out with the fam for supper:)

Here's a new posted video of Larry Keel, enjoy...............................

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Easter Sunday with The Dead

We lucked out yesterday, and with Black Betty's perseverance and superior computer savvy, we scored great seats for The Dead. We are going to the Easter Sunday show on April 12th at the Greensboro Coliseum. It's the first show in the twenty-city 2009 show, so it should be great. I have not seen them since '77 or '78 so they may have aged somewhat. It'll be a family gathering for me, since our daughter (Sugaree) and her boyfriend will be going with us.

This edition of The Dead is the same that played for the Obama benefit at Penn State last fall. It features Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Billy Kreutzman. They are joined by Warren Haynes on guitar (yes!) and Jeff Chimenti on keyboards.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Put your dancin' shoes on!

Get ready to boogie! The Infamous Stringdusters are playing the Grey Eagle in Asheville on Friday night.

Where else but Asheville can you see an incredible bluegrass supergroup for an incredibly cheap 10$???

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Eve 2008

David Via, Mad Tea Party, Big Daddy , Larry Keel and Natural Bridge burning it down at the Grey Eagle. What more do I need to say? It was a night of absolute magic and music, what a way to welcome 2009! I'm looking forward to many more good shows in the coming year......