Tuesday, January 7, 2014

That Time It Never Quit Snowing

Wow...2014 ! How did that happen ?  Well, it went like this.  In January I stayed home, doing my house gigs at Mikey's Juke Joint and The Blues Can (both here in Calgary) plus a gig at National Music Centre (also Calgary) and taught a few private lessons...lying low and trying to recover financially from the collapse of a Spanish tour in December 2012.  I also continued to work on my most recent cd with co-producer Russ Broom and a handful of other folks.  February brought a winter blues fest in Camrose, AB (at the beautiful Bailey Theatre) and a 10-gig duo tour with my old pal Big Dave Maclean (including the gorgeous Dream Cafe in Penticton), and the annual blues & burlesque "Dirty Valentine" night at Mikey's.  March saw the cd completed, plus my house gigs and shows at Legacy Guitars in Cochrane AB and a concert in Vulcan, AB.  April 4 saw the release of the new cd, The Blue Highway (LowdenProud Records) to a full house at Ironwood Stage & Grill, then a flight to Ottawa to rehearse and perform "Big Mama" with Jackie Richardson at The National Arts Centre.  The show was a howling success and I had time to hang with friends Tony D and Steve Marriner (Monkeyjunk), folk and blues radio hosts Chris White and John Tackaberry, and several guitar buddies passing through (Paul Pigat, Doug Cox, Morgan Davis),.  We closed May 11 and I was back in Calgary May 13, playing the Blues Can, Bob Dylan's birthday party at Ironwood, two days as guest guitarist at Mount Royal Conservatory, a guitar clinic and house concert (also in Calgary) and a night at The Grandview Stage, just outside Rocky Mountain House AB. 

In June I played Carlsons On Macleod, a beautiful club closed by the floods which hit downtown High River (fortunately all my friends there escaped without physical harm) and drove with my wife to California via old Highway 95 (Idaho-Washington-Oregon-Nevada route).  After a lovely visit there with my family and my wife's sister's family in the SF Bay area, we drove home in time to play the Pincher Creek Cowboy Poets Gathering, where I put my back out...it wouldn't settle down and caused me to spent the night of our intense flooding in emergency, having to cancel Works fest (Edmonton) and North Country Faire appearances.  July brought Stampede gigs with The Hackamores (my part-time Western Swing band), 2 performances of "Big Mama" at Vancouver Island Music Fest, and more.  In August I played the Canmore Folk Festival for the first time in 20 years, including great workshops with Jim McLennan, Chic Gamine, and Matt Anderson, and returned as a teacher at Foothills Acoustic Music Institute (FAMI) just west of Calgary.  I finished there, went by home for an hour, and flew via Seattle to Anchorage, from where I was driven to Wasilla (yes, Sarah Palin's hometown) to teach at Acoustic Alaska camp and play concerta in Anchorage and Seldovia.  September was largely taken up with a tour of the Okanagan Valley and Vancouver Island, Hornby Island and Gabriola Island in British Columbia.

Early October was spent with friends in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, and (on returning home) a benefit performance for pal Amos Garrett who lost a considerable amount in the June flooding, followed by local gigs and students.  November and December were a time to stay close and lie low with in-town gigs and teaching (and a three-day tour of Saskatchewan...nice to see friends Richie and Katherine Pollack, and Ken and Heather Peat Hamm out that way).

2014 : The 11th annual Hankover on New Year's Day sold out, and this week I play a house concert in St. Albert AB and the Saturday Night Special folk club here in Calgary, plus other in-town gigs and a house concert in Red Deer on the 31st.  I will compete in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, Jan. 21-26, and February will see me at both Calgary and Edmonton winter blues fests.  Keep the faith, support traditional and original music, and I hope to see you at a show sometime soon !  Stay warm and drive safe...