I'm sitting in the western suburbs of Chicago, listening to the soothing sounds of a jackhammer operator tearing up the driveway across the street. We have a blessed day off, early in our first summer tour, that will take us from Chicago to Brooklyn, and all the way to Maine by the end of the month. I thought I would pass the time, by giving everyone an update of our recent travels, as well as some new Wilder developments.
Our first tour of Europe was a complete success. We spent the entire month of May in a whirlwind of a tour, playing 24 shows in 27 days by crisscrossing Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Audiences in Europe were very kind and enthusiastic, and we will most definitely return. There were so many stories I could tell from our experience. I realize, however, that even if I gave up the band and went to blog-writing full-time, it would take me months to get them into readable shape. Although my previous entry, detailing our last night in Germany, was by no means a "normal" gig for Europe, I felt that the uniqueness of the night warranted the extrapolation. Maybe, if I get writer's block in the future, I'll try to go back to our first European tour, and expand on the story.
North of 60:
Within a few days of returning home to KC, we were back in the air for a 7-day return visit to the Yukon and Alaska. We spent 2 days north of the 60th parallel in Haines Junction, Yukon for a repeat performance at the Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival. It was another great year, with fantastic weather and stellar performances by The James King Band, and 2006 IBMA "emerging artist" winners, The Steep Canyon Rangers. But personally, the "high" point of the weekend happened well after the festival was over. The Kluane folks had arranged for one member from each of the three bands to take a half hour helicopter ride into the adjacent mountains. I was joined by James King's bassist, John Wade, and Steep Canyon band-leader, Woody Platt. The experience was indescribable. If it weren't for the cost, I would travel only by helicopter from now on... Thanks to the Kluane folks for a ride of a lifetime.
After the helicopter ride, we were driven to Haines, Alaska for a performance at their exceptional performance space, The Chilkat Center. Somehow, before we left Haines Junction, my fancy cowboy boots were loaded mistakenly into a car headed to Whitehorse. So, for the Haines show, I faced an obvious wardrobe dilemma. Mark Battion, (one of our friends in Haines) suggested that I borrow a pair of "Extra Toughs" (durable red rubber boots that are the year-round footwear of choice amongst the locals). So, I slapped a pair on over my slacks, and walked out for the beginning of the show to the roar of the crowd. I don't know what got into me, but I kept altering my wardrobe throughout the performance, and by the last song, I was wearing my Extra Toughs over suit slacks, a Carhartt duck jacket, no shirt, and my mexican wrestling mask. Although it was weird thing to do, we were running on all cylinders all night, and the performance was one of our best in months.
The tour ended the next night with a return performance in Juneau at Centennial Hall. I think we must have made an impact last year, because about 15 minutes before we took the stage, the promoter scrambled for more chairs to seat the overflowing crowd.
As I wrote before, we are 4 days into a three-week tour of the Northeast. We will be playing in Brooklyn and Rosendale, NY before heading out for two days at the Grey Fox Festival in Ancramdale. Then, after a show in Northhampton, MA, we are planning to find a nice state park to camp for a couple of days to save money (unleaded gas is $3.69 here in Chicago! I can only imagine how high it will be in the east). Our tour will continue on to Narragansett, RI, followed by a final performance at the Ossipee Valley Bluegrass Festival in Cornish, Maine. If any highlights happen over the next few weeks, you can be sure to hear about them here first...
Vinyl? Who buys vinyl anymore?
The recording session we did with Dirk Powell down in Louisiana back in November is still in the works. The release date is pending, but it will most likely be finished by the end of the year. Expect it to appear early in 2008. For those who can't wait, we will be releasing a limited edition 10" vinyl EP in September. The A-side will consist of three good old Wilders tunes- a bluegrassy version of Flatt and Scruggs' "Georgia Mail", a rocking version of the Hank Williams classic, "Long Gone Daddy" and a rollicking version of the old time fiddle tune, "Brown's Dream". The entire B-side is an original tune I wrote after my experience of sitting on the jury of a murder trial back in 2005. All of the music on the EP was recorded in Louisiana during the sessions for the upcoming full-length cd. The A-side tunes are gems from the cutting room floor. The B-side is something else entirely. I believe that this EP accurately represents the Wilders in a state of transition. It will be a fun listen for old Wilders fans, and a sneak peak at what we are now becoming. We are very, very proud of how it turned out. For those who no longer have the ability to play a vinyl record, the tracks will be available on several websites for digital download. Look for more info on this and future releases on our website.
Finally, a word about the comments section of this blog. Since Google bought out Blogspot, you people wanting to comment on our blogs have had a tough time logging in. I love to read what y'all have to say, but this "anonymous" thing is really annoying. I'm trying to decide whether to move the blog to another site. I'd like to hear your comments on what problems you are experiencing. Maybe I can help get it figured out.
Well, that's all the poop that's fit to poop right now. Hope all of you have a safe and relaxing July.