Labors Of Love
Happy Labor Day Weekend to everyone!
Having just returned from summer tour and about to embark on fall tour this week, it's all about the eternal balancing act between working and relaxing. Of course, it's been fantastic seeing Jae again after three months and 11,000 miles on the road. We've caught up and gone out to do some fun stuff as well as chilling out around the house as I continue to play catch-up with administrative stuff that's been piling up here and there. Funny how that happens sometimes. As much as I endeavor to stay on top of things while traveling, sometimes you just want to relax at the end of a day's drive instead of constantly guiding the plow. So it's been equal parts kicking back and pedal to the metal since returning to Orlando. Still, I love all the "work" because it's good, if not merciless, to be your own boss.
I head out again for a month; a 5,000 mile journey back to the west coast for the first time since 2011. Lots of exciting things taking place out there in all columns! For one, I'm performing my very first show in Washington state courtesy of the Three Rivers Dulcimer Society; I always enjoy breaking new ground and just driving through the state is going to be amazing, let alone having the chance to meet some new folks and make music! Then, I'll get to meet Mark Nelson for the first time in Oregon. His mountain dulcimer legend precedes him, though he's focused more on guitar and ukulele in the more recent years. Mark reached out to me after Michael "Hawkeye" Herman mentioned to Nelson that he'd met me in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge. Mark's got the definitive slack-key mountain dulcimer book (Ke Kukima Polinahe: Hawaiian and Polynesian Music For Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer) and is quite a character, so I'm very stoked to not only be meeting him but also acquiring an instrument of his dubbed "The Pink Thing": a six-string electric solid body mountain dulcimer similar to one owned by Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. That, and I get to go back to Oregon this year. Sweet.
Then, I've got a couple of shows in Northern California, another first since I only played in my home region of Southern California prior to this. I'll be at The Strum Shop in Roseville and in Berkeley at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists where I'll meet up with Hearts of the Dulcimer filmmakers and podcasters Patricia Delich and Wayne Jiang. The duo e-mailed me this summer, interested in shooting my Berkeley performance and also conducting a filmed interview for their planned sequel to the film. "Hearts of the Dulcimer" is one of the coolest things to happen to the mountain dulcimer since Jean Ritchie brought it out of the hills of Kentucky and I'm very excited to be part of its slender filmography.
California is my birth-state and I don't make it out there a whole bunch, so I'll be looking forward to seeing some folks that I haven't seen in a very long time during the run-up to my return to the SCDH Fall Heritage Festival of Dulcimers. Since I started adding theme parks to my tour itinerary a couple of years back, this is going to be a HUGE stop as I visit Disneyland again as well as two of my former places of employment; Knott's Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain. I haven't been to either park for quite some time so there are many roller coasters that I haven't yet experienced, including the awesome new Twisted Colossus.
And there's so much more going on; full schedule is available here. After the 2015 FALL All Out Tour is complete, I will have traveled more than 20,000 miles across the country through 26 states. You'd think that I'd be ready to call it quits and remain at home after that, but I'll return to Florida and play a couple of shows (including another competing stint in the Central Florida Blues Challenge) before heading out with Jae in a rented RV for a little vacay on the road while Rita The Winnebago takes some much-deserved time off from daily wear and tear. Jae graciously offered to make the three-week journey an opportunity to book some more gigs, but I'll be quite happy and content to simply hang out and enjoy the sights and sounds of the road without any sort of agenda whatsoever, though I'll definitely bring instruments and do a little songwriting. Maybe busk in a few places. I'm a musician after all; ya gotta play while you play.
As a self-employed producer of music, there are very few days where I'm not doing some kind of work and making some kind of effort towards my career. The pace that I keep and the tasks that I complete are all self-governed and I'm a merciless beast when it comes to this sort of thing, but I love it beyond belief. So, Labor Day Weekend is being spent doing, what else?, lots of labor. But given the nature of the work, you can definitely think of it all as a labor of love!