Posts Tagged ‘Nerfa’

What I did on my summer vacation

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

I don’t recall actually writing the “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” essay when I was in school. Uh-oh may be I still owe that homework. Well better late than never.
This summer was pretty magical. I never use that word. But it works this time. We start with the official kick-off of summer: Memorial Day. Went to Texas. Kerrville Texas to be exact. It was our first trip to the long-running Kerrville Folk Festival and we were New Folk… just when I was thinking I can’t be new. We hung out with other New Folk artists at the Rouse’s Camp. Lindsey and Deb host the New Folk each year and they are the perfect hosts, providing the support we need, a place to land, breakfast, and fun. I feel like we really bonded as a group and for me, it was a change to expand relationships with Catherine and Jay from the YaYas, Karyn Oliver, Rob Lytle, Phil Henry, MaryBeth and Mike from The Twangtown Paramours. And we forged new friendships with Eliot Bronson, Jane Eamon, Roy Schneider and Tom Corbett. The music was crazy good and not just on stage. In fact some of the new folk won me over with songs over breakfast that they didn’t play on stage. At the suggestion of many friends we sought out Bill Nash, who brings a whole new meaning to the love of music. We return to Texas to attend SWRFA at the end of the month, and we’ll get to see a whole bunch of new, old friends.
We came home to a struggling vegetable garden… a few days without water can be disastrous. But food, water, sun, shade and everything perked up. Just like Aidan and me. Zucchini, yellow squash, soy beans, bell peppers, hot peppers, tomatoes, and tons of herbs. My neighbor Ted thinks this barely qualifies as a vegetable garden (he doesn’t say this, I can tell) but it has been a while since we have had any sort of a garden and this has been such a fun experiment that I am planning a big garden next year… asparagus, artichokes, melons… I even have a couple of fall crops already in the ground!
July brought the wedding of my niece. She’s the one who sort of inspired “Somewhere to Call Home”. We went home to Falcon Ridge Folk Festival later in July. We had missed last year since we were moving. It was fun to be Emerging Artists this year. A great group of musicians including friends Sharon Goldman and Ellen Bukstel , and new folk folks Grace and Karyn. We spent a night with Leni and David who we know from Florida and had fun catching up, and eating wine soaked peaches! On our return home we drove by a sculpture garden and had to stop in. The sculptor Bijan welcomed us in and knows folks who own a restaurant within walking distance of our place in Greenville. Tiny world.
Then it was off to France for a proper vacation. Ten days in a little corner east of Paris, nestled between the Champagne and Burgundy regions. We drank wine you will never hear of, ate local cheese and bread, and devoured pastries. I could fill a page with stories, but here are two. One afternoon we went to the outdoor food market. We thought it would be fun to put together a picnic and drive into the countryside. But once in the country, we realized we had nothing to drink. We stopped by an apple orchard. Their farm stand was closed, but a young man opened up and got us some cider. Opened up a few bottles and gave us a tasting. The car wouldn’t start! And the kind young man returned, gave us a couple of glasses and offered us the table in the orchard. Great afternoon.
Next day we set off to find the automaton museum. It’s not in your guide book. It is in a small village, hard to find, not well marked. It is closed. But we knocked and were welcomed in by Michel Marcu, the 80 year old creator of moving dioramas. Dolls creep me out a little, moving dolls are even creepier. Still this was amazing. This guy designed and created the gear mechanisms that move the dolls in some pretty complicated ways… horses walking, people dancing, clock towers opening and planes flying. There was a doll that poured a little wine and drank it, his eyebrows raised, he moved his head and smiled, I think his eyes followed us. Really. Michel not only created the mechanisms, he made the dolls, and costumes, and backgrounds. When parts were not available for his gear mechanisms, he made them. We spent a good part of an afternoon with this man who does not speak any English and spoke French to us like we were four year olds so we could understand him. He showed us his workshop, unassembled components, the works!
And so September finds us home for the month after a magical summer. Just how magical? We were so inspired by the musical friends that we spent time with and want you to hear their music too. So our next CD, due out in January, will be covers of music by a few of our favorite duos. We’ll also be hosting a room full of duos at Nerfa. It will be magical.

December News

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Its the second consecutive monthly edition of the Friction Farmer’s Almanac.  This shatters my previous record of one consecutive month.  Our monthly newsletter will tell you all about what we’ve been up to, musically and otherwise, and what’s on the horizon.  This month: the November travel update, thoughts about winter and the holidays, plans for January and a plea for help.

November on the road…

We started at Nerfa.  For the unindoctrinated that stands for northeast regional folk alliance.  It is officially a business, booking, educational conference.  I call it the meeting of the tribe.  It is amazingly rewarding to get together with 750 other folk and acoustic musicians, writers, DJs, producers, venues, photographers, managers, enablers… Not just rewarding in the business sense (although it is) or the educational sense (although it is) but in the spiritual and emotional sense.  I always leave feeling physically exhausted and emotionally recharged.

A few highlights; playing in the round with Annie and Rod Capps, Buskin and Batteau and percussionist Marshall Rosenberg.  The comradery of playing is so much fun, and getting to play with that caliber of “back up band” is amazing.  Self proclaimed folk relic David Amram sat in with Buskin & Batteau – a real treat.  Speaking of Amram, one of the workshops at the conference was “Wisdom Of The Elders” with Amram, Theodore Bikel and Oscar Brand.  That’s a lot of talent and a lot of history for one room to hold.  And those guys have lived a lot of life.  It was a great session.  Finally, one of the highlights for me is discovering new music.  Here are my finds –  Round Mountain, two brothers from New Mexico on guitar, accordian, trumpet, kora (west african harp) etc.; Kath Buckell, who played at our post Nerfa gathering where we were so pressed for time we could only have her do one song, but it was great; Carolanne Solebello, okay not exactly a new discovery as we’ve  known her for years, but she was with Red Molly and now she’s playing solo and has some really great songs.  Google them, listen.

We also played at the American Folk Art Museum among a display of old quilts, then went out for an over-priced but fabulous martini in Manhattan.  An evening of contrasts.  Next night we played with Aidan’s sister Siobhan and her husband Michael at Urban H2O in Yonkers.  A fun night – google them, listen.

Spent a couple weeks in the old neighborhoods – West Village and Park Slope, ate my way through the city, did lots of fun stuff.  I miss New York.  (not moving back) Although one of the reasons for moving back south was my dislike of winter.  It was 26 degrees here this morning and 32 in NYC.  I blame global warming.

On the way back from New York we had a show in Fredericksburg VA hosted by guitar maker Bob Gramman.  We stayed at the Gramman’s.  They are wonderful hosts.  But the house is filled with guitars, which is a dangerous thing for Aidan.  I was afraid one of them would follow us home and we’d have to keep it.  But we agreed to give two musicians from Sweden a ride to Charlotte NC so the car was really full.  There’s a weird thing about being on the road, magic happens.  These guys from Sweden were planning to Greyhound their way across america, but they have been meeting people who are headed their way and getting rides instead.  Magic.  Our already overburdened Subaru managed to hold two more people plus two more guitars, suitcases and laptops.  Magic.

The Holiday Season

Its here Hannukah, Christmas, winter solstice, or as we call it around here – baking season.  I’ll be putting a cobbler in the oven before the end of the day.  I’ll also be baking a lot of cookies this season.  I have three standards. The first is the christmas miracle cookie, so named because I was able to make cookies for guests out of what was around the house.  Sort of like pecan pie filling on a shortbread.  Second are almond triangle things, we need a better name, gooey almond cookies with a corner dipped in chocolate.  Finally fruit cake cookies.  Aidan likes fruit cake.  I don’t.  The cookies are sort of a compromise.  What are your favorite holiday cookies?  Post a comment here.

We’ll be putting up lights soon.  Our neighbor Molly will be somewhat pleased.  She does a great job decorating.  We don’t. I think Aidan would decorate the place like the Griswold’s if I let him.  But I caution against too much excess.  When did he become the extravagant one and I the practical one?  I blame global warming.

So now we are at the much anticipated or dreaded socio-political section of the news.  Its mild this month.  Its about shopping.  We’ll be doing all of our shopping at locally owned stores.  It is, I believe, the economically correct thing to do.  There’s a study out of Michigan that says that 73% of the money spent in locally owned stores stays in the local economy, compared with 43% in non-locally owned businesses.  I looked at their data, and I see some flaws, mostly in areas of business spending.  Even with my unscientific adjustments, there is a nearly 50% increase in money remaining in the local economy. If you are in Brooklyn, I recommend “Green in Brooklyn” and “Scaredy Cat”.  In Greenville a gift certifcate for massage from Lucy Allen.  In Florida photography from Jeremiah Jenner or a massage from Terri Flowers.  Need contact info?  ask me.  Know of another great place, post a comment.

Oh right, music makes a great gift.  I’ll gift wrap and mail “Every Miles Is A Memory” for you.  If you need another, I suggest the new one by the YaYa’s.  Google them, listen.

Back on the road in January.. Florida

It better be warm in Florida in January.  We’ve got a great tour scheduled and I am really ecited about seeing friends.  And here is the plea for help… We could use  a few more dates in Florida.  They are surprisingly hard to come by.  I blame global warming.  We have available dates throughout the state (see calendar below) and specifically could use a show in Palm Beach County.  Ideas?  please email me.  Anyone interested in hosting a house concert?  Not sure what that is – visit Also a new idea that concerts in your home is suggesting – dinner and song – a smaller mid-week gathering details at

Wow this newsletter got long.  No I won’t blame glocal warming.  Thanks for reading.  Hope to hear from you and maybe see you in January.  Next month, we fix everything that’s wrong in the world (really!).  Happy Holidays!

Christine (and Aidan)

Novemeber News

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Welcome to the November issue of The Friction Farmers’ Almanac. (yes, finally got around to it)

This month its all about mountains!

 The Ozarks

We spent a few days in October with 100 other musicians at the Serfa Conference in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas.  It was our first out there.  Beautiful country, winding roads, fall collors, friendly people.  And so much great music, sharing, commraderie.  I always find it funny that we can drive 12 hours to meet folks from around the corner.  We met new friends Julie and Todd from just up the road in North Carolina.  Saw old friends Hannah’s Whirl from Tampa, Doug Spears from Orlando.

 The Catskills

Since that was so much fun we are headed to the Catskills in November to participate in Nerfa.  Another, much larger gathering of folk musicians and enthusiasts.  Again we will see familiar Florida faces – Amy Carol Webb, Ellen Bukstel, Nick Annis.  We’ll hang out with Aidan’s sister Siobhand Quinn and her husband Michael Bowers.  We’ll reconnect with our NYC tribe.  And we will wonder at our amazing good fortune that this is our life!  Have we thanked you for that lately?  Well, thanks because without your support we’d never be able to have this incredible life.  Following Nerfa, we play three shows in NY, and one in Maryland on the way home.  And I get to celebrate my birthday and thanksgiving with family!

The Election

We’re heading stage left now.  You’ve been warned.  Okay if you know me well, you know my socio-political views are pretty far left.  But I’m rarely on a soapbox and I respect almost any informed view.  The TV ads, both sides of the aisle and the new groups out there (some really out there) are so far, left, right, left acting right, right acting left and just plain old mean!  They are also misleading and flat out incorrect.  So I thought I’d share a little info on one topic.  Economists from Princeton published a long, hard to understand, reallly boring study.  It concludes that without the passage of TARP, more than 16 million jobs would have been lost, raising unemployment to more than 16%.  It was supposed to cost $700 billion (to put that number in perspective, it is the Pentagon’s annual budget).  It ended up costing $68 billion.  The chief economist at Moody’s says the stimulus worked, The Recovery act created 2.7 million jobs and jump started a recovery.  And that guy was an advisor to John McCain.  Not telling you how to vote.  Just sharing a little information and hoping you will vote on Tuesday.

Happy Halloween.  Hope to see you on the road somewhere.  And next month’s almanac will include adventures in winter gardening and cooking!

Christine (and Aidan)