Posts Tagged ‘touring’

The New Adventures of Beethoven and Farnsworth

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

A tale of friction farm, foam, food, and friends.

Yes, I said I’d write this a week ago. You know I can’t be trusted.

For fans of “On The Road With Ned and Pinky”, fear not. Trusty Ned (our Subaru Outback) and emotional Pinky (Ned’s friend the pig shaped finger-puppet) are fine and healthy. But for longer trips we felt we needed something a little bigger, a little homier.
Beethoven is our new (well new to us anyway) Chevrolet/Roadtrek camper-van. Yup, camper-van Beethoven. Go ahead, collectively groan now and get it over with. Because Beethoven is a bigger vehicle, he needs a bigger side-kick. Enter Farnsworth the bull.

Our first trip was to New York in November. Who’s great idea was that? We were awfully lucky with the weather. Heading north through Virginia there were
still some autumn colors. I started a song as I crossed the James River. It seemed like a good one, but it remains unfinished. As I said earlier, I can’t be trusted. Some traveling troubadours make efficient use of their travel. They map out a nice direct route from point A to point B. I seek out roadside or front lawn oddity and adventure. That may be half the reason we tour. Don’t tell Aidan.

As we crested a hill on Route 11 near Natural Bridge in northern Virginia, Aidan and I gasped as the same moment. (It’s okay, we’re married now). Emerging ahead of us on a hillside was Foam Henge! It is exactly what you think it is. Stone Henge recreated in foam. Big. Painted. With signs and stuff. It is free, without much fanfare, just a dream realized by a man named Mark Cline in a few weeks’ time. Worth seeing. Seriously.

But on the way there we had an odd experience. We pulled off the road into the small parking lot of a small building to have a snack. The house next door was covered with buzzards (or maybe vultures?). At least two dozen big, creepy, birds sitting on the roof line. I am pretty sure there must have been a dead
body in there. Right? Aidan insists they might just be the local birds, or migratory. Whatever. He refused to knock on the door.

An Environmental Side Note

The big van gets ridiculously bad gas mileage. It was hard for us to justify this. However, we never need to stop at a hotel. So the big pile of cleaning chemicals they would use cleaning a room after we stay there for just one night has been saved. We find that we are more conservative with resources like water and gas
(for heat and hot water) when we are in the van. Hopefully this evens out. Aidan would like you to know that properly inflating our tires improved our gas mileage nearly 2 miles per gallon.

The adventure continues in Part 2…

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)