Morning Music 

I have a toe infection.  As a result, I have to soak my foot for 30 minutes every
morning.  I can't just sit there, pondering life.  I have to do something, so I've
been sitting there with my foot in warm water (oh, that does feel nice) and a
fiddle, guitar or banjo in my hands.  My toe is getting better (very slowly), but I
have found that 30 minutes of music at the beginning of the day, sets the day off
with a whole different feel.  I have to play quietly, so I don't disturb my
neighbors, but being able
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Thoughts on Open Mics 

I went to the Open Mic at Sky Stage on September 24.  And then I went to the Open Mic at Dublin Roasters the next day.  I think what I enjoy most about open mics is when there are unexpected groupings.  Folks just start playing together and singing together.  I love having folks hop up on stage with me!  I know it is not always easy for working musicians to get the time to play at open mics, but I want to encourage folks to do just that.  For several reasons.

#1 – lots of times open mics have new…

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Finding a Space 

One of the goals of Frederick Acoustic Music Enterprise is to develop a performance space that would seat somewhere around 100-150 folks.  That space should have good acoustics, good accessibility for both performers and audience, be somewhat centrally located in the county and be reasonably priced.  We have set up a series of concerts – Celebration of Acoustic Music, or CAM – to help us explore a variety of spaces.  Our first concert was held at Frederick Community College in the Jack B. Kussmal Theater…

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Mountain Christmas Set list 

Mountain  Christmas Set List
  1. Behold That Star
  2. Christ Child Lullaby
  3. Christmas Time Back Home
  4. Christmas Time Is Near
  5. Christmas Time’s a-Comin’
  6. Deck the Halls
  7. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  8. I’ll Be Home for Christmas
  9. Jingle Bells
  10. Joseph By Angel Reassured (words by Richard Hill, music:Brother James Air)
  11. Joseph Dearest
  12. Kentucky Wassail
  13. Mary Had a Baby
  14. Miss Hoolihan’s Christmas Cake
  15. Rise Up Shepherd and Follow
  16. The Holly and the Ivy
  17. What Child Is This
  18. Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland
  19. Martha At the Window…

What? So What? Now What? 

Happy New Year!                                           

Lots of folks make New Year’s resolutions and almost as many folks break them within a matter of weeks.  I think that is because the resolutions are not connected to any serious desire to make a change.  When I do leadership training, I encourage folks to ask three questions.  What? So What? Now What? 

“What” takes a look at what you have done in the past.  To list all the stuff you have done, to be aware of the role you have played and the…

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Music Camp 

I spent the first very hot week of July at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland attending Common Ground on the Hill classes. I took three harp classes, a folk dancing class, and helped dig out a dugout canoe. It was a great week that introduced me to a lot of players on the acoustic music scene. I increased my skills in playing harp as well as knowledge about the harp. I spent an hour each day with Ken Koons who is a great wood crafter – he builds all sorts of instruments as well as other things…

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Success vs. Value 

Albert Einstein said, “Try not to be a SUCCESS, but rather to be of VALUE.” Many of us want to be successful. The question I ask folks is “Successful at what?” Defining your goals will help you know when you have been successful. But, as Einstein says, it might be better to be of value. As a songwriter and performer I am constantly asking myself what am I trying to do? Am I just ranting on about some issue? Am I just feeling sorry for myself? Am I just patting myself on the back? I believe that artists…

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Something Old, Something New 

I learned how to sing and play by listening to and imitating Peter, Paul and Mary. As a fifth grader I had no idea of the source or history of the songs they sang. As I grew older I became aware that they blended their repertoire with very old songs and new songs. I began digging into some of the older material and found a wealth of great music. Music, regardless of style, always builds on something that has gone before. It is not a bad idea for musicians to have a sense of the history and sing/play some…

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A Musician's Responsibility 

I believe that musicians, as much as any other artists, have a responsibility to help people reflect on life.  Most people know what’s going on, but they may not have thought about why.  A good song helps them find words to describe things, and/or helps them think through the reasons.  Songs should help people see bigger issues, deeper issues, different ways, better ways.  A good song will help the listener identify a similar feeling in their own life and then help them deal with it. 

A good song is

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How to deal with phone solicitors 

Last night I was interrupted twice by solicitation calls.  I am trying a variety of approaches with these.  One is to ask them for a form 990 - which the IRS says they should send to me without any problem.  The callers, of course, have no idea of what a Form 990 is.  (It documents how much of the income for a non-profit is used for administrative purposes and how much goes to whatever programs/projects they say they are doing.  It is a legitimate request!)  Always interesting to hear their hemming and…

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