Merry Christmas 2015 and a Happy New Year!

December 21, 2015

Thanks to all the fans I saw on the road this year 2015, and to the ones I didn’t see, I hope to see you next year.

The year started with a record production with Todd Burge and an onstage collaboration with novelist Tim O’Brien, followed by a trip to Celtic Connections in Glasgow. In February, I got to play with the Wheeling Symphony as well as record with heroes Dale Bruning and Bill Frisell, Tour dates with Andy Statman followed in March, which also included a lovely record production with Old Man Luedecke in his cabin in Nova Scotia. I toured with Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project in April, and started a long winding tour with Hot Rize that only ended in mid October. It was a great thing to play with my pals Nick, Pete, and Bryan and to update the bands repertoire with new songs. Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers might have stole some of Hot Rize’s thunder at Rocky Grass but heck, they’ve been in the back of the bus an awful long time waiting, so maybe it was their turn for glory. Hot Rize competed with the Earls of Leicester for airplay and awards, and on the awards front, the Earls won big at the Grammys and at IBMA. I’m proud to be in first and second place all at the same time.

2015 also marked the start of a new record label – Short Order Sessions (SOS). It’s a new model, in that SOS doesn’t make physical CD’s, and it only releases single tracks in digital form. I had some plans on what to record but after a while I needed to think on my feet more, and some surprising things happened in the studio. My partner Jan Fabricius worked hard promoting the 24 songs (two released each month) on social media, and as mandolinist and harmony singer, she helped record some of them too. We made a video in January for the song Dance You Hippy Dance, and that song eventually made it to number one on the folk DJ chart, which that week also included Hot Rize’s Clary Mae and my solo vocal from the Earls of Leicester CD Darling Corey. In the middle of all this, I was able to put together a new CD release on Howdy Skies Records called Pompadour. Check out the video version of the title track that Scott Simontacchi and Kent Blanton helped me make. In October and November Jan and I performed the new music on tour, with Old Man Luedecke as opening act. Thanks to all the radio folks and fans who have played the CD. Thanks also to Dave Ferguson and Sean Sullivan who have recorded most of the tracks for SOS and for Pompadour at the Butcher Shoppe.

And while we toured this year, our friend Bill Schleicher inched along on a kitchen renovation from February until after Thanksgiving. It’s really nice now! Jan and I are now on “staycation”, hanging around our “private island” with a coffee cup or a wine glass in hand, cooking in style. We’ve been cleaning up more than two years of junk stuck in corners in the music room and it’s looking really nice now too. We put up a Christmas tree in there but when we move it out, there should be room for some new songs to grow.

In 2016 I’ll be back at Celetic Connections, Merelfest, Strawberry, Telluride, Rocky Grass, Tønder, and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and more! I’ll be traveling to North Carolina and New York in mid January, followed by a solo tour in Ireland and the UK. In February and March, watch for me on tour in the USA in collaboration with traditional Irish music heavyweights Lunasa.

It’s halfway through the shortest day of the year as I write this. Tomorrow, as the days start getting longer, let’s make plans for a great year in 2016. But while looking ahead is an important part of every day, let’s slow down to a full and complete stop during the holidays, remember the important things in this life, and hold our loved ones close. Jan and I wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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by R & T