Northeast Tour, Family Band in Colorado, and the Continuum

It’s family band fun time in Colorado. The O’Brien Party of 7 assembled in Denver on Tuesday, rehearsed all day Wednesday, then played a show at fab record store Twist and Shout.

Then yesterday we drove 6 hours to Ouray and played a free show in the town park. Both shows were a blast. Today we play for a much bigger crowd in Telluride town park. It streams live on mighty KOTO.org.

I greatly enjoyed traveling with Todd Burge last week in New York and Massachusetts. It was a folk pilgrimage of sorts, starting at the venerable Passim in Cambridge. That club was originally called Club 47 and featured some of the earliest performances of folks like Baez and Dylan. Two nights later we played Café Lena in Saratoga Springs, where Dylan and his girl Suze Rotolo hung out. Then we hit the Clearwater Festival in Croton on Hudson. An extension of Pete Seeger’s work with the Clearwater sloop to publicize and help save a formerly dirty river, the festival is an amazing gathering in a beautiful spot - sail boats just off the stage, sunshine overhead, and music in the air coming from several stages. Todd got his copy of “The Incomplete Folk Singer” signed by Pete Seeger, but the watershed moment for Todd and me was when the 97-year-old Pete stepped on stage with Arlo and 14 other members of the Guthrie family to end Saturday’s concert.

(This pilgrimage really started for me in February when I visited Mike Seeger’s widow Alexia, bought one of his banjos and his mandola, and then two days later when I spent an afternoon with Doc Watson at his home in Deep Gap NC.)

Bill Monroe (I’m name dropping, I know) would at times dismiss some music, saying, “It ain’t no part of nothing.” While grammar teachers would note that with the double negative, such music must then be part of something, I think I’m starting to understand Monroe’s point. It is indeed good to be part of something, and my pilgrimage underlines that I am lucky to walk in and help continue the long path of traditional music. Doc and Bill and Earl and Woody and Levon may be gone but they are certainly not forgotten.

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by R & T