It is just coming into winter here in Tucson this fine December morning. It doesn't really feel like it with the blue skys and temps in the 70's during the days. Gardens growing, trees are still green. BUT, Chanukah is in full swing, Christmas on the way and the Solstice Jam coming right up. And, yes, I have been my bad ol' self and not posted here for a while. Still, all is well. It was a very busy summer and fall and looks to be a busy winter this year as well.
Big news for me has been that I was selected by the Southwest Folklife Alliance to receive a Master Artist grant for the State of Arizona. It is funded in part by the NEA and presented by SFA who are the folks that now present the long running festival Tucson Meet Yourself (started by banjo great Big Jim Griffith). It is quite and honor and I am humbled by their award. The new photo was taken by professional photographer Steve Meckler here in Tucson and I just love it! I hope you do too.
I have gotten a new band off the ground. Squirrelly Dan and The Cat Mountain Rounders. I play fiddle in that one and am joined by guitar player John Walkenbach (J-Walk here on the Hangout) and bassist Jerry Weinert of Hot Mud and Red Hots fame. Fiddler Emmy Truckenmiller joins us as does banjo player George Flink. I do get to banjo when we do songs so no, I haven't given it up. We are doing dances here in Tucson and up in Phoenix as well as some of the farmers markets in town. It has been a blast and a great way to grow musically while just having a good "old time". NEWS!: We will be playing for the Phoenix New Year's Eve dance on the 31st at the Irish Cultural Center. It will be the "big band" - 5 piece. 8 - Midnight plus a bit. Come on up and say hi, listen to the music and dance into the New Year!
February will take Emmy and I to Ireland where I am to be the featured performer at the first Annual Irish Old Time Festival - http://irisholdtime.com/ . Bob Denton here at the Hangout has paired up with his buddy Andy Lambert over there to make it happen. I'm told that Carl Jones and Erynn Marshell are going to be in the area as well so please come on over and help us show them what great old time US Appalachian music is all about. I do hope to have some tour time and perhaps even be able to do a workshop, lesson or so while we are there. We looked into making an appearance at the Gainsboro fest but it just didn't seem to be in the cards for this year. Perhaps next.
April will find me heading East with Emmy and forming an eastern version of the band for dances in PA, MD and DC. The 4 piece version will be Squirrelly Dan and The Eastern Rounders. Emmy and I will be joined by Suzanne Gates playing bass and long time Buzzard and musical friend Annie Trimble on guitar. There is even a rumor of a Boiled Buzzard Reunion happening for a part of the May 4 dance in Pittsburgh, PA with Ol' Buzzard Mark Tamsula taking on the fiddle honors and me being able to shift over to banjo giving us that big band sound with double fiddles as well. A solo concert is also planned for Sunday the 6th at Annie and Curt's home in Mt. Lebanon. I'll get to see the boys and visit some old stomping grounds on that trip so I am really looking forward to it. I went west last year so haven't been back east for a couple of years now.
I still have to plan the route east and back west (likely the southern route due to the time of year) so if you think you might like to sponsor a concert, workshop or such on my way please let me know.
Late spring and summer get pretty hot here in Tucson so Emmy and I are talking about going back up to the Northwest again. We loved the Centrailia campout and that region, Corvallis was great too and we played a lot of music and I did a bunch of shows. We got some bicycling and hiking in as well. Let me know if you would like to help us play up there for a dance or two and workshops, concerts and lessons. Hey, just a place to hang a bit and play music where it is cooler!
Finally, a few of you have honored me by establishing a Clawhammer Banjo From Scratch group here on the Hangout. It is user driven and I do try to respond quickly to postings there. I'd like to put up some more content as I have time to do so. What would you like to see there?
I guess that is enough for now. I'd say I'll try to be better about posting more often but we all know how that has turned out. Feel free to drop me a line. So, till next time...
Dan "Clawdan" Levenson
Author of Fiddle From Scratch - a Mel Bay Publication
PS Thinking it is time to thin the banjo herd. That Custom Chuck Lee is in consideration to be needing a new home. PM me if you are interested. We can "talk".
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