Hello from the road! Writing this from Les & Lilya Gruseck’s home in Kentucky, just south of Cincinnati, where we played the Redfish last Friday. (Les is the Blues photographer who shot our “Six Fingers Boogie” CD photos.) We have a couple of days off before we head south for the last leg of the six-week tour of 19 shows; we play Chattanooga this weekend and Atlanta on Monday, then head home to St. Pete where we’ll play Dave’s on August 31.
It’s been a good tour so far. The van hit 90,000 miles & is running well, except that the dash A/C went out in Georgia the first week out. The midwest had heatwave after heatwave this summer. Last week’s cold front was refreshing, to say the least!
We visited our son Andrew in North Carolina on the way north, then played the first gig at Sisters in Princeton, West Virginia, a cozy coffeehouse with super nice folks. It was a treat to play a few tunes with West Virginia Bluesman Nat Reese!
The first Ohio date was at the Atwood Yacht Club near Canton, where they had a record crowd (thanks, Momma Blues, for bringing so many friends!!) We’ve played there since the mid-80’s & it was so good to see all the familiar faces!
Another highlight was playing Danny’s in New Philadelphia, Doc’s hometown. The people there love music & Doc graduated high school with the club’s owner! My cousin Gary Lewis, keyboardist for the Barfly Band, stopped by. While in town, we enjoyed a game of miniature golf (it had been years!) & an Amish family golfed right behind us!
The tour included many venues along the Ohio River, which appeared wider & more beautiful than we remembered: Marietta, Pomeroy, Cincinnati, Parkersburg & Huntington. In Parkersburg, we heard folk musicians & old friends Mike Morningstar & Rickie Roberts & shared a late-night breakfast with them, just like old times. We played the Court Street Grill in Pomeroy for the first time, & what a great place!! Joe & Beth Strassman really kept us going! The Diamond Teeth Mary Blues Fest in Huntington was fun, too & we heard some fine bands including Haywire Dog & Fat Daddy. While in Huntington, we visited the railroad tracks where we scattered Mary’s ashes exactly a year before. It struck us that there should be a plaque or marker in Mary’s honor at the site, so we’ll have to look into that.
In between shows, we visited both of our moms in Ohio & saw all 4 of my siblings, plus other family members. My mom’s farm is quite the contrast from city blues clubs & was a relaxing respite. We played a few games of pool at her house & were tied in winnings when we left! The countryside is beautiful, but the roads seem to get curvier & steeper every year.
Our friend Steve Williams wore his dancing shoes to the Thirsty Ear in Columbus & brought a large group of swing dancers who lit up the dance floor. It was great to see blues fans Jim & Kate Kirk as well as Terry Jump & Georgia at the Slippery Noodle in Indianapolis.
Two books I read this summer were B.B. King’s & Little Richard’s autobiographies. What extraordinary lives they’ve led! We bought both books at the Sound of Blue near Kent, Ohio where we played a concert. It’s the best Blues store we’ve ever seen- stop by if you’re ever in the Kent area.
As always, it was wonderful to see all our friends and fans again; some we hadn’t seen in years. That’s what makes the tour & all the miles worthwhile. Several folks asked about a new CD & we are working on it & hope to have it out before next summer.
Thanks to all the venues on the tour and to each of you who came out to the shows and/or bought a CD, tape or ballcap! Keep supporting live blues in your area & we look forward to the next time we see you.