January 20, 2008

When we moved to St. Pete in 1996, We knew we’d have to play a lot of local Tampa Bay area steady gigs to survive and pay the bills in between the occasional road trips. And we’d need a lot of fans showing up at those gigs to help pay the club owner’s bills and keep us coming back. We noticed some of the same faces in the crowd night after night & thought of a small, fun way to thank them, encourage them to keep coming back & to get more folks to come out more often. So, we got some cards printed up, handed them out, & stamped each person’s card at every gig they came to. When their card had 10 stamps, they chose a prize from the prize bag.

The FREQUENT FAN cards started in 1998-2000. Withholding last names to protect privacy, those early winners were: Steve & Gail, Ron & Audette, Donna, Bob N., Bob & Debbie, Ed & Marian, Just Old Bob, Brian & Pam, Audrey, Les, Digger & Theresa, Walter, Pat, Terry, Dennis & Pete.

When we brought back the cards in 2003 through 2007, these winners were added: Terry, Yankee Bill, Judy, George, Mary & Ralph, Shirley, Jack, Lovey, Dan, Marv, Mama Blues, Doreen, Bob & Gwyneth, Ralph & Hildegarde, Marlyn, Opal, Harriett, & Steve.

The winners list would be much longer if everyone remembered their cards at every gig and if every fan participated. 9 winners- Les, Jack, Marv, Mama Blues, Ralph & Hildegarde, Marlyn, Harriett, & Steve- actually live up north, yet they won by coming to shows there in the summer & Florida visits in winter. Unfortunately, some have moved away, and at least 3 are no longer with us: Digger, Lovey & Ralph, who we miss seeing in the crowd.

Many won several times. Doubtless, our #1 Frequent Fan has to be Terry, who won 6 times (that’s 60 gigs!) in 2007! He also won, amazingly, 8 times in 2004, 6 times in 2005, & 10 times in 2006!! He may be the only person who’s heard every one of our 200+ songs, seen every gig outfit we’ve ever worn, & witnessed a lot of joy, sadness and craziness along with us. Terry so appreciates live music and is kind, fun, empathetic & generous. If we only had 50 more like him! He’s the one who wrote the lyrics (and I put them to music) to “Straight At Me” which will be on our next CD. You can find Terry at most of our Florida gigs, often accompanied by a tiny sweet lady- his mom, Mary- who’s won 24 times herself. Her favorite songs are my newer originals “Boogie Woogie Staircase” & “Last Song” which will also be on our next CD. They’re Indiana natives.

Another Frequent Fan jewel is Judy, who won five times in 2007, 9 in 2006, 5 in 2005, 4 in 2004 and 1 in 2003. Originally from Ohio, Judy is also kind, fun, empathetic, generous, + a talented cook and floral designer. She brings along many friends & family members. One of those is Opal from Iowa, who has survived cancer, heart disease & arthritis, yet still comes out often & inspires us with her fun spirit. She obliterates most excuses anyone could have for not going out.

More top winners you’re likely to see are Dan (usually sporting a great Florida shirt), Yankee Bill & Doreen (who request songs #11 & #56) & the great dancing snowbirds from Ohio, Ralph & Hildegarde, who write their favorite songs on the back of their Frequent Fan cards, then have to rewrite them all when they win & have to turn in their cards. The great thing is that all these folks have become friends with us & each other, and gigs become reunions/parties. Anyone & everyone is most welcome! Music is the glue that bonds us all.

Musicians can never have too many gigs or too many fans. We know that you sacrifice a night on the couch in front of the TV, your precious time, hard-earned money, & expensive gasoline to come out to gigs, and we never take that for granted. Whether you come out every night or every ten years, we’re glad to see you & know YOU keep us working & music alive. Every single face in the place counts (and believe me, many club owners are counting!) Playing at home is fine, but sharing music with an audience is much better. There’s nothing like the high of looking into someone’s eyes while playing a song & connecting on an indescribable level. Every single show is a unique experience with a different ambience, combination of songs and people. Our Frequent Fans can attest to this & can tell you that you don’t know what you’re missing when you’re not there.

We look forward to seeing all of you Frequent Fans, past & present, at many gigs in 2008. Don’t forget to bring your card with you (no more back-stamping in 2008), and bring along some new folks, too! And any of you who’d like a free card, just ask at any gig- we’d love to add you to the “Liz & Doc Support Group” & the FREQUENT FAN Hall of Fame.

Thanks so much, God Bless & we’ll be looking for you.

Liz Pennock

November 19, 2007

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are here again. We’ve been having a busy fall since we returned from our Summer Tour. On September 29th, the SUNCOAST BLUES SOCIETY featured us with a Spotlight Series Show at BEAK’S OLD FLORIDA on Central Ave. in St. Pete. A very nice turnout, and it happened to be SBS president KEN TORVIK’S birthday, celebrated with cake and song.

Also in September, we made a road trip to Cocoa Beach to play at the BEACH SHACK BLUES BAR on Saturday, Sept. 22nd. Right on the Atlantic Ocean, the Beach Shack plays host to national and regional blues acts. It was great to be over on the East Coast again.

In October, Liz & I did two special shows: We performed a LARGO SUNSET SOUNDS Concert in Ulmer Park on October 12th, then went to Dunnellon, Florida the next day to play at the JAZZ UP DUNNELLON FESTIVAL. This was our sixth year at this festival, a fine street event, along with sixteen other bands. The weather was fabulous, and we had a great time.

We want to thank three blues-oriented radio stations who are now giving airplay to our CDs: WPKN-FM (Bridgeport, CT); WFYI-90.1FM (Indianapolis, IN); and WCSB-89.3FM (Cleveland, OH). Please give them a listen if you get the chance, and call in a request at your favorite radio station.

Also in October, we made a television appearance on the DAYTIME SHOW on WFLA-NBC. This show aired on October 24th and went out on select stations in Florida, N. Carolina, S. Carolina, and Georgia. Songs performed were “FEAST OF BLUES” and “OLEANDER MEANDER.”

Our sympathy to the family of RALPH GREGORY who passed away in St. Pete on November 17th, especially to his wife MARY and son TERRY. The Gregory’s have been among our most loyal and generous supporters in Florida, “Frequent Fans” many times, and very good friends.

We’re very thankful for all of you who have come out to support us in 2007. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

October 01, 2007

Our 2007 Summer Tour was a great success, covering five states in six weeks. Once again, the tour began in Cincinnati, Ohio; this year, we played at the “BEATING THE MELANOMA BLUES” fundraiser in Cincy at the Frisch Estate (of Frisch’s Big Boy fame) on Thursday, August 2nd, with many of the boogie woogie piano players from the Arches Piano Stage performing. It was terrific to see AXEL ZWINGENBERGER from Germany again, and to meet LLUIS COLOMA from Spain. The Friday night Piano Party at DR. LEMING’S beautiful new home was a delight- delicious food and good music! Then, on Saturday, we did the CINCY BLUES FESTIVAL, our 12th year at this fine fest, before moving on to other shows.

As usual, we saw many familiar faces, friends, and fans in our summer travels, but this tour, we also saw people we hadn’t seen in years. Three of Liz’s high school classmates came out to shows: ROBIN in Indianapolis, and RON & LISA RUCKER in Cleveland. STEFANIE GRIFFIN, Liz’s old friend from her Tucson years, also drove from Champaign, Illinois to our SLIPPERY NOODLE show in Indianapolis! Liz’s cousin, STEVE LEWIS, and his wife showed up at the FRONT ROW in Parkersburg, West Virginia (this was their first time ever hearing us), and our old pals JOE & DEB FINLEY came to our Marietta show- we hadn’t seen them in at least twelve years. It was wonderful to see all of you again!

More surprise show-ups from the Summer Tour: Liz’s cousin & keyboardist GARY LEWIS appeared at our RASCALS gig in Dover, Ohio and our good friend JOE REED showed up in Marietta as well. Another big surprise was at the SLIPPERY NOODLE (Indianapolis) when our Florida friends JUDY RADA and HARRIET walked in with JACK BAILEY. We were floored to see them there!

We had not played in several towns for years until this tour. One was in Cleveland at the SAVANNAH BAR & GRILL (our last gig here was seven years ago). Many of Doc’s cousins came, and we had a fine time. Then, we played our first show in twelve years in Morgantown, West Virginia at RHYTHM & BREWS on September 4th, where a number of old fans showed up. CAROL WENDLAND & FLORETTE ORLEANS (both of whom we met at Blues Week In Elkins, WV around 1992) came, Florette with percussion washboard in hand. Then, to our surprise, NICK CAVOTI and friends came in with copies of our old albums. We had met Nick in Marco Island, Florida about eight years ago and had not seen him since until this show.

DILIP TRIPATHY (from Cincy) wins for attending 4 gigs in 4 different cities, as well as THE GRUSECK’S coming to 5 gigs in 4 cities!

Our tour ended in Fredericksburg, Virginia at the COLONIAL INN on September 7th. Once again, we were surprised when BEN KEYES, a fan from St. Pete, walked in. Also there were Doc’s son DREW SHAMBARGER and his friends. It was great to spend a few days in Fredericksburg with Drew, who graciously put us up in his beautiful home and showed us around town. We also got to hang out with SAFFIRE members GAYE ADEGBALOLA and ANDRA FAYE at a jam session ANDRA was hosting in Stafford, Virginia, and we had a chance to jam with them as well.

In Parkersburg, WV, we were saddened to learn that our friend JERRY MARKS (Reefe LeFevre’s brother-in-law) passed away just two days before our show at the MOOSE CLUB which he had planned to attend. Jerry’s son, Tim, is a fine sax player who had sat in with us a number of times over the years. Our condolences go out to Tim & Jerry’s wife Edna- we shall miss you, Jerry, and will think of you every time we play your favorite song, “While You’re Down There.”

August 30, 2007

Greetings from the road! We’re into Week #4 of our six-week Summer Tour. All has gone well so far, and we’ve seen lots of old friends and family along the road. Among these folks was JIM KENT from New York, whom we haven’t seen in over twenty years- Great to see you again, Jim!

Liz celebrated her 50th birthday on May 29th at our DAVE’S AQUALOUNGE gig in St. Pete with a large audience. It was a grand affair with numerous musicians sitting in. Our thanks to all who came.

Also in attendance at Liz’s birthday show were our friends ANDRE & LIL HOBUS from Brussels, Belgium. Andre is a blues writer & photographer whom we met at the BRUSSELS BOOGIE WOOGIE PIANO SUMMIT in 2004 where he was the emcee. Andre & Lil spent a week in St. Pete before heading to the Chicago Blues Festival in early June. They came to our three gigs that week, and we also took them to hear LAZYBOY & THE ROCKERS and JAMES PETERSON. We had a great time.

We are thrilled to announce the DVD release of the 2004 BRUSSELS BOOGIE WOOGIE PIANO SUMMIT, now for sale at all our shows and will soon be available on our website. This video is beautifully filmed, and it also features boogie-woogie piano greats RENAUD PATIGNY (Belgium), CHRISTOPH ROIS (Austria), and CAROLINE DAHL (San Francisco) on two grand pianos, plus GENEVIEVE DARTEVELLE on harp and others.

Further, we now have embroidered black and purple BERETS for sale again by popular demand.

April, 2007 marked Doc’s 40th Anniversary of his first gig with RISING TIDES at the YMCA in Dover, Ohio. A lot of water under the bridge since then…. It was cool to play RASCAL’S in Dover 40 years later just a few blocks away.

Also, Doc is now featured on the DEAN GUITARS Artist Webpage with his new Dean Palomino guitar. He’s playing it during the present tour and loves it. You can check out Dean Guitars on our LINKS page.

On July 1st, we were shocked and saddened to hear that our friend, SARAH “SAX” MURPHY, lost her battle with cancer. We had played gigs and jams with Sarah over the years, and our sympathy goes to her husband, ROLF. We will sorely miss her.

We just returned from Indiana, we’re now in Ohio, heading to West Virginia tomorrow and Virginia next week. Our first show home in St. Pete will be at BEAK’S OLD FLORIDA on September 15th (see DATES page for details). The SUNCOAST BLUES SOCIETY will be featuring us at Beak’s on September 29th for their Spotlight Series.

More tour highlights later. We’re excited to see you all on the road and at home!

May 09, 2007

Hope you all weathered the winter okay. Since our last newsletter, we’ve gotten through hurricane season here with NO HURRICANES! A major relief.

It’s now May, a typically busy month of gigs for us, with several noteworthy shows. On Saturday, May 12th, Liz & I will be performing at the COTEE RIVER BLUES FESTIVAL in New Port Richey, along with such notable bands as Lazy Boy & The Rockers, Angel For Blues, Corey Harris, and the Back Alley Blues Band. Also, we’ll be playing at the venerable FLORIDA FOLK FESTIVAL in Live Oak, Florida on May 25th-27th, our ninth year at this 55-year-old event. And last but not least, we’ll be celebrating Liz’s 50th Birthday at DAVE’S AQUALOUNGE in St. Pete on May 29th! So, if you can, come on out to Dave’s to celebrate Liz’s big day.

My son DREW SHAMBARGER weathered a major three-month health battle this winter when it was found that he had four brain lesions (due to an infection) which seriously impaired his vision. I’m thrilled to report that after three brain surgeries within a month and major I.V. antibiotics, Drew’s vision is back and he returned to work in mid-March.

Liz & I were very pleased with the half-page color feature in the November/December issue of TAMPA BAY MAGAZINE. Also, thanks to PETE GALLAGHER & KELLY GREEN for having us as their featured artists on their “Florida Folk” radio show on WMNF 88.5FM (Tampa) on November 9th.

Liz and I had several good visits with our friend ROY BOOK BINDER and his wife NANCY during his winter months off the road in St. Pete, and we thoroughly enjoyed Roy’s show at FOGARTYVILLE CAFE (Bradenton, FL) with PAUL GEREMIA in March. We also got to see two living legends this Spring, who happen to be two of our piano favorites: LITTLE RICHARD did a fantastic show at the Strawberry Festival (Plant City, FL) in March, and JERRY LEE LEWIS was in fine form at the Tampa Bay Blues Festival (St. Pete) on May 6th. “Lest we never forget our roots….”

On a sadder note, we were so sorry to hear that piano bluesman BIG JOE DUSKIN passed away last weekend. Big Joe was legendary on the Cincinnati blues scene and around the world, and we’ll really miss him.

Liz & I are gearing up for our next CD release, with plans to record it within the next year. We’ve been searching for a good studio with a good acoustic piano. The roster of songs (mostly original) for this studio album is pretty much together, and I’ve recently finished a new gospel song, “Throw Me A Line”, to add to the lineup. Liz & I are excited about it and anxious to get back into the studio.

Well, our stash of hotel soap is almost gone, which means we’re getting ready for our 2007 SUMMER TOUR. This year’s tour, beginning in early August, will take us to Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia, and will include, among others, the CINCY BLUES FESTIVAL (Cincinnati, OH), SAVANNAH BAR & GRILL (Cleveland, OH), and THE SLIPPERY NOODLE (Indianapolis, IN). We’re still adding dates to the tour, but you can check out the schedule on our DATES page for venues in your area. Also, if you know of any gigs which we should check out, please let us know by Email. I recently purchased a DEAN “PALOMINO” guitar, which I love and will be taking on the road with me this tour.

Well, that’s all for now. Liz & I hope to see you at a gig near you soon. Please keep supporting LIVE MUSIC whenever and wherever you can!