October 19, 2002

Greetings!

Autumn has hit Florida, and we’re getting back into the “nice season” here- tropical breezes and temperatures are back into the low 80’s. Finally turned off the a/c.

Thanks to all of you up north who made our 2002 Summer Tour a big success. Our last news report ended with Liz & me in Cincinnati entering the second half of the tour. After playing gigs in Ohio (Fairfield, Lebanon, Marietta, New Philadelphia, Dover, and Pomeroy), we began the journey homeward with a show at Sister’s Coffeehouse in Princeton, West Virginia where we shared the stage with our friend Nat Reese. Then, on to two nights at the Tropicana Room in Chattanooga, Tennessee, hosted by the other “blues doctor”, Russell Linneman, before arriving home in early September.

Back in St. Pete, Liz & I performed at the Museum of Fine Arts for the opening of Red Groom’s art exhibit; Liz enjoyed playing the museum’s nine-foot Bosendorfer grand piano for the evening. We also played theJazz Up Dunellon Festival with about ten other bands, including our friends Keith Caton & The Accelerators. Further, we had a great time at the Maria Muldaur/Bob Margolin show at Skipper’s Smokehouse in late September.

Liz & I have a new semi-house gig at CASPY’S WATERFRONT RESTAURANT in Isla Del Sol on the Pinellas Bayway. This fine establishment has excellent food, a full bar and a great vibe- and a new baby grand piano! We’re so juiced about the gig that we’ll be recording our next CD LIVE at Caspy’s on Saturday, November 16th- so come on out and make some noise! The CD is scheduled for release early next year.

Please check our DATES schedule for all upcoming shows. Also, come spend New Year’s Eve with us at Caspy’s if you can!

Doc

August 6, 2002

Here we are just south of Cincinnati in Kentucky staying with friends; 3 weeks on the road & 4 to go. So far, so good!

July started out with a brand new gig with a brand new baby grand piano, Caspy’s in St. Pete. Watch for our return there in the fall! Also played at Classic Wax in Sarasota with old friend/harmonica player Dan Electro, visiting from Spain!

We hit the road on July 15, played Richmond, VA on the 17th and Fredericksburg, VA on the 18th. That was a really special night for us, as our friends Saffire: The Uppity Blues Women were all in attendance!

The next day, we drove to Maryland for our son’s wedding! It was a beautiful weekend at the wedding & with family. Congratulations to Mary & Andrew!

We then headed west to Ohio & Doc’s hometown of New Philadelphia, where we played the Atwood Yacht Club (think it’s our longest running gig!) & Danny’s. We also played a concert at Sound of Blue near Kent, our fave record store- all blues!

Stayed a night at my mom’s near Beverly, OH where we jammed with my cousin Steve, then drove west to Cincinnati. On July 31, we performed at a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Benefit held at the home of the Ambassador to Switzerland! It’s the largest home I’ve ever been inside, & I played on a 9 foot Steinway Grand Piano! Wow! The next night we went to the Queen City Blues Festival to hear Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets featuring Sam Myers. It’s the first time we’d heard the band- they’re incredible- & especially liked the piano/B-3 player, of course. He’s former St. Pete Cutaway John Street. Enjoyed chatting with him backstage & catching up on news.

The next day, we checked into the Crowne Plaza right downtown and that night, we returned to the Fest to hear our fave acoustic guitarist & dear friend Roy Book Binder play an entertaining set.
He parked his bus outside our friend’s house here in KY most of the week, so in between gigs we’ve enjoyed his company immensely. After his show, we attended a piano party with all the Festival piano players (another Steinway Grand- I’m getting spoiled!) Then on Saturday, August 3, we were honored to play the Festival for the 8th year on the Arches Boogie Woogie Piano Stage. 14 pianists, all day long- paradise! The only glitches were the heat & a brief storm. The pianists included Ann Rabson, Big Joe Duskin, Mr. B and Bob Seely, and the show concluded at 10p.m. with a grand finale (4 pianists at a time on 2 pianos)- you should have been there if you weren’t!

Resting up now for the next 5 gigs this week starting tomorrow. Can’t wait to see you folks on the road & love & thanks as always to everyone for your support!

Liz Pennock

June 25, 2002

I’m excited! Just last Thursday I bought a new piano! It’s a Yamaha (my 3rd Yamaha in a row- time for an endorsement?!) P80 stage (electric) piano, for all the gigs without acoustic (real) pianos. It has 88 weighted keys, yet weighs only 37 lbs! Plus I got a case for it with wheels- a marvelous invention! It sounds & feels like a real piano & will enable me to more easily switch back & forth from it to acoustic pianos, such as my baby grand at home which I practice on. (It’s much like the difference between a manual and electric typewriter). Hated to trade in my old Yamaha YPP55 with all it’s memories, played at countless gigs since 1994. But I’ve been longing for the full 88 keys instead of 76, and the heavier touch.

When I began my career 25 years ago, there were real pianos at most every gig. Sad to say, they’re pretty rare these days. I finally broke down in the 1970’s & bought my first electric piano, a Fender Rhodes.
But it was heavy and didn’t sound like a real piano. In recent years, the companies have come up with amazingly realistic piano sounds, but most of the 88-key models were large & heavy, so I waited. Finally, a relatively light 88-key piano!! That’s why I’m excited!!

I’m also thankful for some great gigs this spring, and for all of you who have supported us by coming out & listening. Always a treat to see familiar faces, as well as new ones. The many dates at the 8th Avenue Fishhouse in Pass-a-Grille, with its funky Key West atmosphere, have been a lot of fun. The Sunday Blues Jam at O’Malley’s has been growing every since we began hosting it in March, thanks to all the fine players who have participated! HT Kane’s is still a favorite after more than 3 years there (2nd Friday of the month.) It was an honor to play 2 tributes to Rock Bottom in May: at Lowry Park in Tampa (televised live!) and at the 50th Florida Folk Festival in White Springs.

Speaking of tributes, we must mention 2 friends we lost this year unexpectantly. Both of them were only 50 years old & are sorely missed. On February 2, Maureen DelGrosso, blues pianist, singer, writer, teacher, photographer died in Los Angeles. I met Maureen at Blues Week in West Virginia in the early 1990’s when I took her blues piano class & was so impressed by her talent, style and sense of humor. She also wore the coolest clothes and had the most beautiful handwriting. She & her husband Rich were a blues duo, which endeared them to us even more. In a 1997 Blues Revue magazine, we were thrilled to read a wonderful review of our “Six Fingers Boogie” CD- the best review we ever received! When we got to the bottom of the column, we learned that Maureen had written it. I hope she knew how much that meant to us & how much SHE meant to us. Our love, thoughts and prayers go out to Rich and her family.

Tim Ashbaugh of New Philadelphia, OH (Doc’s hometown) died on April 15. Since the mid-1980’s, Tim had been a regular fan at most gigs we played in that area. He’d always request Bob Dylan, but he loved the blues and live music, period. Our music career has continued all these years because of folks like Tim, who encouraged us by his very presence, passion for the music and loyalty. He was a serious mountain climber, and one year, after he’d bought a Liz Pennock bandana we were selling, said he would be climbing the Himalayan mountains near Katmandu & would plant it, like a flag, at the highest point he reached. We thought he was kidding, until he sent us a photo on the mountain with the bandana!! As much as we love playing New Philly, it will be difficult this year to not see Tim walk in, flashing that shy grin. Thanks, Tim- love and miss you!

I also recently lost the first of my first cousins, David Lewis of Ohio. Perhaps my first memory of live music outside of church was when he and his brother Roger played their accordians at Grandma Pennock’s house at Christmastime- we were all so impressed! Their brother Gary is in fact a great professional keyboard player in the New Philadelphia, OH area. We send our love and sympathy to him & hope to see & hear him play this summer.

And that leads us to the Summer Tour, coming up in mid-July through early September. We’re in a tiz preparing for it, and beginning to look forward to seeing everyone! It begins in Virginia, a state I’ve never performed in. Then north to Maryland for our son Andrew’s wedding! After that, it’s east to Ohio (including the Queen City Blues Fest in Cincinnati!), south to West Virginia, then Tennessee! See our DATES page for all the details. We’ll try to write a report from the road when we get time.

We love you all- have a safe, happy summer! Enjoy live blues as often as you can!

Liz Pennock

March 16, 2002

Happy Spring, everyone! With the sweet scent of orange blossoms from our two backyard trees wafting through our open windows and temps in the 70’s and 80’s, it’s beautiful here in St. Pete!

We’ve had lots of northern visitors this month: Our two moms from Ohio, Doc’s sister-in-law and two nieces from Maryland, and Doc’s brother Charlie from Nebraska, and Liz’s sister Mary will be here from Ohio next week. We finally got to the beach last week!

We have fifteen gigs booked in March, so it’s definitely been hectic. We’re also booking the Summer Tour and gearing up to begin recording our new CD which we hope to release in time for the tour.

Since we last wrote, we’ve heard many fine concerts in the Tampa Bay area. For the first time, we saw two of our heroes, Little Richard & Chuck Berry, perform in October; it was Chuck Berry’s 75th Birthday Bash, and the show exceeded our expectations (Little Richard is now 69). In November, we heard our friends Saffire: The Uppity Blues Women in Tampa, where we danced to their rendition of Liz’s song “Take It Slow”. The next day, we visited with them over dinner. We also bought a copy of their new CD AIN’T GONNA HUSH- check out Saffire’s website from our LINKS page.

One of our best buddies, Roy Book Binder, played an excellent concert in Gulfport in February, featuring many songs from his new “Singer-Songwriter Bluesman” CD- you can visit Roy’s website from our LINKS page. We’ll be meeting up with Roy on the road this year at two festivals- The Florida Folk Festival in May and the Queen City Blues Festival (Cincinnati) in August!

Late in February, we heard Cincinnati guitarist Kelly Richey and, in March, caught Cleveland bluesman Mr. Downchild in St. Pete. It was great to see two Ohio friends touring down our way.

On New Year’s Eve, we picked up our shiny, brand-new purple PT CRUISER, our first new car since 1984! The PT Cruiser should make us easier to spot on the tour, so if you see it parked outside a blues club, come on in!

Tampa fans, watch for our TV commercial on Time/Warner Channel 15 (CTTV) for our concert at Lowry Park on May 24th. Thanks to everyone for your love and support!

Liz & Doc

RIP Rock Bottom

The blues world has lost one of its own greats, and we have lost one of our best friends- Rock Bottom passed away on Friday, September 28th at his home in St. Pete, Florida from an apparent heart attack. The 53-year-old blues harpist extraordinaire had just returned from a three-week European tour and played his last gig at Mojo’s in Palm Harbor the night before he died. Known as the “Godfather of the Tampa Bay blues scene,” Rock (aka David York) stunned the blues community with his passing, and hundreds of friends, fans, and family attended his memorial service in St. Pete.

It’s very difficult to express how much Rock Bottom meant to us personally. He was our friend, confidante, and inspiration, and he was a major factor in our decision to relocate in Florida in 1996. Whether sharing the stage with him or sitting in the audience watching him do his magic, it was always a thrill to hear his booming voice, to listen to his rich, robust harmonica tones, and to enjoy his authentic blues, stage antics and frequently humorous songs. In many ways, Rock was the glue that held our regional blues scene together, and he was always an encouraging audience member at many of our gigs. Many of you have heard Rock on our “Walking Mary’s Blues” and “Six Fingers Boogie” albums.

A memorial tribute show was held at Classic Wax in Sarasota on Sunday, October 14th, with many of the musicians who had worked with Rock over the years performing to a packed house. The Suncoast Blues Society has organized another Rock Bottom Memorial Benefit at Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa on October 28th, so if you’re in the area, come on out and show your support. Rock’s CDs will be available at this show, and they can also be purchased via his website (you can access his site on our LINKS page); we own and highly recommend all of his albums! All proceeds will go to Rock’s wife, Maureen.