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!