Natchaug Music Newsletter:
Vol. 4 #1 March 26, 2016
I hope your new year is going well for you. For Still Pickin’ it is a new season and we have a good number of performances lined up. Not as many as last year yet but the season is still young and I am sure more gigs will present themselves. Each season we turn down as least as many concerts as those we accept, especially the ones that come in during the winter months. We just can’t play them all, so we need to be selective.
As usual, Jim is spending the winter in Sebring, Florida where he has a variety of musicians available to work with. They even produce their own Grand Ole Opry-type show that is always so well received that they have to run it two nights to sell-out crowds. So obviously, he doesn’t get out of practice being away from Still Pickin’ all winter.
Jim also plays a lot of golf in Florida. Every day that is his major “work” for the day. I am not sure why he plays golf every day in Florida but when he comes home he only plays once a week. He must have terrible withdrawal symptoms to deal with. J He does do some “real” work when he is in Connecticut so perhaps that is the reason golf moves to 2nd place. He will return to Connecticut in mid-April.
While Jim is away, Bob and I have been working on new material for the season ahead. We do several sessions and always enjoy our get together, striving to make good progress so that when Jim comes home he won’t find us too musically dorky!
One of the new events we are performing at this year is the brand new Old Time Music and Arts Festival that is being produced by Frank Winiski in Portland, CT. This is Frank’s first stab at being a producer. Let me tell you how this came about. Many years ago Frank had a vision for a park where people could come for cultural activities like arts and music, etc. There was no park available in Portland so he and a handful of his close friends decided they would build one. Now that was no small endeavor for a half-dozen fellas to tackle. They had no resources, just their vision and their twelve hands. They found an appropriate sized piece of wilderness property that runs adjacent to the Connecticut River and is owned by the Town of Portland. They got permission for their mission from the town and commenced work on their project.
That work started many years ago and throughout those years that little team of friends would work diligently on that property whenever they had time. Sometimes all of them would be there working, sometimes just one or two. They worked hard and their determination didn’t falter. At times through the years they enlisted the help of some area farmers and construction people who had equipment. One by one these folks would come to the property and pitch in by helping to level the land, remove tree trunks, roll away rocks, build a band stand, etc. The work was all done without costing the town a cent. Everyone donated their time and energy. It was slow-going, but now, a dozen years or so and many man-hours later, the town owns a proud new park.
And there you have the story of the birth of the Portland Riverfront Park. I think the work those people did is at least somewhat reminiscent of the early settlers building roads across our country. It took them many years, but now we all benefit from their hard labor.
I wanted to tell you that story so you would know that this park hasn’t been there for years, nor did it happen without a lot of work and sweat. These are special people who did that work, asking nothing in return. I often think how some people on our earth have given so much. I am not one of them. I still owe a great deal for the privilege of living.
Our Trio feels fortunate to be among the first bands selected to entertain at this new Portland resource. We even helped choose the other bands that will participate along with us at this inaugural event. They include Gail Wade & Turning Point, Grass Routes, Seat of Our Pants, Crow Hill String Band, Stompin’ Grapes and more. I hope you will come out to see us at the Portland Riverfront Park on Brownstone Ave in May. If you have a pop-up tent you might bring it along and you’ll have your own front porch from which to watch the show. It runs from 10:00 am until 7:00 pm and tickets are just $10. Kids under 12 are free. There will be food available on site. See our schedule elsewhere in this Newsletter.
We are also playing at a half dozen Senior Centers this season. These are mostly new venues for us this season and if any of them are in your town, or even not in your town, feel free to come out and listen if you want to. There’s never any charge for our fans to come to the one-hour gigs we perform at senior centers, retirement villages and health facilities. You will be welcomed there.
This season we are going to perform again at the Podunk Bluegrass Festival. As always, that festival is the second weekend in August and is held at the Hebron Fairgrounds. Jim and I gave up our long-held volunteer job of running the Workshop Stage for Podunk. We are proud that under our tutelage the Workshop Stage always ran very smoothly. In all those years we got no complaints but many accolades. It continues now with other volunteers. We are always happy when the opportunity presents itself for Still Pickin’ to play on the Workshop Stage. We will be doing two sets this year and you can find those times listed on our schedule. And of course all the Podunk activities are at www.podunkbluegrass.com .
Some of the attractions at Podunk this year, if you don’t already know, include Alison Brown, Colebrook Road, Del McCoury, Junior Sisk, Ronnie Reno, Sierra Hull, the South Carolina Broadcasters and numerous others. There are also twenty different bands appearing on the Acoustic Stage as well as another twenty or more on the Workshop Stage. There is also a band competition, a songwriting competition, a singing kid’s competition, a bluegrass academy for youngsters headed up by the Rhode Island Bluegrass Alliance, music classes for adults, picking in the campgrounds, food and other interesting vendors, supervised activities for kids including night-time movies, and of course, you can see Still Pickin’ there too.
We will also be going back to Hanson, MA for the Bluegrass on the Bogs festival this year. We have played their secondary stage before and this year they have put us on their Main Stage. We look forward to that. If we can just find the place again.
And we will be back at the Woodstock Fair again this year. It’s a Friday afternoon. We always enjoy this venue. The manager there is very nice to us and the sound man does a great job for us. They provide a shade tent and chairs so come on out and enjoy the fair along with some Still Pickin’ music.
We are envisioning a pleasant summer ahead for Still Pickin’. You may recall that last year Jim had a farm accident that resulted in a severe eye injury. It took several weeks of Jim being careful for that to heal properly and in the early days of his recovery he was required to just sit still and do nothing, except for daily visits to the eye doctor who was keeping close watch on that eye to assure a good recovery. As you could guess, that mandatory sitting-still-time was difficult for him. But he persevered and his eyesight was restored back to 100%. Yay Jim!
During the same time span, Bob tore the meniscus in his right knee which caused him terrible pain. He had it repaired but ended up with even more pain from the bone-on-bone experience that can happen to older knees with worn out cartilage. I had the very same operation earlier in the year and even though I am quite a bit older than Bob, mine turned out good, while Bob now needs a knee replacement. He is currently procrastinating about that while barely managing the pain and limitations this problem causes. Hopefully there will be no further injuries in the life of Still Pickin’.
I don’t have any new pictures to show you at this time, but a photographer is coming to our first gig this season and I will add some of those pictures in our next newsletter. If you come out to one of our concerts, stop by the stage area to say hello. We will have a gift for you.
And in closing I will mention that I received a songwriting award from the Mid-Atlantic Songwriter contest for You Chose Me, a recent gospel song of mine. If you want to hear it I can send you an mp3. I have a variety of nine songwriting awards. Now I just need a couple dollars to get a cup of coffee. J
Our best wishes to all of our loyal fans who come out to hear us and we send a big thank you out to all of those special people who hire us; the promoters, entertainment arrangers and activity coordinators. You know who you are. We appreciate all of you. If anyone needs to get off this email list, just send me a note. It will be done.
From the Still Pickin’ Trio,
Myrna, Jim & Bob