Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New York City!! And our first guest blogger on her Sparta Experience!

Howdy all you Big Love Bussin' Daddios

12.01.11 - Martin's Downtown Bar & Grill (Roanoke, VA)
12.02.11 - Machiavelli's (Bristol, TN)
12.03.11 - The Grey Eagle (Asheville, NC)

Also, we are now in the season of "best of" voting.  We are VERY appreciative of any votes you give us in the following polls.  We were thrilled with our top 25 finish last year on WNCW's top 100 albums of the year.  Hope we can do the same this year.
Click here to vote on WNCW
Click here to vote for HomeGrown Music Network

We've had a whirlwind 12 days recently that included a trip up to the Big Apple itself.   I'll concentrate on that for my portion of this post, and we will also feature our very first guest blogger, the accomplished writer Ms Stacy Hope Jones.   She will be describing her experience in our hometown of Sparta, NC.

First of all we want to congratulate Cassey Mikles on winning the contest on our last blog post.   The correct answers are:
Ashley - E I have a trophy for getting 1st place in the Waltz competition at a Cotillion that is larger than any of my baseball trophies, I was born on Easter Sunday, and the first band I was in was called Leather Veil.

Brian - C Played in a Guns n Roses Tribute band in college.   Studied Fish and Wildlife management in college hoping to be a Park Ranger.   I think Bon Jovi's song "Wanted Dead or Alive" is one of the greatest rock songs ever written.   I had a childhood club called "The Star Team"

Chasper - B  I once lived in Laramie, WY.   I use to work at Sherwin Williams plant  cleaning out tanks with HIGHLY explosive chemical solvents. My very first paid club gig was at the age of 16. I used to be a licensed life guard.  My current favorite music dvd is Zappa meets Zappa.

Daniel - D I used to be obsessed with golf.  The only competitive sport I competed in in high school was tractor driving in FFA. I have owned 7 different motorcycles and four wheelers in my life. I spent a year studying fish and wildlife management.

Joey- A  I have never rode a horse,  I got 3 underage drinking tickets in one day while at App st. lawn party, I used to dye and laminate human lungs for Duke med students, first concert was Janet Jackson.

Congratulations Cassey!!

We had some good shows in Chapel Hill, Elon, and Harrisonburg VA, before driving up to New York.

 Here's a clip from the van as we headed up to NY.

Getting the van and trailer through Manhattan was quite an experience since we didn't know that you can't take trailers through certain tunnels.   But we finally did it, found our hotel in Brooklyn near the venue and unloaded.   We went back into Manhattan to find my two cousins, Scott and Shawn Cimock,  who were going to play tour guides for us.   We met up at the Spring Lounge on the corner of Spring and Mulberry.  This was a great little pub that had the feeling of any neighborhood bar.  If you've seen the movie "Something Borrowed" with Kate Hudson then you've seen this place before.  
Spring Lounge
As we all sat inside and enjoyed a drink, Daniel went outside and just took it all in.   This was his first time to the city and he was awestruck to say the least.   I think he introduced himself to almost everyone that walked down the street and encouraged them to come see the hillbillies play in Brooklyn the next night.   When you own your own business you are never "off work."

Then we headed to a restaurant called Kittichai.   We had no idea what to expect here.   We walked in and were amazed by the decor of the place.   Unlike anything we had ever seen in NC.

Joey and Daniel waiting.  The flowers behind them were amazing.

There was a pond with floating candles and flowers in the middle!

We then sat down and proceeded to have probably the best meal any of us have ever had.  Scott ordered all the food for us, as he comes here often, and we just went with it and tried everything that came.   Every bite of something new caused our eyes to light up and a search for new accolades and descriptive words.   Afterward we went upstairs and were treated to an authentic Cuban band.  

We hit a few more places before finding a fantastic band playing, led by Jerry Duggins.  We walked in and we knew this was the place for us.  There was only about 20 ppl in there but the band just blew our doors off from the first note we heard.   We also noticed this older gentelman dancing right in front of them.   I was immediately drawn to this guy, and turned to the guys and said, "That's it, that's how we should live our life,  dance like no one is looking everyday!"  He allowed the music to consume him completely without any sense of ego or self-consciousness.  It was beautiful.   Ashley got a picture with him afterwords. You can see him in this video.  

Wookie with a man who dances like no one is watching!

Then in typical BDL fashion the guys ended up onstage showing how we do it in NC!  Unfortunately they had no banjo with them.  Oh well, we made up for that a few nights later!  This video has a guest keys and sax player sitting in, Craig Dreyer, who is awesome.   Check it out!

We had a fantastic time the next night at the Brooklyn Bowl.  This place is amazing and is actually a top-notch music venue and bowling alley right beside each other.   You think to yourself, "What?  That won't work."  But it really does!
The bowling alley to the left of the stage


The next night we headed back to the Brooklyn Bowl because our manager, Tom Baggott of Invasion Management Group,  got us on the guest list for the Robert Randolph show!

Here's a vid of RR playing the great Michael Jackson song Billie Jean.  Give it about 30 seconds before the melody comes in.

The only thing I want to say about our Sparta show before our guest blogger takes over is that part of the way through the show I started thinking about how amazing it is to be a part of something that brings together our small community for a night of music.   Back around the turn of the century, before there was Netflix and YouTube and sitcoms, there would be community square dances featuring the best fiddlers of the area, and this was a very big deal for the small communities to come together.  We don't have that these days, but when BDL plays Sparta I sense the spirit of those old-times and I feel so lucky to be a part of it.

And now we turn the floor over to Ms. Stacy Hope Jones!

We are Sparta, NC

The annual Big Daddy Love Thanksgiving Throwdown show Nov. 25th in Sparta, NC the small rippling mountain mountain town where three of BDL grew up together (Dan, Joey, Brian), had a thick as water hometown turnout of family members of the band, old friends, high school and college friends, and of course, a heck of a lot of cousins. Having been to this in the past coming from Winston-Salem, the Piedmont-Triad turnout driving up the hills to Sparta is growing. To see the fellas in their hometown play their music to the people that have raised them is one thing, to feel the lyrics of songs, like Home Tree especially, reach out and be embraced by the kind people of Sparta is really one of the all-time most authentic energy shows BDL does. With the addition of two mini-Dan’s on stage (sons John Paul and Davis) singing Good Morning Sunshine, you see the roots of this music in its best ‘let it grow’ way. No matter where you are from, when you come to Sparta, everyone smiles and gets to know you, and it’s real. It brings to mind the world’s shortest poem, spoken by Muhammad Ali, “Me...We!” It’s one of the friendliest places I’ve ever been and such a dedicated group of people supporting BDL. 

Sparta gives back to its people. That’s one of the great beauties of these kind folks. I was there to help The Love Bus hold its annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, first time at the Silver Dollar Music Theater this year, benefiting Alleghany County Ministerium’s Food Closet. (A big thank you to Lawrence and the team with the Food Closet for all your help!) Droves of bags of canned and boxed food came in and sweet faces that hadn’t heard about the food drive put generous donations into the jar for the Food Closet. These were BIG donations too. People handed us all the cash in their wallets toward this. It really meant a lot and goes a long way to help out. All food donations and cash/check donations went directly and entirely to the Food Closet, and will go directly to the families in Alleghany County that need it. This was the third year I’ve helped with a food drive for BDL and now well over 1,000 pounds of food has been donated through the efforts of all the fans and friends. 

Alleghany County Ministerium Staff on hand for the Food Drive. Thank you!

**(BLATANT CHARITY PLUG: Next, we’re doing a Marine Toys for Tots Holiday toy donation drive for the Dec. 8th BDL show at Pour House in Raleigh. New, unwrapped toy donations can be dropped off at Foothills Brewing in Winston-Salem Nov. 30th at and Dec.7th for anyone not able to attend Raleigh.)

Oh yeah, these folks of Sparta know how to throwdown too. For instance...
There is what is known around N.C. as ‘Sparta-dancing.’ It leaves you speechless. Complete, unabashed, dancin’, cloggin’, flat-footin’, tap dancin’, jazzercizin’, former baton twirlin’, hollerin’, hootin’, hands wavin’ and preachin’ for the words of the songs of medicine. Taking a slug from the jug of the rug of the wooden floors and throwing down. The amazing Danny Sheperd tapped on stage with Big Daddy Love (hoorah!) and some of the Silver Dollar staff joined in the get down too. 

Danny Shepard gets board onstage. 

Two unique things about Sparta dancin’: 1) Too much dancing going on to be holding a beer at the same time. They mean business on that floor. 2)You better get ready when the slow songs play...all of a sudden, I’m surrounded by slow-dancing jellyfish pairs, some wearing cowboy hats. Maybe it’s that the Silver Dollar once was a gymnasium and evokes the memory of school dances. Maybe it’s the music. No, it’s the people. They live well by living simply. They love big and wild. When they are quiet, they contemplate the echoes of the mountain and the great wide sky tumbling through their Appalachian peaks.

Oh yeah, there’s always a kickass after-party somewhere too. This is historically one of the best parts of the night and everyone tangles at the end of the show finding out where to go. (Though, there were several very-loved Sparta family friends that could not be there this year, you know who you are, and you were in our hearts all night. We missed you.) So, the sweaty bunch of us convoyed, looped, and curved through the woods (many making the stop for Slim Jims and beer) to a blazing huge bonfire out on the farm of a mountain brother Sparta native, all-time best beer supplier, and good friend of the band’s, who’s Mom was Joey’s third-grade teacher. (Joey, you should’ve come buddy. More fun than Mystery Hill.) We all stood around jawing and laughing and cutting up circling this hot-as-hell bonfire. 

A thick furry row of Sparta men, donned with toboggans, plaid shirts, beards, and hair that curls out from under a cap, all look alike to me and they’re all good-looking, so that works out just fine. And the Sparta ladies: mountain-pretty, sweet as pie and spunky as firecrackers − what a great combination. (One married couple was so inspired and giddy that they wanted to take off into the woods but wanted a chaperone for some reason, so I tried to pimp out Swenk playing his banjo on the back of a four-wheeler for a romantic ride for them at what I thought was a great fee of 100 bucks, promising that his rendition of the Deliverance tune whilst kissin’ was sure to bring them more babies and would be well worth it.) Sirius radio cranked out some Allman Bros. and other great jams like a curtain around us on the dark blazing hill and that fire was fed two sets of old bedroom dressers, white and dusty with feminine curly cue handles which stoked and heated those flames like the Phoenix storm of thunder music BDL brings during Big Country, or better yet, my personal evergreen favorite, Mountain. Ok, well, Dreamwalker is my favorite...Anyhoo, all our camping chairs backed way up on the sloping hill, nearly toppling over. Thankfully there were several jars and plenty of beer to keep us standing up straight, mostly. I’ve heard this fire spot ate an entire piano before and other old furniture needing to get gone. That’s the way they do more of that ‘giving back’ here in Sparta. Burn it, turn it to ash, send it back to its maker as it came here. In other places, there is ‘recycling.’ Sparta calls this, “Let’s burn it”.

Daniel Justin Smith has told me that writing Heed the Call, he was inspired in part by Into the Wild, the story of a young man taking himself into the wild alone, seeking life and peace amongst nature and himself, living on an abandoned bus. There is a bus in Sparta and many go to it during Thanksgiving to celebrate growing up there, or what it must have been like to grow up there, or just to be with family and friends. It’s the Love Bus. It’s far from abandoned, it’s always getting bigger, and it’s always welcoming to more. That’s the Sparta Way of Much Love.

 Wow, I think asking Stacy to be a guest blogger was the best decision I've made in a long time!  Thanks Stacy.  That was awesome!

We wrapped up our 11 day run with two shows at our new favorite "home away from home," Nags Head NC.   The shows here just keep getting better and better!  And always a huge thanks go out to Robert and Cindy Via for the beachfront accomodations!

I finished this book sitting on the beach! Highly Recommended.
Nags Head Fishing Pier!  Right out of our front door.

And to finish up, if you've ever wanted to learn how to "Speak Wookie" then here you go.  Courtesy of Kevin and Jennifer Swenk!

Thanks Yall!  Until next time!
Brian and BDL
Lonesome Banjo Chronicles

We would LOVE for you to help us out with the street team activities. If you'd like to help promote an upcoming show, email and we will set you up with everything you need. We've got great e-flyers, widgets, and other tools you can use to help promote online, so if you've got Internet access, you can help! If you want to hang up posters, hand out flyers, and talk to real people, feel free to print up the digital posters. And of course, we'd also love your help over at the merch booth! Check out the list of places we could use help spreading the love.

12.01.11 - Martin's Downtown Bar & Grill (Roanoke, VA)
12.02.11 - Machiavell's (Bristol, TN)
12.03.11 - The Grey Eagle (Asheville, NC)
12.08.11 - The Pour House (Raleigh, NC)
12.09.11 - The Backstreet Pub (Beaufort, NC)
12.15.11 - Olde Hickory Taproom (Hickory, NC)
12.16.11 - Blue Bourbon Jacks (High Point, NC)
12.17.11 - High Rock Outfitters (Lexington, NC)

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