Thursday, November 8, 2012

Holiday shows and a NYE weekend festival in NC!

Howdy all you Big Bus Lovin' Daddios,

Upcoming shows this weekend;
Thursday: Newport News VA, Hoss's Deli
Friday: Baltimore MD, 8x10 Club
Saturday: Williamsport PA, Bullfrog Brewery. 

We've been really busy the last few weeks, with shows all over NC, SC, and Virginia, in addition to a run to OH and IN! That's too much to try to cover here, so instead we'll talk a little bit about our first Love Bus Costume Ball that we held on October 13. Love Bus in Wonderland was (obviously) Alice in Wonderland themed. It was also a book drive and fundraiser for the children and youth library at Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind. We had a great time dressing up and seeing all of the creative costumes you all came up with!

BDL in their Wonderland costumes

We want to take some time and let everyone know about our holiday plans this year.   Unfortunately (beyond our control)  we are unable to play our annual Thanksgiving show in Sparta, NC, but it is OK because we want everyone to come to our Ziggy's show the day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday, November 21st).  We will be recording and filming the show for a live album, and we want all our friends to be a part of it!  The one thing that we consistently hear the most is "We want an album with Scott singing!"  So we've decided that this is the perfect opportunity to make that happen. There are a few other big reasons why this show will be amazing: BIG SOMETHING and Winston-Salem favorite THE HERITAGE, featuring our very own Mr. Cass Copsey. AND the Ziggy's show will be a Love Bus event: a food drive for Second Harvest Food Bank. Bring canned food, soups, peanut butter or even toiletry items (such as shampoo or toothpaste). Help us fight hunger in Winston-Salem, especially in these colder months and the holidays. Here are details for the Ziggy's show on November 21st.

We LOVE playing Ziggy's!
A pic from our CD release party with Jim Lauderdale. 

We also have some great events coming up for the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve.  We start off by playing at two of our "home-away-from-home" markets:  Raleigh on Thursday, December 27th, and Rutherfordton on Friday, December 28th. Finally, we are hosting our very own New Year's Eve party at the Ten O One Club in Winston with our friends The Deluge!

On Saturday, December 29th, we are part of The NC Music and Arts Festival, which our favorite venue owners, Chris Phelps and Brittany Wilson, are putting on in Lexington, NC.   Check out this lineup, all for $30:  Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Big Something, New Familiars, BDL, and Barefoot Manner, and The Broadcast.  This mini-festival runs two nights, and you can get details and buy tickets here.  Come celebrate local NC musicians in the beautiful Edward C. Smith Auditorium. 

Here's some video from one of our shows at High Rock in Lexington NC

Would you like to be a part of our "street team" and help us put up flyers in your market for free tickets to shows?   Email us at

We hope everyone is having a great week, and we hope to see you soon.

Thanks so much,

Friday, September 28, 2012

New BDL Merchandise!

We are really excited about our new t-shirts, which we just got last week! Here's a sneak peek, but be sure to come check out all the new merch at any upcoming show. NC folks, you'll have TWO chances to grab one (or all!) of these tomorrow, as we play the Dixie Classic Fair at 7:30 on the Clock Tower Stage, followed by a late show at Ten O One with our good friends the Wyndy Trail Travelers.

First, we have two t-shirt options with the new BDL logo! We're really thrilled by how these turned out. We also have the design on a black tee. These are all $15 each.

Next is another design from the logo contest that we really loved, and it looks awesome on a tee. It's also $15.

Finally, by popular demand, a long-sleeve shirt! The moose design looks great on this one, too; it's $20.

Before I sign off, here's a video of the Wyndy Trail Travelers. If you've never seen them, you're in for a treat tomorrow night! See you down the road!

Brian and Big Daddy Love

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

9/12 - 9/18 Our trip to NY, PA, MA, and beautiful VT so far!

Howdy all you Big Love Bussin' Daddios!

Upcoming Shows:
9/19  Harrisonburg, PA,  Appalachian Brewery
9/20  Washington, DC, South on South Capital show
920   Washington, DC, Bayou on the Pen
9/21  Richmond, VA, The Camel
9/22  Hot Springs, NC, French Broad Fall Festival

We are sitting in Williamsport, PA.  If you're a baseball fan and that rings a bell, it is because this is the home of the Little League World Series, along with the Little League World Series Hall of fame (of course!).   It also has some really great hiking trails close by, we hear; we don't know for sure since yesterday was our day off and it rained almost 3 inches.  I hear that NC had a lot of rain as well.

The trip has been good so far.  It's always fun to see people experience New York City for the first time, and this trip was Scott's.

We met up with Big Something to play Sullivan Hall, which is known as one of the best small venues in the whole city.  We had a whole slew of NC boys in NYC that night.

Outside Sullivan Hall in NY.
After the show, we found out that we were on the same block as the place we visited last time we were in the city, a place called The Red Lion.  On that trip, the house band let BDL (sans banjo) get up and play a few songs.  We had a blast that night and couldn't believe we were so close to it again.

I can tell you that I absolutely loved this band.  They are called Days of Wild - be sure to check them out. The guys from Big Something met us there and we watched one of the most amazing shows we had seen in a while, and this is why I love NYC so much.  To survive in the city -where tiny one room apts are $2500/month- you have to be really good at something.  Here we have this house band that plays a couple of times a week and charges no cover, and they are better than almost any other band we see on the road.   And this goes for most of the people you'll meet in the city.  They are both very smart, and very good at what they do, which is the combination of things that make people extremely interesting.  I've loved everyone I've met in the city because of this, and I think it is why there is a palpable electric charge in the air that everyone notices when visiting. 

We see a lot of music on the road: some of it is pretty good, and some of it is just ok.  On this night we saw a band made up of people from all over the world (Japan, Britain, Brazil, and France were all represented here), and they absolutely rocked it.  We were blessed with the presence of the biggest BDL fan in CA that night, as Jenny De Guzman flew to NY with her friend Dennis, to hang out with us, and I remember standing beside her saying, "You know, this reminds me why I play music."  It doesn't matter what job you have, it can become mundane sometimes with the ins and outs of the daily grind, and this does happen to all of us, but I remember standing there feeling like I was falling in love with music all over again.  These musicians understood their craft on a very deep level, a place where the groove is a living and breathing entity that everyone plays a small role in, and no one controls.  We all agreed the trumpet player (not in this pic) was probably the best player we've ever seen, and he was there with his girlfriend who had a small board set up and literally took tap-dance solos with a super funky beat behind it.  It sounds weird, but it worked.   You can see the drummer in this picture, his name is Papa Guyo, and he was a character.  Full head of white hair and white beard, but he lived and breathed a funky groove, or a straight Latin-flavored beat, whatever they decided to play.  His drum kit consisted of a bass drum, snare, hi-hat, one cymbal, and a cow-bell (oh yeah!) and he played more on that minimalist kit than you'll see drummers play on a set of 15 drums. 

The next time you're in the city, find The Red Lion.

Our next stop took us to Wilkes-Barre, PA, to play a cool venue called the River Street Jazz Cafe with our new and fast friends, MiZ.  They first opened for us in Boone, NC, and now we get to open for them in their hometown.  We really like these guys a lot.  They are all super-nice and all great musicians, and we're proud to be sharing another show with them on October 20th at the Berkeley Cafe in Raleigh, NC. 

You can listen to our set at the River St Jazz Cafe.

Me sitting in with Miz.  Mike Mizwinski and Justin Mazer L-R

Our "anchor" for this trip, as we call it, was the Wormtown Music Festival in Massachusetts.  Here are a few pics from the festival.

You don't see this very much!  Tie-dyes beside a 19th century graveyard!

One of the stages at Wormtown

Here is the guitar player of a Grateful Dead cover band.  Yes, really!
Sometimes sleeping arrangements aren't what you would call "optimal" and we have to do the best we can.  The reason we call the van "the bus" is because it doubles as sleeping space as well.
Scott and Scotty showing how to properly sleep in the bus.

The next day we headed to the very scenic Burlington, VT, where our manager Tom Baggott lives.  He's worked with bands such as Phish and Railroad Earth when they were our size, and he seems to see the same potential in us, which is the type of person we want on our team!  He was able to get us into the legendary venue of Nectar's that is known as being Phish's home base as they were starting out. And no, we didn't play "Rift."  We talked about it and debated it but decided not to.

Tom has always told us the VT mountains will remind us of home and they really do.  I can see why people love this place so much, as it is one of the most beautiful places we've ever been.  This was definitely the farthest north I've ever been in my life.

The next day we had a very long 9.5 hour drive to get back to PA and play in Williamsport, at a great place called the Bull Frog Brewery.   We found out after our first set that quite a few people had driven over from Wilkes-Barre who had seen us 2 nights before for their first time.  We just thought that was awesome.  This was probably the best reception we've had so far, as everyone at the show really got it.  They were engaged with every song we played, and we could feel the energy and had a blast.   The owner of this brewery actually gave us the 2nd floor of his building, which is an empty banquet room, to stay in for free for the last two nights. 

Our accommodations for 2 days!  They trusted us with a stocked bar! 

That's about it for now.  Thanks for keeping up with us, and feel free to share this blog on all the inter-web tubes so we can get the word out!  We'll be back home in NC soon. 

Oh, and we've picked up some brand new shirts that we are very proud of.  Probably our favorite shirts so far.  So be on the lookout for them at our merch table.  We'll get some good pics of them to post soon.  

We'd love some street team help as well.  If you're interested please send info to:

Thanks so much and see ya down the road!

--Brian and BDL

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Evolution of a Song...

A good friend of ours and one of the drivers of our charity team "The Love Bus," Stacy Jones, mentioned to me that she liked the "behind the scenes conversation" of what songs we were going to play with L Shaped Lot at Floyd Fest.  That gave me the idea of writing about how we came about playing the great Phish song "Rift."

First of all, Phish is one of those bands that live music fans typically either really love or really hate.   Musicians can approach it a little differently because the music those four guys make is on such a higher plane compared to what's out there these days.  The pure compositions can make even be-bop jazz, which is also a complicated style of music, seem simple.   One has to look to the likes of Steely Dan, Frank Zappa, and the composers of orchestral music to find compositions of similar complexity.  And even then you still are hard pressed to find anyone who flows deftly between genres of music while maintaining such a high level of creative output.  It is from these aspects of their music that BDL draws a lot of inspiration.  Joey has never even seen a live Phish show but has dug into Trey Anastasio's playing on a deep level.  On the other hand both Scotty and I have seen a lot of shows.

I can remember the genesis of the idea pretty clearly.  Joey was learning a couple different Trey solos, and one of them was "Rift."   I got my banjo and said, "You know, the intro and the piano solo of that song are perfect for the banjo."  I started playing it, and we laughed about how cool it would be to learn the whole song and perform it.  At that point it was nothing more than one of those, "Wouldn't it be cool if...." ideas.  (We have a lot of those.)  Throughout the weeks he kept learning more and more of the guitar solo (it's a very long guitar solo), and we figured out what chords were being played underneath; the two of us would play a little bit of it during soundcheck through the late spring and early summer months.

Around the middle of the summer, Ashley came up to us and said, "We should really figure out something special to play at the Big What Festival in late August."  As a lot of you know, this is a very small festival compared to the likes of Floyd Fest and some others that we play through the year.  But the difference is this festival is hosted and attended by all the people that we consider family.  Big Something was the host band, and we've developed a very deep friendship with these guys.  The land owner, Jeremy Bell, is one of our favorite people in the whole world.  And it's held at a place called Possum Holler!  It's the perfect storm of awesomeness.   And Wook was right, we needed something special.

So a few weeks before the festival, we met at our super secret Shelby shed space and started working on the song.  First of all, it's just a hard song to play.  One of the driving forces behind us learning it is knowing that if we could pull this off, it would blow some peoples minds.  There are very few bands that would even attempt it, much less be successful, and we loved this challenge. 

Let me give you an idea of what this song consists of.  If you play every note from one "C" to the next octave "C" you'll play 12 tones in all.   A majority of the songs we're exposed to will have chords based off only 3 of those tones, such as a typical blues song.  Most pop songs you hear will have up to 5 chords from the 12 tones.   But not this song: oh no, Rift has a chord based on every single tone, 12 different chords in all types of different combinations, which is almost unheard of. 

We discovered that Scotty can actually sing the second part while playing this incredibly hard poly-rhythm drum part.  It blew our minds, really.  We spent a few days working on the song, and started wishing each other "good luck" each time we started playing it (a habit that we're still in, actually).  It started coming together and we realized that we might actually pull this off.  After a little break, we met for one last rehearsal before going to the festival.  We knew we had it at that point.  As we were packing up from that last rehearsal, I can remember a moment when Joey was walking around in a dazed fashion looking at the ground and talking to himself, saying "I can't believe it...I can't believe it."  I asked if he was ok, and he just looked at me an said, "I can't believe I'm in a band that can play Rift."  I knew exactly what he meant!

So there we are, at the Big What Festival and we finally get to the point that we've been looking forward to for quite a while.  We get Jeremy Bell onstage to recognize him for all the work he's put into the fest and say, "This song is for you."  (He's a huge Phish-head too.)  And we played it...all of it.  I think we were just as surprised in the moment that we were doing it as the audience who had no idea.  It was quite an experience.

You can listen to the whole show here.  

We also just played the Camp Barefoot Festival near Bartow, WV and saw the most amazing light show that we've ever witnessed.  The festival actually had to get permission from the FAA (yes, that FAA) before they could allow it.  The light show basically consisted of the strongest lasers that we've ever seen.  I'll add some pix from our good friend Andy Cox.  You should "like" his page and you'll see amazing photos from the best festivals in the Southeast.   He's also the photographer that got the picture of us at Floyd Fest by the big "LOVE" sign that you see in our last album.

The owner of this festival, Scott McClain, is a huge BDL supporter and is one of those people that got behind us early, inviting us to his festival twice, hired us to play his sister's wedding, and most recently invited us to stay Sunday night and play the staff after-party.  Our festival sets were fun, but there's nothing like playing a party for a big group of people who just worked their butts off putting on a  festival of this size.  They were so appreciative, and we were happy to do it.

And so here are some pictures of lasers so strong that they are regulated by the FAA.  

Before I sign off, I do want to say congratulations to Joey, who got married in Costa Rica just a few weeks ago. Congrats, Beth and Joey!! We love you guys.

--Brian (with lots of help from Jenny Viars) and BDL

If you'd like to help us out with street team email us at

See ya down the road. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fun, Family, and Friends at the Fantastic Floyd Fest

Mainstage of Floyd Fest
(I will probably add more pictures and videos, as well as a link to the recordings to our sets when they come in)
Here is a link to our 4th set of the festival at the Pink Floyd Stage.  This one has Andrew Hendryx from Yarn sitting in with us and ripping the electric mandolin.

And here is the link to our first set of the festival.  It was the VIP party on Wed night and we debuted 3 new songs that we're proud of.  And we have Alex from L Shape Lot playing "Circle" with us.  Check it out!

We were really looking forward to this FloydFest.  They graciously gave us four killer sets, the most we've ever had there, and we had just finished "wood-shedding" in Shelby for several days, working on new songs to debut at the festival.   Other than that we didn't know what to expect.  Every festival is different and going in with a "plan" is useless because the in-the-moment spontaneity is always better than any plan you can come up with.  We would never have guessed that we would come into the festival knowing the guys from L Shape Lot as acquaintances and leave knowing them as brothers....but that's exactly what happened, and it shaped our entire festival experience.

Eric Miller, the lead singer, sent me a text the week before asking me if I would sit in with them on Wednesday night.  Their set was right after ours for the VIP pre-party, and it would be easy to jam a little.  I said "sure," and we exchanged a few ideas about songs and tempos and various music nerd concepts.   Joey had also talked to their guitar player Alex Lanier about sitting in with us.  Joey told me he should play "Circle Around the Sun" with us and join in on the trading-licks part.  Joey added, "Don't worry, this guy rips it."  Joey doesn't lie about things like that, so I knew he'd be fine. 

We got going on the Pink Floyd Garden Stage and had one of the best crowds we've ever seen there.  This is the stage that propelled us to win their "Under the Radar" contest two years before.   (L Shape Lot won it last year.)

Playing the Pink Floyd Garden Stage this year.  
Before I continue, allow me to do a little backtracking. Two years ago we were invited to come up and compete in this contest that consists of about 20-30 unsigned bands.  Our best time slot was at this stage on Saturday night around 10pm, but an hour before that the power shut down completely, causing the entire operation to come to a screeching halt.  We thought this was a terrible thing at first, since we might miss out on our set.  But what happened instead was our set was pushed back to exactly the time that Railroad Earth was finished on the main stage, and this area, the beer garden, filled up with several thousand people; and we played one of the best shows we had ever played at that point.  A month later, we found out that the fans voted us as the best band in the "UTR" series.   We had people come up to us for a full year and say that hearing us play Pink Floyd's "The Wall" on that stage was a highlight for them.

So here we are, playing the same stage to a great crowd again.  Alex came up on "Circle" and just crushed it.  He's going to kill me for saying this but...we've all imagined what it would be like if Tony Rice had decided to play electric guitar instead of acoustic, and watching Alex play you get a little glimpse of that.  Bluegrass guitar picking is one of the most disciplined routes of music you can take.  Alex has that discipline and technique and he just burns up and down that telecaster neck with it.  It's really amazing to both hear and watch.   So there we are with Alex and Joey just going at it, and I'm thinking about how grateful I am to be using 3 picks and not just one.

Alex playing "Circle Around the Sun"
Joey and I got up and played several songs with them including "Freeborn Man," Walls of Time," and a punk tune that I'd never heard before called, "Take the Skinheads Bowling."  It was more fun than anyone expected; we now had new musical brethren, and we were determined to jam as much as possible together.

Here's a video that our friend Scott took.  Unfortunately we can't get the audio and video to sync up.  But it shows how much fun we had together.  This is during their main stage slot on Friday.

L Shape will also be playing at the Garage in Winston Salem this Friday night!  Details here.  

This picture is after our last set together at the VIP Stage.  Friends for life.
Overall the fest was great, and everyone absolutely loved the "new guys" in the band.  We made a lot of new friends and talked to a lot of old friends.

Right before our main stage set

One thing that I always notice is that the lower and mid-level bands can actually put on a much better show than the big-time headliners that everyone comes to see.  I personally thought that our friends Yarn played a much more engaging and rocking set on the main stage than several of the famous headliners.  And I think most of us would say the same about Galactic's set on the Hill Holler Stage on Thur night as well.  Obviously this is all subjective, but I recommend to not get too caught up in only seeing the famous people and give some new bands a chance.  You'll probably be blown away more than you think.  The headliner that I enjoyed the most was Bruce Hornsby.  He surrounds himself by such amazing musicians that his show is just amazing to watch.

What a great pic by our good friend Milo Farineau!

Here are some pictures from the Festival:

Main Stage!

The thing we heard the most through the festival is "Wow, the new guys rock!"

Scotty doing his thing, and looking fantastic.

Roger Gupta got this shot right before our first set on Wednesday

Ashley and I have been listening to Leftover Salmon for a long time, and we agreed that this was the best they've sounded in years.  Their banjo picker, Andy Thorn, is an old friend of mine from Boone NC.  He's an amazing musician and a perfect fit for them.  He has spent time playing in the NC band Big Fat Gap (I love that name) as well as a couple of years with our good friends Larry Keel and Natural Bridge.

We want to thank everyone that came to all our sets and talked us up at the festival.  We'll be playing near your hometown soon, so keep a lookout for us.  Thanks!

Oh, and don't miss L Shape Lot at the Garage in Winston this friday night!

Brian and BDL

Actually this isn't from the festival.  I just liked it. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

That one time, when we opened for Willie Nelson!

Howdy all you big love bussin' daddios!

Upcoming shows this week.  Click here for details.
07.03.12 - Fun Fourth Festival (Greensboro NC) 
07.04.12 - Palm Room (Wrightsville Beach, NC)
07.05.12 - Live Bar (Greenville, NC)
07.06.12 - Outer Banks Brewing Station (Kill Devil Hills, NC)
07.07.12 - Ted Constant Convocation Center (Norfolk, VA)
07.08.12 - The Backstreet Pub (Beaufort, NC)

We've been asked one question over and over: "Did you get to hang with Willie?"  I will go ahead and answer that one now: no, we didn't.  (Well, one of us did, but more on that in a moment.)  Willie's bus pulled right up to the steps of the stage, he walked up the steps, played his show, and then went right back to his bus.  When you are a living legend you can do what what you want. 

Overall it was the best experience we've ever had; other than not hanging with Willie, it was the perfect day.   Opening bands usually hope to play for about 30-40% of the crowd, but Willie fans are prompt and I think we played for around 90% of the people that came out, around 3000 people.  We were supposed to play for 60 minutes, but after our soundcheck the production manager came and asked us if we wanted to play for 75 minutes.  Of course we said "YES!"   By halfway through our set, we looked out and saw a lot of their crowd on their feet dancing, which was an amazing experience. We were told that Willie's staff really liked us a lot.

Right after we got offstage we walked into the movie star Owen Wilson, who has been a friend of Willie's since they made a movie together a while back.  

We've already had people start coming to shows and telling us that they saw us here and are now huge fans.

Here is a link where you can download or stream our set for free, compliments of Travis Viars.

Is this really happening?

I decided that I should wear my "fancy hat"

Check out the crowd in Joey's glasses. 

We don't know why he breaks so many bass strings!

During soundcheck I told Scott to look down at what he's standing on.  That's Willie's rug!

Yeah, this is fun.

The biggest crowd we've ever played for!

As I said earlier, one of us got to meet Willie.  Jenny was in the right place at the right time and was able to go onto his bus and take pictures of the land owners and was able to get them to take a picture of her.   As much as Jenny does for us we wouldn't have chosen anyone else to actually make it onto the bus.  This was perfect. From Jenny: I would have rather dragged all of you with me! It just happened so fast, I went with it. I accomplished my main goal right before this photo: I put a copy of  Let It Grow into Willie's hands. Who knows, he could be riding down the road listening to BDL right now!

Having fun backstage

Possibly the most famous guitar ever.  A Martin N-20 named "Trigger"

It's amazing how strong his voice still is. 
It was just an incredible night for us all.  We want to thank everyone who has helped us get to this point.  We couldn't have done it without y'all.

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.

Upcoming shows.  Click here for Details.
07.04.12 - Palm Room (Wrightsville Beach, NC)
07.05.12 - Live Bar (Greenville, NC)
07.06.12 - Outer Banks Brewing Station (Kill Devil Hills, NC)
07.07.12 - Ted Constant Convocation Center (Norfolk, VA)
07.08.12 - The Backstreet Pub (Beaufort, NC)
07.12.12 - Martin's Downtown Bar & Grill (Roanoke, VA)
07.13.12 - Altamont Theatre (Asheville, NC)
07.14.12 - The Loft @ Benchwarmers (Salisbury, NC)
07.18.12 - Rapture (Charlottesville, VA)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

BDL trip to CO and a night we'll never forget.

06.21.12 - Local 506 (Chapel Hill, NC)
06.22.12 - Blue Bourbon Jacks (High Point, NC)
06.23.12 - Alexander County Summer Stomp (Taylorsville, NC)
06.26.12 - The Pour House (Charleston, SC)
06.27.12 - Goombay's Grill and Raw Bar (Kill Devil Hills, NC)
06.28.12 - Hoss's Deli (Newport News, VA)

Howdy all you Big Love Bussin' Daddios!

I actually wrote this last week, before the Willie Nelson show, but things got hectic and it never got published.   So, here is some major catch-up work.  We have some local NC shows this weekend so we hope to see a lot of y'all. 

We're a little behind on our travel blog because, well, we've been traveling...go figure.  Things have been going really great lately.  We found out that we're opening for Willie Nelson, which is kind of a big deal; and this past Saturday in West Virginia I got to stand onstage and play with Larry Keel and Keller Williams at the late night all-star jam, which was a huge honor.  

I do want to relay a compliment that we received earlier that day.  We were part of a 3-day festival in Morgantown, WV at a beautiful amphitheater right on the river.  After our 2:30pm slot, the festival promoter came over to us and said he had something to tell us. He said that his sound engineers never compliment anybody....ever.  But they called him to the stage and told him that BDL was the best and tightest band on the entire festival roster, period.   That really makes me proud of all the hard work we've put in, especially with all the change we've had lately. 

Ok, a little catch up time.  

On May 1st, our great friend Scotty Lewis, formerly of the band Jackass Flats, drove from Richmond to Winston-Salem with his drums and a bag of clothes and hopped in the van with us to head out to Colorado.  (The first thing Scott Moss said was, "Sweet!  I'm not the new guy anymore!")   We had a fantastic trip out there and back and Scott put together a montage of photos with music behind them.   I will say that we were welcomed with open arms out there.  The festival promoter told us he predicted that we would sell more cd's than any other band....and we did.  It was a great first trip out west.   

There's one particular evening that I would like to try and describe here, since we're all friends.  Every now and then you'll experience a night where you just run into the most amazing people, all of whom seem to be vibrating on a higher level than your average person, and the hours just fly by like minutes.

We were all hanging out at our cabin after the music finished up on the main stage and talking about how beautiful that part of the state is and how much we enjoyed being here.  After a while Ashley, my friend from college Eric Dahlgren, and I decided to walk down to the late night bonfire stage where a Durango, CO band called Jack Ten High was playing.   The stage was down a hill at a small amphitheater with a large fire pit in the center, since these grounds mostly serve as a youth summer camp (hence the cabins).  As we walked through the woods we noticed that there was no fire like there had been the night before; instead at the top of the amphitheater there were large lights, like the ones that might be used for nighttime road construction.  We had heard earlier that there was a fire ban because of high winds.

As we walked up we immediately noticed that this band was top-notch.  All seasoned musicians who know how to rock and groove with each other, and they were similar to us as they easily combined both rock and bluegrass styles, and they featured an electric banjo and dobro as well.  In fact one of the most amazing moments of the entire night was listening to them take Dylan's "Senor tells of Yankee Power" and seamlessly morph it into Pink Floyd's "Breath."   At that moment, both Ashley and I knew that these guys were kindred spirits.   The three of us found a spot to the left of the stage and just soaked in every note down to the bone.  These guys were amazing!  The lead singer, Russ Crossland, was very tall and skinny with hair bursting out of his hat and shooting down his chest like fast moving whitewater.  His hat was completely pulled down to the bridge of his nose as if it was a sign that he was inside the cosmic world of perfect musical vibrations and had no desire to acknowledge anything else in front of him.  To me he looked like he was from another world entirely.  I leaned over to Eric and said, "I'm pretty sure that guy is an alien."   

The music had us completely transfixed and we started to notice that the single pine tree beside the stage was lit up by the big flood lights up the hill.  This magnificent tree stood well over 80 feet tall and seemed to be dancing with the music that was floating up into its branches. The wind was giving it a consistent motion that reminded me of those tall dancing figures that you see at car dealerships, but instead of moving randomly the tree had a found a laid-back groove that had a deep appreciation for vibrations that were being sent up through the trunk and branches.

As we started to assimilate into the scene around us (we're musicians, the notes come first) we saw that the large fire pit at the base of the amphitheater had a single white glow-stick that was sticking straight up from the center of the pit.   We also noticed a silver fire extinguisher that was laid by the chopped wood about 20 yards away.   Ashley looked at me and we both knew what had to happen.  He walked over and picked up this fire extinguisher and carried it back to the fire pit.  He looked up at all the people sitting on the benches with definitive look of "Trust me.  I know what I'm doing and I will save you all."   He opened up that fire extinguisher on that lonesome glow-stick creating a huge cloud of whiteness.  The hiss of the extinguisher finally stopped and he walks out of the white cloud with the fire extinguisher over his head and throws it down and reaches his arms to the sky and says "You're welcome!" and charges triumphantly into the woods.   This is the greatest story that didn't actually happen.  We played every detail of this story out in our minds until we were falling over laughing so hard about it. 

As the band finished their set and started packing up, a couple of the guys walked over and introduced themselves to us and said they had caught part of our set earlier and really loved it.  One thing I've noticed over the years is that musicians are typically shy people and won't make a huge effort to get to know each other until we've heard one another play.  But after bands have heard each other, and really dug each other, then the vibe is completely spun around and flipped on its head.  You go from mild acknowledgement to near best friends in a matter of moments.  I don't think it's a matter of sizing people up in a snobbish way; I think it's more of a letting your guard down because you've found someone that is so similar in mindset.  It's a pure comfort factor; since a lot of musicians are shy with different levels of insecurities and even social awkwardness, hearing someone play the notes that you might choose allows you to put down your guard and let someone in quickly.  It is a sense of sharing the same life and experiences, and we can be completely honest with one another and have no judgment whatsoever.  

We quickly discovered that the members of this band all have a very deep understanding of bluegrass music and decided to start a picking circle.   In fact, the drummer, Pat Dressen, was a solid mandolin player that knew every single bluegrass song that was called out and would have made Mr. Monroe proud by "playing it right."  After burning through the great Scruggs instrumental "Ground Speed," the banjo player, Hap Purcell, leans over to me and says, "You know, this is always amazing.  You meet someone from across the country and you can completely connect because of Earl Scruggs."  He was exactly right.  How many artists have left such an amazing footprint that can bring complete strangers together to be as tight as brothers in a single evening?  There aren't many, but Mr. Earl Scruggs is on that list. 

One of the more interesting aspects of the night is the cops would charge down through the woods in their 4-seater golf cart, surround the picking circle for about 30 minutes, not say a word and then just disappear.   This happened several times and we could never explain it.  We weren't sure if they were keeping us in, or keeping something out.

We declare this picking circle SAFE!

As hours floated away and the picking wound down, we found oursleves sitting on a front bench with the bass player and moose hunter, Jimmy Largent. (seen in the picture above)  Now we've met some pretty amazing people in our travels but Jimmy was pretty unique.  As the conversation steered into the amazing things of this world, he, with great confidence and wisdom, explained to us that the most sacred item was the tear of a unicorn as it gave birth to a cabbage patch kid.  He also told us the story of the time he met a forlorn unicorn with a flaccid horn.  You see, the vast majority of these animals are very happy and live wonderful lives, but every now and then you might meet one that is down on its luck.   Jimmy told us of all the various things he tried to get the horn to rise back up, some of which can't be repeated with a straight face, but I'll just say he really tried.  But in the end it was of no use.  It was up to the unicorn to find its way.

We explained to Jimmy how that certain pine tree was dancing to their music earlier.  Without losing a beat Jimmy bends over and slaps the ground like a silver back gorilla and gallops over to the base of this tree raising up and takes a huge whiff of the tree.  After a few deep breaths he leaps up and bear hugs the huge base of this tree and tries to shimmy up to the top branches, but after only making it a few feet up he falls backwards and lands on his ass.  As we are laughing at this entire spectacle I think to myself, he's never going to get up that tree.  He picks himself up and starts the entire process over, and this time he just barely gets a few fingers over the bottom branch.   Now this was absolutely one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed in my entire life.  Once he got into the branches he starts moving effortlessly up the tree, never stopping or hesitating on any certain branch.  The only way I can describe it is if you think about the recent Spiderman movies where he climbs buildings with a fluid motion of arms and legs working together and never stopping.  We would lose him every 10 feet or so when the branches got thick, and then he would appear again, moving flawlessly with no wasted motion.  I'm pretty sure he climbed all 80 feet of that tree in less than a minute. We were speechless. 

After he made his way down, we all agreed that that was the most perfect way to end the night and went our separate ways to get some rest.   And as I was lying there, all I could think was that I have to try and share this with everyone.   If you've made it this far then I hope you've enjoyed it.  Both Ashley and I agreed it was one of the most interesting nights we've had on the road yet.  We can't wait to go back and visit our CO bluegrass buddies, and If you make it out there look them up.  Just tell them you know us and they will take care of you, and it won't hurt if you can burn through a tasty version of "Ground Speed."  Thanks Earl! 

Until next time,
Brian and BDL

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.

06.21.12 - Local 506 (Chapel Hill, NC)
06.22.12 - Blue Bourbon Jacks (High Point, NC)
06.26.12 - The Pour House (Charleston, SC)
06.27.12 - Goombay's Grill and Raw Bar (Kill Devil Hills, NC)
06.28.12 - Hoss's Deli (Newport News, VA)
06.30.12 - The Otter House (Fredericksburg, VA)
07.04.12 - Palm Room (Wrightsville Beach, NC)
07.05.12 - Live Bar (Greenville, NC)
07.06.12 - Outer Banks Brewing Station (Kill Devil Hills, NC)
07.07.12 - Ted Constant Convocation Center (Norfolk, VA)
07.08.12 - The Backstreet Pub (Beaufort, NC)
07.12.12 - Martin's Downtown Bar & Grill (Roanoke, VA)
07.13.12 - Altamont Theatre (Asheville, NC)
07.14.12 - The Loft @ Benchwarmers (Salisbury, NC)
07.18.12 - Rapture (Charlottesville, VA)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Florida Follies and looking Forward to our Future

05.24.12 - Prison Brews (Jefferson City, MO)
05.26.12 - Meadowgrass Music Festival (Black Forest, CO)
05.27.12 - Quixote's True Blue (Denver, CO)
05.31.12 - River Jam Concert Series (Charlotte, NC)

May 1-11: Florida and Georgia

We spent 10 days playing through Florida and Georgia at the beginning of this month.  It was quite a trip, to say the least; but overshadowing the new venues and fans was the fact that it was our maiden voyage with Scott Moss, our new singer.  Even though we knew that we had made a great decision, it's always nice to first see a crowd's reaction to the new lineup, and the fans didn't disappoint. Here are some highlights of the trip.

The first gig at The Beach Side Tavern (which was 3 blocks away from the beach) was a good warm-up gig for us.  We were able to work through any nerves and hesitations about learning an entire show with Scott in just two practice sessions.

We also had to make a quick stop at the beach, just long enough to say "hi."   Here, our resident bird expert is showing us how sanderlings interact with the water.  Wook never fails to impress.

The second gig at Guanabana's was great.  We pulled about 100 people up to the stage and they absolutely loved us.  This is when we knew for sure that we "had it."  We connected with a crowd that is not used to seeing banjos on-stage, but they were totally into the show and every song.   We knew the music was good, but it was such a relief to know that we can completely connect with a crowd and get them fired up.  

The third gig was at one of the best venues we've ever been to, Skipper's Smokehouse in Tampa, FL.   We played between sets of a Grateful Dead cover band who has been playing there for over 12 years, and again, the crowd loved us.  The guys in Uncle John's Band told us that we had the best crowd interaction of anyone playing with them in 5 or 6 years.

I joined the band for a few songs in their second set and then was able to just sit back and enjoy hearing some of the best music ever made.  

Skipper's Smokehouse in the daytime.  It completely transforms at night and feels like a parking lot of a Grateful Dead show. 

Sitting in with the house band, Uncle John's Band

After the show at Skippers, we were invited to go across the street to another venue where a local roots band was playing, The Apple Butter Express.   They invited me to sit in with them, making this the third band I played with that night.  Yes, we fell in love with Tampa. Here's a video of us playing the classic "I Know You Rider."

This is the manager of this Best Western in Bradenton FL, he took a liking to us and helped us get rooms for the rest of the trip.

Egor, the White Egret that comes and eats eggs and grits every morning in the front of the Best Western

We finally had a day off, and we just so happened to be at a beautiful beach: Fernandina Beach, FL.  The following picture is a rooftop bar where we hung out, and after dark we ended up playing a couple of acoustic sets for some new friends that we made. So much for the day off!
We FINALLY have a day off at the beach.  

A nice sunset at Fernandino Beach FL. 
We met up with an old friend from Stuart, VA, Chris Prutting, for a place to stay in Savannah, GA. Check out his festival, The Front Porch Festival in Stuart. Our friends Big Something will be playing there this year. 

I love the streets of Savannah GA. 

The last pic is at the hotel after our gig.  At 3:30 in the morning, we were sitting outside working on new ideas for songs.   Like Bob Marley sings, "Everything's gonna be alright!"

I'd like to say one last thing before I sign off. I know that it looks like we've been through a lot of change lately, and I can understand that it could look like we've hit a rough patch; but trust me on this, things have fallen into place for us better than we could have even imagined.  At this stage of our musical careers, we have made a promise to ourselves and each other that we will make decisions that will strengthen us, no matter how hard they are.  We have a core group of people that are all completely dedicated to living up to this promise and our outlook for the future is as bright as it has ever been.  Thank you for sticking with us though all this change. The next time you see us, just close your eyes, open your ears, and hear the music that fills the room.  I think you'll be as happy as we are. 

Brian and Big Daddy Love

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.

05.24.12 - Prison Brews (Jefferson City, MO)
05.27.12 - Quixote's True Blue (Denver, CO)
05.31.12 - River Jam Concert Series (Charlotte, NC)
06.01.12 - The Pour House (Raleigh, NC)
06.08.12 - Empty Glass (Charleston, WV)
06.14.12 - Galaxy Lounge (Johnson City, TN)
06.15.12 - High Rock Outfitters (Lexington, NC)
06.16.12 - Quincey's Pizza (Damascus, VA)