Ruby Ramblings


Street Music and Nature
June 30, 2011, 7:45 pm
Filed under: Music, Travel | Tags: , , , , ,

Upcoming Shows:

7/1 – Friday, Blue, Congress St. Portland, 6 to 7:30pm – In the round with Griffin Sherry – further proof that there’s something in the water in Buxton, and Adam Klein on tour from Athens, Georgia.

7/2 – Saturday morning Farmer’s Market in Deering Oaks

7/3 – El Rayo, 101 York St. Portland, 7 -9pm – A great night of music with myself on tune-writing, vox, and guitar joined by one of longest running musical friends Joe Bloom on Harmonica, a new friend and amazing fiddle maker as well as player John Cooper on fiddle and dobro, and Devon Colella on Cello. It will be a really interesting night, and I hear the food is good too.

7/7 – Dogfish Cafe – come on down and sing a few.  I have the whole night to myself, but I’d like some other folks to join in too.  Leila Crockett and Griffin Sherry will be singing a few.

7/9 – Kennebunk Old Homes Day – The Hive 2-3:30ish

7/13 – Lonfellow Arts Center.  Maine Songwriters’ Association night at the Longfellow.  Will be joined by Drew Wyman on bass and Joe Bloom on Harmonica.

7/15 – Gritty’s Freeport.  Free for all – in more ways than one.

7/16 – Yarmouth Clam Fest – 4:30 on the Green something or other stage.  Joined by Zach Ovington on fiddle, Drew Wyman on Bass, and Joe Bloom on Harmonica.

Ant marks the spot.  I’m not sure about what.  If someone knows what the cool ant is for, let me know. For me, it marks the best spot to play some music during the Wed. Farmer’s Market in Monument Square.  First come first serve, and the quality of music in the farmer’s market is pretty spectacular if I may say so myself.

This week I had a really pleasant surprise by running into my old roommate and bandmate Leila.  I had just moved back from my first teaching job overseas in Thailand when I met Leila at an open mic.  I was talking about needing a place to live and she invited me over later that week to check out her place and her roommates to see how it would fit.  It was a great time in a vertible flophouse that included sporty types, musicians, and eventually a couple of eastern european girls who may have been prostituting out of the back door.  Leila is an amazing player and scholar of old timey music.  The dude is a regular at the farmer’s market, an old-time banjo and clarinet player who worked with Louis Armstrong when he was a teenager.   The one thing that can be said about Portland, is that it has no shortage of creative characters.

Playing music in the streets and unamplified in coffee shops have been my favorite shows this whole summer.  People tip, buy CDs, and feel like they can come up close and ask a question, talk about the songs, or tell a story or two themselves. Although that has the flip side of people walking up in the middle of  a song, like an adorable old lady on Wed., who just started  gabbing, ” I got one of them (guitar) for mother’s day.  I sure don’t know how to play it though.”  I’m not going to stop singing mid song to chat with you, unless you’re handsome and now wearing a ring.  Luckily, Leila, who was playing guitar, was able to talk to folks, and responded in a cheery voice, “Get a book!”

Last Saturday, as I was getting my guitar out of the car, a lady walked up to me.  Didn’t introduce herself or anything.  Just started gabbing about how her husband had a home studio and was looking for clients.  Guitar does not equal sucker willing to throw money in your general direction for services rendered in a mediocre manner.  Well, actually it does mean sucker, but for different reasons.  The music industry has morphed into this system where musicians spend considerably more money than they make putting out what have become “necessary” aspects of self-promotion – from recordings, to photos, to websites, to advertising, to playing shithole clubs that want you to buy beer by the case.  If there’s one thing I’ve realized this summer, it’s that I was right to trust my instincts to stay as far away from the meat-grinder and stick to the streets.  If I’m in your town, I’ll probably find a way to play a few tunes, but you can pretty much count on the fact that it won’t be at a bar.  I hear parking garages have good acoustics these days.

Besides spending every waking moment either playing, advertising for, or practicing music, I am trying to get out and enjoy what Maine has to offer.  The Maine Audubon Society at Gilsland Farm is one of my favorite places.  They have fields of peonies this summer, and I got away from the computer and the guitar long enough to hang out with the nieces and mom in this sanctuary by the ocean.

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On the Road Again
May 28, 2011, 7:35 pm
Filed under: Music, Nashville, Travel | Tags: , , ,

05 Dream Next to Me (click to open wordpress music player and listen while you read.)

It has been a whirlwind week back in Nashville full of the kind of surprises and experiences that I won’t say can only happen here, but that keep me coming back even when I swear this town and all its cowboy hats off. From my favorite thing in Nashville, the Wilhagan’s campfire circle, to a songwriters night in Mt. Juliet that was literally just a waste of gas, it’s been an interesting and busy transition back into the country. Just for the added practice, and because I’d never been to it before, I went to the Cafe Coco’s Tues. night open mic, and met some really talented and cool folks. The night started off with a gorgeous, heavily tattooed black woman wearing pajamas singing Lynard Skynard’s Simple Kind of Man. Again, I’m not going to say that could only happen in Nashville, but, really.

I embark on a tour of sorts on Monday, and have started out with the proverbial flat tire. I wanted to get a different kind of pick-up installed, and on the recommendation of the fantastic Sturgill from Sunday Valley, I called Artisan Guitars in Franklin. They were extremely helpful and suggested a pickup that is better suited for both my style and my guitar, and it cost well under $100 (The K&K pure western mini). That’s when the flat tire happened.

I took the guitar to Delgado Guitars in East Nashville. A third generation luthier of over 40 instruments, Manuel Delgado is an extremely knowledgeable, down-to-earth, and approachable dude. The guitar got dropped off, and not thirty minutes later, I got a call, “you should come down here and look at this.”

Now, I didn’t NEED to spend the money on a new pickup, the L.R. Baggs soundhole pickup I’ve been using isn’t bad, but I’m not a music techy person, and it needed some adjustment to suit my style. But it’s a damn good thing I did, because, otherwise, I would never have caught the rupture that probably would have caused my bridge to jump clear off the guitar on a hot humid festival day. I play guitar the same way I drive my car. I take it out of the case, put it drive, and expect it all to work. I hadn’t even noticed the bridge was lifting clear off and the only thing holding it down were the pegs. Apparently this is a common problem with the masterbuilt series since the tops are spray finished before the bridges are set, so the bridge is actually just glued to the finish, with no true wood to wood bond. Considering this guitar has been back and forth to Asia three times, and just recently enjoyed the fresh, hot, Mexican air, it’s no surprise the glue wasn’t holding up.

When I asked how much it would cost, I’m pretty sure Manuel saw by the look on my face that it wasn’t a matter of being expensive, but that I literally just don’t have it. After we talked about some options, all of which required putting off work that would cause further damage and need to be dealt with later anyway, and me bursting into tears at one point, he struck me a deal. He told me how much he needs up front, and told me to come by with the rest whenever I have it. No dates set, no interest rates, no invoices, just a deal between a struggling musician, and a person who loves guitars.

Now, I’m out half of my gas money, but at least the tools of the trade are in working order.

Dream Next to Me, the song you can click and listen to at the top of the page, is one of my older songs, and one I’m really happy got on Fieldnotes From a Caravan. It’s a song I wrote right before moving to Nashville.

I really hope that people that like the music will consider buying a record, or some singles to help refuel my travel fund. At this point, I don’t have enough to make it to Maine, and am hoping that record sales online and at shows along the way are going to make up for it. The risky, but realistic gamble that most people have to take to tour.

The music is up on several different sites, but the two that benefit me (where I actually get most of the money you spend, and it gets to me quickly) are:

Downloads (including PDF files of all artwork): Bandcamp
Downloads and CDs: Cd Baby


If I’m coming through your town, I’d love to see you:
May 31 WDVX, Blue Plate Special Knoxville, TN
May 31 Preservation Pub, Knoxville, TN
Jun 02 Main St. Cafe Berea, KY
Jun 04 Common Grounds Coffeehouse Lexington, KY
Jun 05 The Purple Fiddle Thomas, WV
Jun 06 Club Cafe Pittsburgh, PA
Jun 10 Caz Cafe Coffehouse Buffalo, NY
June 13 Nietzsche’s Buffalo, NY
Jun 17 Five Rivers 3rd Friday A Bath, ME
Jun 22 Dogfish Bar and Grille Portland, ME
Jun 25 Gorham Grind Gorham, ME
Jul 07 Dogfish Bar and Grille Portland, ME
Jul 13 One Longfellow Square Portland, ME
Jul 16 Yarmouth Clam Festival Yarmouth, ME
Jul 22 Slainte Wine Bar Portland, ME
Jul 30 Furey’s Cafe Folk Festival Lowell, MA
Aug 18 Indiegrrl International Festival Knoxville, TN
Aug 26 Main St. Cafe Berea, KY Link
Aug 27 Taylor Books Charleston, WV
Aug 28 The Purple Fiddle Thomas, WV
Aug 31 The Commodore Bar and Grille Nashville, TN