Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Seriously busy November

Dear Friends,

Back from weeks away (big thanks to my house sitting/cat care team!) and it's great to be home. After weeks of hotel room camping, eating out, bumming meals and cooking in others' kitchens, the first thing I did was make soup!  I'm back to a changed Eugene: darker, rainier, piles of leaves in the street. And Boy, are things busy!

A mess of projects are in play, all of 'em fun. The AXES OF EVIL STRING QUARTET  is coming back to life and I'm excited about that. David Andersen (guitar), Nisha Calkins (cello), Rachael Young (double bass) and m'self (fiddle, with occasional mandolin & bouzouki) take "eclectic" to new extremes. Jazz, cafe waltzes, jigs & reels, surf music, etc. I call it Beatgrass. Our debut show is at Territorial Vineyards on December 6, but if you can't wait, 75% of us are playing at the Saturday Market THIS Saturday, November 9 at 2:00 p.m. Free!

 The LOW TIDE DRIFTERS are finishing our album, recording the last racks for a whole new CD of original Drifters music and inspiring songs by Harry Stamper and Alistair Hulett. We're raising rent for mixing and mastering with a special HOUSE CONCERT on November 16. Art work by Ian Moore, special guest performers and a really cool evening are planned. Deets below. BTW, it's a private home, so you have to call ahead for reservations (541 221-2233).

I'm Back In Black this month, playing banjo with the EUGENE SYMPHONY in a set of pieces from "Porgy and Bess" at the Hult Center on November 23. 

Earlier in the day GHILLIE DHU AND THE DHON'TS will unleash our Whizzbang Celtcore at the Holiday Market. Saturday, 11/23 at 1:45 p.m.

AND, coming in December I'll join Linda Danielson and David Stuart Bull for our annual Celtic Holiday show featuring David's reading of Dylan Thomas' "A Child's Christmas in Wales" and music by Linda and me. Afternoon shows on 12/ 14-15 and 12/21-22, evenings on December 17-19 and 12/23, all at Cafe Soriah. Call the cafe for reservations (541-342-4410) because we often sell out.

The calendar in brief:
Saturday November 9, 2:00 p.m. the AXES OF EVIL TRIO at Saturday Market. Free!

Saturday, November 16, 6:00 p.m. (Note early start time!) The LOW TIDE DRIFTERS album launch and rent party. Call 541 221-2233 for reservations.

Saturday, November 23, 1:45 p.m. GHILLIE DHU AND THE DHON'TS at Holiday Market.

Saturday, November 23, 7:30 p.m. the EUGENE SYMPHONY presents "Love and Fate" at the Hult Center (including selections from "Porgy and Bess")

Friday December 6, 7:00 p.m.  THE AXES OF EVIL STRING QUARTET  at Territorial Vineyards (3rd and Adams Street, Eugene).  Free!

Saturday, December 14, 3:00 p.m. "A CELTIC HOLIDAY" begins eight shows at Cafe Soriah. Call ahead for reservations.

More about the DRIFTERS show:
WHAT: Low Tide Drifters Private House Concert and “mastering fundraiser”
WHO: Low Tide Drifters, Melissa Ruth & The Likely Stories, Cross Current, and Wildflowers
WHEN: November 16th, 6pm
WHERE: To RSVP for directions, call 541-221-2233 or email 
COST: Donations for our mastering fund—no one will be turned away for lack of funds. 
DETAILS: For the last few months, Low Tide Drifters have been recording their sophomore release, Music for the Rest of Us.  Featuring seven original songs as well as songs by acclaimed Oregon folksinger Harry Stamper and Scottish songwriter Alistair Hulett, the album pays homage to the extraordinary stories of working people in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.  From the Depression-era romance that unfolds in “My Vivian” to the contemporary struggles of low-wage workers in “Living On Too Little,” Music for the Rest of Us paints a lyrical picture of hope in the midst of hard times.  Low Tide Drifters are working closely with Thaddeus Moore of Sprout City Studios to record and mix the tracks. 

This house concert is to be both a fundraiser for the mastering of Music for the Rest of Us and a showcase of folks who have shared the stage with Low Tide Drifters over the years.  Low Tide Drifters will, of course, play a lively set of tunes, old and new, for your listening pleasure.  This will be an all ages event.

The band will be offering some "sweet deals" at the event.  Fans who kick in twenty dollars will receive an advance copy of the album before its official release date.  Fans who donate fifty dollars or more will receive an advance copy of the album plus a signed, limited edition "song-print" by artist Ian Moore.  Ian is illustrating the Low Tide Drifters' forthcoming lyric book.

With the following special guests:

Melissa Ruth & The Likely Stories (

Cross Current featuring Steve Gibson and Ken Zimmerman (

Wildflowers featuring Machiko Shirai

If you cannot attend the event, but would like to contribute to the cause via paypal, feel free to make a donation to

Friday, September 27, 2013

Debra Cowan headlines a show for HCAO


WHO: Traditional ballad singer Debra Cowan, with folkmeister Chico Schwall and special guest, guitarist Larry Pattis

WHAT: An intimate acoustic house concert to benefit Health Care for All Oregon (working for universal health care in Oregon). 

WHEN: Friday, October 4 at 7:30 pm

MORE: Reservations only. Call 541 684-8216. Suggested donation is $10. Family friendly, snacks and libations.

You are invited to a special evening of acoustic music in a good cause. Traditional ballad singer and union activist Debra Cowan will headline an intimate acoustic house concert in support of Health Care for All Oregon (HCAO).  Also appearing are folksinger, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Chico Schwall and instrumental guitarist Larry Pattis. 

Based in Massachusetts, Debra travels widely in the U.S. and the United Kingdom and this will be her first appearance in Eugene. She delights the ear and stirs the conscience with songs old and new. Chico Schwall plays a couple or three instruments, sings in a couple or three languages and writes the best damn songs. Larry Pattis is an outstanding finger style acoustic guitarist whose beautiful sound is matched by his exciting compositions. What do these three [people have in common? You'll have to attend to find out!

The concert will be in a private home, so reservations are required. Call 541 684-8216. Come early to shmooze and visit,  find out what HCAO has been up to, and be transported by the beautiful music.

About Debra Cowan:
With a voice that blends Celtic and Appalachian styles, Debra Cowan performs a cappella and with guitar, interpreting a wide range of traditional and contemporary folk songs. Based in Massachusetts, Debra tours extensively in North America and the United Kingdom. She is currently serving a three year term as Vice president of AFM Local 1000, the traveling musicians' union. She has two acclaimed solo recordings and a third, "Fond Desire Farewell" was produced by former Fairport Convention member Dave Mattacks.

Press Quotes
"It is truly a gift what she gives her audience.” - The Miami Herald 
"....Cowan's warm alto powers through lyrics. Whether she sings material from Richard Thompson or Ralph Stanley her strong musical identity transports every tune to a very special place" - Vintage Guitar Magazine, June 2009 
"Debra has a voice which beautifully combines Celtic and Appalachian sensibilities...deeply satisfying, lyrical and musically elegant.” - Roseanne Cash
"A singer of great confidence and poise. In just a few notes, you know that here is a professional who knows her way around a song..." -Gary Whitehouse, Greenman Review 
“It is such a pleasure to hear a real singer who can apply her beautiful voice to the best material available from traditional songs to those by contemporary songwriters. She sure knows how to interpret a song and wrap her soul and voice around it.”- Rich Warren, host, “Midnight Special”, WFMT 98.7 FM, Chicago, IL 

About Chico Schwall:
Folksinger, multi-instrumentalist and songpoet Chico Schwall believes there IS enough to go around and we CAN figure out how to make it work. His newest CD "Then What's It For?" draws on blues, gospel, mountain music, Irish tunes and songs from all over, blending them with his own handmade songs, "a genre-defying tightrope walk over Folk Music Falls."  When he's not traveling around the country Chico teaches Everything with Strings at the Shedd Institute, hosts the Irish Music Jam at Sam Bond's Garage and fans the flames of discontent.

Downloadable photos available at

About Larry Pattis:
Born in Chicago, now resident in Oregon, Larry got carried away by the guitar. His first album, "Random Chance" appeared in 1997, and has been followed by two more, "Hands of Time," and "What Tomorrow Brings." His music is totally his own. It alludes to classical guitar, to folk music and contemporary sounds while it retains hjis own "voice" throughout. 

Downloadable photos available at

"Simply brilliant. Simply beautiful." -Godfrey Daniels Folk Club

"Clear and resonant mastery."  -Missoula Independent

Monday, September 23, 2013

Autumn's Up, Health Care and Drifters shows

Dear Friends,

Well Autumn's here, fall has fell and it's beautiful. Nothing cleanses the palate like a 30 degree temperature spread in a day. And rain! I thought we'd never see rain again. What a relief.

What's this got to do with universal health care? Nothing, but it's one of my big passions these days and I think about it a lot. What we've got ain't working and people die from lack of access to health care. Not 1%ers, but working people and especially the poor, another unjust distribution of tragedy. Watching the federal government (wow, I initially typed "feral"!) go into cardiac arrest over even the very modest reforms of the Affordable Care Act lets me know that the feds are never going to go there. So how do we get what everybody else in the world knows is the best way to deliver health care?

Answer: just like we got universal suffrage and the abolition of slavery: peoples' movements, state by state. When we do the feds will follow. The movement in Oregon is getting bigger and we have support (even a bill on the floor) in the legislature. So it's time to party. No lectures, no coercion (although we're asking for a modest donation of $5, more if you can), just music from three great bands and food and info. Here's the deets:

TONIGHT, at Cozmic Pizza. Suggested donation $5. Beer, wine, pizza and salads available for sale. Music by Cross Current, the Low Tide Drifters and The Rosannas (in that order).  6-9:00 pm.

Come on down and strike a blow for justice while you have a good time. Always worked for me.

If you can't make it, we'll be having another event on October 4, an intimate concert with trad ballad singer Debra Cowan, myself and special guest Larry Pattis. Location to be announced.

And this Friday the Drifters and Cross Current will be playing again, this time for the Latin American Solidarity Committee, 6-9 at New Day Bakery on Blair Blvd.

Enjoy the season!


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Summertime Happs

Dear Friends,

Been a while. Summer has not been in the hammock, but has in fact been racing along for me. July is a blur: a Low Tide Drifters mini-tour (three cities in two states in four days; good shows and great campfires), teaching at the West Cascades Fiddle Camp & Workshops for 
a week, then at the Acoustic Guitar Camp at the Shedd here in Eugene.  Suddenly it's August and time to do a show.

This Thursday, August 8, I'll be at Territorial Vineyards in Eugene (corner of W 3rd and Adams) with some summer evening tunes. It's an "And friends" show and in this case my good friends are Rachael Young on the upright bass and hillbilly rhythm ace Spence Hollinger on guitar. Me on fiddle & mandolins. We'll play mostly instrumental music, hoedowns, jigs and reels, waltzes from Sweden, France, & Russia, swing tunes and exotica. It's an early show (7:00 pm), and there's no door charge (although we accept donations). Outside and inside seating, great libations and a family friendly setting.  Dancing is encouraged. Come on down. Spread the word.

And this Saturday there's something special, too. The University of Oregon is celebrating the musical and literary legacy of Harry Stamper with a special evening featuring a screening of Nathan Moore's short documentary film "We Just Come to Work Here: the Music of Harry Stamper" and performances of his music by David Rogers, Late for Dinner and the Low Tide Drifters. Harry S. Stamper was a longshoreman, labor activist, folksinger and acclaimed  songwriter from Coos Bay whose life and music touched many. The concert will include his song "Eugene," and other songs, from the hard hitting to the hilarious. It's free, it's at the Wesley Center (1236 Kincaid St) and it starts at 7:30. See you there!

Hope all's well with you and everything's ripening on time.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Dear Fellow Travelers,

The subject line is not a holiday greeting, not something one says "on the day." It's a blessing we share as we flip the calendar, and I notice people are wishing each other a Happy New Year nine days into 2013. As it should be. So if I haven't seen you face to face yet this new year, I wish you a Happy New year, a year ahead of growth and progress, of health and abundance.

Got a show this week (which the R-G seems to have missed). Here it is:
Chico's Hydrogen Jukebox at Territorial Vineyards (3rd & Adams, in the 'hood). Thursday, January 10 at 7:00 pm. It's early, it's free and it'll be fun. Great place, nice atmosphere (love the lighting) and  excellent libations. And I'd love to have a full house to top it off. I'll be playing fiddle (some jazz, some Irish, some bluegrass and exotica), banjo, various mandolins, six and twelve string guitars and singing. My songs, some Woody and Townes, and some surprises. Ably abetted by David Andersen on guitar and bass and George Filgate on drums. It's our first outing in a while and our first show of the year, so it's a celebration and I look forward to it.

Come on down, bring your friends, feel free to spread the word and let's toast the unfolding New Year.

All the best,