After All This Time... - 8/13/2011

Many miles have passed since I last wrote in my journal. I apologize to those who follow along for not tending to this, but life has gotten in the way. Trying to balance everything proves tough from time to time, and I have been stretched in ways I didn't think possible in the past few months. I am fine and stronger than I realized, but I think I'd rather be weak and untested. Musically, we have been enjoying a strong season on stage and on the charts. "Help My Brother" has topped the Bluegrass Unlimited and Bluegrass Music Profiles albums and singles charts for multiple months and "Singing As We Rise" and "Walkin' West to Memphis" have had chart success as well. We recently had excellent exposure on Katy Daley's three hour Master's Class on WAMU's Bluegrass Country and on Kyle Cantrell's Track-by-Track on Sirius XM. We received some outside-the-bluegrass-world coverage in Acoustic Guitar with a fine article by Kenny Berkowitz. I have said it so many times, but what a feeling it is to go places we've never been and to find that people are familiar with the songs and our story. This is what we've been working towards for a long time. People keep telling me how happy they are for us. I tell them that we are reaping the rewards of showing up for twenty years.

I would say the biggest highlight of the past few months was our trip to the Yukon. Clayton, Joe, and I went up early to teach at Kluane Bluegrass Camp for several days before Mike and Leigh joined us to play the festival in Whitehorse on the weekend. The people were so warm and treated us like kings. The scenery was jaw-dropping. I enjoyed the 23 or so hours of sunlight and the lighting in general up there. It tickled me to be called a 'southern boy.' I guess just about everybody is 'southern' to someone in the Yukon. The camp was in the wild, and I spent a good share of my time looking over my shoulder for grizzlies. The locals seemed to have a devil-may-care approach. "Ah, only about one person a year gets eaten. You're more likely to get hit by lighning." Well, I was almost killed by lightning on a mountain in Virginia, so I looked out for them anyway. A bunch of us went for a bike ride to the Yukon River. Bear spray and little bells were the deterrent we brought. I'd have preferred a higher calibre, myself. It was fun jamming with the folks up there. They play a lot of Fred Eaglesmith, which is fine by me. The food was delicious and healthy and I came away from the experience feeling good mentally and physically. I hope they invite the Southern Boys back soon.

I have seen a lot of baseball this summer. My youngest son, Kieran, made the Malone All-Stars (11-12 year-olds). I drove through several Saturday nights to get to see Sunday baseball. He tried catching for the first time this year and I cannot believe how quickly he took to it. He's blocking pretty well, has a strong arm, and frames pitches like someone much older. I can't teach him much because I never caught. He made the all-stars as a catcher and made me very proud. His hitting came on toward the end of the season. I almost fell asleep three times driving from New Hampshire in the rain last Saturday night in order to watch him, but I would have missed seeing him get three hits, the last a booming RBI double to center. I know it's stupid to risk it like that, but I miss too much. I need to be there when I can, and if I'm within striking distance, I'll do whatever it takes. Time is passing too quickly and I need to make my mark.