Eric 2009/09/23 8:39pm

A funny thing happened in Flagstaff, Arizona. After the absolutely wonderful Pickin' in the Pines Bluegrass Festival, our entire band and Claire Lynch and bandmates Mark Schatz and Jason Thomas gathered in the hotel restaurant/bar to hang out. Pickers that we are, someone had the idea that we should play some music. As I looked around, I just didn't know. Would the patrons enjoy bluegrass? Joe Walsh politely asked a couple of tables and they said it would be okay. I couldn't believe that I was able to lay my voice in with Claire's on "The Singer," a dream of mine come true. You should have heard Leigh blend with her on "The Last Thing On My Mind!" When she threw a high baritone on top of Leigh and me singing "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke, and Loud, Loud Music," I thought I would melt. She is so in tune and just owns a song when she sings it. Mark Schatz has been another hero of ours for many years, so it was a treat to play with him as well. He and Mike took turns, so we weren't hurting at all in the bass department. Clayton and Jason double-fiddled and double-smiled. Joe's music danced off his mandolin like it always does. The folks assembled hooted and hollered as we tore up "Roanoke." At the end of the night, several folks came up to us and thanked us. One gentleman said, "That was the best night of music I've experienced in twenty years. That is what I call real, American music! Now that I'm on board, how do I get more?" I think if more people could experience bluegrass that way, the style would spread like wildfire. It was a night we won't be able to re-create. It wasn't planned, but is magic ever?

I doubt we'll forget the entire trip. I never thought we could fit three Steep Canyon Rangers and two Gibson Brothers in a cab. I never want to again! The camaraderie between the Rangers, GBs, Claire Lynch Band, and Crooked Still was genuine. It felt like we were all on the same team, rooting for one another. As I looked around, I saw a bunch of folks in relatively the same age group who I hope are in this business for a long, long time, that we all grow old together. I hope we have many more experiences like Flagstaff.