Eric 2011/02/01 10:05am

[2011/02/01 10:05 am]
A new album release always injects energy into our shows. It is exhilarating to try new songs on an audience. Our shows in the New Year have all been very well-attended and it has been a balancing act mixing requests and new numbers. "Help My Brother" will be released on February 22, but we've already started playing several songs on stage, "Frozen in Time," "Help My Brother," "He Can Be Found," "Safe Passage," and "I'll Love Nobody But You." We're getting ready to tour for two weeks straight in Iowa, Kansas, and Texas and will break out more new ones. I know we can't forget the older songs. In fact, we didn't get to some requests in Chazy, NY, Saturday night and I hope no one is upset with me. We honestly could have done a whole set of requests, but we wanted to do new material and the requests of someone so important to us: our father. Dad has had his health issues the past few years and hasn't made many shows. I couldn't even look at him and Mom in the front row while singing "Farm of Yesterday." I don't want to harden my heart when singing because I want the feeling to come out. However, if too much feeling comes out, I won't get through that song. I just looked over their heads, but I felt my heart getting heavy any way. He really wanted to hear "The Sunny Side of Life," a Blue Sky Boys songs we recorded in Nashville for a movie soundtrack recently. We also did "Holding Things Together" by Merle Haggard for him. I went to see him on Sunday, and he said, "I haven't been in the audience in a long time. Those people really like you."

I was already feeling high at the end of the show from the audience response when Mike Perry walked up to Leigh and me. Mike lives in Georgia but planned a trip to see his daughter for a time we'd be playing in the North Country. He had written our web site a few times saying how he treasured his time pitching for the Lyon Mountain Miners and how much he loved "Iron & Diamonds." He looked us straight in the eye and said, "I love your albums, but the live shows are even better. I was in the Marines for 30 years, and this is American music. It makes my heart want to burst." He made mine want to when he said that. If our music can do that to a tough, grizzled Marine, we must be doing something right. 

We don't do everything right. Earlier in the month, we did a few package shows with Nova Scotia's Spinney Brothers in Lexington, MA, and Bellows Falls, VT. The shows went over very well and we enjoyed working with the Spinneys, friends since the early 90's. Rick Spinney, the banjo-playing brother, made a comment about Leigh's appearance on stage that got a laugh during their Bellows Falls set. We knew that after our show, the Spinneys would join us on-stage for several songs. We decided to sabotage Rick's banjo to pay him back. I took the resonator off his banjo and Leigh stuffed Rick's bright orange t-shirt inside the banjo. We put the resonator back on the banjo and carefully placed the instrument back in the case in the shadows on the side of the stage. After our final number, the Spinneys and their band joined us as planned to play some 'brother' songs together. We could see the orange shining through Rick's banjo head where his fingernails had worn down the frosting. The plan kind of backfired on us. We started with "White Dove," the mournful Stanley Brothers classic. Leigh and I were trying to sing the chorus while hearing Rick's muffled banjo in our right ears. "Plink-plink-plink-plink-plink." No sustain at all. It sounded like a toy banjo coming through four inch speakers. It's not cool to burst into laughter when singing "since Mother and Daddy are dead." We had to tell the crowd why we ruined the song. Luckily, they seemed to get a big kick out of it.

The New Year is off to a good start. We hope it is a year to remember like 2010 was.