KZ writes: "I'm not trying to over-advertise this gig, but I couldn't pass this up. I passed through Chateaugay (NY) last week returning from Fiddleheads JamCamp. Craig's song "Spank That Tambourine" has a line in it, We know that we'll never see our names lit up on a marquee; well, here is that marquee with our name on it, so he might need to consider a new line. Hope to see you in Chateaugay this Friday."
Just for the record, folks, here's another from the archives, Capitol Center for the Arts, Concord, NH (5/12/11). We are totally legit, people. Clearly.
Music has been fully restored to the annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair and we were invited to be a part of it. For several years they scaled it back to next to nothing. Apparently the reason wasn't so much the cost of paying performers; it was the ASCAP licensing fees and live audio engineer that made it prohibitive. This year the board finally got around the problem by having performers provide their own sound, which we are all used to lugging around, anyway, and only hiring groups that can play exclusively original and public domain music. So The Buskers returned, after several years, to the stage (which could have been smaller, though a bigger tent would be an improvement–a lot of the audience ended up listening from the food tent across the way to get out of the hot sun. Next year!).
Our three sets yesterday were, more than ever, a tour of our extensive original songbook, and though CD sales will never be what they were back in the days before streaming, we did a pretty brisk business at the merch table, thanks to an older, old school crowd (and two very charming salespeople). Why pay money to own music when you can stream it for free? Because the income from CD sales and digital downloads is the only way a band like ours, with limited exposure, can afford to keep recording our music. With as little as one tenth of a cent per streaming–on songs we have to pay a fee for to upload to iTunes or CDbaby, we can never recoup the four or five thousand dollars spent in the studio. So thank you, again, to all of you who have supported us along the road with a CD or download purchase.
I have a friend; an artist, a jazz fan, and a kind soul. He doesn’t drive, but when I play at the venue down the street from his place he shows up like clockwork, sitting close to the bandstand, nursing a light meal or a non-alcoholic beer through the set, and listening with his whole being. And at the end of the night, though he is older than I (even), he insists on helping carry the keyboards out to my car. But the most unique thing he does for me is assemble a sheaf of photocopied articles on music and music listings; a compendium of what’s going on that month in jazz and the rest of the music world, taken from the Globe, the Times, the New Yorker, and other sources. The last packet he handed me was so thick it was weeks before I had the leisure time to go through it, but yesterday at the beach I caught up on all the articles and, as always, added to my education as a musician. During the school year, I often post some of the articles on the bulletin board outside the practice rooms. I have told my friend that he deserves a spot on a jazz radio program so more people can hear his up-to-the-minute collations. Alas, there hasn’t been a jazz show on New Hampshire Public Radio for many, many years. Well, he has one fan, at least, in me.
This is the venue next door to what was once Abel's restaurant, where, in the downstairs tavern, Kathy (Zimpfer, back then), our original guitarist Richard Danahy, & I first jammed together at the weekly open mike Stymie Garretson ran. The river still runs by out back (Bristol was a mill town), but a lot more water has reached the sea since we first met. This will be our third year performing at the Back Room, a tiny listening room that only seats about 45 or so, a place that plays host to an open mike itself, now (which Paul Hubert sometimes hosts). Both our last shows were sold out, so we recommend buying tickets in advance: online.https://thebackroom.ticketleap.com/the-buskers-16/dates/May-28-2016_at_0730PM
–the title of a song Paul wrote back when we first performed in the northern New York town of the same name, but not, as it turned out, the same pronunciation. Who knew that the "Low-" rhymes with "how," not "go?" Undaunted, we took it in stride and adjusted the vowel. The lyric still worked... visually.
For our return to the Black River Concert Series last Saturday we had fun dusting off and polishing that tune. What a great night. It didn't hurt that volunteers met us on the street to help tote gear, that we were taken out to dinner (thank you Carmen and Connie), and given plates of baked goodies to take home after the show. It didn't hurt that the room (the Lewis County Historical Society, a former Masonic Lodge) has the best acoustics we have ever known, and the audience was a pin-drop-attentive, standing-ovation, buy-our-cds crew. Damn. They set the bar so high for the year can it be only downhill from here? Hope not.
Chillin' in the green room before our Lowville show.
Framed by doric columns, naturally. Craig appears to be meditating.
And then there was the gig the night before, just a few miles from KZ's house, deep in the boondocks. Hey, we're cool with playing honkytonks, too. Good people, and Kathy's friend Melinda gave us a dozen delicious carrot cupcakes.
"It may not be exactly Carnegie Hall / No flowers and no curtain calls
But you play harder when your back's against a wall / you're not just putting on a show"
I’ve lost quite a bit of weight in the last two years. I mean in terms of gear. Like long-distance hikers, most long haul musicians–keyboard players in particular–will sooner or later go to obsessive extremes with this goal in mind.
[note: the pics are not to scale, or the B3 would be the smallest item, and you know that ain't right.]
I have never toted a:
Hammond B3 (approx. 350 lb, excluding pedalboard and bench),
Leslie speaker cabinet (140 lb).
Good times that I have missed. But I did replace my Hammond clone (Korg CX3, 38 lbs) with a Hammond SK1 (15 lbs). Then this year I replaced my bulky keyboard amp:
Roland KC 350 (49 lbs)
QSC8 powered speakers (27 lbs each).
I can easily carry these guys up a flight of stairs safe and snug in their little tote bags. Oh, and did I mention they are rated 1000 watts each, sound superior, and I now play in stereo?
For my bass amp, I've been using the tiny, humble SWR workingman’s 10 (32 lbs) for years.You can't tell from the pic below, but it’s already about as weeny as you can ask for, basically a 14" cube. Can't go smaller than that. Yet.
For most shows we no longer bring a p.a. I put my mic through a tiny mixer into those QSC speakers, and my bandmates have lightweight, compact towers that handle both their instruments and vocal mics as well (Paul: Bose; KZ: Fishman). Our sound sources are then exclusively on the backline. The loss of monitors occasionally creates problems, but not when we stick close together, and I like the fact that our music can be sourced to our individual locations on stage: more natural. And when we play the BIG houses? that’s why they invented line out jacks and microphones and sound engineers....
Sound engineer working the board on the astral plane.
This is a flyer for what I believe is the first performance of what became The Buskers, May 7, 1993. Note misspelling of KZ's (maiden) name. Also on the docket was Paul Hubert, who replaced Richard Danahy when he left the band in 1999. Small (NH music) world.
The Jim Kweskin Jug Band performs at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival. From left: Mel Lyman, Maria Muldaur, Geoff Muldaur, Jim Kweskin and Bill Keith. (Photo courtesy Jim Kweskin/Joe Alper)
Lisa Mullins interviewed members of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band today on the NPR show HereAndNow. They've been around for 50 years. We treasure the night we opened for Maria Muldaur and Her Garden of Joy (also a jug band). Never been so well matched with the main act (and audience) as that night.
Here are a few of Kweskin's comments from the interview. It seemed he was speaking for The Buskers' musical values, as well:
Folk music had become popular largely due to a big hit the Kingston Trio had in the late 50s called "Tom Dooley." I was interested in folk music that had swing to it, that was... more jazzy.
We had a good time, we were loose on stage personally, but we worked very hard on the arrangements; we practiced a lot; we were serious about the musicianship and serious about the music, but we didn’t take ourselves seriously. It takes a lot to sound relaxed...to get up on stage and sound like you’re just enjoying yourself and have it be good music, it takes a lot of work.
What jug band music is: if you had to boil it down to one thing, it’s really jazz played on folk music instruments. That was the difference between the jug band and the other “folk” music that was going on at the time. There were a lot of people following in the footsteps of the Kingston Trio. We didn’t like that music at all—still don’t.... All these guys had set routines, they wore uniforms—striped shirts or whatever it was. What we did, we get up onstage and we never knew what we were gonna say or what we were gonna do or what we were gonna wear. That was part of what we didn’t like about those groups. They were just too set. It didn’t have any guts to it.