Community Music Jams


It’s my first post of 2014! If you’re wondering what I’ve been up to besides teaching music lessons, the image here and the documentary link below should give you some idea.

I dance and play contra dance tunes nearly every Monday in Nelson, New Hampshire with various musicians from our local traditional music scene, including members of the band Trip To Nelson, two of whose members, Matt and Perrin, are pictured above. We were playing “Wizard’s Walk,” which you can hear snippets of in Mary Wesley’s short documentary, “Mondays in Nelson”.

I also get out to the Harlow’s jam in Peterborough, NH many Tuesdays, and to the Brattleboro VT jam at the Stone Church every other Sunday. Oh, and also the jam at Del Rossi’s on Wednesdays in Dublin, NH. And I lead a beginners slow jam for contra dance music at the Peterborough Town House every 1st Saturday at 6:30 before the monthly dance.

In the beginning, I mainly played rhythm guitar, but I’ve gradually been getting tunes up to speed on my harmonica and also on my new baby, a banjo-ukulele tuned up like a mandolin. A banjolele in mando tuning, 5ths, like a fiddle. Works great. Easy on the fingers, plenty loud, light to carry around. I’ll share more info about the banjolele later.

Anyhow, Spring is starting to sprout, snow is finally melting, mud is starting to squish. I have some solo guitar instrumental gigs coming up on the Shows page, and you can always find me at the jams. See you!

News Story & Student CD

In The News
Quick autumn news blurb – I’m featured in a story from The Mason Ledger-Transcript on their local music series this summer – read it here.

Student CD
Also, I helped produce a CD for one of my students this summer. Read about it and listen to all the songs at this link here.

Ukulele in Nashua, NH

(reposted from
What a day in Greeley Park! After my onstage solo uke set, I taught classes on chords, strumming, and fingerpicking. Student demographics varied wildly, from little kids to seniors, from total beginners to members of the bands who’d played earlier during the ukulele festival.

I knew it would be impossible in that situation to give everybody exactly what they need (can you ever do that, anyway?), but I tried to make sure everyone got SOMETHING they could use in each workshop, whether they were picking up the ukulele for the first time, or already could play, sing, and jam comfortably.

Big thanks to my fellow teacher Amy Conley for bringing her tent and basket of loaner ukes (and for taking these pictures!), and to Michael and Ben Chung for doing the dreaming and legwork necessary to make this festival happen.

For more info on my ukulele teaching, please visit

Music on the Mason Green

The sun was setting in Mason, New Hampshire. Bears had been spotted in town the week before, and I was hoping one might stop by my gig. For my set, I played originals mostly from The Reluctant Hook, plus a couple from Solitaire For Two and Play To Remember, augmented by a ukulele cover of “Here Comes the Sun” and a harmonica rendition of the Irish reel “Star of Munster.”

After I left the stage, Mason local Jerry Wile played his own bluegrass-inspired originals and guitar instrumentals. Steve Tamulonis, the organizer of the Music On the Mason Green series, had inquired earlier whether we might perform a song together, and while we didn’t play anything during the official show, we did get to run through a couple of fiddle tunes together just before my set, standing on the edge of the stage.

The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript ran a profile of our show and the music series which includes additional pictures.

Thanks to Steve and the town of Mason for putting this event together, and to Jerry for playing “Red Haired Boy” and “Flowers of Edinburgh” with me. Bears: rain check for next time?

August is for Festivals

NH Ukulele Picnic
Saturday Aug 24

In honor of the first annual New Hampshire Ukulele Picnic, I’ve made a ukulele video of my song “Driving To Georgetown.” You can watch it here. The festival is Saturday August 24 at Greeley Park in Nashua NH from noon to 4pm. I’ll be performing and also teaching uke workshops.

Music on the Mason Green
Thursday Aug 8

Is it a festival if it’s just two performers? Close enough. Music on the Mason Green is an outdoor event on, you guessed it, the green in historic Mason, New Hampshire, childhood home of Uncle Sam. I believe a gazebo has been specially constructed for our use. Mason local Jerry Wile will also be performing, and if you come early, there’s a community dinner at 5:30, then music at 7pm.

FolkSoul Festival, Greenfield NH
Sunday Aug 18

Rumor has it that I may join Trip To Nelson for their set at Greenfield’s FolkSoul Festival on Sunday August 18 at 4pm. Music runs all day, tons of bands, from 11am-7pm.

Depot Square, Peterborough, NH
Friday Aug 23

I’m closing out Pboro’s summertime music series at Depot Square on Friday August 23, from 6:00-7:30pm. Last week I sat in on Richard Backes’ Celtic session at the same location and it was a beautiful evening to play music outdoors by the river. Fingers crossed for a repeat for my solo date. The rain location is nearby in Twelve Pine.

Walpole Farmers Market
Friday August 30

My first New England farmers market! Back in North Carolina, I played regularly at farmers markets in Pittsboro, Hillsborough, Holly Springs, and elsewhere, so I’m looking forward to heading up to Walpole NH this month to play music among the local greens, tomatoes and squashes.

Keene Music Festival
Saturday Aug 31

A gig that’s truly close to home. Played here last year and I’m returning to the gazebo in Ashuelot River Park on Saturday August 31 for the Art in the Park portion of the annual, all-day Keene Music Festival. My set starts at 10:30am.

Want directions and more details? It’s all listed on my Shows page.

Live at The Living Room

On June 15, I drove about an hour along New Hampshire back roads to play at The Living Room, a church coffeehouse in Mason, NH. There were graduations in the area that day, so turnout was light in the rec room, but it was still a listening room, and I’m lucky to get to play in that kind of setting, where I’m up on a stage, with a light on me and the audience sits in a darkened room and listens carefully. I’m also way into rooms where we’re equally lit, even without a microphone, as long as folks are listening, but lighting and sound do give things a showbiz-y touch and turn everything you do onstage into a kind of theater. I think my set was probably pretty gentle. Not a bad thing, but I’m curious about violating the “don’t shout in a library!” rule. Watch out, quiet audiences, things might get edgy next time. Thanks to Steve and Mike for putting this series together, and thanks to Michelle for the photo.

So, This One Time, At Harmonica Camp…

At the end of April 2013 I flew to Indianapolis for a multi-day event organized by Jason Ricci and Winslow Yerxa called “Harmonica Collective.”

It was a blast. After an opening night jam at a local blues bar, we had three days of classes on improv, theory, breathing, tongue blocking, amplification, mic technique, and how to tweak harmonicas for better playability.

At the end, we closed out back at the blues bar with a staff concert, during which I was called up to perform with two of my teachers, Paul Davies and James Conway.

Paul and I played an improvised waltz as a duo, then James brought out his bagpipe-tuned harp for a solo piece, and we finished with an uptempo trio take on the Harvest Home Hornpipe.

I’m still processing all the class material, one-to-one conversations, and jam experiences. It was nice to meet so many people with their own harmonica obsessions.

I came away from Harmonica Collective with a renewed focus on tongue blocking, especially corner switching for fiddle tunes with big leaps.

Also, I quickly realized that most of the players there had played a lot more blues jams than me. I spend a lot of time woodshedding fiddle tunes and taking melodies through all 12 positions. It might be time to take a step back and just groove in cross harp awhile.

Thanks to all the Expert Guides: Jason Ricci, Winslow Yerxa, Richard Sleigh, RJ Mischo, Michael Peloquin, James Conway, and Guest Stars Paul Davies and Buzz Krantz.

Also, special thanks to the Saigon Restaurant for their delicious noodle bowls and friendly home-style service. Three meals in four days! Next time, I may even order an avocado shake of my own instead of just sipping everybody else’s.

St Patrick’s Day at Harlows

What’s new? For this last Saint Patrick’s Day, I got to play at Harlow’s Pub in Peterborough NH with Richard, Matt, and Perin of Trip To Nelson, except with me, they’re called The Kids on the Mountain. The band sounded superb. Molly Brown took this picture with her phone, and I creepily snatched it off Facebook. Why? Well, as usual, I brought my camera, I brought a video device, but then the setup began, and the soundcheck, and then dinner and then whoa! we’re playing. And this blog is awfully barren looking without images. So that’s the story. Thanks, Molly!

Playing Music at Del Rossi’s

Thought I’d share this picture from a couple months ago. Leslie Vogel invited me and Richard Backes to join her in playing for the Yankee Publishing Christmas party at Del Rossi’s Trattoria, in Dublin, New Hampshire. It was fun and we got to sample the lunch spread on our breaks.

I’m a longtime fan of Del Rossi’s. When I was first scoping out the Monadnock region before moving up in 2011, I looked on for local Celtic jams and discovered that Del Rossi’s hosted one on Wednesdays. I attended their jam just about every week during that first year. I’ve been really busy with my teaching recently, so it’s hard to make it out to Dublin for the full jam, but I occasionally can get there early enough to play the last few songs on Wednesday nights.

Thanks to Lou Eastman for taking this photo!

December Newsletter

Hey, it’s my December 2012 newsletter!

1. Tad Solo in Peterborough & Jaffrey NH
2. McQuillen Tribute Video
3. Contra Corner
4. Closing Thoughts


I’m playing Friday Dec 7 at the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church. I’ll be the featured act at the “Parish Hall Open Stage” event, which runs every first Friday. I’m pretty sure there’s a suggested donation of $5 or thereabouts, and music starts at 7:30pm.

At 5:00pm on the following Sunday Dec 16, I’m participating in a benefit show for the closing of MindFull Books in Jaffrey, NH. John, Martha, and Diane have been great supporters of the music community with their Listening Room venue at MB and we the musicians are coming from as far afield as Burlington and Boston to offer a 3-day concert series to celebrate them and help out financially. The shows run Fri / Sat / Sun, and I’m on the last day.


Check out this video of me and 30 other musicians performing at the recent tribute to Bob McQuillen. Music starts around 3 minutes in.


I’ve begun helping out with the 1st Saturday contra dance in the Peterborough Town Hall, and this Saturday – yes, THIS SATURDAY is December 1st, don’t miss it! – we’ve got a special treat: the band Perpetual E-Motion. It’s a duo of fiddle and guitar that loops their instruments and also plays digeridoo. They blend traditional music with world music and electronic sounds. It’s pretty remarkable, and I’ve heard they’re a blast to dance to or just to watch. Speaking of watching, here’s a live Youtube video of Perpetual E-Motion. See you this Saturday in Peterborough!

Looking ahead, my friends Trip To Nelson are giving their first CD release concert on Friday January 4 at the Nelson NH Town Hall, and I’ll be sitting in for a few sets, along with several other special guests. I’ve been jamming with this young contra band in various configurations for about a year now and I’m really excited for them. Check ‘em out at their website.


It’s the end of my first year and a half in New Hampshire, and I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made up here, and the traditional music and dance community I’ve discovered. Since moving to New Enland, I haven’t played as much in singer-songwriter mode as I have in the past, and we’ll see if I swing back in that direction in 2013, but in the meantime, believe me, I’m keeping busy, musically.

To all the students who take guitar, harmonica, and ukulele lessons with me, in person in Keene, NH and online via Skype – thanks for the opportunity to continue making my living doing what I love, and thank you for challenging me constantly to think and rethink how we learn music.

To my North Carolina friends, and friends elsewhere, I miss you, and I think we should definitely use the free long-distance service included in our cell plans. Also, I’m hearing that the Internet can help make keeping in touch easier. Let’s do that, too.

PS: I’ll probably post again here before New Years, but if I miss it, enjoy the winter holidays, and have a great New Year!