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Hope y'all are having a great Christmas and general holiday time. I just returned from visiting Mom and Dad up in Minnesota. I was not disappointed in the winter weather. The 35 below zero wind chill was certainly an, "Oh yeah, now I remember" moment for me. Anyway, great to see the folks, as always. Apparently, you CAN go home.. BTW, for those of you in Nashville, I'll be playing a half-hour set at the Bluebird Cafe this Sunday, Dec. 28th at 9:30-ish PM. Come on down.. I'm deep in producer-land here lately. New music coming from Megan Birdsall and Keith Miles (not to mention the below aforementioned Christmas music with Pat Barber) - plus I'll be doing more children's music with Rusty Young. Busy is good - I like busy.. Stay warm..

I went into the studio Thanksgiving weekend to record a couple of Christmas songs for my old friend and current Sedona, AZ resident, Pat Barber. The sessions were done at another old friend's place - Russ Pahl, former Great Plains bandmate. Russ co-owns the studio with his father-in-law, Billy Sanford - who is an A-Team Nashville session guitarist noted for, among other things, the signature guitar lick on Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman". So - Billy, Russ, drummer Rick Lonow, upright bassist Kip Martin, Keith Miles (who sang the lead vocal) and yours truly, got together and recorded Pat's song, "Cactus Christmas Tree". Pat is working with some folks in Arizona who are starting a new halfway house for recovering addicts and alcoholics. Pat is donating the publishing royalties from this Christmas song to the halfway house. You can purchase the song on-line BY CLICKING HERE.

In 1967, my first band, The Backstreet Journal, recorded our one and only 45. We made a couple of trips, as I remember, to Rochester, MN - about 7 hours south of our home in Thief River Falls, MN. We recorded in a basement studio onto a 3 track tape recorder. The Temptation's song "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" was on the "B" side and my own song, "I'm Not With You" (complete with 1967 hippie lyric) on the "A" side. The record was produced by our manager, Don Hunt and released on the Winnipeg, Manitoba label Franklin Records in the summer of love. I can't recall that we actually sold any, but we did get some local and regional airplay and did a few regional TV shows. We were also booked by the "Hungry I" agency, out of Winnipeg and opened several shows for roster-mates, the Guess Who. All that to say this: A new collection titled "The Best Of Franklin Records" has been put together by Shawn Nagy, from Duluth, MN and is now available at superoldies.com. Both songs recorded by The Backstreet Journal are on this CD. Lots of great local bands appear on this very limited (500 copies) collection.

If you need a smile today, visit upsidedowndogs.com

Idlewheel just completed our 2nd world tour this past Saturday at Dorothy and Charlie Wade's house in NJ. What a ball! We played in the basement - it felt like we were the Beatles at the Cavern Club.. Great food, friends, music - couldn't have been better. Thanks to all the Poconuts who came out and supported us. And thanks to my Idlemates; Craig Bickhardt, Tom Hampton, Tommy Geddes and the lovely Larry Ahearn for a successful tour. More to come!

and thanks to Wendy for the photo..
Wow.. This year at Wildwood Springs was a real treat for me. Original Poco members Richie Furay and Jim Messina joined us for 3 nights of 40th Anniversary celebration. It was absolutely awesome to hear their voices and guitars blending with Rusty and Paul again. What a powerful and memorable sound this band forged... Poco performs at Wildwood every year - and each time somehow seems more rewarding than the last. I suppose it's the ongoing relationships we have with so many folks who keep coming back year after year..

L-R: Rusty Young, Richie Furay, Jim Messina, Paul Cotton, George Lawrence and my bad self.
Photo by Claudia Upton.
Happy Birthday to me.. 59 - but I still feel 57. Great time tonight at Brookhaven, on Long Island. We did a show with Firefall, Pure Prairie League and Little River Band. Richie Furay sat in with the band. Always an honor to work with Richie. Perfect weather, and a whole bunch of Poconuts. Many thanks to Virginia for the incredible Cannoli Birthday Cake... Craig Bickhardt and I will be doing a limited Idlewheel run in October. I'll post the dates here now and update them if necessary.

Thursday October 16 - 7:30pm - IDLEWHEEL SHOW
@ Turning Point 468 Piermont Ave, Piermont, NY 10968.
Plus Very Special Guest: Jon Pousette-Dart (Solo Acoustic)
Tickets $30.00 - Available NOW! 845.359.1089

Friday, October 17 - 8:30pm - IDLEWHEEL SHOW
@ Printers Alley, Doylestown, PA 18901
Tickets: $15.00 available NOW at TicketWeb.com or (215) 348.9000

Saturday, October 18 - 8 pm IDLEWHEEL SHOW
@ Burlap & Bean 204 S. Newtown, Newtown Square, PA.
(Rt. 252 in Shops At Springton) (484) 427-4547. J. D. Malone opens.
$15 - BUY TICKETS EARLY - this show will be sold out. Capacity 50 persons.

Sunday, October 19 - 6 pm IDLEWHEEL SHOW
@ D. Wade's House Concert (Call for info) Union, NJ.
Suggested Donation: $20.
For reservations call 908-764-6919, or email : twojulysons@aol.com
Congratulations to my parents, Omar and Erma on their 68th wedding anniversary! You two are amazing!
Nice Poco article from Soundwaves Ezine.
Many thanks to Di from "Down Under" for sending me a copy of the Great Plains video for "Wolverton Mountain". I now have links to all the music videos made by GP.(See "Odd Bits" page). I recently returned from a wonderful stay with my folks, Omar and Erma. Thanks, Ma and Pa for warmth, welcome and wuv (a bit of an alliterative stretch, I know). And Happy 40th Wedding Anniversary to bro Scott and his bride, Cindy. Wow.. Also, I got to reunite with my first band, The Backstreet Journal. We had a ball. We played for drummer Larry Johnson's family reunion. There were over 150 Johnsons in attendance. "Louie Louie", "Gloria", "Wooly Bully".. music to my ears...
In case you haven't seen this -
My old band, Great Plains gets Wikified..
Also, I just came across two more GP videos: Healin' Hands & Dancin' With The Wind
CLICK HERE. Buy stuff..
(or a 58 year old looks at 59 - then quickly looks the other way..)

So what better way to waste some time than to vainly attempt to render myself more youthful? I'm obviously the guy on the left, but I felt oddly young while erasing wrinkles..

Thanks to Ms. Claudia for the pic - which she took during a recent Poco show at BB King's in NYC.
Rusty Young and I recently composed and recorded the soundtrack for the animated DVD version of the children's book, "Do Unto Otters", by Laurie Keller (published by Weston Woods). We had a blast doing it and hope to do more like it in the future. If you want to see what it's all about and also see a trailer for the DVD, CLICK HERE. I also voiced "Mr. Rabbit" and Rusty voiced one of the Otters ("say the magic word..").
Many have asked me about the line, "Dance like a Sufi in a trance" in my (Poco) song "Shake It". I found this clip on youtube that illustrates Sufi Dancing. Sufism is a sect of Islam. The whirling dance is a form of meditation (trance) they use.

Test your vocabulary while donating rice to the UN World Food Program.
Perhaps there are Poco fans out there who would like to attempt a Poco history timeline? I know some of you know all the pertinent stats. If you're interested, here's just the place to do it...
Hard Country.

(right photo by Claudia Upton, left by Walter Lance)

I had a great time in Minnesota, helping my mother celebrate her 89th birthday. Mom, you're the greatest! She made her now famous Jello dish, which Dad and I ended up wrestling over on the kitchen floor.. (I kid, but it is awesomely delicious). Plus, I got to drive my new Toyota Matrix up there. Great little car.. I'm going into the studio this weekend with Megan Birdsall. She's an immensely talented singer/songwriter from Kansas City, and also the daughter of 2 of my oldest friends.. More on that later.
Here's a quote from the website: Friends of Michael Johnson.


As many of you know, Michael Johnson underwent unexpected quadruple bypass surgery last August. He's doing well, however it has been a long challenging recovery. Medical expenses not covered by insurance have continued to mount.

Announcing a celebration benefit concert - "MICHAEL & FRIENDS" at The Fine Line Music Café in Minneapolis, MN April 27th. All proceeds from ticket sales to benefit the "Friends of Michael Johnson" fund."

More information is available on the website, including how to get tickets for the benefit and how to donate. Michael is an old friend and co-writer of mine, as well as my former boss and a great musician. Please pass this on..
Rusty and I recently finished the soundtrack for a children's book that's been made into an animated DVD by Scholastic Publishing. It was a big, time gobbling job - and also challenging for me on the tech front. I've learned a lot in the process of doing this. We recorded almost a hundred tracks of audio and synched it to the animation. My computer struggled mightily, complained a lot, but ultimately brought the project home. I'll post more info as they get closer to releasing the DVD. The title: "Do Unto Otter's". We also did character voices.. And here's a little something courtesy of my Dad: On-line Computer Screen Cleaner
Just back from the stupendously awesome "Idlewheel World Tour 2008". My good friend and long-time collaborator, Craig Bickhardt and I did a swing through the northeastern US last week, playing tunes and laughing our butts off. We had a blast. A thousand thanks to all the Poconuts who came out to cheer us on for our debut tour. Thanks to Larry Ahearn, for all the work putting this thing together; and to Tom Hampton, Tommy Geddes, Mike Kurman & Michael Beeson for making it a band. And if that weren't enough, we were joined on 3 of the dates by the fine singer/songwriter, Dan May and band. We hope to do it again - perhaps in the fall... And so, onward - westward. Poco will be doing shows in Colorado this weekend. Happy Birthday to Paul Cotton, George Lawrence AND Rusty Young this month - and lest we forget, Happy Birthday to POCO! 40 years of great music: 1968-2008. It's going to be a great year..
I'm off to Philly tomorrow for a week of gigs with Idlewheel. From the Department of Redundancy Department - Here's a re-post of those dates.

Friday, Feb 15 - Turning Point : Piermont NY
8:00pm - $20.00 - Special guest Dan May

Saturday, Feb 16 - Landhaven B&B : Barto PA
8:00pm - $12 Donation - 1194 Huff's Church Rd. 610.845.3257

Sunday, Feb 17 - Lois And Greg's House Concerts
1:30 pm - $20.00 - Details to follow.

Sunday, Feb 17 - Tin Angel : 20 South Second Street, Philadelphia, PA
7:00 pm - $12.00 - Tickets available at Tin Angel Box Office
4pm to 7pm daily or by phone (215) 928-0978
or online www.ticketweb.com - Special Guest Dan May.

Tuesday, Feb 19 - The Cutting Room : 19 W 24th St, NY, NY
8:00 pm - $20 - (212) 691-1900 - Special Guest Dan May.

My good friend Keith Miles is in the winner's circle at the
Kweevak.com 2007 CD of the Year Awards!

It's a fine piece of work - if I do say so myself..

"Equal parts wry, homespun and just achingly truthful,
combining the best elements of all writing and storytelling."

- Mark T. Gould
SoundWaves Magazine
My solo CD, "By My Own Hand" is now available for digital download at Novatunes.com. It's a very cool mixture of music and community - CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT
Sad news - Poco drummer, George Lawrence's mother died this past Saturday. We had, a few hours earlier, finished our show in Florida when he got the news. We're all thinking of you, George..

There's a lull in the Poco schedule now until later in February.. I'll be playing some shows with my old friend and writing partner Craig Bickhardt as we do a tour of the northeast with our band Idlewheel. Here are the dates:

(note: I originally posted the wrong date for the Cutting Room - my bad..)

Friday, Feb 15 - Turning Point : Piermont NY
8:00pm - $20.00 - Special guest Dan May

Saturday, Feb 16 - Landhaven B&B : Barto PA
8:00pm - $12 Donation - 1194 Huff's Church Rd. 610.845.3257

Sunday, Feb 17 - Lois And Greg's House Concerts
1:30 pm - $20.00 - Details to follow.

Sunday, Feb 17 - Tin Angel : 20 South Second Street, Philadelphia, PA
7:00 pm - $12.00 - Tickets available at Tin Angel Box Office
4pm to 7pm daily or by phone (215) 928-0978
or online www.ticketweb.com - Special Guest Dan May.

Tuesday, Feb 19 - The Cutting Room : 19 W 24th St, NY, NY
8:00 pm - $20 - (212) 691-1900 - Special Guest Dan May.

And speaking of NYC, my friend and fellow Minnesota Norwegian, Bruce Arntson will be appearing as half of the country/western superstar spoof duo, Doyle & Debbie, on the Conan O'Brien Show this coming Friday, the 11th. They're hilarious - don't miss it..

Also, my CD, "By My Own Hand", is reviewed in the current issue (Jan/Feb 2008) of Performing Songwriter Magazine, in the "DIY Top 12 Picks" section. It's the issue with Don Henley on the cover..


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