Category Archives: Tours

birch trees in private

The thing about Birch trees besides occupying space in the book of fire starting techniques, besides acting as paper in certain circumstances, besides having at least three vivid tonalities: white, pink and grey is that they can play the banjo as fast as Eugene Chadbourne. It’s like that damn bugs bunny frog singing “hello my baby hello my honey hello my rag time doll” but act like any other tree when I take it to record companies and introduce it. I end up looking foolish. I’m no good at keeping secrets. I’ve already said too much. I asked Eugene when we were touring together how he became so fast on the guitar. It was a crazy speed experience to hang with him and watch his show each night. I wasn’t sure how he would receive my query like asking superman to talk about kryptonite. He had a blunt answer, Bluegrass.
Never considered of that. I understood after how he took the ball and ran straight into the avant garde. Like Nina Hagen took opera and ran straight into punk. Like Trump took bold egotistical traits, impaired empathy, celebration of the delusional and ran straight into the
White House. On second thought that isn’t so unique.
There is another chapter on pine needles. They light up and light out, just instantaneous. Like singing with Groucho Marx “hello I must be going”. First I build a little fort, maximize their duration before the show is over. Hope the balance is just right, prepare kindling dominos. My high school chemistry teacher should have explained chemistry by making fires or cooking food. I would have understood it all clearly. World would have had many more eager science students. I would never teach music by first playing Bach. I start by playing sound, by encouraging hearing what is musical about the world and exploring instruments as if we are cave people. Those who think the rules are what is important are all about the right way and the wrong way. Those guys are the last people I would share secrets with about Birch and banjos.

kindness of strangers

Access to a car or van and affording gas, insurance, upkeep are regular economic hurdles of touring.
I don’t recall how I obtained the emails for the Ghost Bees but somehow I did and that they lived in Halifax. It was around 2002 and I had 9 Nova Scotia dates and asked if they had a vehicle they would consider renting to me. When they got back to me they lent me their van for free and they hardly knew me. I want to believe I am from the same planet as them, barely anyone is yet in music I have met a few always leaving me stunned.
They are more than a duo now and called Tasseomancy. They tour Europe. Does anyone give them vehicles to use for free? Hope so. I would produce or play on anything free for them anytime.


Often financial obstacles to touring at the level most of us work at. Often few free things promoters include, a place to stay, dinner, guarantee vs. percentage, rider. Often you bust your ass and arrive late afternoon, set up, check and eat perhaps very near the time you take the stage. Often while singing (maybe something very serious) you have to hide the need to burp.