Well, it’s really just a treasure chest of pleasures to do what I just got to do last weekend. I have been looking forward to the John Hartford Memorial Festival since December, when I was invited to be a part of it. And boy, was I. Besides three solo sets (all different material), I got to play, on my sets and theirs, with The Atomic Duo (my good buddies, the talented and challenging Mark Rubin and Silas Lowe), with my brotherly soul friend Ryan Spearman (I love playing music with him!), and then… with Frank Lee and The Freights. This is The Freight Hoppers, minus David. He couldn’t be there, and I got called in, not to sub for David. NObody can do that. But to be BE, me, yep, that’s what I was. It was challenging, satisfying, and a bit nerve-wracking sometimes, playing with those guys. I can honestly say that was the most I’ve gotten to rock since the last Wilders show in February. (Hey, we have two local/regional shows at the end of June, go to the band site for deets.) It was a supreme honor to play two sets with the Freights – The FH were THE imminent influence on The Wilders when we were getting going with our band.

I got a little teary, both on-stage and off, talking about or listening to stories of John Hartford. I never got to meet him, but honestly, I’ve been making tribute to him for years now. I will continue to delve into his music for the rest of my life. I challenged myself to sing a couple of his songs (besides playing fiddle tunes I love that he loved too). I learned “Delta Queen Waltz” and “Back in the Goodle Days”. The latter, I heard a couple more times during the weekend, but I bet nobody else did that particular waltz. It’s a very lovely, old fashioned, sentimental song. I loved it. I’ll continue to sing both those songs from now on.

Thanks to everyone who is working so hard to get this festival off the ground. It’s an ongoing project that can take up a lot of lots of people’s time. They do it for love. I treasure the opportunity to be a part of this meaningful event, and it’s not just about the one weekend for me either. Come and see it next year at the green and shady Bill Monroe Memorial Campground, Bean Blossom, Indiana… end of May/beginning of June.

John Hartford Memorial Festival

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