Wednesday, August 24, 2016

OK, ALL RIGHT, GOOD DEAL! Michael Hearne, Mike Roberts and I are playing Anderson Fair this Friday night, August 26 at 9:00 PM. www.andersonfair.net for tickets to this iconic venue!
The dog days of August are nearly history. Here we are heading into September and it’s almost time for Michael Hearne’s 14th Annual Big Barn Dance in Taos, New Mexico! Michael has been running back and forth between Texas and New Mexico working on last minute details for the Barn Dance. He is a man of many hats these days. In the meantime we’ve also been staying busy traveling and running around Texas. Last weekend we played what we called our Gas Station Tour, aka’ the clean the windshield, check under the hood , and top‘er off tour’. Saturday night we played "THE GROVE", PECAN GROVE STORE in Fredericksburg, just out North on Highway 16. It’s an old Sinclair Filling Station converted into a cool little bar and BBQ place with an outside area under the trees for music and even a floor for dancing. A very nice Texas style outside under a grove of Pecan trees. A wonderful way to play music on a Texas Saturday night! Go to www.pecangrovestore.com and read its history! But wait! Well, we all know how it’s been a dry hot summer and all the brown grass has needed some rain for a while now.…......Well, earlier in the day on Saturday, it began pouring and pouring. The rain is good for the grass, not so much for outdoor concerts! As we neared show time, our hosts Rick and Becke put plan B into action and moved the whole operation inside this old Sinclair gas station/general store. I had no idea how many folks you can squeeze into a really small gas station. The crowded party preceded to go0 inside and a great time was had by all. It kept raining outside as we kept playing inside. In this general store/filling station/BBQ joint. I love it! I mean only in Texas. Every one left happy and we plan to make a return in the Spring next year and play out under those trees and pick a night with no rain in the forecast. Go to www.pecangrovestore.com and read this amazing history.

The next afternoon we drove down to Shiner, Texas for our second gas station gig. Howard's right off Highway 90 as you pull into Shiner. Actually the first time I played Howard’s a couple of years ago, I wasn’t sure exactly where it was in Shiner so I told my wife "hey, let’s pull in at this convenient store gas station to get directions". I went in and asked where is Howard’s located and the clerk said you‘re here! This is Howards. So there you go. I walked throughout the store, past the Shiner Beer dispensers on the wall next to the soft drinks and soda dispensers and made my way on out the back screen door which opens up unto a covered patio with folks all sitting around having a cold one and enjoying live music being played by Bill Pekar and the Rainey Brothers Band. Bill was instrumental in getting us booked into the venue. This was my third visit to Howard’s and Michael Hearne’s first time. It poured on us all the way down from Austin but in Shiner the skies were partly cloudy most of the afternoon evening. We got a little down pour towards the end of our show, but folks all just pulled in closer under the partially covered patio and we were able to get our set in. You know I was thinking, if we keep playing very many more gas station gigs, I am going to have them add to my contract that the venue must also include and supply a full tank of gas to go as part of the deal. What do you think?

Fast forward a few days and Michaels heading back to New Mexico and Mike Roberts and I are rehearsed for our show at JP. Hops House in Houston. We played the annual Spud Stock/Mr. Potato Head’s Happy Birthday Show.  So we knocked the dirt off of a few " tater songs," parodies of songs from the sixties. We performed such classics as, All You Need is Spuds, Addicted to Spuds, No Taters No Fries, Wanna Whole Lot of Spuds, For Your Spuds, Spud Stock, the list keeps going on. I’m ‘Shake Russett’ and Mike is ‘Yellow Finn', Michael missed the fun. His name is ‘Yukon Gold’. It only happens once a year. It’s a little like a cross between Woodstock days and Halloween. I’m always a little concerned and afraid that someone hearing us for the first time (on a Spud Stock Night) might leave the club scratching their heads about this one! But we had a blast and so did the fans.

With the spuds in our rear view mirror we headed into The Mucky Duck for a sold out show this past Saturday night. Michael joined us for this one and the Duck was rocking! Thank you Houston for showing up and coming out. We debuted a new song Michael and I wrote with Mr. Dean Quinn. The song was derived from a poem he had written and given to his wife Christi on Christmas many years ago.  The poem is called “Sit With Me”, along with a garden bench inscribed the same. The Quinn's were in the audience Saturday night and were gleaming. I want to give a special ‘shout out’ to my buddy, traffic man in the morning on Channel 11…..Mr. DARBY DOUGLAS. He made the show and brought some friends with him. I took a selfie with him or I should say I took a selfie with his hair. Great meeting you Darby! And FYI, Darby. Both Dee and I were awake for your 4:30 a.m. shout out! Thanks and see you next time!

If you didn’t catch the show at the MUCKY DUCK, last weekend we will be at the iconic folk club, ANDERSON FAIR this Friday night, August 26. There are still sits available! For tickets contact www.andersonfair.net. We hope to see you there.

See you up the road and "stay tuned"!  Shake

P.S. I wanted to mention and let everyone know that we received word from our label, ”Howling Dog Records", that we’re getting airplay overseas in Germany and France and Denmark. All three of our CD’s are being received very well so far and various songs being played from all three. We’re also getting good, encouraging feedback from radio DJs and programmers. I’ll keep you posted on future happenings.

Friday, August 5, 2016



AUGUST 1,  2016

We are home from our quick run up to Alamosa and Telluride in beautiful Southern Colorado. Wow, what a ride and a whirlwind turnaround shindig kind of a road trip!

I’ve unhitched the wagon and the ponies are watered and resting. I’ve had some shut eye. I feel a little stoved up but no worse for the wear.  Maybe a little weary from the past several days of traveling across Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado and playing a couple of shows along the way.  I’m feeling so blessed, my mind holds treasures of the places we’ve seen and I’m ready to recollect and share them.

Michael Hearne and I left Austin early Thursday morning last week and pulled into Alamosa, CO ten minutes before midnight (mountain time) right between Thursday night and Friday morning. We stepped out into the night and right away felt a reaffirming, cool welcoming breeze.  It sure felt good to be out of the Texas heat for a little while.  We were in Alamosa for a CD release concert to be held the next night at SOCIETY HALL.  Alamosa is the home of Don Richmond and Howling Dog Studio and Howling Dog Records. It’s where Michael and I recorded our new three CD project over the past winter.  We were sort of coming home to celebrate the release of the three projects/CD’s  with the good folks of Alamosa.  After all, this was the place  where it all happened, where the magic took place and where we laid it all down.

THE ALAMOSA SOCIETY HALL
 Lisa Absmeier, Wayne McKinize, Pete Magee, Ruthie Foster and Don Richmond, thank you for hosting the evening and concert series.  The concert series is held in the beautifully restored former church which now serves the community as a live music concert hall.  We had a wonderful and very attentive turnout for the show.  Don Richmond, our friend and producer and multi instrumentalist on the new CD’s, joined us for the evening blending in his special touch to every song. Just as were hitting cruise control, well we kicked it up a gear. Don’s brother Jim, who is also as gifted musically as his brother, who happened to be in town,  joined in on mandolin and fiddle on a few tunes. There was indeed some serious jamming going on the stage.  Michael was smiling and everyone was grinning, and the congregational  all joined in!
We made some new fans that night with our music. I met a lot of new faces, and they said they enjoyed the songs. It was a great day.  I went to bed, thinking to myself… life is good!
All and all.

We stopped by the Monterrey cafe
before we left town for a quick breakfast.
I had Huevos Rancheros con hot green chili gravy, homemade corn tortillas, and a second cup of that cactus jack. We paid the bill and tipped our smiling waitress and sang adios amiga. We headed west towards Durango on highway 160.
and drove up through the mountains over the pass that lay between. and  on down into and through Pagosa Springs, until we reached  Durango and continued on to Mancos then turned right onto 184 and up to  Dolores. Then from there on up 145. to Telluride.  What lay in between for the next 60 miles was simply breath taking, jaw dropping, mind blowing vistas, valleys, mesas and sprawling canyons, panoramic surrounding mountain peaks, roaring rivers and rushing mountain streams.  Towering  giant evergreens, some of the biggest I’ve ever seen! This was Jeremiah Johnson … Big bear country. Michael was busy snapping pics (but the pictures weren’t doing it justice) and wishing he’d brought a fishing pole or his fly rod. I was keeping my eye on the narrow curvy road ahead and watching for Elk.

We reached our destination, the Telluride Mountain Village,  and turned into a giant ski resort,  hotels and golf course area. We arrived with time to spare to check in and chill before sound check.
The Sunset Concert Series is produced by our friend Steve Stagner from Austin,Texas
 and hosted by The Madeline Hotel.

Within the confines of this massive hotel complex were several common green areas
where guests could gather to play games with their children, or socialize before dinner,
even watch movies, or to hear free concerts. We were playing the Sunset Concert at 5:30 till 7:30 pm. The multi floored hotel surrounded the courtyard common green area and made it possible for some folks to stay in their rooms and sit out on their terraces to watch and listen to the music.

Just as we finished our sound check at 5pm, the rain began. Every one scattered and ran for cover. With the forecast for the evening looking like more showers, the decision was made to move it all out of the common green area into and under a little covered corridor/tunnel  of restaurants.  It had a bit of a casual, side walk cafe, European villa feel and design or vibe. For sure it was not our average setting to play a concert, but different, and that’s what keeps it interesting.

Much to our delight and surprise there was a large contingency of Texans in Telluride at this time of year, “ getting out of the heat”. So word got around the hotel and resort that we were playing and consequently we had a strong showing from Texas represented, requesting songs and cheering us along. Come rain or come shine the show did go on! Everyone had a good time!  There was even a little dancing going on the green after the rain stopped and the sun came out.  Thanks Steve and Lisa for inviting us ad taking such great care of us. We’ll see you back in Austin at our concert at The Rock Room on August 30th. Everyone mark your calendars for that treat of a venue with Michael and I playing new songs and old!

Sunday, we’re packed up bright and early and hit the trail back down through the mountains,
winding along the river, through Dolores, back to highway 160 and then on south on 550 from Durango, all the way to Albuquerque, NM.The stretch of highway rolled through the most magnificent array of colored canyons and wide ranges and mesas.  We were in  definitely in Indian country.   I kept expecting smoke signals to appear from behind and over one of the hills
or to see a wagon train circled in the distance, or a herd of buffalo stampeding across the plains.
Even Michael, who lived in New Mexico for over thirty years, had never seen this part of the state.
He was amazed at what we were seeing. This would  be a drive to make and time for the sunset hour.  The colors will astound you.

Well we took a vote  and it was unanimous ….we had just one last chance for green chili before we left New Mexico, so in Albuquerque we had lunch at a famous diner called The Owl Cafe.
Look it up!  Check it out if you’re passing through on I-40 east heading towards Santa Rosa. Michael had eaten there before so he suggested it.  Good call Elvis! It’s a cool vintage, one of a kind, legendary place, with an individual juke box at each table. Remember those?  PLUS… “the best double green chili hamburger in the world!” according to Michael. How about a piece of that pie to go and a chocolate shake! I almost bought a tee shirt.

So we’re high tailing it,  heading east across New Mexico, to Fort Sumner, “where they shot the heck out of Billy the Kid” and buried him right off the side of the highway.  It is so convenient for everyone to stop and have a look. I almost bought another tee shirt!  Then comes Clovis, N.M.,  home of Norman Petty and his famous studio where Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, and Waylon Jennings recorded their early hits. Then a  ‘SLOW DOWN LOW DOWN’…and I  saw a hornets nests of ‘black and whites ‘ hidden behind bill boards in some small West Texas town.  It was like they were hunting fish in a barrel. Better watch your speed and set your cruise control. Then it’s onto Sweet Water, into Lubbock on down the pike to Austin.  Michael jumped off the stage coach somewhere outside of Austin, I rested for a spell, heated up some beans, had a cup of cowboy coffee, then broke camp before daylight. I continued on down to Houston.
Yes, It’s always good to be back home! Time to rest a bit and catch up on things.

This Saturday we will be in Alvin, Texas at the beautiful home of Pam and Greg Leitner for our annual “Relay For Life” concert…. so come on out.   For more info on tickets  please contact Pam at  281-393-1672 https://leitner-house-concerts.ticketbud.com/michael...  for tickets on line.  Having trouble with that link, so best to give her a call.  I think there are only 10 seats left!  Hope to see you there.

Snapshot taken by Lisa Stagner up in Telluride!  Thanks Lisa.   Shake

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Well, all right, we’re back from Colorado and New Mexico and recovering from the long ride home and watering and resting the ponies. Here I sit collecting my thoughts and remembering the past ten days, the green covered mountains, blue sunny skies, driving up to Bitter Creek to view a pristine mountain lake.  We arrived in Alamosa CO. Friday afternoon. Saturday and Sunday we took a trip and played on the Rio Grande Scenic Railway. The train departs the station in Alamosa at 10:30 AM and slowly winds it’s way up for a couple of hours to La Veta Pass where there is a solar powered stage built and set in a spacious surrounding meadow that forms a natural amphitheater. It’s a wonderful place and a memorable way to play music, or to listen to it.

We were part of a multi billed tribute to our friend Chuck Pyle who passed away in October of 2015, shortly after playing Michael Hearne's Big Barn Dance. With Don Richmond, Bill Hearne, Zeke Severson, we opened for Suzy Boggus and her band, and we sang some of Chuck’s songs and told stories, entertained the folks and as the show unfolded we became ‘the incredible ever expanding band’. Everyone joined in. After about a three hour concert, we all climbed back aboard the train and headed back down the pass singing train songs in the club car back down to the depot. Like I say, it’s a unique and memorable way to play music. It was great fun and we hope to be invited back next season. Thanks Ed Ellis and Fred Hargrove and the friendly and helpful crew on the train. Thank those of you who were able to make the trip up to be with us on this experience!

Sunday evening, after we returned from the train trip, Dee and I gathered at Don and Teri’s home with good friends from Texas, Pam and Greg Leitner and Rick and Delma Schriever who came for the train ride and other music events. We had dinner and catching up time and afterwards a little picking and singing out back around a nice glowing fire pit, built by the architect of the fire himself…Donnie Richmond. It was the perfect way to spend time with friends and to end the long but enjoyable day. We were sitting in a circle, living "at the speed of love". It just doesn't get better than that!

Monday we packed the ponies and headed south to Red River, N.M. Also known as ‘The Texas Alps’ and the land of green chili! Michael’s old friend and patron and longtime supporter of the music Steve Heglund (and owner of THE MOTHER LODE ) was kind and generous to put us up at his hotel The Lodge for a few days. What a great place to hang out and chill! There was great food in the long favorite steak house restaurant called TEXAS REDS downstairs in the lodge. We played Monday and Tuesday night in the bar called ”The Lost Love Saloon”. We shared the night with regular Mike Addington and his band, Jody Maphis and Colin Burke. It was a good warm up for our big show next door at ‘The Mother Lode Saloon’ on Wednesday night.

Wednesday evening around 8:30 Michael, Mike Roberts and I were looking at each other and it was looking like it might be a slow night. We were standing in a nearly empty saloon wondering if anyone was going to show up. Then just a little before 9PM as we were taking the stage to begin, it was if by mountain magic, folks began streaming through the front doors as if the buses had finally arrived.
From the down beat of the first song, until the final encore…..they were on the dance floor for every song. Don Richmond and his wife Teri came down from Alamosa to join us for the show. Don brought his fiddle, mandolin, banjo, accordion, and singing along. We pulled out several of our older dance tunes for the occasion like “New Boots” and knocked the dust off them. We played tunes from our new CD’s. We played all the favorites too! It was a rocking good Red River time! Thanks Steve! Thanks Jody for doing sound. Dancers came out from around the area and many drove up from Taos to party and dance. What fun it is to watch the great dancers reeling and waltzing and stomping around the floor. It almost makes me want to take dance lessons. Almost!
Friday night we played at the historic Fort Burgwin outside of Taos (off the high road to Taos) for an SMU party. Jimmy Stadler joined us for the evening playing piano and mandolin and singing harmonies. Jimmy always brings great playing and big fun and high energy to the mix. For your information, Jimmy plays on all three of our new CD’s!
Saturday morning we hit the trail and drove to Terrero, NM for a private cabin warming party! I use the term "cabin" loosely as it was a beautiful home with a porch that wrapped around all 4 sides and windows to let in all the majesty of the scenery! It was outside of the Santa Fe area. To get there we drove up into the mountains into beautiful scenery on a winding road, with giant bluffs on one side and a mountain stream on the other. We made our way up to their property which also had a mountain stream running next to the cabin. I was told if we kept going up the road for a few more miles from their place we would reach and be at the top of the world. I’m sorry we didn’t get the chance to check that one out!
Our hosts were Ken and Deb Eckel (and Deb's mom and dad, Faye and Ron Detry). We had performed at Ken and Deb’s wedding and party last year outside of Houston. It was held inside an airplane hangar. Ken is a professional pilot, so the bride and groom exited the party running through the flying rice and taking off into the wild blue wonder in a bi-plane. They circled the waving, cheering crowd of family and friends below flying off to their honeymoon! It was one "wing dinger" of a wedding. Definitely one to remember! So, there we were, blessing their new cabin they had built, with friends, family and neighbors. We were playing some tunes and taking requests and even a little dancing going on in the kitchen. Then was food before we hit the road back home to Texas. Thanks Ken, Deb, Ron and Faye for inviting us! "You’re only as strong as your dreams". We’ll see you at Michael's Big Barn Dance in September.
Now we’re back home and playing this Thursday night at Main Street Crossing in Tomball, TX. Show starts at 8 PM. There are still tickets and good seats left for the show, so come on out and join us! We will be recording the show and copies of the performance will be available for purchase on thumb drive immediately following the show. Isn’t technology great! We hope to see you here! www.mainstreetcrossing.com for tickets!  Thanks Mike Roberts for making the trip with us and driving Michael Hearne, aka Mr.Daisy!  Gotta love the bass!

Hey, I almost forgot….our new duo CD “Only As Strong As Your Dreams” is at number nine on the FAR charts! FAR stands for Freedom Americana Radio.
It’s made up on hundreds of independent Americana stations reporting what new music they are playing on their programs. It’s a good sign!!!!! Also, my friend Bruce Bryant called me and said he was in Boulder CO and heard “Loser’s Gumbo” on the NPR station there! Too cool for school!
See you up the road. Peace
Shake

www.mainstreetcrossing.com for tickets and good seats!  Main St. in Tomball, TX






Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Howdy everyone!  BOOM!
 The Fourth of July is upon us!
 Michael Hearne, Mike Roberts and I will be performing Saturday night July 2 at Dosey Does Cafe (FM1488) in The Woodlands area down in Houston.  Come on out and help celebrate the 4th of July weekend with us.
We'll be showcasing songs from our three new CD's along with all  your favorites.
I hope to see you there.

Next week we head up to Colorado and New Mexico.  July 9th and 10th  we will be playing The Alamosa, Colorado train concert series with Suzy Boggus, Bill Hearne, and Don Richmond, as part of a tribute to our late friend Chuck Pyle. This one will be a lot of fun! Train leaves the depot @10:30AM.
July 11 and 12 we will be picking nightly in the bar at the Mother Lode Hotel and on Wednesday, ,July 13, there will be a CD release for Michael Hearne's new solo CD, ''RED RIVER DREAMS" @ The Mother Lode in Red River, New Mexico. Don Richmond will be joining us for this show, so this one will be extra special!
Then we play a couple of private shows in Taos and Santa Fe New Mexico before we head back home to Texas.