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06-22

As most people know, the band lost a member of the family recently. I don't really want to talk about it here or on social media. I just wanted to say that's the reason why I haven't been very active lately, both online and in real life.

Mike.


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06-12

I've got (I think) some good new song ideas on deck. I think if we ever do this live album I keep threatening, I'd like to include a couple of new songs.

We had a really good show last weekend. I think it was a really important show for us, maybe one of the most important ones we've had, and it all came together. It's a relief to me.

Mike


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05-31

The best songs, to me, seem like they weren't so much created as they were discovered. Like they'd somehow always existed and someone stumbled across them. Then arranged and shaped them...chipped away all the parts that weren't the song, until all that's left is.

I'm always looking. I hope I come across one soon.

Mike.


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05-24

...but then again, things usually don't go the way you think they will :) Things in life seldom go smoothly. But they say the journey is the point, not the destination, right?

Mike


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05-16

Things are starting to click...I'm starting to get excited about what's coming.

Mike


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05-08

Speaking of patience...

On the way to work this morning I got really annoyed with someone for having their turn signal on for no reason. I got behind them because they were turning, then they didn't turn. I said some words.

So of course when I went to put on MY signal, I realized it was already on and had been for who knows how long.

Mike.


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05-01

I've talked about change before, and have spent lots of time thinking about it lately. I've always struggled with it. I just painted my house the same color; didn't even think about changing it up a little. I, and most people, rail against change, we want steadiness and security, and want the fates to keep things going the way that they are.

But I realize that change happens because it has to happen. It doesn't happen just because. It sometimes comes all of a sudden, and sometimes stealthily appears, whispering and nudging until we can finally accept it. And even when we finally accept it, the purpose of change is often to tear us apart and put us back together, hopefully in a better fashion than before.

Mike.



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04-25

Sometimes things can get weird. Last weekend Jenn and I had a night where the left side of the bar kept requesting old, pretty Irish songs. They were just loving it; one lady was in actual tears at one point. The RIGHT half of the bar would complain and make noise about how lame the song was. Then after that song, someone from the right would come up and say

    'Can you play some JC'
    'Uh...Jesus Christ?'
    'Yeah! John Cougar!'

So we'd do that and the left side would completely lose interest. Back and forth all night.

I guess you can't please everyone.

Mike


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04-17

We've sent out all the pre-orders for the new duo CD. So far, response has been really positive! Jenn and I are really happy to have this be out in the world now. Doing a CD of traditionals was great fun, but now, on to some actual songwriting...

Mike


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04-13

Jenn and I have been featured on Marc Gunn's Irish & Celtic Music Podcast. You can listen at the link above, but I really recommend that you subscribe. I enjoy it every week.

Mike.


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04-03

I just want to get this off my chest. I used to play in a physics band called 'The Isothermal Adiabatics'. We had lots of songs about thermodynamics; I remember one was called 'Heat Death'. Another of our many hits was called 'Fishing in a Lava Pool'. As you can imagine, the ladies loved us. I was so cool...

Mike.


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03-27

The end of winter gets tough. I know it's spring now, but you know...Wisconsin. My fingertips are all cracked and bleeding and make playing guitar very painful. I keep putting bandaids on them so they'll soften up and heal a little bit, then they crack all up again on the weekend. My throat is always sore and scratchy. I wish I could just go south for February and March every year.

Mike.


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03-23

I once had a relationship with someone and we had a weekly movie rental night. We'd alternate weeks on who got to pick the movie. It grew to be an enormous source of stress. Because sometimes people will do anything to get on top of whoever they're surrounded by.

Every movie I picked was awful, and half the time wouldn't get finished. I tried really hard to pick things that she would like, and she never would. Then the next week she'd pick something very like the one I'd pick the week before and thought it was great.

It really hit home one night when she picked a movie that I'd picked a year or so before. Hated it when I'd picked it, loved it when she did. And I realized it was my being the one to pick that she hated; it was just a way to be in control.

I learned some things from that. I learned that there are people you just can't please. You can try everything, offer everything, do anything you can think of to make that person happy. And with some people, it will never, ever happen.

Mike.


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03-14

I was listening to a speaker at work recently, and she said 'Only people over 35 answer this question: If I say 'jump!' you say....?' Being over 35, I answered along with everybody else 'How high?'

Then she said, okay, everyone under 35 answer. I had no idea how else to answer the question, but to a person, they all said 'Why?' And the speaker said 'THAT'S the difference between gen-x and millennials'.

I thought that was very interesting. I think it's a way in which the millenials are smarter than us.



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03-07

Nothing's ever easy, is it? Sigh...

Mike


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02-28

I wonder if I can have a St.Paddy's day this year where I'm NOT sick. I think it would be the first one. Fingers crossed...

Mike


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02-22

Been stuck in my head all day...I love this song so much.



Mike


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02-13

Someone this last weekend gave me the old trope 'You should live every day like it's your last.' This expression has always kind of bothered me. If I knew I had one day left, the things I would do are probably things that wouldn't lead to a good and healthy life if practiced every day.

What's maybe more useful is to turn the thought around. Treat everyone like it's THEIR last day. Try to make their day better in some small way.

Mike.


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02-06

People romanticize the past. I don't know how many times I've heard people say how much they wish they'd lived in the 19th century, or on the frontier, or in a simpler time. I bet none of us would make it a week. I bet if any of us had to step into an outhouse we'd be pressing the 'Back to the future now!!!!' button immediately.

Mike


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01-30

Just getting some help with vocals on the duo album.





Mike


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01-24

Jenn and I have been hard at work on our album. It's really all I've been doing. I feel like we're taking more risks this time. Hopefully it pays off. We'll share some video in a few days.

Mike.


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01-19

I used to work at Brown County Arena. One night after a show, around the corner came the singer David Lee Roth. I never know what to say in the few times I've had these sort of encounters. So I just said 'Ummmm, great show Mr. Roth!' like a total dork. And he said 'Yeah...I'm so fuckin' great!' and walked away, a girl on each arm.

It was pretty awesome.

Sometimes if I'm in a not very serious meeting, I'll have my phone on my lap and a DLR soundboard up. A good 'Oh Yeah!' can work wonders...

Mike.


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01-09

Something that frequently come up through my own little musical journey is: 'Do you want to be a full-time musician?' As I think of it, I was always asked the same thing when I was a part-time pilot. It's an interesting question.

I'd probably be a better technical musician if I could spend lots more time working on it, instead of always having classes and training for computery stuff. I might be happier...but then again I might not be.

There's a trade-off. If I don't have to depend on making a living solely through music, I can pursue it for love and not money. Everything I do can be art. It may not be *good* art, but it's done solely for it's own sake.

Mike.


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01-03

Happy New Years! I hope 2017 gives much to us all.

I love Dougie MacLean so much





Mike


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12-27

Jenn and I have started recording our new album! We've laid down scratch tracks for most of the songs, and have a little of the instrumentation done. It's going to take awhile to finish with some vacations/etc coming up, but we're very excited to have begun. We hope you like it...it'll be bag-pipey :)

Mike


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12-19

One of my favorite albums for a long time has been In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. I warn you, this one is not for everyone and is going to be rough for a lot of people. It's very low-fi, the vocals won't be everybody's cup of tea, and the recording is less than polished.

The album's a weird amalgam of Anne Frank, childhood abuse, and conjoined twins that I feel like I can *almost* understand and always gets an emotional reaction from me. The song I've linked below is one of my favorite. Especially about two minutes in, the song...changes. And he says

   In my dreams you're alive and you're crying
   As your mouth moves in mine soft and sweet

And then I usually start crying

I miss you. I miss you every single day.



Mike


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<3. B.

12-12

A spent about fifteen minutes talking to someone at a show the other night. I hadn't seem them in about six months and had a really nice chat and enjoyed catching up.

When I got home I looked at some stuff on Facebook and realized I'd called him by the wrong name the entire time. I am such a loser...

Mike.



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12-05

It's funny how often life either hands you nothing or more choices than you can handle. Feast or famine. More to follow...

Mike.



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12-01

I'm kind of a skeptic. It can cause some problems. Sometimes people think you don't trust them. Who said 'Trust but verify?' But it helps get to the truth of things.

The main time I try to be skeptical is when it's something I really want to be true. I think it's good advice. If something seems too good to be true...

Mike.



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11-29

Jenn and I are going to start on a new duo album very soon. We like the last one, but feel like we'd like something new.

Does anyone have any songs they'd be crazy about hearing on it? Like we always say...we take requests.

Mike.


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11-21

Thanksgiving is the best holiday. There's no pressure...you don't have to think of gifts to buy, you don't have to 'ooh' and 'ah' over something you don't really want. Just eat, drink, spend time with friends and family, and watch football. This is my favorite week of the year. I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving!

Mike.


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11-14

Leonard Cohen left us a few days ago. I don't know how familiar most people are with him and his work, but I just wanted to share this song. To me it very simply tells the heartbreak of losing a person. Goodbye, Leonard.



Mike


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11-07

I had lunch with a friend of mine a little while back. We're close but don't see each other that often, so we were chatting and catching up. She asked me 'So how did you get to be a pilot anyway? I never remember you talking about that.'

I thought for a few seconds, and my answer really surprised her. I said 'You did.' She asked what I was talking about, and I told her she'd once mentioned how much she wished she had an airplane. That way she could get to Michigan to visit friends without taking an entire day to get there. When I moved to Sheboygan I remembered her saying that, because my social life was in Oshkosh...and I always thought, 'This would be like a half hour drive if it wasn't for that big lake in the way.'

You never really think that you're affecting people's lives when you interact with them. Be careful!

Mike.



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11-01

I was a band geek in junior high and high school. I particularly liked marching band (I think I'd still do that now if I could). The HS band director was a man that everyone called Uncle Dave. He'd been called that long before my time for whatever reason. He was my favorite teacher and helped me in a lot of ways.

I'm sure I was never his favorite student. I did a lot of stuff that really got under his skin. I set up a little hot plate in the back of the band room and used to cook hotdogs during class and hand them out. He didn't see the humor in that. I also remember showing up for marching band practice wearing nothing but a bathrobe, and a drum stick that I'd cut the middle out of attached to my head so it looked like I'd been impaled with it. He sent me home for that. There was a lot of other stuff too.

By my senior year he had me playing timpani. I'd never really needed an ear for notes before and he spent a lot of time teaching my ear. He also kind of started counseling me for the future. We'd become really close by the end of the year. Uncle Dave 'graduated' with me and retired the end of my senior year. I realize now he knew this was his last class and was giving everyone extra attention.

Uncle Dave is still alive, enjoying a long retirement. It's been awhile now, but for a long time whenever I'd go home I'd run into him, and he always remembered me. Thanks for everything.

I'm in the back on the left. I miss band.

Mike.



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This might be my favorite story you have shared on here. B.

10-25

Those of you that don't know, Jenn and I host a session every Sunday at 4:00, at The Clarke Hotel in Waukesha. We play a lot of traditional dance music, but we all like to get together and sing some too. It's very laid back and accepting. If anyone would ever like to come join us, please do, bring a song or an instrument, or just come hang out with us.

Mike



Mike


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10-17

We played a wedding this past weekend. We don't do many weddings, but this was a good one. Sarah and Cliff, you know what's important and how to do it right. It was truly a pleasure and we wish you all the best.

Mike.



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10-11

Once a guy I knew asked me to play with him at a show he had booked. He was a very talented guitarist trying to get a start as a working musician in a new town.

All he wanted me to do was play an acoustic guitar and keep the songs going, sing some background vocals; he wanted to sing lead and play any guitar solos. Easy enough. And I had a drum machine. He gave me a list of songs/tempos/lengths and asked me to program that. No problem.

I got to the venue ready to go, and found my very talented guitar player with a case of nerves like I've never seen...literally shaking in fright at the thought of playing this show. It was a full-blown panic attack. I couldn't and can't figure it out. He'd told me of all the bands he'd played in before. I don't know if that was a lie, or for whatever reason that night...I mean...we all get nerves. But he was completely incapacitated.

I got him a little calmed down, and asked if he really wanted to do this. He said he did. I don't know if it was nerves, but in the first song he seemed to not be listening to the drum machine and kept pushing the tempo faster and faster. The result being that when the song was over, the drums weren't yet. I turned around to stop the machine and he was...gone. Turned out he bolted and left me standing there alone. I slowly packed everything and left.

Mike.


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10-07

More on songwriting:

I've got a lot of time in a hotel the next several days. I'd really like to complete one song

I don't always work so well when I say 'I have to do this now'. I've done it before, but usually I'm better when an idea comes to me rather than 'I want to try to have an idea'. Wish me luck!

Mike.



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10-03

I've been trying my best to improve collaboration in my life. Most people seem to want not to collaborate. Here's what I've come up with:

If a person has an idea, even if I am pretty sure it'll never work, it's best to try it and give 100% effort towards making it work. I might be wrong and it'll be fantastic. If I'm not wrong...at least there'll be an atmosphere where people are willing to try new things, and be unafraid they'll be called stupid.

Mike.



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09-28

I just listened to my friend, Naomi Marie's, song 'Happy'. She must be Irish, it's such a happy-sad song. Check it out here: Naomi Marie at Reverb Nation. Heck, you could even give her a dollar and buy it if you want.

Mike.


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09-26

I wake up just about every night and can't get back to sleep. It's been a problem my entire adult life. I have a theory why, but unfortunately it's not anything that helps me.

I used to be kind of proud of how little I slept. But since I've worked primarily at a desk looking at a computer screen, it's become a problem. It's just so much harder to do good work when I'm tired.

I've tried melatonin, going to bed earlier, going to bed later...nothing has worked for long. Anyone has any tips, let me hear them. Thanks.

Mike.



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09-16

How about this? Start off by being nice. It probably has a better chance of getting you what you're after than by starting out mean. And you can always get mean later! It doesn't so much work the other way.

Mike.


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09-12

Thanks to everyone that helped us out at our release party on Friday! From everyone that brought food, and helped with the dancing, and bought our album (and bought us whiskey) it was just a fantastic night that we won't forget.

So now...we have an unprecedented three weeks downtime while we're getting in some vacations/taking time with friends and family and just generally catching up with lives. It's good to have a little time away, but I know by this weekend I'll wish we had a show to play. But it's a good thing. In addition to the stuff above I want to finish a couple of songs and dedicate some time to working on some trad music. And mix audio/video from the show last weekend and work on some music videos. Actually three weeks might not be enough time when I think of all of that...

Mike.



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09-07

I sat outside the other day late afternoon/evening and played my uilleann pipes. All bagpipes sound so much better outside. After I got done I didn't know what to do for awhile. I had this urge to go get my phone and check it but I resisted it. I've been trying to realize that I'm not very important, and that I don't have to text everyone immediately, etc.

I haven't done...nothing...for a really long time. It was surprisingly hard for about ten minutes, then all of a sudden I broke through and I was just enjoying the evening and the quiet.

I'm not so sure that computers and technology have done anything that makes people happier. I like them and have worked with them my whole life. But have they really?

Mike.



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09-02

Over the waves
So far from everything
Alone, lost in the night
Led by Carina, Vela and Volan's wings
Wind in our sails
Nothing in sight
Lost in the night...

Mike.


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08-31

More on live music:

I love albums. I used to have a record collection that filled my friends with jealousy. I love taking a record out of its sleeve...and putting a needle on it...and holding the cover...and looking at the artwork...and reading every word on the sleeve and cover while listening to the music. That's the thing I missed the most about albums in the CD era, and why vinyl is making such a strong comeback now. It's a tactile thing.

Nothing compares to live music though, because I believe it is art in a very pure form. It is transitory and completely of the moment. It is experienced and then gone in an instant, and that song or performance is gone forever. It can be recorded of course, but then it's no longer live and can never be experienced in the same way. It's an extremely precious and seldom appreciated thing.

Mike.



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08-26

I listened to The Pogues 'Rum, Sodomy & the Lash' last night. It's still so good. It's what got me into liking Irish music as an 'adult' after not wanting anything to do with it as a teenager. My friend Chuck had a copy and played it at a party (it's kinda weird to think of a music-listening party in 2016, but it's what we used to do) and I recognized 'Dirty Old Town' from hearing my dad play it.

I got semi-obsessed with it. I tracked down the original version of 'The Band Played Waltzing Matilda' (no easy feat) and listened that record to death. Sinead O'Connor got big, but to me she's always the lady that sang 'Jock Stuart' on The Pogue's record. I think I'm going to listen to it again now.

Mike.



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08-18

I do some work at the local airport every now and then. I was there a few months ago and heard the guy that runs the business take a call. It seemed to be from some lady that he knew whose child was having trouble with math. He said 'I've never once in my life used algebra. Don't worry about it.'

I got to thinking...I use algebra all the time, and I'm not someone that really has to do math for a living. I think people just maybe don't know what it is?

Here is a list of things I've learned in my life that have been most useful:
  1. Algebra
  2. Basic logic
  3. How to write clear prose
  4. How to speak in front of a group
  5. How to type
  6. How to read quickly and retain what's been read.
  7. How to juggle

Okay, maybe the last one isn't that useful, but I've used it to impress(?) people.

Mike.



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Hmmmm... He must never go to the grocery store. Or he does and he spends way more than he should.

Algebra IS hard. I remember struggling mightily until it finally started making sense. But going through life without basic math skill (and the critical thinking that develops along with it) is harder.

I like your list, Mike. - Tom H.


08-16

Other bands can be a pain. As I've said before, one of the best things about our little music 'scene' is that people help each other out. People have collaborated with us on shows, helped us out with venues, helped us out musically, helped us out with gear. It's been refreshing.

A few weeks ago I reached outside of our little Celtic music scene to someone more in the pop/rock world for some advice. Someone I know fairly well, but not good friends with or anything. And I got...silence. It brought back how things used to be.

I kind of get it. People work hard for venues. People are very competitive. They guard what they perceive as theirs, and feel that any one playing a show that is not them is a danger. They're wrong, but I understand it.

I've no idea if any musicians look at this page, but if you do and need help with something...with sound for a big show, or lights, or with a venue, or advice...if I can help you I will. Just wanted to put that out there.

Mike.



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08-12

One of the real perks about being a musician is that if you are feeling sad, you can write a song about it. I have scads of them in notebooks, and in rough recordings. No one ever gets to hear them, but it's a useful way to learn about yourself.

Mike.



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08-08

A few years ago my band (since defunct) played a show for a venue. Everything about it felt a bit off from the beginning. This guy that didn't know anything about booking bands was booking for this place...trying to get a start as a promoter.

We'd been given times to play, a pay guarantee, promised food and drink, and told logistics about the show there. I had a contract, an email chain of all of this, etc.

We set up and played a song or two and had a small equipment problem. It happens. So we told the crowd we needed a minute to sort things out. The 'promoter' got up on stage with me, knelt down and started asking me 'What's going on????' I told him I just needed a minute, all was good. And he kept yammering on about it, of course providing nothing of any kind of actual help, and making me take more time to get things working again.

We got through to a break and I went to get a beverage. The person behind the bar was the most hammered I've ever seen a bartender, and said 'We NEVER give bands drinks'. Of course I had a contract, but whatever. There'd be no arguing with this guy and I decided to let it go. So we finished the night. And the owner came up; said we sounded great, but why did we start and finish early? And of course I just said we did what we'd been asked to do. He offered us some additional money to play for another hour and I said sure. I would've done it for nothing if he'd asked, just to avoid any hard feelings or the promoter possibly getting into trouble.

So, after we finished a second time, the promoter came up and told us why we wouldn't be asked back. We just weren't good enough; he had stacks of bands that wanted to play there; that we had a good crowd all night, but we were lucky because a wedding party had been there, and they'd listen to anything. Otherwise everyone would have left.

I take this sort of stuff to heart. My bassist was way better than me; he just laughed and said he didn't care; we won't be seeing you later then. The promoter then paid me the original agreed upon amount. I said wait, the owner offered us extra to play longer. You know...keep the terrible music going that nobody would want to stick around for? He said no way, and the owner was long gone. It wasn't worth arguing for, so I took the money, deleted the guy's email and got rid of him on FB, and moved on.

It still kinda stings. I have no idea what even happened or what reasoning went into all of this. Or why someone would risk making a bad name for themselves over a hundred dollars.

The upside is that with this band and genre of music, it seems like much of the sketchiness is gone. People just seem nicer and classier. Lesson learned?

Mike.


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08-06

Giving a try at the traditional aire 'Boolavogue'.

   At Boolavogue, as the sun was setting
   O'er the bright May meadows of Shelmalier,
   A rebel hand set the heather blazing
   And brought the neighbours from far and near.

   Then Father Murphy, from old Kilcormack,
   Spurred up the rocks with a warning cry;
   "Arm! Arm!" he cried, "For I've come to lead you,
   For Ireland's freedom we fight or die."




Mike


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08-02

I've been feeling like I've been treading water for the last nine or ten months. I've never been one to want to sit still or linger over things. I sometimes wish that I could.

I know that lots of things have been happening and have been being consolidated during this time. And though it feels like standing still it's really not. There'll probably be an explosion of progress and change soon. But I feel restless...

Mike..



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07-24

Said the other day by my friend of 30 years, Scott:

  'You're in a band now...and you play...bagpipes in it? You've really changed...'

:)

Mike.


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07-23

Album update! The entire album is mixed! I'm in contact with the mastering engineer to get the mixes release-ready. We should have a completed product sometime the week after next! We're working on putting the tracks in a good sequence, completing credits, thank yous, album art, all the million little details. We could have cds/downloads available sometime in August!

We want to send a heartfelt thanks to everyone that pre-ordered. We know that no-one has to pre-order, and are doing it only out of the goodness of their hearts. It's really helped us be able to get the phsyical album copies made in a timely fashion. Thank you so much.

Mike.


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Yay!! Can't wait to have a little bit of Hearthfire with me all the time!! - Belinda

07-19

I've been working on uilleann pipes again lately. They're such a bloody hard instrument to play, I've never attempted anything so hard. And unfortunately I don't have tons of time to dedicate to it. But I love the sound, so trying to find at least a half hour a day to work on it. This air is my eventual goal, hopefully someday before I am dead.



Mike


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07-11

One time that I can think of I went off on a person online. Not horribly, but I made a comment about how a person running a forum was not funny and should quit trying. The next day he posted something about it and I realized the fellow that I didn't even know was deeply hurt about it. I've felt bad ever since; wrote back and apologized and told him I'd been having a bad day. He accepted my apology but stopped running the forum shortly after.

The internet brings out the worst in us for some reason. I can't bear to read YouTube comments, etc. I don't think people are bad...it's just easy to feel like you're yelling at an appliance in the same way that you yell at your car if it won't start.

Mike.


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07-04

I'm tired of 2016 and the political news cycle that's been going on for, oh I don't know, the last year or so. Lots of people don't agree with me about things, and they love to tell me that I'm wrong, stupid, and sometimes worse things.

How about this? The next time someone has an opinion which you don't hold...don't try to argue them out of it. You have a better chance of emptying the ocean with a teacup than changing their mind. Let them speak their feelings. See if you can't learn something from them. Try to see one tiny angle of where they're coming from. You won't disagree with everything you hear. Listen.

Mike.


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06-30

I've spoken about my grandfather before. After he was more or less finished touring, he opened a music shop. I have an original sign he either made or had made for the store. I love the fact that you used to be able to just make a handwritten sign, throw it somewhere, and have a successful business. Also, any musicians that see this are probably rolling on the floor laughing over the joke on the first line.

Mike..



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Mike, your grandpa must be very proud of you, looking down from that big gig in the sky.

Love your writings (and Jenn's, too) -- I'm grateful that you share your wit, wisdom and heart with us. Tom H.


06-28

Album update! The initial mix of the album is done. In two weeks we're going back into the studio to address the feedback that the band has for the studio engineer and do a re-mix. We're hopeful that it will only take one day. Then we move forward with getting the album mastered.

Everything takes longer than you think it will. We think a July release is out of the question. Hopefully we'll be done in August in time for Milwaukee Irish Fest.

Mike..



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06-26

I think what separates happy people from unhappy people is gratitude. I've worked closely with/for two very wealthy people in my career. One was very nice to me. One was a horror. The nice one seemed grateful for his fortunes in life. The not-so-nice one seemed to feel like he had what he deserved.

I'm pretty lucky. I'm trying to be more grateful for the good things in my life.

Mike.



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06-21

To me, the hardest, yet most satisfying thing about playing music in a band is listening. It's easy enough to learn your part and play your instrument. It's much harder to not think about playing your instrument, but to think about playing a song.

It's natural to focus on your own part. But it's much more useful to know all the parts and how they fit together. This is how music evolves. People that listen can hear better ways to get the song across, and work on reaching those ways. To me, this is the thing about playing music that is so joyful. I remember being in the middle school band and getting caught up in that feeling...feeling 'It's so wonderful to be a small part of this glorious sound'.

I'm sure this goes beyond something as trivial as 'playing music in a rock band'. There is so much joy experienced by building something as a group that it has to be hard-wired into our brains in some way.

Mike.


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06-16

I had a very good friend in college. She was the sort of person that would light up a room, funny, chatty, just a joy to be around. We worked at the same restaurant as well as going to school together, so had that thing where you have a really intense friendship for three or four years. We'd go out most weekends for a good part of that time, just laughing and having fun. We were part of the same group.

We lost touch after college, she graduated first and moved away. Back then staying in touch wasn't so easy. Long distance phone calls were expensive, I don't really know how to write a letter, etc. So I haven't seen her since then. But I think of her often and remember those good times.

I've tried finding her online, but never had any luck. Some people just don't have much of an online presence. I was at a funeral recently and re-connected with a guy that also worked at the same place. I asked him about Kim...there was a pause, and he said 'You don't know?' It turns out she died twenty years ago. Someone didn't stop at a stop sign and she got hit by a city bus.

It's life I guess. It doesn't last. I can't get over the fact though, that for the last twenty years ago, in my mind she was still a part of my life, and she wasn't even a part of this world anymore that whole time.

I remember the two of us sitting by a lighthouse on a tiny little island, drinking beer and singing songs. They were good times. Sorry to be a bummer. I just wanted to talk about my friend.

Mike.


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06-15

When I was 2, my brother asked if he could learn how to play violin. I don’t remember this at all, but the story is that I went to his lessons and copied everything the teacher had him doing. By the time I was 3, I had a real instrument in my hands and a teacher who beamed at me as she explained that “she’s really got It”.

As the story has been recounted over my lifetime, this has always perplexed me. What exactly is this “It” that I have? I know there are lots of things I don’t have. I have the social grace of an ostrich, the fashion sense of a baked potato, and my drawing skills never progressed beyond my 8 year old self.

I hadn’t thought about this in a while, but some recent comments have led me to ponder this question of what exactly “It” is. This weekend, someone asked me how long I’ve been playing violin - I gave my ready answer of 36 years. I can’t remember the last time this didn’t invoke a response like “wow, you must be really good.” I never know what to say to that. I don’t play music to be great. I play because it’s what I know and love, and the happiest moments are those when someone says things like, “Hey, thanks for sharing your energy and your smile. You guys really inspired me to start painting again.”

I hope the band is good, of course. That’s one goal, because that’s what our friends and audiences deserve to hear. When people are cheering and getting into the music, our show, it feeds us. It just feels great to share a passion and watch it transform strangers into friends, even if for just those moments. I’m not sure if that was the original meaning behind “It”, but for the first time in my musical career, I feel like I’m part of something larger than the notes I play. To me that’s having it, making it.

Jenn.


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06-14

One thing about Irish traditional music...it's for the most part really fast. Reels go along at a good clip, and they're just relentless...strings of sixteenth notes keep coming with nary a break to be found. It's easy to run out of gas.

I try to be good at it. But therein lies a problem...I've just made myself the focus of the piece, when the music should be the focus of the piece. With that comes tension, tightness, holding of breath. In a word, ego.

I'm just beginning to realize how this all goes together. If I can relax, there's room for the notes. It's not even that hard. The hard part is 'IF I can relax'. The hard part is working on the music, and not working on 'being good'. Ego is a tricky thing, and it's almost part and parcel with playing music.

Oh, and Irish traditional music is really fast.

Mike.


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06-09

I grew up on the west coast. A big day for us was to go out to the beach, look at all the creatures in the tidal pools, swim, and just watch the waves come crashing in.

It's not quite the same, but I like Lake Michigan. I still like to go out there and watch the waves. The wave looks like water rolling in, but the water itself doesn't move much. The wave is just energy. It builds itself from water, moves on and lets the water go, only to build itself again.

We people are nothing but waves. We seem so solid and enduring. But we're just energy. We build ourselves from an orange...from an ear of corn...from water. Our body continually dying and rebuilding itself as that energy moves on. I find this comforting.

Mike.



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06-08

Gives me chills.



Mike


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06-02

More on songwriting:

There's a story in Robert Pirsig's 'Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' in which a student comes to him unable to start a 500 word essay about America...she can't come up with anything to write. He narrows the scope of the essay to Bozeman, MT instead of America. She still can't come up with anything. Then Main Street. Then a particular building on Main Street. Finally he says 'Pick one brick on that particular building on Main Street of Bozeman, MT and write about that.' She comes in the next day with a 5,000 word essay on the brick. That's what it took to get started, and the words wouldn't stop coming.

Limiting yourself can be very useful in songwriting too too. Sometimes I challenge myself to play a guitar solo with just three notes. Or write a song with the same progression in the chorus as the verse, but the melodies cannot share any notes. Or write a song in 3/4 time that starts quietly and slowly that has to be loud and fast by the end. Less options can turn into more.

Mike.



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05-26

Change is hard. People are attracted to it...the place where land becomes water, or night becomes day, or runway becomes sky. But we're also programmed to resist it, deep in our bones.

Change is the important place though. It's where progress is made or halted. It's where joy comes from, and also pain. It's unavoidable. We spend most of our time in the middle, but coming and going matter more than what happens in the in-between times.

Removing the bandage. Opening a door. Closing a door. Getting out of the car. This is where things happen, and memories are made.

Mike.


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05-23

Someone told me recently 'Just be cool. Everything doesn't have to be a thing.'

He was right. It'll get you past so much unnecessary stuff. Just be cool...

Mike.


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05-19

My guitar got stolen once. A pretty sweet flying V that I always wanted and scrimped and saved for (I used to be a metal kid). Turned my head for just a moment and it was gone forever.

I still feel a little angry about it. Even though I wouldn't probably play it in my current situation. Sometimes I still hate that person for ruining my night, and leaving me without an instrument for some time afterward.

But who knows...maybe it was for the best and I shouldn't hate. Maybe that guitar is on tour with Judas Priest right now, singing its heart out every night.

Nah, I still hate them...

Mike.


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05-10

This last month, Jennifer and I were thrilled to be featured in Marc Gunn's Irish and Celtic Music Podcast. I've listened to the podcast for a long time now, and look forward to it each week. If you like traditional Irish music at all, I highly recommend you check it out.

You can hear the specific episode at this link, but you really should just subscribe to the podcast :)

Mike.


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05-09

Q: How do you get a guitarist to stop playing?
A: Put some sheet music in front of them!

People that can sight-read music are like wizards to me. I can read it, but it's always been a deciphering process for me. It started to come together for me when I started playing bagpipes, partly because there's so few notes, but partly because when playing bagpipes, you're supposed to play every note and gracing exactly perfectly. So music reading is a part of that tradition.

I'm getting better at reading music for other instruments now. It took me forever, but I had a mini-breakthrough when watching a student play a piano piece, and the teacher told him 'Don't stare at the note you're playing!'

It's obvious, but somehow that thought had never clicked with me before. Lots of things I think are like this. That thing is gone already when you're experiencing it. Look ahead!

Mike.


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04-28

People ask me about songwriting sometimes. I think it's a really different process for everyone. Even for myself, it's a really different process from song to song.

I usually either start with a melody or an idea. Melodies for me either come from lilting out loud (usually in the car), then I scramble for my voice recorder because I'll forget what I did 90 seconds later. Then later I'll flesh it out on an instrument, then figure out what guitar chords go with it. Then I'll try to think of lyrics that fit the melody, then structure the song.

This is a first recording of a song called 'Wicked Weapons' that will be on our upcoming album...I'm just trying to find the notes of the melody on a mandolin...so there's lots of mistakes but it's neat for me to hear what is the very beginning of what's now a finished song.



Sometimes I'll find a cool chord progression just noodling on a guitar. It's fairly easy to go from here to a melody, and build the song up in reverse this way. I think this is maybe the most common way (for a guitarist at least) to come up with a song.

The hardest thing is to start with an idea. One of our songs that we've been playing for awhile just started as a saying or a title (you may have seen it on some of our shirts). I went from there to writing lyrics. If I have lyrics, the important (and I think often neglected) part is to find a rhythm for them. Rhythm can be hard for melody musicians. Maybe it's easier for drummers...drummers are weird creatures. From rhythm you can find a path to melody and chords. Here's me trying to find a melody for some written words for that song:



Mike.


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04-25

I never imagined I'd be in an Irish rock band. I never imagined an Irish rock band could teach me so much about life. Music has always been a way for me to tell my story, from the first moment I shadowed my brother during his lessons. Music has always connected me to people in ways ordinary conversation seems to fall short on. Maybe I'm finally letting it, but music is teaching me to be a better person these days.

I've been in chamber groups, orchestras, worked with accompanists, collaborated with composers, I've worked with famous musicians. I always figured I'd end up with a closet full of black formal clothes, playing Mahler and Ravel for the rest of my life. It would have been great. The dreams of doing something different were just dreams, right?

What I didn't know is that living that dream would would happen, that I'd be playing the electric fiddle I dreamed of, writing songs, playing some of the most fun shows ever. It's not all glorious work, though. Sometimes it gets really hard. We're four people that work closely together, doing something we're all passionate about and believe in. That can be tough. But wow. It's incredible! I've learned so much from the experience itself, and I've learned even more from the guys I've had the honor to work with. Sure I'm a better musician, but I'm becoming a better person.

Hearthfire is a dream, it's an adventure, and it's my life. I am forever grateful for everything and everyone it has brought into my life. Thank you doesn't begin to do it justice. Mike, Jo and Ben - I am proud to be a part of Hearthfire with you. I'm really looking forward to our next chapter!

Jenn


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04-21

Some of you that know me personally know that I was a corporate/charter jet pilot in a former life. I was a pilot for the band 'The Moody Blues' for a couple of tours they did through the Southern U.S.

The company that booked the charters was very hush-hush about it. I think they didn't want us to know we were carrying the band around. They're required to give names/passport information for TSA checks. So I was doing the check before the first flight and I was like "Justin Hayward...John Lodge...Graeme Edge...I know these names."

The band was the three original-ish members, and four younger people to fill up the band. The younger members were having the time of their lives, the originals were very quiet. After we dropped them for the first show, I couldn't resist though and said 'Have a good show Mr. Hayward." He smiled at me and was really friendly from then on.

They had a handler, a gigantic German guy named Odo that's the most terrifying human being I've ever met. I think maybe he hadn't had to kill anybody for awhile and was afraid he was starting to get soft. Once I saw him packing an acoustic guitar into the cargo hold and I said "Ummm...Mr. Odo...it's not heated or pressurized back there...you may want the guitar in the cabin." He slammed it in the hold, stood about an inch and a half from me and looked me in the eyes for about a five count and then said 'It...will...be...FINE!' and marched away, no doubt wondering if he could have got his fist to go all the through my head and out the other side.

Norda and Julie were two of the band members and they were very nice. I was talking to one of them once and she said 'Why don't you come to the show tonight?' And of course in my head I was thinking "I totally know how to play the song 'Question' and I can maybe sing background vocals..." And Odo said "Julie! No! Sit down!" And then something in German that I don't think was him saying that I was a fairly decent fellow. Maybe I'd be on tour with them right now if things had only gone differently...

Mike.


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04-18

Studio update! Things are coming along. The songs have all been arranged and tracked. We had quite a bit of production advice from the studio engineer and have changed some things around. We'll be starting on vocals this week. Things are getting interesting!



Mike


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04-13

I think my favorite thing about live music, whether it be performing it, or listening to/watching it is just watching people's reactions. Because sometimes...not always, but once in awhile you see people lose themselves in the music.

People, especially in the Midwest, tend to be reserved. They listen and watch, and enjoy themselves. But once in awhile you see a person transported, ego completely stripped away, and just inhabiting the music in a way that's beautiful to behold.

I find myself at concerts and shows sometimes, fist pumping in the air, jumping, singing (even if I don't know the words). All the irritations I have at life, all the negativity and stupid thoughts gone, not thinking, just feeling. Those are the moments that I live for.

Mike.


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I love this description. It's a perfect visual for what music should do for us all. <3 Belinda

04-10

A question I get asked fairly often is 'Is it hard to play bagpipes?' The short answer is 'Yes'. When I first started learning, the fellow that taught me did his best to dissuade me. His comment was 'Are you sure? I can teach you piano and you can be playing a song tonight. Or teach you bagpipes and you can play a song in maybe a year.' That was a little bit hyperbolic, but I take the point.

Once the mechanics of the instrument are down, I also find it somewhat hard to express myself on bagpipes. There's just not many notes to work with. You'd think that would make it easy, but it really can be more difficult to work with less rather than more. But when it works, boy it works. There's just something about the instrument.

Another question is 'What are those little bagpipes you play in the band sometimes?' They are Scottish border pipes. I have a set of Scottish smallpipes I occasionally play when Jenn and I do duo shows as well. They are very quiet though, so it has to be the right setting for the smallpipes.

Having bored you with all that, here is some great bagpipe music. There's a lot of stuff out there beyond the marches that are what people associate with the instrument.



Mike


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03-29

Album update! Although we had thought we were done writing our songs, in the end we decided against including any covers. As we've shared; we're working on a live album to be released later in the year, and we felt like those covers would work better on that album.

Jo had another song that we'd been practicing that we all really liked, so we decided to add that one to our project. And I had another one I'd been holding onto that I thought would be a good inclusion. We played through it last night, and thankfully everyone agreed. So, we're now planning twelve original songs. People that come to our shows will be familiar with seven of them, and the rest will be songs you've never heard.

We've finalized everything with the studio engineer, and after our show this Friday (Lyons Irish Pub in Watertown! Come say 'Hi') we'll get a short night's sleep and spend the next three days working on recording. Then we'll have to see where we're at and what we need to do to finish.

A few people have asked about a pre-buy. Is this something anyone would be interested in? Please let us know.

Mike


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03-24

For years I'd thought I'd never 'make it'. When I was young I worked so hard it at; it was all I did. Somehow I could just never make it work. I could never find the right chemistry, the right feel, the right mix of people. Maybe I just wasn't good enough. I even saw a guy I knew and had played with, Steve Hanseter, 'make it' in a band called 'Tuff'. Which was great and I was happy. But I couldn't ever seem to get anywhere. I was in so many bands. They'd all start to go somewhere, and then fold.

At some point I gave up. I think I went 8 years in which I didn't touch a guitar. I went to school long after everyone I knew was already done. It wasn't easy. When you're supporting yourself, by yourself, you have to give up a lot of time to get it done. I was pretty much a hermit for 4 years.

Everything is so different now. There are both good sides and bad to it. I remember local bands used to be able to get regular radio play. Try that now. But at the same time...now you can put a song on internet radio or YouTube and anyone can hear it anytime, anyplace. You can communicate with and coordinate with other people so much easier. I decided to get back into it, and joined a couple of bands. They didn't work out. I started a band. It didn't work out. I joined another band after that for a few years, before that turned out to not be such a great thing. But now...things are pretty good. People seem to like us, and like to come to see us. I've made a lot of friends; good friends. Maybe this is what 'making it' is for me.

Mike.


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03-21

I've been listening to more music in Irish lately. It's haunting. I saw Danu a few years ago and they're fantastic.



Mike


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03-20

The last four days have been a whirlwind. I'd like to thank everyone that helped us during the St. Patrick's Day 2016 festivities. Thanks to everyone that came up and played and sang with us. Thanks to everyone that pitched in and helped us haul gear when we'd have two hours to tear down, get to the next gig, set up and go again. Thanks to the people that came and celebrated with us. Some of you came to almost every show...you are so kind. I can't get over the generosity of spirit of everyone. You're all so wonderful. I truly feel blessed.

I'm tired and sore and feel great. I'm starting to see a clearer path forward onto the next thing(s). It's exciting.

Mike


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03-12

This was one of those nights...I got through one song (poorly), half of another, and then my voice was just gone. I had to actually stop the song halfway through and say 'I'm sorry...I just can't do this.' I tried to talk on mic a couple times after that just because I couldn't take the dead air any more, and sounded like some creature from The Walking Dead. My throat feels like I swallowed a ball of needles right now.

It did show the depth of talent I feel like we have though. A lot of bands would have been done, cancel the show, so sorry. Everybody really stepped up. Jo and Jenn sang all night, and we did a bunch of songs that we've never played before together...some where only one person really knew the song, and the rest followed along. I think we did well and got through it.

Mike.


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03-09

I asked people to let me know if they liked the idea of a live album. Everyone has pretty much said they think it's a good idea. So what we're going to do for the next little while is record most of our shows and try to put together a decent album of some of our standards that we feel like we've put our own stamp on.

Thanks to everyone that gave feedback! We're going to plan on doing this after we finish our album of our own music. But here's a little snippet of what to expect. There's a couple of our songs in 'unplugged' version at the end. I'm not sure yet if it's a better idea to include them on the 'live' album, or as alternate versions on our original album. If you've got an idea, let us know!



Mike.


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03-06

You just never know what you're going to get. Jenn and I played a retirement party this afternoon. Mostly diddly-diddly music on fiddle and banjo. Decided to sing a little, and a teenage girl asked if we knew 'Rocky Road To Dublin?' Ummmm...yes, we do. We played it, and then played 'Mary Mac'. I noticed she was singing along, and asked her to come up and sing with me. She then started asking if we knew other ancient Irish songs, some of which *I'd* never heard of. It was seriously awesome. I have no idea where a teenager picked up these songs, but it warmed my heart.

Mike


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03-02

Musicians can be a huge pain. Not all of them by any means...but the PITA:Normal Person ratio is definitely higher amongst musicians than non-musicians. Just so everyone knows, I'm not talking about anyone in this band right now; I was just having a conversation with a musician friend of mine and commiserating. With that in mind, here are my three tips to not be a gigantic source of pain to all of those around you.

1. Have extra everything

You have no idea how many times someone's broken a string or had a battery go dead, or a bad cord, and have no way to fix the situation. And usually I end up being the one that first of all has to give you the thing, and second of all, now *I* don't have a backup. I once, no lie, had a guitarist show up for an audition and brought nothing with him. But if he could just use my guitar/amplifier/pedals/everything, he'd show me how awesome he was. He didn't get the part.

2. Show up

Be where you're supposed to be. Being on time is nice too, but is definitely secondary to just being where you’re supposed to be. A band I used to be in, we had the rule, ‘Don’t show up for a practice without telling us, and you’re out, no discussion, no second chances’. Because at some point that person won’t show up for a gig. The correlation is 100% in my experience.

3. Be nice.

That’s all…just be nice. This is supposed to be fun for the people playing and the people listening. You’re not better than anyone. Oh, and I’ve been guilty of most of these things.

Mike.


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02-28

I credit two people with getting me started with playing music. The second I'll talk about some other time. The first is my grandfather, Jerry.

My gramps was a drummer. As far as I know, it's the only thing he ever did. His people had gotten out of Russia, I suspect just ahead of some pogrom, and they Americanized here. He and his two brothers all ended up with different last names. I don't know if they chose them, or if back then you told an authority your name, they wrote down whatever they thought they heard, and that's who you were from them on. He married my grandma, who had a vaudevillian career, and was even in some movies in the early days of motion pictures. They were interesting people.

I was fascinated by drums and drumming. I think young boys in general are. I remember being at my grandparents' house and seeing all the drums he had set up there and being blown away. When I was nine a surprise package showed up. It was a four piece drum set in blue sparkle. It was the best gift I've ever gotten to this day.

They came to visit shortly after and he taught me how to play. I remember him saying his right hand wasn't very good any more, but even so he was the best drummer I've ever heard play...an old-school jazz drummer with more technique than most people even think about cultivating. I joined the school band after that and had a huge leg up on everyone; he'd taught me all the rudiments of drumming and I was first-chair drummer through all of junior-high and high school. I owe that to my grandpa.

A year or so later they came to visit again and there was some rust and corrosion on the hardware of my set. He yelled at me and called me a 'reprobate' (his affectionate word when you'd screwed up) and he and I spent a whole day tearing the kit down and polishing it up. I've kept that to this day; some of my friends like their instruments to be beat-up looking and I can't understand it.

He gave me a poster that I hung in the alcove in my bedroom in which I kept my drums. It was a print of Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. He'd known Buddy Rich in some sort of professional way; I don't know the details. He told me he was a 'sonofabitch', I think in a way that told me he respected him. I asked which was Buddy, and he said 'That one! The one with a face like a bucket of vomit'. That was my grandpa.

My grandpa Jerry died fairly young, so long ago now. Happy Birthday, grandpa. I love you.

Mike



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Mike, Wonderful story. Thank you for sharing. Tom H.

Mike, thank you for sharing such special memories of your grandfather and how he influenced your musical journey. It reminds me of a live recording from a John Denver concert, where he introduced his song "This Old Guitar" by explaining how his grandmother gave him his first instrument. An audience member called out, "Yay Grandma!" Reading this makes me think, "Yay Grandpa!" He gave you - and all of us - a lasting gift. Jane Cops.

02-23

Jo reminded us the other day that it was the two-year anniversary of our first gig the other day. It got me thinking about MY first ever gig. I was fifteen and played in an all-original punk band. We played from the end of that school year through the following summer. My very first show was staged on a hay wagon at a farm, and we played for an all-night graduation party. I'm sure I was the youngest person there, and remember being surrounded by older people and trying to fit in and not feel so young. I remember sitting around a fire after we played and trying to laugh at all the jokes and say worldly things. The guitarist, Chuck, drove me home the next morning. He was one of the nicest guys I've ever met. He was off to school after the summer and I haven't seen him since.

After that, I didn't play out for a few years. One day my friend Terry asked me if he could borrow my drum set to play with three of my other classmates. I think they practiced a few times and it just wasn't working out, so they asked me to play instead. I remember after the first practice I had with them, the guitarist, Chad, said 'I can't believe how much LOUDER and better you play than Terry'. It felt pretty good. I don't like to brag, but we were kind of awesome.

Here's the only picture I have, me hardly visible behind my crash cymbal.

Mike



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02-22

We're musicians, which means we spend 10% of our music time practicing, and 90% trying out and buying stuff. This last weekend Jenn tried her new violin for the first time. It's a five string and an electric violin is kinda weird to us, but everyone agrees we like it. Jo's using new hydraulic drum heads. I guess that's good? Ben has recently purchased a Fender Jazz bass he's been working in. I bought a new acoustic guitar that I'm going to play for the first time at a show this Friday. I like it! I may try to actually play an acoustic guitar with the band again (I have to spend time switching between guitar and banjo, so have resisted the idea of changing guitars mid-set as well). We are all happy and poor again, which I guess is a good trade.

Mike.


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02-17

I like 50's music. It's raw and primitive but the musicianship is in general quite good. Buddy Holly was always one of my favorites; I like his singing and songs, and he was a really solid 50's style guitarist.

I'm fascinated by the crash that took his life. It's a horrible tragedy, yet there's a sort of romance about it. Three men at the top of their game taken from the world far, far too young. A few years ago I was in a hotel room and turned on the tv and they were talking about it. I came to realize it was the anniversary of the crash and their deaths.

There was a lot of footage I'd never seen before...film footage that I didn't know had been taken. It's heart-wrenching to see. You can see Buddy and Ritchie both laying on the ground, covered with coats. J.P., the Big Bopper, is lying in a field some distance away. And you can see the body of Roger Peterson, the pilot, still in the cockpit of what's left of the airplane.

Buddy's widow learned the news when she turned on the television. She was so shocked she had a miscarriage, and legislation was later passed mandating that a spouse be informed before a person can be named as a casualty on television. The next spring, Buddy's gun was found by a farmer in a field near where J.P. had been lying. For years the rumor was that J.P. had shot the pilot and escaped the crash, only to succumb to his injuries. About 10 years ago, J.P. Richardson Jr. had his father autopsied when his cemetery had to be re-located. They opened the casket and J.P. Jr. got to see his father for the first time; still recognizable. The doctor found that every bone in his body was broken and he couldn't have survived the impact. And Roger, the pilot, was only 21 years old and had just been married a few months before

I wanted to write a song about it. I tried, but got stuck. I realized the song about the crash had been written already. Finally, a song came out. Rather than being sad, it was just a simple little love song in the style of Buddy Holly. I think of the young girls at that last show. They're still alive; some of them. I know they screamed for him that night, and they cried their hearts out the next day. I bet the experience changed their lives in some way, and that they still love him today, in that deep part inside of us that never really goes away.

Hold me
Love me
Never leave me
I love you girl, I can't get you off my mind
Tender feeling
Coming over me
I need you girl, I can't get you off of my mind
Free me from my misery
Give me hope and charity
Give me kisses dance with me tonight


Mike


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I'm enjoying the blog. Keep up the good work! Tom Hawley.

02-15

In the last week or so, I've been working on recording/mixing/mastering some songs. I don't have a studio as such, so the details of this mostly involve me sitting on a cold basement floor turning knobs on a mixer, with a laptop set on a chair in front of me. When I have things to the point that I think they sound good, I get in the car and slowly drive down twisty country roads late at night. For some reason, a car stereo lets me know how the final product should sound...if it sounds good in there, it will sound good on a computer, or with earbuds, or on a stereo. So I drive and drive, stopping to scribble "EQ guitar further" or "Mandolin too high in mix" and then continue on. Sometimes I do this for hours. Then back to the basement to make the changes.

It's hard to know when to stop. You can do this almost ad infinitum trying to get everything just perfect. I feel though, that a song captures a particular moment in time for the people that created it. If you keep going back over and over again, making revisions to the song itself, making changes to the recording, it loses that. Simply too much time has gone by and it becomes just words and notes. You can also iron out the quirks that to me make a song interesting. I was a huge fan of The Clash growing up, and on one of their songs the singer's voice cracks. I love so much that they left that in there.

Mike



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02-11

I love this song...I listen to it late at night with the lights off and it makes everything a little bit better.



Mike


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What a beautiful song! Thanks for sharing! Emily

02-09

Enough said...



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01-31

Back home after a long weekend and am tired and feeling pensive. Been finishing up some things and doing some thinking before calling it a night and getting some sleep.

Things go fast, and it's always a struggle to get everything done that needs to be done. I want to take a moment and give some heartfelt thanks. I know I'll miss some people; please be understanding that it's late and I'm tired.

I want to thank Nathan and Ron. Things didn't work out but you both helped us get to where we are now. I've got nothing but love and good feelings for you. Thanks to Tom and Gary for helping us out when we had gigs booked and needed a bass player. You both did a ton of work and were pros through and through.

Thanks to everyone that has taken pictures and video for us. I think literally hundreds of people have shared pictures with us so I can't name everybody. Some people that really stand out for taking a lot of pictures for us are Dana, Dennis, Erin, Kat, Mary, Michelle and Tina. Thanks to Tom for setting us up with Periscope and letting people live stream us at Summerfest.

Thanks to everyone that's joined us on stage to sing or play. This is really too many people to name, but extra special thanks to Tom on fiddle, and Tom on bodhran, and Michelle for singing with me. I love it so much when people join us and have fun with us.

Thanks to Eoin for having us at the Rebel Stage. We love being part of that tradition. Thanks to Jane for promoting us every chance she gets. Thanks to Emily for coming to shows every chance she can and being 'club president'. Thanks to Carol for making the band lasagna and giving us all a great dinner. Thanks to all the club owners/bookers that have us, especially the ones in the beginning that took a chance on a new/unknown band. Thanks to the Shamrock Clubs for keeping us in mind for events. Thanks to Ian for recommending us to venues.

Thanks to Christopher for designing our logo for us. You did an amazing job. I have some special thanks for two people, but they've asked to not be named, so I'll trust they know who they are and what the thanks are for. Thanks to Jim for buying our banner from us. That was one of the sweetest, nicest things I've seen.

Finally, it probably sounds trite, but thanks to all our friends that come see us. Whether it's regularly or occasionally, every time I see someone I recognize and know they're there only to help support us, it warms my heart. Thank you all so much.

Mike


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01-27

As I'm packing up and getting ready for a three-day roadtrip to Indiana, I've been reflecting on this band. Jo and I originally started it intending it to be just a side project from a different band we were in. Some other stuff happened along the way, and we both realized it would be our main musical focus, not just a thing on the side. And soon just blossomed into something completely different and better than I'd at first foreseen.

This last year has been a difficult one for me for a lot of reasons I won't go into. But the band has been one of the main things that's kept me going. We all have our moments, but this is the band I've always wanted to be in. Ben, Jenn and Jo, you're the best people I know. Thank you.

Mike.


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You're Welcome! Ben

01-24

Lots of stuff has been going on. Jenn and I have finally released our first CD as a duo. It was a long process; tempers were lost and regained, there was a lot of fun and laughter, and we ended up with a product we're really happy with. We had our first duo show last night since and it was really gratifying to be able to play those new songs. We were happy with the number of sales, and it was really one of my favorite moments with this band so far.

In related news, the band will be starting work on our full-length original CD very soon. We've finished writing, have selected a studio, and as soon as we can coordinate our time will begin that process. We know it'll be even more challenging doing it with four people than two, but also know it will be that much more rewarding as well. We're planning on ten original songs, as well as including two of our 'signature' covers. This may change as we have additional material we may record if we have extra time, else that material will be on the next release.

Mike


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