Fall 2001 Travels
We played a show at Club Passim with Cactus Highway, a husband and wife duo. Andrea plays the flute and saxophone and her husband Rob plays the guitar. They are both wonderful musicians, trained in jazz education at University of New Hampshire. Andrea is from very far north in Maine, and they sang two sweet songs invoking that heritage. Nos Hisotire de "l'Ile" is a song comprised of stories told in the voices of inhabitants of an island bordering Canada and Maine. It was a sweet tale of the difficulties early settlers had there. "My house" was an accapella tune Andreaand Rob sang about Andreas 100 year old childhood home.

Its always great to play Passim. There is a new restaurant in the space which serves wonderful vegetarian food called Veggie Planet. We had a good crowd and a fun set with our bass player, Michael.


I (Chris) played a solo set at the Club Passim campfire on Saturday afternoon and then took the T to the airport to fly to Ithaca NY to play a festival. I was sad to descend into the T on such a beautiful sunny day. I love to playmusic, but occasionally I wish I had more free time.

My cheap flight took me to Philadelphia where I boarded a plane reminiscent of a mosquito. We landed in Ithaca after dark. My friend Dan, who is in the Army stationed in Fort Drum NY, picked me up in Elmira, and handed me a pair of earplugs. "Whatare these for?" I asked. Dan's truck was without a muffler, so we had to yell over the din to talk to each other.

We met Meredith, who had come to Ithaca earlier for a wedding, at the MuseFest. MuseFest is was held at a campground south of Ithaca. There were quite a few people there, and lots of great music. We played on Sunday morning to a beautiful blue sky on the mainstage.

Then we visited some of Ithaca's waterfalls. Lots of people were out swimming in Lake Cayuga and walking along the trails. It was a beautiful day- Cayuga's deep water was marginally above freezing, and we were all taking one last warm breath of summer on Labor Day weekend.

I've always had a good memory for dates, since we play music so often. I can remember which day of the week February 2 was in 2000 (Saturday) because we recorded a show on that day for out "Live at Club Passim" album. I guess we will all remember Tuesday September 11. I was at my day job early, and some students told me that the World Trade Center was on fire. I couldn't believe it, but turned on the radio and there it was.

All daylong I listened to the radio as the news got worse and worse. I contacted everyone I could think of to see if they were okay. It seemed like the world had changed, for the worse. Harvard held a special vigil at5:00pmin the Yard, and I went and wept with many others.

Friday I walked downtown with a friend to a candlelight vigil being held at Trinity Church. All along the back bay, and all over the city, people were sitting outside, holding candles. I thought that we are lighting these candles to remember the lost, but we are lighting them more to find each other in the darkness. The words of a poem that a friend wrote came to me:

Light a Candle for me so I can see through the darkness"
Light a Candle for me so Ican find you my friend"
Light a Candle for me so I can see your lightness"
Light a Candle for me so this journey can end"

We drove to Hingham to play a show at the Old Ship Coffeehouse. On out way we stopped at a beautiful land trust in Hingham called "Worlds End". Cool air Blew the sun's warmth away from us as we circled the hill by the marsh. We waded through grass to crest the hill, facing the ocean and Hull and in the distance, the city of Boston. Our friend in th eNavyspoke of revenge and war, while another friend hoped The US would not retaliate at all. I felt fairly strongly that we had to do something, but I wished that it would not involve any more killing.

We went out to dinner at a local restaurant/bar, and channels usually tuned to ESPN were showing CNN playing the home video of a doctor who went to the site to try to help. He was walking around amidst the smoke, and then suddenly the camera shakes and dust from the North Tower engulfs him and everything in a deadly gray. They showed this video over and over again along with sullen faces of the hijackers and updated casualty figures.

Meredith and I spent a lot of time thinkg about what to mention, what to leave out. We ended the first set with "Light a Candle", the song Meredith wrote using the words of our friends poem (mentioned above), and we ended the second set with "America the Beautiful" accapella. The crowd sang along.

On Sunday we played the Joe Davies folk festival in Middleboro MA at the Soule Homestead. The Soule Homestead is a "farm museum" where people can come and learn about crafts such as weaving and spinning, learn more about the process of farming and gardening, and also see some environmental programs.

The garden brimmed with tomatoes, and sunflowers under a blue sky. There were several old motors chugging along, with folks there to explain how each one worked. A woman gave a talk on "raptors", or birds of prey, showing the wings, the strong talons and the pierceing eyes of these beautiful birds to an awed audience.

We played to a full crowd as the sun shone down summer warm upon us. Afterwards we listened to other musicians, bought organic corn and tomatoes from local farmers and walked around the grounds. There were quilts hanging in the barn, and lots of people were out enjoying the sun and getting away from the news.



We traveled out to Northampton and played at the Fire and Water, a cool vegetarian food and performance space in downtown Northampton. Downtown Northampton is a place with many specialty shops and people strolling the street, which is nearly impossible to cross due to the lack of traffic lights. We had a good crowd for our set, and a really good dinner - vegetable tofu stir fry.

We drove back to Boston to play the Boston Folk festival. It was a beautiful warm day, and they had setup many rooms on the UMass Boston campus for performance. We had a great set in the morning, in a room overlooking the southern part of the Boston Harbor. We watched other performers, walking out to the outside stages and enjoying the breeze and warmth. We saw folk "greats" like Chris Smither, Vance Gilbert, Rani Arbo, and later on heard Marcia Ball, a spectaular blues singer and pianist. The sun set a bright orange red.

We were scheduled to play a benefit for the Clearwater in New York City on September 23, but they canceled the benefit due to the chaos in the city.  


We did play on the Clearwater on a beautiful day on October 6. We sailed from Garrison, right across from West Point. The sun shone down on the water brightly. The crew changes quite a bit, and we recognized only a few from our time on the Clearwater, but there is always a sense of community there. Pat Humphries split the benefit with us. She sings now with her partner, Sandy, and they sound great together. We met two kids, Mark and his sister Allison. Meredith tried to convince Mark, who was about 5, that his name ended with a "q", then I spelled myname for Mark "C h r i s q". WE all laughed about how every word ended with a "silent q".

The drive home was spectacular, the trees bright in late fall glory. 


The Stone Bone Feather fest again had great weather. I am always amazed by the fact that this late October festival can have good weather. We played under a huge gingham tent structure they strung from the trees. A local restaurant, flatbread cooked pizza in a stone hearth they assembled near the water, and later on a bonfire centered the drum circle thatwenton into the night.

We left for a show in Maine at a Grange in Bangor. The foliage in Maine was still beautiful, yellows and evergreen and gray branches on the highway, bright red and orange sugar maples in the neighborhoods. Bangor is a big cityoff Rt95 in Maine. Maine has always seen tough economic times, especially as you follow 95 North. I love the black crosshatch railroad tressles that weave in and out of the rivers lined with brick fabric mills.

We stayed with our grandparents in Waterville, and shared an afternoon show with our cousin Ethan Bessey on Sunday. We had a good turnout. Ethan sounded great as always. He lives near Portsmouth Nhand recently won a "best of the Seacoast" award. (His webpage is www.bullwhipsandhandshakes.com)


We started to record our fifth album. Recording offers the chance to capture a point in time, and so to agonize over that point. We worked with Mark Thayer at the Signature Sounds recording studio in Palmer MA. We stayed in a trailer that Marks family owns, net to the house. Mark grew up in that house, which sits on a curve that looks like the roads end. Stone walls creep up over the hills and amble off into the distance. We spent a week recording initial tracks and getting ideas down. We had a bass player, Richard Gates come and play on some of the tracks. Recently, Richard had heart failure and needed emergency surgery. As a fulltime session musician and part time producer, he didn't have the money for the procedure. Some of his friends put on a successful benefit concert for him. Mark showed us the programs from the concert.
We played a show in Stratford CT, a town along the stretch of RT 95 with more diners than imaginable, and the black web of metro north rail begins its path to New York. The opening act was a duo including a dj from a local radio station, WPKN. WPKN plays all sorts of music. They have a great womens music show called Amazon Radio. I love these alternative radio stations, bucking the trend of conglomeration and monochrome music to offer a glimpse of how the rest of the world "lives".

We played at the Piping Plover Coffeehouse in Ventnor NJ, near Atlantic City. Rt 95 winds from marsh by New York City to pine trees, and oaks clenching their holding onto their crispy dry leaves. Then the trees break into golden marsh cut by winding azure water. Altantic City rises in concrete neon from this serenity, the last break until the ocean. We walked along the boardwalk before the show, the ocean breaking in grayness under the boards The streets in Ventnor are straight, so you can see every traffic light that you will hit stretches out for miles. The church featured a "self serve" bazaar. We got a good crowd.

Saturday we traveled up to Bethlehem PA, and recorded an interview with Otto Bost at WDIY. Then we opened for the Nields sisters at the Concerts at the Crossing in Washington PA. Katryna brought her new baby, Ameila. She looks amazingly like her mom. It must be challenging to balance music and motherhood. We got a chance to talk to the Neilds about how they got started.

Sunday we played the Southpaw concert in a part of Philadelphia close to downtown. The neighborhood had some houses painted in bright colors along sycamore lined streets, while others hid behind board and no trespassing signs. The Southpaw folks are grad students who put and a great concert. There was plenty of food, and even lighting. House concerts can be great fun because there is no barrier between performer and audience. We traveled back under gray skies by refineries and factories, some draped with American flags.

We opened for Pat Humphries at the Towne Crier, a Mexican restaurant that hosts acoustic music in Pawling NY on Rt 22. We arrived early and watched the sun set pale yellow and blue into the horizon. It was cold and a little lonely. The crowd was small, due to the impending holidays but we had a great time.
I (Chris) played a show at the Improv Asylum with a pianist, Peter Fernandez. It was very cold, as New Year's Eve can be. We played some obscure covers, some well known tunes, and some of my music. The Improv was voted Boston's best comedy club, and is now expanding to include shows at the Roxy and the Matrix in the Theater district.

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