Before I start this log, I want to remind you that you can keep real-time track of our adventures by following our facebook page
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Summer felt officially upon us when it was time to celebrate another birthday with our very own Spencer Cain at the beginning of June. Like a real deal family, we tend to celebrate these sorts of things (birthdays, honeymoons, etc...) together in the van on the road. In this case we threw in an old fashioned bic lighter for a candle and frozen tiramasu for a birthday cake. We were even able to make it back to Michigan from Chicago (where the photo to the left was taken) so that the Rev could score some last minute birthday smooches from his sweetie.
It was only a short reprieve before we were piling into Barba azul and heading off again to another musical trip... I mean Banjo Camp! For the last 6 years or so, Banjo Camp has been a yearly tradition for the Flatbellys, and I was happy to hop on board as a fellow muso. This year I was especially happy to see how many more women were present at the camp! I think since my first time attending in 2009 I've watched the number of female pickers climb exponentially, and the talent and inspiration factor of the instructors has, likewise, kept me feeling good and lucky to be there.
Up there to the left is a photo of one of the favorite jams at this year's camp. Russ Barenberg, Joe Newberry, Tom Ball, Greg Cahill, and a few of our Flatbellys picked the hell out of some great tunes, and they even let me sing a couple with them!
The late, late night jams were just as awesome, like one pictured directly above with Ryan Cavanaugh and Dolla Bill$.
If you have never had the chance to hear Ryan Cavanaugh play the banjo, I would highly recommend you check out his tour schedule and make a point of catching one of his shows. Jazz, old-tyme, Irish slip-jigs, bluegrass... nothing is beyond this guy.
Right from Banjo Camp we started the long trek across the US to Colorado. To maintain blood-flow and camaraderie we stopped in Nebraska to squeeze in a hack and a stall, and achieved our goal before getting back on the road.
I'm not sure if it was the ecstasy of our success or the fresh air, but Nebraska never looked so beautiful to me. The sun was low in the sky and everything had that 6 o'clock summer-time glow. AND, I was, as always, surrounded by good souls, including my dear friend, Kimberly Huguelet, who came along with us and took the picture to the left.
Upon arriving to the Centennial State beauty waiting around every corner. After doing Live at Lunch in Fort Collins and Quixotes in Denver, we headed to Boulder where we played the Pearl Street Pub and climbed the Flat Irons. Here's a photo of Kim and I just before our assent to the top!
I can't exactly put into words the high I get from climbing mountains. It's unlike anything else in the world, and each time I get the opportunity I'm amazed at the power my body is capable of with the right kind of motivation! Here's a lovely photo of Josh resting on Rocky Mountain we climbed.
After Boulder we started westward and stopped in Breckenridge to visit a dear friend of mine and Kimberly's, Miss Melissa Kellogg. What an amazing town with an amazing view. We tried our best to keep up with the town folk and had ourselves a real time in the mountains.
Before anything, however, we wheeled and carried our instruments down the road to a nice open area and entertained others who were out and about for an hour or so. It was a sweet time. On our own time. And I dare say we made a few unsuspecting passer-byes smile and boogie!
From Breckenridge it was off to Carbondale to play at the legendary Steve's Guitar's. The night went swimmingly as the air was sweet and the people sweeter. We can't wait to get back to Steve's, who is, himself, a kind soul. Here's a photo of Spencer on the phone with Becky. Keeping in touch is of the upmost importance no matter what the context!
Then to a new and rising festival on the Colorado River in Palisades, Colorado. Here's a photo of the afternoon crowd and the view of the ridges from stage. We couldn't have asked for better weather or better vibes. We slept beneath the stars and woke with the sun. And to top that off, we got to taste a peach grown in this area. One word. YUM!
From the Palisades Roots and Bluegrass Festival we headed back eastward to Aspen, where we took a 30 minute gondola-on-a-wire ride up into the sky. We played two sets up on the mountain to a crown, who at one point, were stranded on the mountain top with us due to the wind. Apparently when the winds reach a certain speed it's unsafe to run the gondolas.
But we couldn't complain and I didn't see anyone else complaining either. How could you with a view like this!
Music takes us on many journeys, most often in our own minds. And every once in a while it takes us on a tangible journey so radical I have to pinch myself just to make sure it's real. This was one of those occasions.
On our way out of Aspen we took Highway 24 through the thick of the Colorado Rockies and were blown away by the pristine awesomeness of these parts.
"Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in the mirror. But you are eternity and you are the mirror."
We were in the mountains right up until the sun fell, and we watched the landscape change before our very eyes.
One of our last stops was at the continental divide at 12,095 ft elevation. The air was thin and crisp, the tundra was frozen and golden and once again we were reminded of how small we each are individually and how great the Earth is in it's whole interconnectedness.
We arrived back in Michigan in time to play a Summer Solstice Party on Lake Michigan and play a couple Bluegrass Tuesdays at the Wolverine Brew Co to round off the month of June. Now we've got a week off to take some time for ourselves. Joshua and I have a trip planned to be tourists in our own state. We're going to visit the Pictured Rocks, the Porcupine Mountains and all else the UP has to offer!
Happy Holidays everyone!