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Sandy Andina: News

Quiet Calendar not so quiet anymore! - February 19, 2016

Well, I’m done with surgery & radiation for breast cancer, and have overcome some pesky little challenges to get back in the saddle (or insert cliche of choice) again. Between next week and Christmas, at least eight gigs coming up--in the Chicago, Madison, & Milwaukee areas as well as in NC (Montreat--near Asheville, and Hickory--near Charlotte). House concerts, showcases, coffeehouses, benefit, outdoor markets--for details, check my Calendar page. Will be putting out a new Sandygram tomorrow (my eyes are crossing and my fingers are cramping from all this typing--and I need to be eagle-eyed and nimble-fingered so I can make music for you)! Blog entry tomorrow too.

quiet calendar getting quieter - September 18, 2015

Some of you may know by now through Facebook, e-mail and CaringBridge that I have been diagnosed within the past two weeks with Grade 2 invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast, stage TBD. I go in for lumpectomy Wed. 9/23 and will know more about what’s ahead after Mon. 9/28.  I will reserve the “News/Journal” section for news of the few shows I’ll be able to do post-op and during treatment (including switching over to the creative side of the Bar Show this year--writing, cuing, crafting as my health & strength permit). My blog will distill the most salient elements of my cancer journey, which can be found in greater detail and updated more often on my CaringBridge Journal:  And of course, the Blog will remain my forum for rants on current events--which I’ve been lax in posting because a) others have beaten me to the punch; and b) the candidates’ words (at least on the GOP side) are funnier than any comments I can make on them.

I have one “for-sure” gig coming up that I will be playing: Andina & Rich at Just Goods Listening Room in Rockford, IL on Fri. Oct. 9 at 7 pm. I’ll be healed enough to drive there and perform, but not yet have started adjuvant therapy. FARM is up in the air--depending on when I start the next step and what it will be.

So for short updates as I have them, check the Blog. Ditto when I can no longer keep my mouth shut about world & political events of the day. And for anything musical (gigs, showcases, releases--we may do some songs on a digital download basis before “Chasing Lightning” drops early this spring--because I can’t tour behind it this fall. that’s why we’re waiting yet again), c’mon back here.



catching you up from Mar. 2014 - September 17, 2015

So much has happened between March 2014 and now I’ll have to give you the Readers’ Digest version to fill you in.


Apr--Went to Paris and Normandy for a CBA CLE trip

May--got a new car (Subaru Outback) and gave Bob my Fusion Hybrid. Did L1K at Highlander & SERFA, visited Linda Mitchell in Asheville, drove VA’s Crooked Road, had breakfast with my sister Rona & niece Marissa, played the Abington Sr. Center in Clarks Summit, PA and Barking Spider in Cleveland.

Summer--Played monthly at Edgewater Farmers’ Mkt; did Madison’s Songwriters in the Round, vacationed in Vail (tore a gastroc hiking but it healed w/in a month), played 3 stages (4 if you count the TWS Favorites mainstage teaser) at Fox Valley.

Autumn & winter--vacationed in Vegas, did the Bar Show, played the Songsalive! Awards Showcase in Sherman Oaks, visited with my longtime friends Dick & RaLana, played the Wheaton Indoor French Mkt (twice). And our EP Merry Humbug made two of the Roots charts: #4 in IL, #1 national Holiday! 

2015: duo touring cut back due to Steve doing more solo touring

Jan--Chiberia came back--tore two glutes and got bursitis from shoveling a foot of snow and then slogging 1/2 mi. each way in a howling blizzard with 2’ of snow.

Feb--vacationed in Vegas again

Spring--toured Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Granada) w/CBA for CLE trip. Relived it at Rioja Fest. Then Bob got his colon perforated during a routine colonoscopy, had to have a foot of it removed and then his hernia popped and needed emergency repair. Had to cancel all out-of-town gigs, but did get to play the Chicago Indoor French Mkt.

Summer--quiet gig-wise, though did play the Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Festival and Neutral Ground in New Orleans (full gig, not showcase, during the Cutting Edge CLE conference); plus the CSC stage at Fox Valley. Had a great time, except for nerves over my abnormal mammogram, which turned into more imaging which led to a biopsy the day after Fox Valley. For what happened next, check the next post as well as my CaringBridge page.

March madness - March 15, 2014

No, not the NCAA kind. March meteorological madness. We had two days this week of temps hovering between 55-60F....but with shovelable snow in between. Snowing again tonight despite this aft. having been open-jacket weather. Then two days of sub-freezing (thank goodness, not sub-zero) temps and back up to 50 again by Tuesday.  Of course, this has created a new category among "Official Chicago" things (you know, stuff like Song, Bird*, Tree*, Sandwich, etc,): Official Geographical Feature.......and the winner is.....THE POTHOLE! Streets have become slalom courses--last week on B'way I missed a gate and got disqualified. So much for my dreams of a medal! :(  But the positive aspect of "thaw" days and small snowfalls is that I don't have to wear boots, heavy coats or mittens. (Ever try to flip off a discourteous driver when wearing mittens?  Sorta defeats the purpose).

* What's the official IL state tree? The orange highway construction barrel. What's the official IL state bird? The one you flip at the state tree!

This is the weekend of Purim Spiels and St. Pat's Day Parades. Today they dyed the Chicago River green--presumably to match the color of the beer that people will be upchucking over its bridge railings in the next few days.  (Upside is that alcohol can melt ice jams). I did have a fantastic dinner tonight of corned beef & cabbage (best I've had in the city in the 35+ years I've lived here) at Broadway Cellars--they're serving it through Monday. As for Purim, no Hamantaschen for me for the second year in a row, since I'm still low-carbing it. Maintaining my 55-lb. weight loss--will plateau for awhile, because I've already spent enough on new clothes. (Traded my mom-jeans for skinny ones, still trying to get used to zippers and belt loops).

So I'm resigning myself to the undeniable truth that in Chicago (except for our parallel-universe spring of 2012 when we traded climates with San Diego), March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb...with serious anger-management issues. Meanwhile, after the inevitable post-Purim/post-St. Pat's Day letdown, you can still let your hair down with me several ways:

Tues. 3/18: Andina & Rich at the Red Line Tap, 7006 N. Glenwood, Chicago. An Americana trifecta, starting with us from 9-10 pm. $5 gets you all three bands (the other two being Cowboy Choir and The Muddflaps). Good libations (and have dinner beforehand next door at the legendary Heartland Cafe). Parking at the Trilogy lot 2 bl. n. on Glenwood (make sure you park in the "Heartland/Red Line" designated spots). But why drive when the Red Line L stops just a block s. at Morse?

Fri. 3/28: We'll be performing on Ari John White Wolf's podcast show "Inna Gadda Da Vida" from the studios of Red Dragon TV in Madison, WI.  More details as we get 'em!

Fri. 4/28: It'll be a really good Good Friday at Two Way Street Coffeehouse, 1047 Curtiss St., Downers Grove, IL as Andina & Rich return to the stage of Chicago's prestige intimate acoustic folk venue.  Two full sets starting at 8 pm (doors open 7:30). $7 cover. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate & cider, soda (or do you say pop?), and light snacks available.  And we'll have a lot to say musically, including sneak previews of songs from our upcoming (as soon as it's manufactured) CD "Chasing Lightning."  (We'll be releasing details soon about how you can be "present at the creation" and immortalized in the liner notes as one of our "angels").

And in between Madison & Downers Grove, Bob & I will be off to Paris and Normandy for a week...of Continuing Legal Education. That's right:  this time I get to be the one sitting in a classroom (or courtroom) all morning while Bob explores the museums and cathedrals. Will be posting lots of photos and blogging about sights, sounds, and our afternoons & evenings as gastronauts (hoping all that walking will burn off the carbs & calories).  And yes, someone'll be home while we're gone! (Someone human, not just the cats).

Speaking of kitties, our geriatric cat Matthew is doing splendidly post-stroke: he's climbing stairs, kicking @$$ and taking names.....okay, taking names. (A little more physical therapy will help him kick @$$).  Thank you for your prayers, good thoughts and healing energy!

Mazel tov to my cousin Gena Greher for being named Donahue Endowed Professor of Music at the U. of Mass! 

And get well, Maryjane! Saying a nightly Mi Sheberach for you.

See you on our return Stateside with details about our upcoming May and summer musical adventures!

F-f-f-f-february!!!! - February 20, 2014

Good grief, anyone else here as sick of winter 2014--a/k/a The Thing That Wouldn't Leave--as I am??? There's no escaping it, though I'm trying this weekend--at Folk Alliance in Kansas City, where it's 20 degrees warmer and there's no least not till Sunday, when I fly home to Chiberia. The 3-4 feet of snow on the ground has melted to a large degree, is flooding the sewers, and will probably freeze over again tonight or tomorrow. And the Polar Vortex returns on Wed. They're predicting a low of ZERO--the latest I can remember it getting that cold since 1979.

We did manage, between snowstorms, to put on a great Christmas show at the Brink Lounge in Madison, with special guests Vita & George Levar, Tom Kastle, and Ingrid Frances Stark. Clips are up on YouTube. And's website has a shot of me holding my cool crystal Songwriter of the Year trophy. If I look a bit weary, it was taken at 2 am on New Year's Eve--after walking 1/4 mi. each way in the snow and having quite a few flutes of champagne.  Survived my 63d birthday, too.  One benefit to living in Chiberia:  I keep better.

I've shoveled so much snow that I've discovered muscles I never knew I had, until they started aching. Nearly fell on the ice (including en route to a January gig in Madison I couldn't get to because of floods & black ice) more times than I can count. Running out of places to put the @#$%^&*( snow--good thing enough of it has melted, to make room for more. And in the Supreme Irony Dept., I haven't gotten to use my new X-C ski boots yet: when it was warm enough to be outside the snow quality was too spotty; but when we had plenty of snow it was too cold to safely exercise. And we in the upper Midwest are not alone--the Eastern Seaboard and even the mid-South has gotten slammed.  I can't wait till it's March, though it does "come in like a lion." Only hope it doesn't go out like a rabid pit bull!

So if you can hang on till mid-March, you can slake your Andina & Rich thirst at the Red Line Tap, 7006 N. Glenwood, in Chicago from 9-10 pm on Tues. Mar. 18.  Then on Fri. Mar. 28, we'll be up in Madison, doing a live-audience webcast for Red Dragon TV's "Inna Gadda Da Vida"  (at least I think that's how it's spelled) show, hosted by Ari John White Wolf.  We'll be taping, so if you're anywhere near Madison and want to be part of posterity, get your posterior up there!

December is dynamite! - December 13, 2013

Started out on Sun. Dec. 8, fresh from a triumphant closing Bar Show matinee, en route on the Eisenhower Expy. (the Ike) to the College of DuPage campus to be the finale of WDCB's Holiday Hoot.  Earlier in the day, though, I found out that I'd be playing solo, as Stephen Lee Rich was stuck in Madison--due to a shortage of plows & salt he was stuck in his cul-de-sac unable even to take the uncleared arterials to the expressway.  Then, after a protracted stop-and-go slog along the Ike, I got as far as the Chicago/Oak Park city line before traffic ground to a halt. Travel times out to the county line (much less campus) were an hour at that point, so there was no way I'd get to the Hoot before teardown. So I reluctantly phoned in my regrets and turned around to inch my way home (along Chicago roads and streets that were just as bad, with my block & alley unplowed till midmorning Monday). Turns out that due to the snow, the Hoot started early to accommodate those who could get there and then get home (hopefully) before the worst of the storm hit. So my Christmas goose was cooked even before I had to turn around.  Between the snow and then the sub-Arctic temps, I was stuck indoors till Thursday!  But you can hear the Hoot (with between-acts pauses edited out) and the talented artists who did perform on Folk Festival with Lilli Kuzma on Christmas Eve from 7-9 pm, 90.9 FM or  And we might have some of our prerecorded holiday stuff played anyway.

Just when I thought there'd be nothing more to add, there are two new amazing developments. 

First, the modestly good news:  Sun. Dec. 15 (repeated the next week on the 22d), you can hear me deliver Andina & Rich's new holiday promo greeting on the 2013 version Richard Milne's WXRT Local Anesthetic Holiday Spectacular on 93.1 FM (or

But here's the really big news: (headquartered in Los Angeles) just selected me as its 2013 Songwriter of the Year!  I'm flabbergasted and grateful beyond words. When my trophy arrives, I'll post a pic.  I promise to live up to the honor by writing much more often, more skillfully, and assiduously marketing my songs to as wide an audience as possible.

A December to remember? - December 2, 2013

Sorry, it was a cheap rhyme for the taking, and somebody had to take it.  So much has happened since last I wrote:  we wrapped production on the third Andina & Rich CD "Chasing Lightning" (waiting for the other half of the copyright on one cover tune to clear before we master, do graphics and press).  Have a matched set of bionic knees that work a helluva lot better than the old ones did (I can stand for much longer and walk much further than before). And there's 55 lbs. less of me! (Yes, it was deliberate--for health reasons rather than vanity, but if it keeps me out of the costlier plus size dept., I'll take it). 

On to December--once again (12th year) , I'm in the Chicago Bar Show (we no longer call it Christmas Spirits because it's more topical than holiday-themed), "The Merry Old Land of Lawz." Not playing guitar this year--with 9 scenes I'm in, I have my hands full with costume changes and choreography as it is.  We open this Wed. night 12/5 at 7:30 and run through Sun. aft. 12/8 (a 2pm matinee).  Tix or at the Merle Reskin Theater Box Office (right up till each performance).

And right after the curtain on Sunday, I collect my costumes and drive like a bat out of Hell to Glen Ellyn, where Andina & Rich will be the last act before the finale at WDCB's Folk Festival with Lilli Kuzma's Holiday Hoot, at the College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Rd. from noon-6pm. Live music galore, refreshments, and Mrs. Claus will be on hand to entertain the young'uns.

Wed. Dec. 18, 6-9 pm finds me co-hosting the annual Andina & Rich Holiday Special for Folks Who Hate the Holidays (and even for those who like them), at the Brink Lounge, 701 E. Washington (at Brearly St.) in Madison, WI.  Special guests will be Tom Kastle and Vita & George Levar (with whom I'll be doing carols trad and modern).

Busy in Jan. and Feb. too, but you'll just have to stay tuned for that.

Tra la, it's May...I think... - May 8, 2013

Well, the calendar says it's May but hear near the lakefront (except for two teasingly hot days last week), the mercury says early March, or even February. I hear that with moisture and a projected low of 38 Sat. night the forecasters are muttering, sotto voce, the dreaded "s" word (the fact that they've added the qualifier "flurries" does not help my mood).  Had a new deck put on my house (when the old one literally was rotting away and a hole opened up), and got it stained just in time for the temps to go from 84 and sunny to 45 and rainy.  The stain is lovely, but it stinks. Literally.  We need at least a couple more warm sunny days in a row for the VOC's to fade away enough to use my grill before I leave for SERFA and beyond.

You haven't seen much activity on my gig calendar--mostly because of matters (such as those above) on the home front, Stephen Lee Rich's solo touring & Musicians United organizing schedule, family travel and recording/pre-and-post-production sessions both down in Sparta and via e-mail.  Taught "Shalom Rav" (the familiar Klepper-Freelander version) at last week's DSNI meeting--first time since 1981 I had to stop and think and codify a dulcimer piece with both mountain tab and hammer std. notation. Kudos to DSNI Pres. (and Hogeye Music dulcimer teacher) Janet Swartz for her patience and assistance and to Program Chair Susan Van Dusen for helping her make my pencilled chicken-scratches into legible and playable printed music. It was so long ago that I taught dulcimer:  I used to teach beginners & kids when I was barely an intermediate player myself, long before I'd developed techniques and idiosyncrasies I'd never had to demonstrate before--just have muscle memory let me play on autopilot.  Hats off to music teachers everywhere. Those who can, do; but those who can do AND clearly explain how they do it, teach. (Rewriting the old maxim).  

Next up on the music front:  SERFA, down in Montreat, NC in the beautiful Blue Ridge next week. I will be co-teaching a humor workshop with Greg Trafidlo, demonstrating dulcimer to middle school kids in a traditional music concert, hosting a humor song circle in the Local 1000 Showcase-Free Zone and room-showcasing both solo and as half of Andina & Rich the whole time.  Then on June 4, Andina & Rich will be doing a free-to-the-public (no tip jar!) concert at the public library in Alton, IL (across the Mississippi from St. Louis)--after which I zip on over to Sparta to spend the rest of the week recording.

Then my left knee will be replaced June 12 (giving me the second half of a matched set).  Started pre-op physical therapy yesterday, something I neglected to do last year, so that my good leg will be up to the task of keeping me from falling down during the insanely early get-out-of-bed-and-stroll they make one do less than 24-hrs. post-op. Last year, when it was time to stand up and use the walker the day after my right knee was replaced, my poor left one shook and literally crunched--quite audibly.  This time the right knee won't crunch, as it's nice and smooth titanium; but with strong quad, glute & hamstring neither should it tremble.  I know I'm in for a long haul of recuperation & recovery; but as my left knee is going to be less of a challenge (no fractures, no tibial hardware) there's an even chance that I'll be discharged to home rather than rehab.  

But either way, unless I am bedridden or so zonked out on painkillers that I can't sing straight, June 21 should find me onstage (worst case scenario, in front of the stage) at the Horseshoe Saloon on Lincoln s. of Irving Park for Larry O. Dean's "Folk You" showcase. Let's hear it for taxicabs!  By my next gig after that, July 10 at Metropolis, I should be cleared to drive again and off opioids--because I don't drive with my left leg, I'll be cleared to drive at 4 weeks rather than the 6 it took last year. And at exactly 6 weeks, I drove to a gig!

A couple of weeks ago, Bob & I returned from our first trip to the Napa Valley since Gordy was a preschooler.  Back in 1988 I marveled at how much it had blossomed--the number of wineries and fine dining and lodging having burgeoned dramatically from the mid-1970s, when we used to drive down from Seattle and camp in the state park. But it is a wholly different world there today--easily 20 times as many commercially-known wineries (and scores more "boutique" ones) as in 1988. We were down there for a cardiology course (Bob was, I spent the mornings practicing and transcribing that dulcimer piece, as well as taking a voice lesson by Skype). The classes finished at noon, and we were taken on winery tours in the afternoon. We were able to taste all we wanted without worrying about getting behind the wheel.  But we also noticed that the days of ambling up to the tasting room counter and sampling for free are history. There is a steep tasting fee now almost everywhere in the valley (except for Sutter Home). The fee is applied to your wine purchases if you join a winery's subscription club, and at least two tastings came with a free souvenir fine crystal glass.  Amazingly, we got our four glasses (and two bottles) home safely in a special insulated carrier meant to be checked as baggage; the other bottles have been trickling in via UPS and FedEx. The weather was warm and gorgeous (though the pollen count was a challenge), in contrast to the torrential rains and floods back here that week.   And we had some terrific meals--including eating at the restaurant of Iron Chef Morimoto.  We were too late for the omakase (chef's degustation) dinner, but even the two a la carte courses we each had blew us away (and the wines and sake weren't exactly chopped liver, either--not even remotely chopped liver, though I'm sure that if given that as the "secret ingredient" or "Chairman's Challenge" Iron Chef Morimoto would turn it into something yummy with no hint of Hester St. whatsoever).

So I must have gained quite a bit of weight there, right? Not so fast.  On doctors' orders, I went low-carb starting in late Jan. I didn't gain at Folk Alliance in Toronto, and I came home from Napa two pounds lighter.  (Not talking "pounds sterling," either, though if you do the exchange-rate math, our wallets came home about a ton lighter).  Seems everyone in NorCal has gone modified-dead-animals-and-leaves.  I miss good artisanal bread and pastas, even a nightcap of cereal & milk or morning oatmeal; but not desserts (I get to eat a little dark chocolate and my gummy vitamins every day, as well as all kinds of berries).  And if I never taste another potato, no loss.  Since I started my diet I've lost 20 lbs.  30 since last year's pre-op exam, and 35 since I left Northwestern Memorial.  Hope that may make recovery easier--it's certainly made my knee feel better but still not well enough to keep putting off the surgery.

So I will next log in here closer to SERFA--not from there, as internet'll be spotty (even cellular) and I'll be too busy to do much online but check e-mail.  

Happy February - February 1, 2013

"As the days begin to lengthen, the cold begins to strengthen"--Anonymous.

I wanna find Anonymous and beat him senseless with a snow shovel and jug of ice-melt. Or maybe smother him with my insulated winter coat, or choke him with my muffler.  I know that axiom is meant to reassure us as we freeze that we're increasing the amount of sunshine, but I find it cold (dis)comfort.

First, I woke up Christmas morning to discover I was in the throes of the mother-in-law of all colds (caught no doubt while Christmas shopping)--while the weather gods were busy dumping 2-3" inches of "lake effect" snow on us.  About "lake effect" snow:  it's very real, just as tedious to shovel, clean off our cars, and avoid slipping or skidding on when walking or driving; but according to official weather statisticians it doesn't exist if it doesn't fall at O'Hare.  By the time we finally broke our alleged "snowless streak" last week, here along the north lakefront we'd racked up nearly a foot of the stuff since Dec.'s first flakes fell. It fell and melted and fell and melted again, but it DID fall. On US. For the first time since I wrote the song, I actually lived "It Sucks Being Sick at Christmas."  And my cold (and its companions asthma and laryngitis) stuck around for almost two weeks. At least it wasn't the flu; so far, that shot has worked. (Last week's norovirus was not funny, however. At least it had the sense not to hit me till after my birthday).

I turned 62 last week. Still trying to wrap my head around that: older than everyone on either side of my family when they suffered their first heart attacks (grandma was 62, dad 50, and my uncle's MI killed him at 49).  New Year's Eve I was walking back home from the 5-course dinner party we'd held at our favorite local restaurant, en route to setting up the midnight champagne for our dinner guests. It was in one of the freezing-cold cycles of the climate roller coaster we've been riding all winter: between trying not to slip on the ice and walking fast enough to keep from feeling the wind, I had to stop a few times to let my heart slow down and breathe more slowly. I got into the house, filled the champagne bucket with ice....and nearly fainted.  Lay down, got up, fetched the bubbly from the basement and saw stars again (and not the ones Dom Perignon claimed to have been drinking back in old Epernay); also felt a profound heaviness and fatigue in my upper arms and shoulders. Uh-oh. Still, I chalked it up to being out of shape (though not on an empty stomach, anemia or dehydration, which had caused milder versions of this while packing up and schlepping equipment after a few summertime gigs). Bob insisted that despite having gotten a clean bill of health before and after my knee surgery I should get a checkup.

My family doc took an EKG and confirmed that I wasn't having, nor had I suffered, a heart attack; but as he couldn't say I wasn't going to, he prescribed a battery of heart tests (echo, stress EKG, nuclear imaging). He also took a blood sample.  Had the tests, and all were dead-bang normal for someone younger and thinner. No diabetes, anemia, elevated enzymes, etc. But my lipid panel was a shocker: while still considered very good, my HDL had plunged 20 points since June, my LDL rose by 40, and my triglycerides (always low) had tripled.  Bob asked me if I'd fasted before the blood draw, and I replied "for four hours." He asked what was the last thing I'd eaten, and I sheepishly admitted it was a croissant the size of my head. I neglected to mention a week of pizza, pasta, great bread and a near-nightly bedtime treat of a chocolate egg cream. He thinks all those carbs were the culprit behind the spike in triglycerides and LDL, and my enforced rest from my cold probably depressed my HDL--along with cutting way back on wine since I had to give up all alcohol for the month I spent on blood thinners post-op.  Family doc put me on a statin (Bob agrees), a low-carb diet, and orders to start exercising now that we'd determined my heart was strong enough to take it.  So I have become pals with my treadmill and stationary bike, and can reintroduce "Dead Animals & Leaves" to my repertoire.

Between scheduling recording sessions, Stephen Lee's solo gigs, Folk Alliance in Toronto, and my upcoming spring trip to Napa with Bob, it's been tricky to book our duo and my solo gigs. But I've got some coming up--tonight's Dylan tribute at Gallery Cabaret (me solo as part of a cast of thousands), Valentine's Eve at Bill's Blues Revisited at the Orrington in Evanston, a bunch of solo and duo guerrilla showcases at Folk Alliance (and a solo mini-sit for the sick kids at Toronto's children's hospital), Wild Hog in the Woods in Madison 3/22 (duo), Metropolis Coffee 3/27 (solo), SERFA guerrillas in May (solo thus far), nursing home gig in Madison in May (duo, not open to public), Alton, IL Library June 4, and the Folk You showcase in Chicago June 21 (solo).  Details in the Calendar section as well as my upcoming Sandygram.

Happy holidays!!! - December 24, 2012

Merry ChrisFestHanuKwanDiwEid.......and Happy Tet in advance!

Been quite a year for me and Andina & Rich.  Because of scheduling snafus regarding my knee replacement surgery, we had a few significant gig-free periods that we put to great advantage in the studio. We have "Chasing Lightning," our third Andina & Rich CD, nearly done (mostly mixed too) but for a sprinkling of instrumental accents and then mastering. Every reason to believe we'll have it out this spring (or whenever it'll be most advantageous). "Merry Humbug," our first holiday EP, has one song to go before we do final mix and then mastering. (We could have made it a full-length CD but it would have taken us into summer before we'd get into postproduction; and summer's when we need to release it).  The first two songs off it, sent to radio and in time-sensitive download release, have been all over the airwaves this month (terrestrial, internet and next week satellite!). We had a blast at Lilli Kuzma's WDCB Holiday Hoot--and not only our set but our individual collaborations with other artists on the bill will be aired Christmas night. Stephen's EP "Free Range Sofas" (on which yours truly lends a voice to several cuts) has already gotten airplay on all cuts, and he's begun a full-length solo album. And last but not least, "Candy Apple Red Herring," the long-awaited followup to my solo debut "Ghosts & Angels," is underway. Got only two songs recorded for it so far--because two others caught Stephen's ear and ended up on "Chasing Lightning." All those songs of mine so many of you wanted me (or SASS! or A&R) to record will finally be on it. I may flesh it out with a few holiday songs (one traditional dulcimer instrumental, one Hanukkah classic in Ladino, and a swing-jazz original) because it'll be out in time for next year's holiday season, in time for me to promote it after recovering from my next knee surgery.

My left knee is jealous of the new right one and wants to be replaced. Ideally, I'd do it right after New Year's, but my surgeon's booked till April--when Bob and I will be taking a long-delayed Napa Valley vacation and then Steve & I get into heavy touring season. Even though the left knee will be simpler than the right one was and need a shorter recovery time, if I were to schedule it for right after our trip I wouldn't be healed in time for SERFA and the gig preceding it in mid-May.  Were I to do it in early June right after a St. Louis gig, recovery would occupy the entire summer--as my right knee replacement did this year. No way am I going to miss summer touring. Stephen's taking Sept. off for his & Ingrid's dream trip to the NW. So it looks like either I skip Fox Valley Folk Festival and do it in late Aug., or do it right after the festival and be ready to roll in time for FARM.

Nonetheless, we made inroads last spring into the Mid-Atlantic/Appalachian area, and look forward to following up and exploring further. Looking at S. Florida for part of this summer (it's no stickier than Chicago) too.  Meanwhile, my profound apologies for the destruction caused by my namesake superstorm. Seriously, many of the places special to me during my childhood are still devastated: Rockaway, the Brooklyn beaches, Staten Island, parts of lower Manhattan, much of the Catskills and Delaware Valley, and the NJ resort town of Lakewood (Borscht Belt South). We made a contribution to the Red Cross, but look for some further fundraising efforts on my part. No plans to re-visit yet, but we'll get there.

My right knee has healed so well that most of the time I don't even notice it. My cane has become an accessory in my car, a "just-in-case" item like my snow brush and tire inflator. Still need it for uneven and hilly terrain--which doesn't describe most of Chicago.

Bob had his batteries recharged by our Sept. river cruise through central Europe, and while still working long and hard is taking more time to stop and smell the cappuccino.  (We're getting our parachutes ready to jump off the fiscal cliff). And Gordy has discovered he has a knack not just for acting but teaching as well--he teaches improv skills to impoverished special needs kids in a S. Side public school where he and his students are a mutual admiration society. The program will be expanded come January.

Time to do some last-minute wrapping, buy greeting cards and make the hard sauce for tonight's plum pudding. Have a happy and a merry!

Thanksgiving already?! - November 19, 2012

Since last I checked in here, much has changed, but the most important and comforting things have remained constant.  I am once again on two feet--with my cane used mostly as either a prop or for hill-climbing. In fact, though my right knee still has some stiffness and soreness, I am walking without a limp and am able to stand for an hour or longer. (Still can't kneel or get up off a floor, but that's not a bad tradeoff). After a summer of intense physical therapy (10 days in rehab, 4 weeks at home with a visiting PT, and 6 weeks at a PT clinic), I was able to walk the grounds of and perform both days at the Fox Valley Folk Festival (with a reprise coming up for the Dulcimer Society in May), do a one-hour standing set with Steve at St. Mary's Nursing Center in Madison,  take that wonderful Viking River Cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam, and do two more of Julie Jurgens' tribute showcases at the Gallery Cabaret (both of them on my feet). 

Not just that, but I drove to FARM and flew to NERFA to network and showcase solo.  No, Andina & Rich fans, the duo is still very much alive, but Steve and I are honing our solo chops and bookings for the inevitable occasions when we want to perform but one or the other of us has a major schedule conflict.  In Steve's case, it's been the long final illness and the aftermath of the death of his mother-in-law; in mine, it's both the upcoming Bar Assn. Christmas Spirits show (my 11th year) and my upcoming left knee replacement. The latter will take place (we hope) in either very late Dec. or early Jan. in order for me to be able to fly to Toronto in Feb. 2013 for Folk Alliance Int'l--as a solo, performing with Steve, and doing some networking and volunteering.

As I said, the right knee still has a way to go. but it's the discomfort of healing, which diminishes daily. But "lefty" is making her displeasure known--she's hurting more and more, and beginning to give way. (Yet another Bar Show wearing a knee brace beneath my slacks--but hopefully next time I won't need it anymore). Dealing with a new challenge: the pointy cobblestones in Germany (and my stupid decision to bring German "walking" shoes and leave my sneakers home) reawakened my dormant Morton's neuroma and metatarsalgia in my left foot. Fortunately (but not for my wallet) I found a new line of Finn Comforts with rocker-profile soles that take the pressure off my forefoot and support my arches.  Stylish, too (well, as stylish as orthopedic shoes can be--blue suede, black patent, bronze, etc.).  

Cruise was marvelous. Wish we'd had more time on our own (or weren't so jet-lagged) to explore Budapest, especially the Margaret Island spas, Citadel, Gundel's, etc. Could have used an extra day in Vienna and especially the Rheingau & Amsterdam. Such is the tradeoff of a river cruise--rarely does the ship dock overnight to allow after-dinner exploration (and since meals and cocktails--and some evening programs--are paid-for and onboard), so we usually set sail either just before dinner or late at night and sailed till morning or even the next afternoon. But there is much to be said for unpacking just once and stashing our empty bags for two full weeks, living on a floating hotel of manageable size where we got to know just about all our fellow passengers. I think the way to view such a multi-country cruise is to use it as an introduction to countries or cities to visit later on--in-depth, on our own, and more economically. If we do this again (and it'll probably be in 2014, either Russia or Budapest-to-Bucharest), I'll bring the sneakers and buy plenty of good local wines to drink on board (prepaid booze package notwithstanding). And probably the cheap Euro-cell phone (AT&T was spotty and expensive when we did get to connect) and a real camera. 

Only thing that marred the cruise was learning, upon our midnight departure from Vienna, that my mentor had suffered a stroke. Fortunately, it was not deep in his brain and he had terrific physical and occupational therapy, and he is back to work part-time now.  The closing I had set up to happen in my absence ended up having to be postponed anyway for bank-related reasons (in fact, two full weeks after my return), but everything worked out to both parties' satisfaction. 

We had some health setbacks recently in my household: Gordy landed in the hospital with asthma (while I was away in upstate NY) which developed after he caught a cold from one of his students (he's fine now); and Bob seems to have caught the stomach bug that's going around (which took the Bar Show's bandleader out of commission for a few days). Meanwhile, I am treating my digestive system with kid gloves, gobbling vitamin C, hydrating like crazy, sleeping more and washing my hands constantly.  Thank heavens I had my flu shot. You should too! And I find myself now the namesake of the largest and most destructive superstorm in American history (though thankfully not as fatal as Katrina). Walking into a bar, and not being asked what I want to drink but having a Hurricane plopped down in front of me is getting kinda old. Seriously, the devastation is wrenching--especially neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island I remember from my NYC childhood.  It's hard to imagine--unless you're unfortunate enough to have been hit by the storm--that hundreds of thousands are still without heat, power, clean running water, and transportation even three weeks later. Mother Nature paralyzed my hometown in a more widespread and ultimately longer-lasting (though less fatal) way than did even Al Qaeda.

Speaking of the Bar Show (Lawpocalypse Now), it's gonna be great this year, and I have TWO featured lead solos. In a great stretch of casting, I play a protest folksinger (guitar-slinging, again, of course) and a titillated late-middle-aged housewife who's had a literary epiphany. In the ensemble numbers, I am an elderly lawyer (I have to fake a limp this time) as well as a disgruntled schoolteacher.  We are running Wed-Sun Dec. 5-9 (the final show being a matinee), with reduced ticket prices: $50 orch./$25 mezzanine. Same bat-time, same bat-channel: the Merle Reskin Theater, 60 E. Balbo in the S. Loop, 8 pm curtain.

And the afternoon before our penultimate show, I'll be out at the College of DuPage for WDCB's annual "Holiday Hoot." Tickets are $10 (or comped for the station's "angels," hint hint), running from 1-5 pm Sat. Dec. 8. Andina & Rich are on early so I can get back to the Reskin in plenty of time for that night's show, but listen for Steve in the finale. (Yes, you can listen--it'll be broadcast too).

And here's a little advance notice of our special holiday gift to you: remember I said we were working on four recording projects simultaneously? (Our followup 3rd CD "Chasing Lightning," our first-ever holiday album "Merry Humbug," Steve's second solo EP "Free Range Sofas" and my second solo CD "Candy Apple Red Herring," to refresh your memory). Well, in the spirit of the season we're releasing two singles off the holiday album:  our interfaith carol "Season of Hope," and the hilariously autobiographical (but hopefully not portending deja vu) "It Sucks Being Sick at Christmas." Go to and there they'll be!

Happy Thanksgiving--and hope you have lots of leftovers!

Spring and surgery behind me! - July 10, 2012

I will detail the history & progress of my knee replacement in the "Blog" section of this site.  I'm calling it "What's a Joint Like You Doing in a Girl Like This?"  Stepping back from political commentary for awhile as I recuperate from surgery: I'll "pick my fights" in small doses on Facebook and channel political emotions into donating and volunteering (especially as I recover).  I need to be as calm as possible so I can dedicate myself to regaining range-of-motion in my knee, adapting to my temporary physical constraints on performing (sit vs. stand, optimal sitting position for instrument placement and vocal support), booking fall and winter, and getting lighter and more fit. That'll speed my rehab, as well as take some of the strain off my left knee so that my unloader brace and stronger muscles can delay replacing it as well.

Musically, the spring was marvelous! Played nearly as much in the near-southeast/mid-Atlantic region as here in the western Great Lakes.  It was a wrenching decision to forgo FAI this year, especially as it was the last time it was based in Memphis, but a wise decision. We're Memphised-out, and doing plenty of driving downstate to Sparta as it is. Until we have the new album(s) out to promote (or face a conference in a market we've yet to tap, as with FARM's upcoming move to St. Louis), it really makes no sense to do a gazillion guerrillas and marathon stints in the Exhibit Hall.  Since we're both off the FARM Board, we had no regional-leadership duties to fulfill; and since Local 1000 chose Highlander as the site of our 2012 annual gathering, both those responsibilities requiring FAI attendance were out of the picture.  Besides, we got some good recording and rehearsals in during the time we'd otherwise have been barreling down the freeways, talking, sleeping in motels, eating insalubrious food and obsessing over winter driving hazards.

Got to take three trips to the DC area: in early April for Bob's cardiology symposium and my sister's birthday (dinner at Citronelle was worth both the megabucks and the calories); then down to Fredericksburg, VA for the Songwriter Showcase. Bob and Lou Gramann are delightful hosts, and we had a blast swapping songs in the round with the marvelous Ellen Bukstel and Nick Annis. We had a good sized crowd, marvelous acoustics, terrific volunteers and great hospitality from the Gramanns before and after the show. Steve drove back while I spent the weekend with my family, flying home in order to optimize the time I needed to devote to a case I was handling. (I am a "recovering" attorney, but flunking the 11th & 12th steps of recovery from law-practice, namely, refusing new cases and relinquishing the law license).  Did some solo gigs at Pillars (had to back out of the Apr. 3 one when my tooth broke that morning and the novocaine didn't wear off in time to sing without drooling and slurring) and the Songsalive! Chicago showcase at the Heartland (a great gig marred only by having my car towed, despite handicap placard and no restrictions other than "handicap permit only" displayed at the parking space, and the cab missing the address three times before I had to call Bob to get me to Lincoln Towing to ransom Baby Blue).  Dave Hawkins came in from Cincinnati and stayed with me for his own Pillars gig and our appearances at the Woodstock Folk Festival's Woody Guthrie Birthday Benefit. Played Mighty Joe's open mic at Katie O'Connor's in Plainfield and earned an invitation to return as a paid featured performer.  Knee school and pre-op tests went well. Unfortunately, the night before that gig and two days before a long-ago-scheduled (and impossible-to-reschedule-within-this-year) Two Way Street Andina & Rich gig, I developed a nasty case of laryngitis.  Had I gone and done the Plainfield show, and fully lost my voice for the next night, I'd have let down not only Steve but Two Way Street and the fans who came out to see us. My college best buddy Lisa (now a member of the Grammy-winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir) suggested hot & sour soup--which did the trick better than prednisone would have.  The gig went very well. And the next week found us out in Shepherdstown, WV for the season-closing concert at the Trinity Orchard House series.  Steve Warner was a great host, we had a nearly-full house despite floods and a tornado warning, made lots of new fans and sold some CDs.  After my GPS had several near-nervous breakdowns due to sudden road closures and detours, we arrived late into the night at our hotel at Dulles, from which Steve had a flight to Phoenix a couple of hours later for his nephew's wedding. Spent another great weekend with my sister & niece (and a magnificent yet affordable dinner at Vidalia), capped off with a concert for Arlington, VA's Nottingham Elementary School Koalas (kindergarten).  These kids were delightful and a lot smarter and more sophisticated than I remember we were at that age. (At age 6, I'd never seen a dulcimer, heard of a digeridoo or known it was an instrument and not an animal, much less have been able to imitate it).

Arrived home to two unpleasant surprises: due to schedule conflicts my surgery was moved back to June 22; and I was to report straightaway to the Sleep Lab at Northwestern Hospital for evaluation for sleep apnea. (The portable unit I was to have used to test myself at home was never shipped).  The Sleep Lab turned out to be the most luxurious hotel room I've ever had (in the same hotel that houses Tru Restaurant):  teak-paneled walls and built-in cabinetry, flat-screen TV, down pillows & duvets, and an all-granite bathroom with a glassed-in shower that had water pressure I'd kill for.  And I slept soundly despite being wired-up six ways from Sunday. What an irony: seventeen hundred bucks ($23 to park), with a check-in time of 9 pm and checkout no later than 7 am. Dang. And then I had to go buy my own coffee. Result was that I do snore (duh), but rather than stopping my breathing, the snoring wakes me up momentarily many times during the night, often during the deepest parts of sleep. No wonder I never wake up refreshed no matter how long I sleep.  But rather than a CPAP machine, my peri-op doc prescribed a dental mouthpiece that repositions the jaw to open up throat passages. My dentist fitted me for one and we're waiting for it to come back from the lab and me to be in shape to climb up & down the stairs to his office to try it out and have the fitting tweaked.

The People's Church gig went very well--again, bigger crowd than expected given the brutally hot weather--but the pain in my knee took its toll. As soon as the adrenaline of performing wore off, I began to see stars. I promptly sat down and hydrated like crazy. My guardian angels got my instruments down to the car so I could recuperate enough to drive home safely. Only after I popped a cough drop and perked up did I realize I'd had nothing to eat since breakfast. But the Elijah's gig fell victim to the P.R.O. goons again. Sigh.

The surgery's postponement enabled me to spend Father's Day with Bob and see Gordy's show at Studio Be, as well as get some more ducks in a row.  Surgery went well, but as I said, that story's in my Blog from now on. And I returned to gigging last night in the Four Women Showcase at Katerina's:  the temporarily insurmountable height of the stage (no step or rail) necessitated my sitting in front of it; despite the chair being too low and the mic too high to effectively see my instruments as I sang, I did pretty well, all things considered. And Gordy was an angel--carrying my instruments, sticking around all evening and gallantly hailing the cab for the ride home. 

Next performances: a cameo in Julie Jurgens' bimonthly tribute showcase at the Gallery Cabaret (had to miss the June 1 Bowie tribute because I was gigging in WV),  "Rubber Pet Soul Sounds" Fri. Aug. 3; the Blue Island Rush Hour Farmers' Market scheduled for Aug. 7 (BYO chairs, sound and shelter--we'll see if I can handle two hours out in the hot sun either sitting in an uncomfortable position or standing); and a Fox Valley Folk Festival doubleheader: one morning with the Dulcimer Society of Northern IL and one with the Chicago Songwriters' Collective. (FVFF is disabled-friendly, so I'm not worried).  And then comes Bob's & my European river cruise vacation: two weeks, from Budapest to Amsterdam. 

More later, as I'm sure additional gigs and developments will pop up in the interim.

my right knee's days are numbered - February 23, 2012

110 days, that is. New Knee Day will be June 12.  So I'm trying to get in as much recording, performing and traveling as I can between now and then. I'd set aside Jan, Feb. & Mar. for the surgery (supposedly to replace the left or both knees) and rehab.  Instead, my surgeon is in such demand that the earliest we could have scheduled it was late March....which would have put the kibosh on my family vacation to DC, gigs in VA and WV, the Highlander Local 1000 conference and SERFA 2012. After looking at my x-rays, Dr. W. decided that both my knees were shot; but also informed me that he no longer favors bilateral replacement surgeries because of the increased time under anesthesia, increased risk of infection, and difficulty in rehabbing without a comparatively stronger leg to stand on.  And though the left knee has been bone-on-bone for at least a couple of years, I was shocked to see that so is my right knee. My previous surgeon, in Dec. 2010, six months after trimming my torn right lateral meniscus, insisted I had plenty of cartilage remaining. He dismissed my fears that the stiff and painful snapping sensation behind the right knee was a sign of re-injury to the soft tissues.  Turns out that snapping sensation is the rough surface of my right femur catching on and abrading what remains of said lateral meniscus. Moreover, I still have limited flexion of the right knee. Fixing the meniscus again would be futile--the rough bone would keep chewing it up and the surface of an artificial knee would replace the articular and meniscal cartilage anyway.  So between now & then I need to stay limber without injury, not gain any more weight (ideally, try to lose), and build up both my quadriceps and upper body strength. Knee School (and pre-op tests and blood banking) will be May 24. 

The Bar Show was a blast--and my creative clothes-layering made the costume changes nearly painless (the stair-climbing and knee-bending choreography, not so much).  The Gramann acquitted itself nobly on stage, as did the wireless system I used to patch into the orchestra pit's mixing board.  I got to play guitar in the post-finale "Jr. Partners" and rock version of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town," too.  A last-minute scheduling conflict for the A & R Christmas Show caused a bit of a guest-performer crisis, until my Bar Show buddy Vita Levar and her husband George stepped in for some delightful collaborations to save the day--er, evening. Thanks to all my friends & castmates who turned out for the show!  Alas, the Metropolis show never happened:  ASCAP & BMI reared their ugly heads a couple of days before the gig and tried to shake them down for an exorbitant license fee disproportionate to the amount of live music they'd be having (I was to be the first concert after a multi-year hiatus, and the collection goons were unconvinced that the cafe could enforce an originals-only policy.  This is the only instance in which our courts allow "guilty until proven innocent").  But all was not lost--their booker also has started to book Rogers Park's wonderful new Pillars Social Cafe, which is PRO-compliant, so I'll be playing there Mar. 15 and Apr. 3.  See the upcoming March Sandygram for details about that, as well as Grounds For Appeal Mar. 31, the S&G tribute at Gallery Cabaret Apr. 6, the Woodstock FF Benefit Apr. 22, our VA and WV shows at the end of April and beg. of June, Highlander and SERFA, and--a real treat for us--our return to Two Way Street Coffeehouse  May 25. My right knee's onstage swan song will be People's Church June 8 & Elijah's Coffee June 9.  Its replacement's debut will be at Katerina's on July 9 (I'll be sitting down to play it safe).  We even won a couple bottles of Malbec at B'way Cellars' Super Bowl party. Looking forward to their Oscar party too, and especially the Maryhill dinner in March (stay tuned for details as to when we'll be heading NW to play at the winery again)!

We've begun work on the third Andina & Rich CD "Chasing Lightning," our holiday EP "Merry Humbug," and my long-overdue followup solo album, tentatively titled "Candy Apple Red Herring." Choosing the songs has been tough, as I have more than enough for a double album.  But taking precedence will be the two songs I'd promised to record ("For Everything," for Bob & Jackie; and "Ed's Song," for Joan), as well as a couple I've already tracked. Interestingly, we'd planned to put the novelty nostalgia song "They Don't Write 'Em Like That" on our CD and my dulcimer-based maturity anthem "Sing" on mine; but Stephen decided the former needs no additional vocals or guitar, and he fell in love with the latter (though I've often played it out, including at Gebhard Woods when I'd played with Susan, he'd never heard it before).  Looking forward to an encore of the American Dream Memorial Choir (Ingrid, Roberta, Gary, and us) on the choruses, as well as Roberta's autoharp.  We have 12-13 tracked for "Chasing Lightining," as well as an a cappella quartet bonus track we recorded in Brooklyn last Nov. with our good friends Alan & Miriam, aka Stereo Sinai. We've got bass on half the songs already, are adding it to the rest over the next couple of weeks, and bringing in violin, cello, piano, mandolin, clarinet, accordion and even a church organ (not all on the same tracks, of course), and will lend our ears to the mixing and mastering process.  No idea yet about graphics.....brainstorming should be fun.  We may try another "pick-the-album-cover" contest.  We'll let you know about sponsorship options and packages as we crunch the numbers--we expect "angel" opportunities to be limited, so get in on the ground floor as soon as we say "go."

Mother Nature has a sick sense of humor. After the longest autumn in Chicago history (well into January, with a couple of teaser storms and a cold snap in early Feb.), Madison got dumped on last Fri. and today both it and Chicago are finally falling victim to winter.  My little front-wheel drive Fusion Hybrid (aka Baby Blue) has done pretty well in light snow--this weekend (should I decide to brave the streets) will be the true test of its traction. It's driven effortlessly down to Sparta & back three times now--on one trip, handling occasional black ice on the freeway and a good 6" of rutted snow in the alley.  Still pining for the ideal musician's car:  the width of my Fusion (so Bob would feel comfy driving it); the cargo capacity of Stephen's Forester (or bigger); the all-wheel drive of the Forester or Bob's Five Hundred; and the gas mileage of a Prius or at least my Fusion. Alas, the Prius V hadn't yet come out when my Taurus bit the dust, and it lacks all-wheel drive; a standard Prius is narrower with less cargo room than even the small trunk of my Fusion; the Forester has relatively poor fuel economy and none of the electronic doo-dah to which the Fusion has accustomed me (built-in GPS, Bluetooth, Aux-In and USB ports plus AC outlet, backup camera and blind-spot warning system); and Bob's Five Hundred (rebadged "Taurus") has utterly dismal fuel economy--it uses 3X as much gas as my Fusion!  We rented a Flex Fuel AWD Chevy Equinox in Colorado last fall, but it lacked the blind spot system and it got only 26-28 mpg. (My Fusion gets 35-40, dep. on weather, and has gotten as much as 44 on some trips; the Forester gets 22 on a good day; the Five Hundred no better than 13-17). Had my eye on a Toyota Highlander Hybrid or Ford Escape Hybrid, both of which get 28-32; but the Toyota costs as much as a small Lexus and the Escape Hybrid, since the last of its kind rolled off the assembly line in favor of a smaller and elliptical all-gas Eco-Boost model, is even harder to find now than a GOP Presidential candidate who doesn't pine for the good old days of colonial Salem.

Fighting yet another cold--the last one took from late Oct-nearly Thanksgiving to leave my lungs & larynx. Had my LifeLine screening tests as well as those at the blood bank before donating. Everything is normal--no arrhythmia, PAD, carotid plaques, osteoporosis, anemia, hypertension or diabetes.  (We won't talk about my BMI....just my ASCAP, hahahaha). My highly intimate extreme close-up back in Dec. revealed a hale and hardy set of innards, and I needn't go back till I'm 70. (!0 years out is about as soon as I'd want to guzzle that awful prep stuff again). Off now to snuggle into my comforter & pillows and catch the next episode of my dreams...and hope they provide some more creative inspiration.

Hurtling toward the Holidays - November 25, 2011

Here I am, typing as a breather from being elbow-deep in dishwashing after yesterday's turkey feast and rehearsing my (not so) little keister off.  That can mean only one thing: we're coming into holiday show season! 

Had an amazing Oct./November:  shows in Loveland, CO, Casper, WY, Goldendale, WA, and at FARWest in Eugene, OR--got to see the Rockies for the first time ever and the Cascades for the first time in decades.  Then, after battling the bronchial bug I caught on the plane home, we headed back East, for a delightful time as Jon Stein's guests on WTBQ's Hootenanny Cafe, some much-needed R&R in and around NYC (including showing Stephen the city for the very first time), recording in Brooklyn with our friends Stereo Sinai, visiting L.I.'s North Fork  wineries that inspired my song "Talking to the Vines." Next, we headed back up into the Catskills to NERFA in Kerhonkson, NY, where we had an intense weekend showcasing (both for ourselves and backing up marvelous Mara Levine), networking and learning.  And I finally triumphed over that pesky turkey (free range organic) and got it to the table for friends and family.  (Still can't contemplate the concept of "mealtime" just yet--maybe in a few hours.  No more dirty dishes......pleeeeeeease)!

About those rehearsals:  I'm multitasking from now till just before Christmas.  Intensive rehearsals (first weekly, now daily) have begun for the 88th annual (and my tenth) CBA Christmas Spirits revue, "LawLawPalooza." Besides my usual supporting and choral roles singing and committing attempted dancing, I'm front and center this time--singing lead and playing guitar (hey, Bob--my Gramann!) in a scene. (Six changes of costume--yike!).  For the first time, we're discounting ALL advance purchases: instead of the erstwhile $65, tickets are $45 orch./$25 mezz. That's right--the lowest-price Broadway-style theater ticket (and by far the funniest evening) in town.  Dec. 6-10 at the Merle Reskin Theater, 60 E. Balbo in the South Loop. 7:30.  Don't miss it! or 312-554-2134 for tickets (and tell 'em I sent you).

Then it's Andina & Rich's annual "Holiday Party for Those Who Hate the Holidays" show. Usually held in Madison, WI, this year we're bringing it down to the Chicago area (we'd wanted to do a Madison/Chicago doubleheader, but the venue we'd planned to use up in Cheeseland is retooling). Sat. Dec. 17, from 7-10 pm we'll be ho-ho-hamming it up at Grounds For Appeal Coffeehouse in Berwyn, IL (only a block from the Metra station).  Joining us as our special guest will be the inimitable Andrew Calhoun, who'll regale you with traditional holiday and folk songs, his originals, and his world-famous puns. (In fact, we may have a pun throwdown).  How much is this gonna cost you? Just the cost of getting there--and whatever you feel like feeding the tip jar. As always, there'll be free cookies, Wendy's door prizes and her gigantic and delicious hot-and-cold-drink (no alcohol) menu.

So we have all that Madison-specific holiday stuff, and the guest performers up there who were going to help us play it. What to do?  Well, keep an eye out for Red Dragon TV's "Andina & Rich Holiday Spectacular:" the best of this year's "Andina & Rich Comedy Hour," our year-end topical recap, special commentaries, new holiday-themed sketches (there WILL be pie), and of course holiday music: our own originals and our spin on the classics as well as topnotch songs of the season from our arsenal of artists who've graced us with recordings and videos--all hosted by "Escape to Music's" Sam Spindler.  And it streams worldwide at, as well as going into our YouTube on-demand archive, so "Madison's too far" is no excuse!

January brings the main tracking and mixing sessions down in Sparta, IL for the third Andina & Rich album, "Chasing Lightning." It'll be chock-full of co-writes, as well as a couple of choice covers and plenty of humor--a nice balance of silly & serious.  And on Jan. 26, I'll be doing a rare solo early evening free set at Metropolis Coffee (cor. Granville & Kenmore, 1.5 bl. e. of the CTA Red Line) from 6-7.  You'll hear stuff I don't usually get to play out these days, and drink some of the best coffees & teas in Chicago!

Andina & Rich on Hootenanny Cafe this Sunday! - November 2, 2011

NEWS FLASH:  Andina & Rich will be Jon Stein's guests LIVE in-studio on WTBQ's "Hootenanny Cafe" out of (premature winter wonderland) Warwick, NY this Sunday, November 6, at 8 pm Eastern/7Central (that's Standard Time, which kicks in late Sat. night).  You can listen in the Hudson Valley/N. Delaware Valley/Catskills on 93.5 FM--or stream it worldwide at  We're headed out there right now!!!


Hi everyone! Has it been four months since I posted here? Yeesh!  Steve & I have been on the road since then to such exotic locales as Naperville, Geneva, Bolingbrook, Grayslake, Morris and of course Madison & Chicago.  And, oh yeah:  Loveland, CO; Casper, WY; Goldendale, WA; and Eugene, OR.  Tell ya more later--it's 2 am and we have a long drive ahead of us tomorrow from Youngstown to Warwick--with a fun extended weekend in NYC before we head to NERFA.

Brink Lounge 6/22; New URL for the Comedy Hour! - June 11, 2011

Red Dragon TV, the host site (and studio) for the Andina & Rich Comedy Hour, has found a new home on the Internet at (Home site is www. Used to be hosted at, now just on TV--internet TV, that is! Sundays at 7 pm Central (same bat-time, sorta same bat-channel).

Returning by popular demand, on Wed. 6/22 at 7:30 pm, I'm part of the MSG's Songwriters in the Round (think of it as Bluebird-Flown-North), with Stephen Lee Rich, Brandy Held, and Midwest folk and blues legend (and now DJ) Jim Schwall. 50% off bottles of wine and five-buck martinis as well! THE BRINK LOUNGE, 701 E. Washington St., Madison, WI. Make sure you enter from Washington St. (US 151) to Blount St., because Willy St. is still under destruc---er, construction.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday--8pm Eastern - June 3, 2011

Stop the presses! On Sunday, June 5, 2011 at 8 pm Eastern time, Andina & Rich will be the Featured Artists for a Mini-Concert on Jon Stein's "Hootenanny Cafe" radio show on WTBQ, 93.5 FM locally in Orange County, NY and environs---and WORLDWIDE at Jon is a great friend of folk music and a terrific DJ and all-around nice guy----drop everything and LISTEN wherever you are and however you can!

May music, mts., memories - May 23, 2011

What a May it's been! Iowa City, Columbia MO, Omaha, Madison & Sparta, IL were all great (and recording River City Folk in Omaha was as much fun as going out with Tom May, his engineer Clint and their wives afterwards). Our episode of River City Folk will air the week starting Sept. 12 (in the Chicago area, on Tues. 9/13 at 9pm Central on WDCB 90.9 right after Folk Festival with Lilli Kuzma from 7-9). We had a great, diverse, touching and enthusiastic audience at Uptown Bill's in IA City--they stuck around to hear us after the open mic. Shook things up a bit and challenged some assumptions about how entertaining two geezers can be when we were at Barley St. Tavern in the Benson area of Omaha. Made some great connections and will return late in Aug. to play the Benson Farmers' Market (and hopefully Benson Grind and the PC Collective there that week). May also do the IA Old Time & Bluegrass Fest the following week--still working on it. Sep. 9 will be joining Stephen with his political-song side project The Outside Agitators (who do our co-write "This is What Democracy Looks Like" as well as Tom Kastle's "Whose House? Our House" and maybe my "They Don't Care About You") at Wild Hog in the Woods in Madison. but I'm getting way ahead of myself!

We learned about the true meaning of Tornado Alley that mid-Apr. week when multiple tornado watches had us huddled beneath an overpass bet. Omaha & Wichita as we witnessed at least half the ten Biblical plagues (hey, just before Passover)--dark skies, howling winds, wedge clouds on either side of the freeway, pouring rain, locusts (ok, bugs smushed on the windshield), murrain (aka death of animals, to wit: road kill), boils (found a new zit)..... Then next day en route to a gig in Hays, KS we had to cancel due to ultra-high winds (50MPH. steady-state, 75 MPH gusts), NWS warnings to stay indoors; turns out they were relieved to be able to close early since they had the same conditions (plus a snowstorm two days before). Ate BBQ till we could take it no more. Had gracious hospitality, fun & friendship with Gary & Roberta Gordon at Gordon House before & after our concert at the Sparta Library (which raised a total of $2200 for the library even after we got paid, playing before a near-capacity crowd despite storm warnings and high winds). Recorded the rough live tracks of "Body Scanners," starting on our next CD! (Look for a teaser download soon). "This is What Democracy Looks Like" is going viral and will be screened at the San Francisco Labor Film Festival in July! And we've gotten rave reviews of the first two episodes of The Andina & Rich Comedy Hour (7pm Central Sun. on

Threw out my back last Sun., but still had a magical week first at the Local 1000 retreat at the history-steeped, Smoky Mt-nestled, welcoming and inspiring Highlander Center in New Market, TN--birthplace of the fusion of folk music with the civil and labor rights movements. Then the sun came out for our wonderful weekend at SERFA in the gorgeous Blue Ridge setting of Montreat Center in NC near Asheville. Drove up through the Blue RIdge--NC, VA, WV. Weather held up till we emerged from the tunnel into WV--been stormy ever since and promises to be till we set out for Chicago tomorrow. (Our drive from Charleston-Cincy-Indy today will be a challenge).

Tomorrow night (Tues. May 24, 7-9pm) we'll be on the special Dylan Birthday tribute radio concert on Folk Festival with Lilli Kuzma on WDCB. Gotta send this out as a Sandygram now, so catch you later!

do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? - April 5, 2011

Still down here but heading home (just for overnight) tomorrow evening. I have condensed 15 years' worth of Cajun/Creole dining into ten meals and my digestive system is beginning to crave soft boiled eggs and dry toast (though my taste buds are still whooping it up a block down on Bourbon St.). A foodie's roll call: Fri. lunch at EAT, pre-gig gumbo at the Tavern of the Court of Two Sisters, late fried-seafood dinner at Coop's Place; Sat. lunch at Pier 424, dinner at NOLA (cutting-edge Cajun via Emeril); Sun. brunch at Brennan's (where my hair almost got flambeed along with the Bananas Foster) and dinner at Commander's Palace (truly the Restaurant at the End of the Universe--at least till I finally score a table at Alinea back home); Mon. brunch with Gina at Camellia Grill, dessert with Bob at Pat O'Brien's (no Hurricane that early), dinner at Desire (watching the storm roll in & out); leftover bread for breakfast, the mandatory beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde (managed to avoid getting powdered sugar on my black pants & sweater, listened to fine streetwise Dixieland band--worlds better than the three ancient jobbing musicians halfheartedly reading charts in the Convention Ctr. lobby); and classic French/Creole dinner at Antoine's--where we were so stuffed, despite sharing appetizer & salad, that dessert was merely a concept for another day). Stomach still groaning, and have one more lunch to conquer--can't bear the thought of breakfast--before heading to the airport.

A great stay--wonderful food, music (especially Gina Forsyth, with whom I had the honor of playing Fri and hearing as part of the Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band at Tipitina's Sunday--even got Bob to dance!--and buskers better than most cities' pros: everything from jazz to folk to country to bagpipes to even a Klezmer trumpeter), scenery, history, delightful St. Charles Ave. streetcar rides (will take home the memory of Mardi Gras beads festooning trees and trolley cables as well as scattered all over the "neutral grounds," or what we Yankees call median strips), and wonderful joyful people.

Wish I could say the same for my lodging: the Hotel Ste. Marie, apparently where Service With a Smile Goes to Die. Small room, thin walls (I learned the couple in the next room have postnasal drip, sleep apnea, dyspepsia and an active love life--all without asking or even meeting them); hard pillows (no feather or down ones--heck, even Holiday Inns have those on request); the extra blanket I asked for turned out to be an old Vellux one washed so many times it was nearly a rubber sheet. Twice one desk clerk promised to get a taxi when the valet was absent, only to get distracted by something-or-other; when I asked for a Band-Aid for my sorely blistered toe, she grudgingly gave it to me as if I'd demanded a pint of her blood; another clerk sent us to the wrong place for dinner (a smoky bar with bad snacks instead of the seafood place we found on our own next door); tonight one refused to give us a late check-out past noon tomorrow (and our room wasn't ready when we arrived Friday); a continental Breakfast buffet consisting of stale croissants, danish, canned o.j. and coffee that was consistently and sullenly torn down 10 minutes before stated closing time; a card slipped under our door at 1:30 saying they'd tried to make our room up at 2 pm; glacial and non-secure wi-fi; a computer-printer combo so slow it seized up when we tried to check in and print boarding passes; no restaurant or bar, nor fridges/minibars/gift shop; and tonight, when our keycards inexplicably stopped working, said clerk had to call two colleagues to re-code them: she didn't know how. On the plus side, there was a lovely courtyard and outdoor pool (but no indoor pool, hot tub or exercise room), and a comforting lack of tiny livestock. Oh, I've stayed in worse places for about the same money (nonetheless, not by any means a budget hotel) but there are other and nicer hotels in New Orleans, especially when our next visit will involve neither a convention nor festival.

Other observations: I like fun, alcohol and music as much as the next person, but over the past 20 years or so Bourbon St. has morphed into the Eternal Spring Break From Hell. Love the Cajun and blues bands and buskers; not so much the strip joints, really bad Jimmy Buffett and Sixties/Seventies cover bands (especially when three of them are each playing simultaneously next door to each other), and profusion of voluminous alcoholic drinks (when did they invent the "Hand Grenade," an invitation to both accelerated cirrhosis AND diabetes?). I'm sorry, but I do not want a "Big Ass Beer:" I prefer one dispensed from a keg, bottle or tap. Note to women my size and age--do you REALLY want to wear shorts and tank tops when it's 50 degrees? And did your moms really raise you to go to dinner at nice restaurants in cartoon-character-adorned apparel past the age of ten (and do you wear that stuff back home)? Then there are all those souvenir shops that belong to the chain "T-Shirts Guaranteed To Get You Jailed for Contempt at Your Next Trip to Traffic Court." I'd relate some of the slogans, but I'd have to wash out the keyboard with soap afterwards, which would doubtless ruin Bob's laptop.

Speaking of which, the Mobile Devices Revolution is still in beta. I tried, really tried, to stay connected via only smartphones and an iPad (I HATE using this Windows laptop), but typing on onscreen keyboards really bites; batteries drain faster than your checking account in Vegas; and Web-authoring and editing on an iPad is a nightmare, what with the lack of a screen-top menu bar. iPads are nice to have on one's person, but they can't replace a computer once you're in your room and have work to do. My next iPad will be a MacBook Air.

Laissez les Bon temps rouler - April 1, 2011

Up at the unholy hour of 5 a.m.; off to Midway for an 8:40 flight. Day dawned raw & cold in Chicago, with a wintry mix forecast for the Cubs' home opener--stepped out of New Orleans airport into summer!

Killed time till our room was ready, downing what will have likely been the first of many oyster po' boys for lunch. At the hotel, Bob woke me from my nap to bring me a potent Hurricane from Pat O'Brien's-- don't remember them having been that strong in my youth. Took three gulps and was out for two hours! I don't like to eat much before a gig but Bob was starving, so we headed to Bourbon St. (already deafening and crowded by late afternoon) for a cup of gumbo. Got to Neutral Ground in time to hear the first set, and unfolded my Voyage-Air dread. Fished around to remove the by- now superfluous humidifier (Toto, you're not in Chicago any more); when I couldn't reach all the way in, I upended the guitar so the thing would be reachable. Fished it out only to find that to my horror, two bridge pins had fallen bridge pins, black case, black pants, black paisley carpet! Found the first one right away, but no luck with the second. Found all manner of detritus on the floor: Scrabble tiles, pennies, scraps of balsa wood, tinsel--despite my efforts none worked. Neither of the two first acts had a spare. But the barista directed me to a decrepit beater guitar, in various stages of stringlessness, and suggested I borrow a pin from it. White plastic and not black ebony/abalone, but it did the trick. Gina Forsyth arrived, we got caught up on news since last we met, and agreed on the two songs on which she'd play fiddle and the one of hers I was only going to sing harmony on but found out I could also suss out the harmonica part (good thing I brought the right ones from home). The song was "St. Anthony:" she joked that since he was the patron saint of lost objects I might find my bridge pin. The set went well, and we exhorted the crowd to sing along to help St. Anthony do his thing. Lo and behold, as we were packing up afterward, she spotted my bridge pin on the carpet. (I'm still remaining Jewish, however). Speaking of that, on the way over we saw a sign on Touro Synagogue advertising Jazz Shabbat services, featuring Irma Thomas the weekend of Jazzfest. Our cabbies included a retired guitarist with the Gypsy Kings, a 20-yr-old with both an e-Trade account and mean sax chops, and a full-on conspiracy theorist. And on Bourbon St. I saw a guy in full pirate regalia, with a sign on his tip box reading "Not Somalian!" Lord, I've missed this place!!!

the road awaits again - March 29, 2011

Seems as if I just got home--and here I am packing for the first half of my next trip!  This time I'm spending some quality time in New Orleans with my sweetie, though I am playing a few songs as I sit in with Gina Forsyth this Fri. night at Neutral Ground. (I get to see her play with the Bruce Daigrepont Band on Sunday---I don't know what's more exciting: seeing her play, seeing that band, or finally going to Tipitina's! No way would I DARE to sit in there)! This will be a fun but challenging week--so many restaurants, so little time, and I hope my knees are up to the task of the exercise necessary to avoid packing on more pounds. I suspect making the rounds of the Exhibit Hall at the ACC convention will keep me walking.  (I only hope Bob's willing to share dishes so that I don't have to clean my plate each time).  Hope my sinuses & TMJ don't make my toothaches flare up.  (Yes, I had that cavity filled).

Then home for one day to do laundry, get my nails in shape for playing, repack and hit the road for the Great Plains with Steve--Iowa City, Columbia, MO, Omaha--and River City Folk!!!--and Hays, KS.  We're going to have to exercise some routing ingenuity, what with gas prices skyrocketing.  At least the cheaper gas prices further from Chicago offer some measure of consolation. My last fillup, last week in Beloit, WI, was $3.45/gal.  It's up to four bucks here by now.  (People ask me why I travel so much for my music--I only half-jokingly reply that it's for the cheaper gas).  Then catch my breath, do Passover, and head down to Sparta, IL the next weekend for our concert at the library. Spending time with our hosts the Gordons will make it feel more like a friendly respite than like work, though we will of course bring our "A" game. 

Meanwhile, I have "gotten religion" when it comes to guitar humidification.  To my horror, Terry at Guitar Works found a couple of nascent cracks in my Voyage-Air dread (I'd brought it in for a fret-buzz correction after I got my pickup installation in my Gramann tweaked to correct a strange resonance in the B & G strings--turns out the pickup wires needed to be harnessed).  He had it spend a few days "in the schvitz" (atop a small room humidifier) and stabilized the cracks.  But I am taking no more chances.  I had been using Planet Waves clay-filled soundhole humidifiers for the past couple of years but had gotten behind in refilling them with distilled water, so I'd switched to dampened sponges in vented Baggies.  Not good enough, I found out--especially in those semi-hard cases that Voyage-Airs come in or in padded rigid gig bags, both of which are porous.  So I got a bunch of Oasis soundhole humidifiers--that's all Terry uses in his house, which like mine has radiators but no ductwork for a furnace humidifier--and a gallon of distilled water.  I put them in my guitar cases, supplementing them with the re-hydrated clay-filled units, and I check them every other day.  Of course, every soundhole humidifier comes with a plastic syringe--and I saved the syringes from the old clay-filled ones that I had to discard when they developed mildew & mineral dust from using tap water.  My bathroom is full of plastic syringes (the ones with the skinny tips are good for refilling fountain pen cartridges too); should there be a police raid I'd have some 'splainin' to do.....

Home but still cookin' - March 24, 2011

The tour was a terrific success--made some great friends and wonderful connections, with return engagements in the offing (Stephen's family obligations permitting---eldercare is a delicate dance indeed when balancing two spouses' weekend work & travel requirements).  We have a few Chicago/Madison-area shows scheduled after our return from the Great Plains:  Sparta, IL Public Library Apr. 30, Mill Bluff Arts Festival (LaCrosse) June 4, People's Church (Chicago) June 10, Gebhard Woods Dulcimer June 12, Lisle French Market June 18, Maxwell St. Days (Madison) the weekend of July 15-17.  

If you're near a radio or streaming computer, we'll be on Lilli Kuzma's "Folk Festival" show Tues. May 24 for the Bob Dylan Birthday Celebration; and Stephen will be on WMMM-FM (Madison's Finest Rock) on Apr. 4 (time TBA) with our latest song, "This is What Democracy Looks Like" as part of Tom Kastle's presentation of local musicians doing political protest songs (I'd be there but I'd have to teleport myself from New Orleans).  

Check out the video for that song at the DulciYodel channel on YouTube:

My prayers and good wishes go out, of course, to all those impacted by the horrendous earthquake and tsunami in Japan (make sure you text "Japan" to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross) and those in harm's way--from both Qaddafi's forces and the side effects of the Allied efforts to enforce the no-fly zone.  I am reserving judgment on both the wisdom of our involvement and the way the decision was implemented. I support freedom and our President....but am willing to call 'em as I see 'em......once I have enough information to "see 'em" clearly and accurately.  Now is not the time to complain about who should get the credit (or blame), nor to cling blindly to the Constitution as the sole and immutable touchstone for any & every governmental action.  Contrary to popular belief, governments both federal & state have powers and people have rights not specifically spelled out therein.  More specific than that and it'd have to be a blog entry---and it's too late at night for me to start that tonight.

The Homestretch! - March 7, 2011

What an amazing 2011 it's been so far!  Turned 60 (or 30, v. 2.0) painlessly and tunefully among friends & family and singing with Stephen Lee Rich, Norm Siegel, & Dean Milano at Grounds For Appeal in Berwyn in January.  Had a productive and fun Folk Alliance in Memphis mid-February, terrific house concert for Crows' Nest (Andy & Darlene, thank you!) in Upper Sandusky (which is neither near nor north of Sandusky), OH; and our opening gig for Red Horse at Carnegie Lecture Hall in Pittsburgh went far beyond what we'd dared to dream--we kicked butt in front of a packed house (over 500!) and are eager to come back next year (we've been invited). Thanks to Tricia and the dedicated staff of Calliope Concerts for doing a great job of making us feel welcome and special and helping us give the audience our very best.  Had wonderful family time in the VA suburbs of D.C. with my sister, niece and friends (also made some valuable club contacts). And this past weekend, not only took in the Baltimore Pen Show but also had a delightful time playing Conewago Coffee in Elizabethtown, PA (thanks, Marti!) with our good friend Aaron Nathans (formerly of Madison, now of Wilmington, DE) opening; and at Aaron's invitation, playing both the Delaware Songwriters' FAWM Showcase in Newark, DE and the open mic at the Kennett Flash in suburban Philly's Kennett Square, PA.  The latter turned out to be an audition, which we passed with flying colors: we'll be back there in August, this time for a gig! It's one of the area's top folk venues and we're delighted to be in the company of some terrific and well-known performers.  Tonight back in Pittsburgh had a lovely dinner with my friend Randy Hoffmann, catching up on our doings since last I played Confluence with SASS! back in 2007. (Look for us there in July).

No real weather adventures (yet--we're headed into flood country tomorrow & Wed.) on the order of our little I-57 thrill ride in Feb. '10.  We managed to hold the road despite wind, sleet & ice en route to Montpelier, OH; but apparently, 7 semi-trailer rigs and an SUV between there & Upper Sandusky did not.  We dodged a couple of HUGE "snow bullets" there:  10" overnight as we slept in Montpelier, and another 4 or so overnight in Upper Sandusky.  But out in farm country road crews take snow removal seriously--driving was no problem and even the county & township roads were clear and (mostly) dry. By the time we got to Pittsburgh the ice & snow from earlier in the week was gone; we had nice mostly mild weather (interspersed with some rain & minor chill) in northern VA all week.  Heavy rains didn't dampen our fun in the Wilmington/Philly area; and Sunday's snow in Pittsburgh was long gone from the roads by the time we pulled in tonight. Hope our route up to northwestern OH tomorrow and home Wed. will be above the waterline!

Just a reminder that on Sat. 3/12 we'll be playing one of our very favorite concert series, Second Saturday at Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago (7475 N. Lincoln in Skokie---just barely in Skokie) at 8 pm, with Norm Siegel opening. $8 gets you an evening of fun and entertaining folk music, plus noshes & sips available.  

And the week after, Fri. 3/18 finds us up in Madison, WI at Wild Hog in the Woods Coffeehouse, Wil-Mar Center, 953 Jenifer St. (a block east of the Willy St. corridor). Admission $3/members $2, sugg. donation up to you--remember to "Phil the Pig--Wild Hog's unique tip jar--at the refreshments table.  Open mic between sets--sign up before the show starts at 8 pm. Come for the State Capitol protests, stay for the music!  (Because Stephen Lee Rich was unavailable to serenade the sit-in on Sat. night, the protest organizers had to go with their second choice: Michele Shocked.  By all rights, Stephen could be crowing about the pecking order, but he's ever the gentleman).

That's March (unless something else crops up, which will be the subject of add'l Sandygrams).  April finds me in New Orleans with Bob (long overdue alone time) with a possible gig-share; and then on to the Great Plains leg of the Attitudes tour--Iowa City, Columbia, MO; River City Folk taping in Omaha, and a return to Cafe Semolino in Hays, KS.  After that, Passover & Easter.

update - January 22, 2011

Just found out the date our Featured Artist spot will air on WTBQ's "Hootenanny Cafe:" June 4, 2011. So those of you within the Warwick, NY broadcast area (Catskills, southwest Hudson Valley, NE NJ & PA, Delaware Water Gap), tune in--the rest of us can stream it (and Wisconsinites and SE Minnesotans can then head over to Mill Bluff State Park).

more tidbits - January 20, 2011

Steve & tested out the new Bose L1 Model II at rehearsal tonight--getting a little easier each time we set up, and it's a MUCH easier teardown.  We discovered if we mic our instruments we don't even need to add a submixer.  We have a couple of new songs to debut (well, one's a new co-write, the other a familiar one we turned into a mash-up/medley) this Sat. night at Grounds For Appeal in Berwyn. (Show's 8-10 pm, but we'll be there about 6:30 to set up and pre-caffeinate).  I know I promised CAKE--but for those of you who were hoping to rock out to live electric guitars & trumpet on "Never There," "Short Skirt, Long Jacket," or "M'na M'na," I must apologize--I meant the EDIBLE kind of cake! 

Three days away....there's Bears in the air.  Hopefully, not to be intercepted by Packers.  

New Andina & Rich dates to announce, albeit a bit further out:  Hootenanny Cafe featured artists in June on WTBQ, Warwick (Orange County), NY (and an in-studio there on Nov. 4); Paulson House Concert Series, Naperville, IL, July 9. More springing up every day!  

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