Cheraw, SC – 05/21/11

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Cheraw, SC – 05/20/11

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Ocean Isle Beach, NC – 05/14/11

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Emmylou on the Late Show

David Letterman

Funnyman Dave Letterman

David Letterman is funny, but he doesn’t always have the best musical acts on his show. However, two weeks ago Emmylou Harris performed a song from her new album on his show. In case you missed it, check it out here. Emmylou’s new album, Hard Bargain, released in late April, has eleven of her new songs and a couple of covers.  We have been fans of Emmylou for a long time. When Kay and I first got married, we had a boxer named Emmylou. When Amy was two or three years old, Kay saw Emmylou leaving her dressing room at Merlefest in Wilkesboro, NC. She stopped her and handed Amy to her, and we still have the picture of Emmylou holding Amy.

While we’re on the subject of Dave, did you see Bill Murray showing off his horse riding skills Friday night in preparation for the Kentucky Derby?  Click here to watch.

Bill Murray

Bill Murray on The Late Show

We were pulling for Pants on Fire, but congratulations to Animal Kingdom on the victory. Who were y’all pulling for?


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Cheraw, SC – 05/06/11

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Mother’s Day Weekend

We’re moving on from Cinco de Mayo and heading into Fiesta de Madre this weekend…

Here is a song to get you in the right spirit for Mother’s Day this weekend. This is a performance by one of my daughter Amy’s favorite bands in the Washington, DC area, John K Band. John Kadlecik is the lead guitarist in Furthur but does his own thing around DC. This recording was from his show at the State Theatre in Falls Church, Virginia on December 11, 2010. You might hear Amy and Patrick in the background. They are lucky to have such good musicians right there in the neighborhood.

Kay and I are spending the weekend with Will, Jeannine, Amy, and Patrick!

Patrick, Amy, Will, and Jeannine in Anchorage, AK

We’re going to watch the Kentucky Derby Saturday at Canyon’s in Blowing Rock and then we’ll return for Jazz Brunch with Todd Wright and Friends a few hours later. How are you spending your Mother’s Day weekend?

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Happy Cinco de Mayo

We just got back from Mexico Fiesta Tapatia in Cheraw, where we have our annual Cinco de Mayo celebration. So glad Will and Jeannine were in town to join us this year. We had to trade in their Eskimo hats for some sombreros but it all worked out. My friend Walker came along too but something must have jumped up and got his hat on the way over.

What got Walker's hat?

Larry Spears, Cinco de Mayo, Cheraw, SC

They were keeping an eye on us

If you need a Spanish lesson for your own festivities today, here’s a quick one:


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Going Up The Country

I woke up Saturday, May 1st, with that old Canned Heat song, “I’m Going up the Country ” on my mind. I was excited about playing later that evening at Southern Eighths which is about as “up the country” as you can get in Chesterfield County. In fact, it is so far up the country that if you pass it, not only will you be out of Chesterfield County, but you’ll be out of South Carolina.

The first time I went up there, I took for granted that I would know a world class equestrian center when I got to it. It was beautiful, warm Saturday in the middle of winter. A respite from the harsh weather we were had this winter. Kay and I were enjoying the ride, laughing and having a big ole time. I’ve seen the horse farms around Lexington, Kentucky so when I caught a board fence up a dirt road out of the corner of my eye, I whipped my old pickup truck to the left and headed that way, thinking that I had arrived. I grew up in town, although I spent a lot of time on my grandfather’s farm. Kay grew up on a farm so I couldn’t doubt her when we were down the dirt road too far to back out and she declared, “These are cows. They’re not horses.” I had to admit that she was right and I was wrong about this being the horse farm we were looking for, or even a horse farm at all. While I was turning around she was on the cell phone getting more detailed directions from Brad Turley (the owner of Southern Eighths), which turned out to be “keep on coming”. So we got back on the paved road and kept on going, laughing about the cows on what I had thought was a horse farm. After a while, and all of a sudden, I noticed a car right on my bumper from out of nowhere. I gave the car a chance to pass but it stayed right on my rear. When we got to a stop sign, the car pulled up beside me and I rolled down the window to ask if he needed help. The idiot driving threatened to shoot me because I turned around on his cow farm that I had mistaken for a horse farm. Cows, horses and board fences might confuse me but I’ve got idiots at stop signs down pat.


Playing with Willie Weeks at Southern Eighths

This past Saturday was a beautiful day. Willie Weeks played with me and brought along his girlfriend, Maggie. Kay packed a picnic basket and we went up early and had a wonderful time at the Heart Of The Carolinas Steeplechase Trials. We walked up one of the trails on the farm to watch Randy Boni working on one of his chainsaw carvings. Randy stays with us at the Spears Guest House when he is down from Tennessee. We visited with the participants, judges, and volunteers, a lot of whom were staying at the guest house. But the highlight was the riders on horses. A rider guiding a horse over a jump is art in motion.

Randy Boni Sculpture at Southern Eighths

Randy Boni's Sculpture

Southern Eighths Heart of the Carolinas

Heart of the Carolinas Steeplechase

We played for a fantastic crowd that evening had a delicious meal and wine tasting. Then we topped it off by playing around the fire late into the night for the folks camping on site. Thank you, Brad and Patti, for a great weekend. You have a great facility and you put on a great event. And one more thing, we didn’t see a single stop sign idiot all day.

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Chesterfield, SC – 04/30/11

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3 Chords that are Easier than Choosing a Bagel

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed when you’re trying something new. I remember the first time I ever bought a bagel. We were in Boston and I was sent by our host to get breakfast. At the time, we had beagles—but no bagels—in the south. And this was before cell phones so I couldn’t call for help. I entered the corner store, walked up to the counter, and said, “I want six bagels, please.” The clerk just stared at me with a perplexed look so I repeated myself, “I want six bagels, please.” Then the clerk spoke. “Are you from Australia? I can’t understand what you’re saying.” By this time, two more clerks had moved up to the counter to help the first one stare at me. “I’m from South Carolina,” I said. “We knew it was somewhere down south,” one of the clerks responded, and then added, “What is it that you want?”

“I want six bagels,” I repeated for the third time. “Yoou waaaant sixxx baaagels?” the clerk asked, trying to imitate my accent. I sometimes have trouble understanding folks from up north but it had never occurred to me that they couldn’t understand what I say. Then they really threw a stick in my spokes: “What kind do you want?” one of the clerks asked. “There’s more than one kind?” I replied. “Yes,” laughed the clerk as he pointed to the display case. “Those are bagels?!” I exclaimed, “I thought those were donuts!” Anyhow, it turns out they aren’t anything but bread.

bagel display

Yoou waaaant sixxx baaagels?

To avoid overwhelming my new guitar students, I start with three easy chords in a pattern: D – A – Em. Four down strokes on the D, four down strokes on the A, and eight down stokes on the Em. I want to get them going. Once they are playing the pattern with confidence then I can explain beats, bars, and upstrokes.

Why D, A, and Em? These are easy chords to finger that can give you a full sound. Why a chord pattern? You can play it over and over and over. It’s like a circle. And it’s fun.
A person who has strength in his fingers can sometimes pick this up in one session. Sometimes it takes two or three. Give it a try.

Beagle Playing Guitar, by Jay Schmetz


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