March's MessageDear Friends,
Yes, we'll soon be cruising. In fact we'll be leaving home on Thursday, making our way to Fort Lauderdale, FL to join up with the folks at A Prairie Home Companion where we'll head out for a week long cruise of the Caribbean. Late February and early March have been tough. We're not comparing our experiences this winter to those of our friends in other parts of the country but we've had enough snow and cold to really be looking forward to some 80 degree temperatures in places like St. Maarten, San Juan, Grand Turk and Half Moon Cay. We'll be on the ship with a lot of performer friends as well as some nice folks we've met on past cruises. It's going to be a lot of fun. And we will be cruising with Stonewall Jackson on our minds. In fact, he seldom leaves our minds these days. A few weeks after returning from the cruise we'll enter into rehearsals for "Stonewall Country," which will run at the Barter Theatre (http://www.bartertheatre.com) in Abingdon, VA from April 23 through May 9. As well, we'll perform in four or five theaters in southwest Virginia, June 12 -20 as part of The Crooked Road's "Mountains of Music Homecoming Festival." We've been putting most of our creative energy into "Stonewall Country" while at home and have made two trips back and forth to Abingdon. Not only have we written new songs but we are also working on the script with Cathy Bush and Eugene Wolf from the Barter and with our buddy Jim Watson.
So far, we are extremely pleased with how things are going. The Barter Theatre itself is quite a show place there on Main Street, Abingdon. We've played there twice with our band and once with Garrison Keillor. But we're finding out it is so much more than just a beautiful old theater. The Barter has a complex a few blocks from the theater where actors are housed and where sets and costumes are designed and built. There are offices and rehearsal spaces and garages for maintenance vehicles and sheds for storage. They have 135 full time employees, administrators, actors, directors, playwrights, dramaturges, media staff, costumers, maintenance crews and carpenters. And across from the old theater is The Barter Stage II and The Barter Café which serves food and drink and is also a performance venue. We are just blown away at what "a big deal" the Barter Theatre is. It truly is the State Theater of Virginia. When we put "Stonewall Country" together with Don Baker, back in the spring of 1985, we weren't sure it would last more than one year and we never thought that it would still be part of our lives 30 years later. Really, what are the chances for a musical written about a Civil War Confederate general? We just didn't realize how engrossing a man Stonewall Jackson was, and still is, or how much material there was around which to build a musical. While our music is a big part of the success of the piece, Don Baker's script is amazing. Don is a skillful storyteller and he deals with all the hard issues of the day, filling his script with thoughtfulness and humor. It has been such fun living with Don's words again this last little while.
A final anecdote about Stonewall Jackson, we recently spent a late evening visit with S.C. Gwynne, a tremendous writer, who has just recently written a best selling biography of Jackson call "Rebel Yell." If you like history and wonderful writing, we recommend this book highly. He, like us, finds Jackson imminently interesting and we had a great time talking about his book and "Stonewall Country."
BUMPER STICKER OF THE MONTH: A boiled egg is hard to beat.
We hope this finds you all well and busy.
BOOKINGS: Trish Galfano, Myriad Artists,