It’s my birthday! Come and celebrate with some tunes and brews at Mystery Brewing Co.’s Public House. Saturday. 7pm. They’ll also be celebrating the birth of their new spring ale. Good times will be had for sure.
“The beauty of Couch by Couchwest is finding folks that may have otherwise languished in obscurity, at least with most of the population. Case in point, Steph Stewart and the Boyfriends and their new song “Pearl” which is both absolutely gorgeous and just a little bit haunting. Definitely worth any attention they garner. They hail from the lovely state of North Carolina, and released their debut “Over the World Below” sometime in the past year or so.”
Omar and I had a most wonderful time this weekend on the kick off to what we’re calling the “Hurry Up Spring Tour.” Virginia is beautiful country, and I think if I had to live anywhere besides NC it’d probably be there. Despite icy winds and roads, a handful of brave souls managed to make it out to the Uptown Cafe to hear us play. We had a lot of fun making music for all of y’all and were grateful for the exceptional hospitality Jason and his staff extended. We couldn’t have felt more at home.
We woke early Saturday morning to a cloudless sky, promising spring would soon be here to stay and headed out west for two more shows in the Virginia mountains, first at the Floyd Country Store in the town of Floyd, which has earned quite a reputation for it’s thriving music scene, and then in a little gem of a mountain town called Eggleston at my new favorite restaurant The Palisades. We were pleasantly surprised by the talent that we got to meet at both of these shows, in particular Mr. Greg Galbreath– maker and owner of Buckeye Banjos– one of the most beautiful instruments being built today.
I don’t know if we have ever been better fed and looked after. I’d like to extend a special note of gratitude to my aunt and uncle who hosted us on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. We can’t thank everyone enough for coming to hear what we’re all about, and we’re already planning to return as soon as we’re able this summer.
Our next show will be on my 29th birthday at Mystery Brewing Company in Hillsborough, NC. Come enjoy the new spring ale release and celebrate with me! Nick and I will also do a special duo show at the Local 506 on March 27, opening for the talented indie folk-pop artist Julia Weldon.
You probably don’t associate Belk with music; I know for me, it was always the place Grandma and I went to look for occasional seasonal sales and new Easter dresses. However, this southern department store chain is host to the Southern Musician Showcase, a regional music competition that invites artists throughout the southeast to submit their music for consideration. Out of 2000 submissions, we were one of the lucky 33 to be invited for auditions as semifinalists. What an absolute surprise and honor.
In 24 hours, we rented a van, loaded our gear and drove 7 hours to Atlanta, Georgia where we performed three of our tunes for a panel of judges (among them Mr. Woody Platt of one of our favorites, The Steep Canyon Rangers!). We also had some fun making this simple home video recording of a brand new tune called “Pearl” for CXCW (the stay-at-home version of some popular music festival in that cool city in Texas made especially for us folks too poor to make it to that other festival).
In a week or so, we’ll find out the results of our audition. We’re feeling strong and invite you to join us in crossing all of your appendages as we hope to be among the select finalists who get to play The Fillmore at the end of the month!
HAPPY MARCH! Let the madness begin…. and Winter, we aren’t sad to see you go.
One of my favorite shows happened last summer when we were touring through West Virginia. We had booked a show at The Purple Fiddle on a Sunday night and figured there might be a handful of people willing to pay the $10 cover to see us if we were lucky. We were going to open for a band that had just played there less than two weeks prior, and we had never played in West Virginia, so packing the place out seemed a bit far fetched. Glad to say I couldn’t have been more wrong. I think every man, woman and child in that small mining town came out that night to dance, sing along and support their beloved Black Lillies, and we were just blown away. Every one in that band was not only extremely talented but some of the nicest, most down to earth folks we’d met on the whole tour. I’m so excited for all of the big successes they’ve achieved. Check out their newest video… If you’re not dancing by the end, something’s wrong.
2013 has been a wonderful year for us and our little string band. This is largely in-part to you and your support. Without you, we are just a group of friends making music in my living room. You bring the meaning into our work. Thank you for coming out to hear us… for telling your friends and family about our music… for buying cds… for donating to our Kickstarter and making it possible for us to afford producing our first ever studio album.
In appreciation of you and this tremendous year, we’d like to share our newest tune, recorded live in an empty house by my dear friend Catherine Chao. It was inspired when we were on the road and came across the Spoon Lady, busking on the bustling streets of Asheville. Omar had told me that I needed to play the banjo… so I took his advice, and with a few lessons from a very patient and forgiving teacher, this song was born. Click below and enjoy!
Merriest Holidays and Everything Else!
Mario, Nick, Omar & Steph
Hello, world. Please allow me to introduce you to Her Ladyship, the newest member of our little string band. Isn’t she just the prettiest little thing? To be almost 100 years old, she sure looks good for her age and boys, she can sing! Many songs are sure to come. Already in the works. Looking forward to hibernating with her this winter.
Next Thurs. November 7, we’ll be back in the triangle playing The Casbah in Durham. You don’t want to miss this show. All the boys will be there, and we get to open the stage for one of my favorite new groups, The Stray Birds. Hailing from Lancaster, PA but calling the road home these days, I couldn’t agree more with this gal: “They’re really my favorite find for the year. I absolutely LOVE their sound. Their CD is in my car stereo all the time!” – Cheryl Prashker, President of Regional Folk Alliance. 10 bux in advance.
For all you Danbury folks, we’ll be seeing y’all again real soon back at the Green Heron Club next Saturday, Nov. 9. If all goes as planned, I’ll be rocking out with a new banjer. Should be fun for sure.
Admittedly, I know nothing of prison life. I’ve watched Orange is the New Black… ok, I loved watching this show. But, how close this Netflix drama comes to the real thing is questionable at best. I do know about working the land. I know how valuable it feels and the sense of self-worth and independence that fills you up inside when you harvest your first crop, from tilling soil to seed to seedling to fruit. Hours spent outside, in the elements, telling the time not by your watch or cell phone but by the sun or the shadows cast around you. I waited for rain not because of a forecast but because I knew the clouds and the smell the leaves released before the first drops. I farmed for almost three years before becoming a gigging musician or Montessorian, and I cherish the dirt under my nails and calluses. These things, like those memories, never wash away. Like a scab mending skin, the land heals. In essence, this is what the Benevolence Farm does— gives women out of prison a chance to work the earth, grow food sustainably and rediscover a sense of purpose in it all.
This Thursday, we have the honor of playing music for the fine folks at the Benevolence Farm‘s Second Chance Dine & Dance event at the beautiful Haw River Ballroom. If you believe in second chances, specifically for women transitioning to life after prison, support this organization. 25 bucks is nothing for all the amazing food and entertainment that’s going to be there. 25 bucks is all it takes to help give someone a second chance. Hope to see y’all there. Get your ticket HERE.