Continuing On The Warrior’s Path To Phoenix And Beyond

xxxxxx CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS BLOG XXXXXXX

So we’re ready to leave New Mexico and head to Phoenix, and the tow truck driver says “one of you guys can ride in the tow truck with my boy, the rest of you will have to ride with me in my truck, I’ll need to fill up the truck before we leave and you’ll need to pay for it”, “Sounds good I say”, just thankful to have a way to Phoenix. Let me tell you, that truck must have a gas tank the size of battle ship, and he only used “Ethel”, or high test in today’s lingo. So, we get our stuff in the truck and the caravan heads West. I must confess that Marty ended up riding with the son in the tow truck, I still owe you one for that, Marty! All the way to Phoenix, the father was telling us about himself and his adventures, after a few of those stories, we’re just staring forward, glassy eyed, and not saying much, then he got started telling about his son (who was driving Marty and the van), and the stories just got crazier. It seemed a long way to Phoenix, but we finally made it to the Ford Dealership in the late afternoon, dropped the van and paid the guys. They swapped vehicles, the son taking Dad’s truck and a handful of cash for a night on Phoenix town. The dealership folks got us a shuttle van and took us to a motel close by and said they’d get on the van in the morning. Things seemed better, good motel, a dealership to work on the van and with a little luck, we could make the thursday show in Chico, California.
We’re up and ready to get back to the dealership by checkout on Wednesday morning and end up sitting in the waiting room most of the day while they’re working. They even worked past quitting time, just to get us on the road. So when they finished the shop manager says, “this would have been a quick, easy and inexpensive deal, but it took forever to fix what the tow man’s son had torn out of the van”. By this time, if I remember correctly, I was $1800.00 in the hole on the van. I didn’t have enough cash with me to pay the bill, so Bill Sage pays the total. Bill, like Charlie Cline, always carried a good bit of cash on them, they were always buying fiddles or other instruments on the road. There were a number of times that those two guys got me out of a tight by having a good bit of cash on them. They knew that I would pay them back before the trip was over and were always there when you needed them, both onstage and off. By the time we’re pulling out of the Dealership, it’s getting dusky dark. I start driving and I can immediately tell that the van is not running right, it’s missing, running real rich, and gas seems to be pouring through it, not running good , but running. So we keep heading West, and by daybreak on Thursday morning, I’m seeing California for the first time in a van running pretty bad. We make it to Chico in plenty of time before the show and go to the promoter’s house. He’s a very nice guy, let’s us shower there and get some food. I tell him the van’s running bad, and does he know anybody that can look at it before the show. He said he knew a shadetree mechanic just down the road, so we drove over there. After the guy looks at it and listens for a minute, he says, ” the timing is off a couple of clicks, this thing must have been running bad, way to rich and drinking the gas. He quickly fixed the problem and finally our vehicle troubles seemed far behind us. Finally, we could get back to why we came , to play and enjoy some music and try to please some new folks in a new part of the Country. After Chico, we played three or four more nights in different parts of California to great crowds, who really liked the music we played. By the time we started back home, the first part of the trip, certainly wasn’t forgotten, but a fairly distant memory.
Really, what got me thinking about this long story was when I told you that Bill Sage was in the Band when we were making our first trips to the West Coast. For the next three or four years, we made a number of treks out West and western Canada, pretty much all the Provinces. Those type trips cover a ton of miles and takes alot of travel time. Bill Sage was an iron man behind the wheel, one of the best drivers you’ll ever see. On bad road conditions, I always wanted him to drive, he was the best on icey roads. He had lived in Maryland and Pennsyvania all his life, and just knew how to drive safely on bad roads. His driving probably kept us out of danger many times. Bill was older than the rest of the band but could work any of us down and could still be going when we were too tired to keep going. He could drive all night, get on stage and rip through the theme where we had to try and hold on just to keep up with the rhythm. For around six years, Bill was a great help to our band. Him living in Pennsylvania, he had to travel as much as we did, just to meet the band or meet us where we played. After Bill left the WRB’s, he went on to play with White Mountain Bluegrass and The Wildwood Valley Boys from Indiana. Bill’s health had not been good for his last few years, but he still had the drive and desire to travel and perform and still did it very well. He passed away travelling on the road with The Wildwood Valley Boys. They told me he had played great that night and when they got on the road after the show, Bill went back to his bunk to get some sleep and just never woke up. Bill crossed over travelling down the road to the next show, I imagine that would have been the way he would have wanted it to be. I remember he always told me, “David , I’d rather have friends than money, any time”. I can honestly say, he was blessed with many, many friends all over the Country, and I believe he was a happy man and ready to go. For myself, and I imagine anybody that ever met Bill, we miss him very much and fondly remember him in wonderful memories. He was one of the best, a real pro. So all this long story was just to acquaint you a little better with a great man and musician and to say, Thank you, Bill .

THE WARRIOR’S PATH (What Do You Think?) BILL SAGE > FIRST CALIFORNIA TOUR > BY THE TIME I GET TO PHOENIX AND SOOO MUCH MORE !!

Ever since getting the idea and wanting to start a regular correspondance (blog) with Bluegrass friends and acquaintances, I see that other folks have a “title” for their blog. So borrowing an idea from an old friend, Mitch Scott, I’ll name this blog “The Warrior’s Path”. Many of our friends will remember Mitch as being, not only a Warrior River Boy, but a partner with me for the first ten years of our travels, 1984 through 1994. We started a “Fan Club” for a few years back in the 90’s and we used “The Warrior’s Path” as the title for the Fan Club Newsletter. I found a few of the old newsletters
recently while going through some stuff and really enjoyed reading them, they were really good, imHo ! We had a great Fan Club president and she did a great job, Shirley Clark was her name, she lived in Virginia and was a great help to the Band handling that time-consuming job. Her job re-located her and she had to give up the fan club chores, and sadly, the fan club, too.
“The Warrior’s Path” does seem a perfect title, it has been “a
long and winding road”, as they say, with so many fun, funny, scary, humbling, exciting, tiring, and every other adjective you can think of, situations imaginable. Around twenty seven years and closing in on two million miles of travelling here and there, mostly there !, and still being Blessed to have the health and opportunity to still be at it! I noticed on my Facebook page this evening a friend’s post and picture showing The Bear Bridge Band and the WRB’s playing a finale together at the Weston Playhouse in Weston, VT. back in 1994. It brought back really great memories, I remember how the Town Square looked in Weston, that beautiful old Theatre with it’s balcony and how good the music sounded in that room, how we’d met the gentleman, Fernan Parker, who would book us regularly at the Playhouse for the next number of years and always package us with the Bear Bridge Band,
Robert, Lillian, Tex and Dave, some of our oldest and dearest friends.
The old theatre would fill up with great crowds each year. Every time I see an old friend, see a old photo, I think of things that happened at that time, place, etc. Weston was the first show we ever played with Bill Sage, he played fiddle with us at Weston in early 1995. I got some pictures from that show. But the back story about Bill working with us that day is an interesting one I’d love to share. We had just lost a four year member, Tommy Chapman, on fiddle. Tommy and his wife were expecting they’re first child and he really needed to be at home more than he had been in the previous four years. During the late eighties, we were having the opportunity to travel and work just about all the time and we were doing everything we could to establish ourselves in the business. Performing in 35 states and travelling seventy five thousand miles per year were par for the course, and by the 1990’s , we were continuing at that pace and were fortunate enough to have our music recorded and distributed by the largest independent record label in the business, Rounder Records, of Cambridge, MA. We had recorded our second Rounder project in Sturbridge, MA. a few months earlier, at Longview Farm (another great story for another time), the record was out and doing well, it wasn’t the best of times to replace a fiddle player. Tommy had been in the band around four years and certainly was a favorite to the crowds we played . So, we’re going to Weston, VT. and need a fiddle player on real short notice. I call my buddy in Lanesboro, MA., Robert Fraker, who works in the Bear Bridge Band, and ask him does he know any fiddlers up in that part of country that might could do the date with us, Robert says; “I
know a guy that plays your style and could come in cold and make yall “like it”, and that would be Bill Sage. We knew of Bill, we knew that he had a long history working with the best of the Baltimore, MD.
Bluegrass scene in the 1960’s, had worked as a Bluegrass Boy in the early sixties with Bill Monroe, had worked with Red Allen on the Wheeling Jamboree, had been a member of Del McCoury’s early Dixie Pals, had played fiddle on Del’s “High On A Mountain” record (a killer recording !), and was now a member of White Mountain Bluegrass Band (a very popular and a crowd favorite in The New England States and
to overseas Bluegrass audiences) for the last few years.
Robert said he would call Bill and see if he could fill-in with us
on the date. Well, long story shorter, Bill was able to do the date with us, and Rob was right, Bill definitely made us “like it”. I remember Mitch saying after the show, “I’ve never heard or played ‘Fire On The Mountain’ THAT fast” (the band exhales Ditto!). Bill came into the band as a regular member a few months after that date and worked with us for around the next six years. He was a great fellow and musician, we had countless fun experiences together for the next few years. Bill was a part of many of the Ray Davis “Basement Recordings” that we would do in the mid-to-late nineties. We have some recordings that Marty Hays and I did with Bill, Lloyd Douglas and Tommy Freeman, (the writer of “Today’s The Day I Get My Gold watch and Chain”, “The Brambles, Briars and Me”, “Tennessee Line”) in the late 1990’s in a Cullman, AL. studio that I’ve never got around to mixing and releasing. I hope to in the near future !
The first couple of trips we made to the West Coast and western Canada were in the late 1990’s when Bill was a bandmember and they seemed to be heavy-laden with vehicle breakdowns, (we missed our first- ever California date due to breakdowns and bad weather, OH WHAT A WILD STORY THAT WAS). We had started this tour in Memphis with icey roads, then to southeastern Louisiana with a breakdown, an older gentleman at the show got us going again (I just saw the man last month when we were in Louisiana, he said ‘Do you remember me?”, I said “I sure do, you got us back on the road a long time ago”.) Next to Houstan, TX, where the weather and roads had gotten bad, so we creep to West Texas and the weather is so bad the police block the interstate, we chose I-10 West to get to California in January because we thought it being the southern most route west, the weather would be good, WRONG! So now we’re sitting at a truck stop for a day listening to the radio, wondering if we can make California. We hear a trucker say we can go on a two-lane north of I-10 for a number of miles and get back on the interstate further west.”Go west, young man” was calling, so we took it real slow (Bill always drove when the roads were bad, he was THE BEST on ice) on the two-lane and finally got back on the interstate heading west. The roads looked good and we were starting to make good time again and was getting across New Mexico when our ride “just died like you had pulled the plug”. WOULD NOT crank, we were sitting on the side of the road somewhere in New Mexico, with that….”if it weren’t for bad luck, we’d have no luck at all, kind of feeling”(LONESOME)”, so we get in touch with a tow truck, he comes and gets us, tows us to the next town (his town, his garage and his motel, and we’re NOT talkin’ The Hilton), we get some rooms, call the first California date’s promoter, tell him our troubles and that we won’t be able to make the first date, go across the street to the restaurant and have some supper. You know how certain feelings you have at certain times , you never forget. Sitting in that restaurant in New Mexico with Randy Lindley that night looking out that window is engrained in my mind and memory as one of the worst road memories and helpless feelings that I had ever had (at least up to that time,LOL). Nothing but trouble and weather stress from Memphis to New Mexico, we’re going to miss the first California date and we’re not Real sure when we’re going to be gettin’ outta here. As I said, the tow man had a garage in town and he told us his son was a great mechanic, fresh out of jail with a new attitude and would start working on our ride in the morning. “OK, sounds good!” we say and head to the room. We get up early the next morning and walk over to the garage, hoping for brighter news to start the day, and sure enough, there’s the man’s son standing in front of the van with what looked to be every conceivable part that WAS under the hood and a good many parts from underneath lying on the garage floor. We look at him (and he don’t look like the type of fellow that should be OR would ever have had the burning desire to excell in the customer service business, or any other legitimate vocation, OK!), he looks at us, lights a cigarette, and says “I can’t fix this thing!, your gonna have to get my old man (solidified my initial hunch of their tight and loving Father-Son relationship) to tow you to Phoenix (Arizona, that is) to a Ford Dealership. We look back down at the pile of parts on the floor that once was our van and say, “Sounds good, Sir ! Thanks for giving it a shot, we’ll just throw these old parts in the van. Is Daddy up yet? Oh, by the way, is that “Helter Skelter” playing on your boom box?” (just kidding about the song, just wanted you to get the mental picture).
Hey Everybody, This one is getting epic-like, I’ll post for now and continue with the rest of this mini nightmare (I mean adventure !) in a few ! Hope you’re enjoying the blogs, would love to hear you’re comments. Best for now, David

DOWN AT THE BOATWORKS

Howdy Everybody
Well, it’s just about time for school to be finished for a while, so where are we gonna carry the kids for fun and somewhere we’ll have a good time, too! I got just the place for you ! Head out to Branson, Mo., get you a good room and a good night’s sleep, then head over to the best Theme Park in America, Silver Dollar City. When you get inside, you’ll immediately feel like you’ve time-travelled back a hundred years, to a time (“the good old days”) that your grandparents talked about, or maybe you’ve saw on T.V. Yes, it really feels good!! Don’t hesitate to speak to every one of the City’s characters, they’re gonna brighten your day, (guarantee it), they are a great Family! Be sure to ask where is D.A. Callaway, D.A. is the guy responsible with booking all the music at the Bluegrass & Bar-Be-Que Festival, and I imagine All the music during the year at S.D.C. He’ll be sportin’ a big cowboy hat and vest and the biggest “welcome folks” smile at the City. After you’ve walked around a while and enjoyed some of the sites and sounds, have yourself a good lunch (there’s more good eats than you can shake a stick at). Oh yeah!!, be sure and ask D.A. how his garden is lookin’, and if he’s gonna “can” anything this year! I’ll bet he will!! Then if you haven’t found the Boatworks Theatre yet, just ask one of the folks at the City, and they’ll tell you. It’s probably gettin’ close to 2 o’clock by now, so come on down to the Boatworks stage and sit down and enjoy some Bluegrass music by “your’s truly” and all The Warrior River Boys. We’ll be doing four shows between 2 and 6 pm. every day from May 25th through May 28th, right there at the Boatworks Theatre. We’ll have a lot of time to visit while we’re there, so I hope you’ll acquaint yourselves with the Band. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, get yourself a schedule as you enter the gates and then you’ll know where All the stages are around the City and show times for each stage. There’s more Bluegrass music featuring some of the most popular acts in the business at the City during the Bluegrass & Bar-Be-Que Festival than you’ll ever see at one place for the price of one ticket, anywhere! This Festival was voted “the best Bluegrass event of the year” in 2011, an amazing twenty-three days of Bluegrass Music from May 10 through June 3rd. As the old sayin’ goes, “All roads lead to Silver Dollar City”,….. so if you like Bluegrass music at it’s best, if you like BBQ ( best BBQ you’ll ever taste), and more importantly for us And the kids, if you enjoy stepping back in time for a little while, where things aren’t going at such a fast pace, back to where the Grandparents lived, where everybody was a neighbor, let’s go back home for a visit! We’ll see you there!!
P.S. You can get all or any information about Silver Dollar City or The Bluegrass & Bar-Be-Que Festival at www.silverdollarcity.com .

DDWRB Performance Schedule 2012

February 12 Edgewood, IL. Edgewood Opry House 1pm.
March 24 Dauphin Island, AL. SeaGrass Festival
March 24 Chatom, AL. High School Auditorium 9pm.
March 30 Wilmington, OH. Southern Ohio Bluegrass Festival (Roberts Conv. Cntr.) www.somusicfest.com
March 31 Burlington, IA. Festival @Comfort Suites www.tsbafestivals.org
April 20 Ragley, LA. Lone Pine Music Park 7pm.
April 21 Sacul, TX. Sandyland Opry 7pm.
April 22 Spring, TX. Hyde’s Cafe 5pm.
April 23 Paragould, AR. Collins Theatre 7pm.
May 11 Trussville, AL. Paine Intermediate School 8am-11am.
May 11 Flintstone, GA. Mike’s Music 7:30pm.
May 12 Trussville, AL. DogDaze Festival 11am & 1:15pm.
May 25-28  Branson, MO.  Silver Dollar City (Boatworks Theatre Stage) (www.silverdollarcity.com)
June 2 Waco,GA. Outpost Music Barn (Ivan 770-574-2698) (David, Robert and Stan only)
June 9 Harpers Ferry, WV. Mountain Heritage Festival
June 10 Brunswick, MD. High School Auditorium (brunswickbluegrass.org) CANCELLED
June 11 Bean Blossom, IN. Bill Monroe Music Park (12:40 & 7:30pm.)
June 13 South St. Louis, Mo. Jefferson Barracks Amphitheatre (314-821-1215)
June 30 Hiltons, VA. The Carter Family Fold 7pm.
July 3 Manchester, MD. Fireman’s Carnival Grds. 7pm.
July 17 Arcola, IL. Rockome Gardens 7pm.
July 18 Jamestown, N.D. Jamestown H.S. Theatre 7pm.
July 19 Brandon, Manitoba The Glesby Centre 7pm.
July 20 Big River, SK. Ness Creek Music Festival
July 21 Oxbow, SK. Moose Creek Golf Club Pavillion 7pm.
July 22 Cross Ranch State Park, ND. 3PM.
August 2 Parson’s WV. Pickin’ In Parson’s Bluegrass Festival
August 11 Holstein, Ont. Love’s Sugarbush Festival (www.bluegrassinholstein.ca)
August 24 Lodi, N.Y. Pickin’ In the Pasture Bluegrass Festival (www.pickininthepasture.com)
August 25 Milton, WV. Mountaineer Opry House 7pm.
August 30 & 31 Grapeland, TX. Salmon Lake Park (www.salmonlakepark.com)
September 6,7,8 Salem, IL. Bryan Memorial Park
September 14,15,16 Owensboro, KY. Monroe Mandolin Camp (David only)
September 22 Arcadia, Md. Firemen’s Bluegrass Festival (David w/Scott Brannon)
September 29 Eva, AL. Frontier Days Festival
October 12 McEwen, TN. Blue Creek Arena (www.bluecreekarena.com)
October Rosine, KY. Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Celebration (www.jerusalemridgefestival.org)
October 20 Chatom, AL. Courthouse Square 1pm.
November 2 Fairview, OH. Penny Royal Opry 7pm.
November 3 Lucketts, VA. Community Center w/Scott Brannon Band 7pm.
January 5, 2013 Mt. Orab, OH. Western Brown H.S. Auditorium 7pm.
March 23, 2013 Burlington, IA. Festival @ Comfort Suites (www.tsbafestivals.org)
June 10, 2013 Beanblossom, IN. Bill Monroe Memorial Festival
July 2, 2013 Manchester, MD. Firemen’s Carnival 7pm.
July 13, 2013 Croton, OH. Hartford Fairgrounds (www.centralohiobluegrass.com )
September 21, 2013 Arcadia, MD. 30th Annual Firemen’s Bluegrass Festival
September 26,2013 Pontiac, IL. Threshermen’s Bluegrass Festival (www.threshermenbluegrass.com)
xxxx Chek back often, as 2012 & 2013 dates will be added as they are booked and finalized.

TWO NEW FACES

Hey Everybody !!
If you haven’t seem our show in the last six months, you probably haven’t heard that DDWRB has a couple of new members. First, I’ll start with Stan Wilemon. Stan re-joined the band, on guitar, after being away for a number of years. Alot of you might remember Stan as the group’s bass man in 1987, then 1990 through 1994, also a part of our 1993 Rounder recording, “Sounds Like Home” plus many of the recordings we did for Ray Davis’ Wango label in the early ’90’s. Stan has played a large role in the band since he left in 1994 through his songwriting. We have recorded three of his songs on our last three Rebel recordings, “Lonesome Cry of the Whippoorwill”, “It’s Just An Old Body” and “Willow Valley”. Stan has been on the road since 1994 with groups like The Larry Gillis Band and our Alabama buddy, The Gary Waldrep Band, playing guitar and mandolin and singing a bunch of different parts. It feels real natural having Stan back in the band, pretty much like he never left. I always loved to sing with him, we grew up pretty close together and we always just fit together musically and personally. He’s blessed with a ton of talent, we’re really glad to have him back!
Next, let’s get you acquainted with Ben Sanders, from Madison, Wisconsin. Ben joined the group last October, playing fiddle. He and his wife, (she’s a great fiddle player, too !) live in Nashville, Tennessee. We’ve really been blessed over the years to have great fiddle players in the band, from Al Lester to Charlie Cline, Bill Sage right on up to Owen Saunders, (who left the WRB last October after a 12 year stint). Ben is Super talented, a true professional in his attitude with a great work ethic toward the music and being prepared to show well each time he gets on stage and to complement the band around him. That’s really all you can ask from a person. Everybody in the band is real high on Ben and how he’s fitting into what we’re trying to do, musically.
As a bandleader, it’s always potentially tough when there are band changes, sometimes it’s really hard to get someone who fits, both personally and stylistically, sometimes it takes a while and a lot of effort has to be made to get that “right fit”. This time, it just seemed to fall into place real, real quick. I know Marty Hays and Robert Montgomery, as well as “your’s truly” were thankful for the easy transition!
We’re really looking forward to seeing you on the road this year ! We’ve been travelling alot in the first five months of 2012 and beginning to really get busy for the next few months. I’ll get you a blog with our personal appearances as soon as possible. Our webmaster, Josh is busy building us a new Band website at this time and should have it up very soon. Until then, I’ll try to keep you current on the band and band happenings. If you have specific questions, just let me know and I’ll try to get you a good answer. Hope to hear from you!! Until next time, David

New Website Coming & Chek out my Blog !!

Hello all,

Wanted to apoligize for our website being down for the last few months, I’m really sorry for the inconvenience to you. BUT… our webmaster, Josh, is in the process of building the band a new website, so much Band news (all GOOD, a couple of NEW band members, They’re GOOD, and We’re Good Together!!). The new website will be blog-based and very friendly and hopefully interesting and informative to you. We’ll get our dates up quickly and hope to see you at some of them. Also, I’m gonna start (famous last words) a regular on-going blog that I hope you will chek out (and spend your opinion,too) on a regular basis. With your help and feedback, our give and take will hopefully be fun for us all. With all these great, new opportunities to connect with friends and with people in general, I’ve wanted to start a blog for a while, it seems like a great thing to do! Over the last twenty-five (WOW) years, I’ve had the chance to meet and become friends with so many people , and the sad thing is, I don’t get the chance to visit with them near as much or as often as I’d like to. Over time, hopefully thru the blog, we’ll get to visit and connect more often. That would be great IMHO !! I plan to start posting blogs ASAP, so I’d love for you to chek back as often as you can and I want your feedback. For now, take care!! David