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    Stuart Mclean

    I’m really saddened to hear about the loss of Stuart Mclean.  Going on the road with the Vinyl Cafe and their incredible team, was a banner tour for the Birds of Chicago.

    Vinyl Cafe, Stuart McLean, Birds of Chicago
    Vinyl Cafe, Stuart McLean, Birds of Chicago

    I received a true education in performance watching Stuart work. At the beginning of the tour, Stuart was sequestered in the back of the bus, writing and sculpting the script. With each show, it would be finessed. Depending on the audience’s reaction, he would adjust the timing of a joke here, or a word there. Each night was new and exciting.

    Most importantly, the dream team -Tina Love, Lucas Simonetto, and Jess Milton are some of the most lovely humans around. It was truly an honour to be in their company.

    Here’s a link to the show:

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    Love in Wartime sessions

    Birds of Chicago are wrapping up the fourth and final day of recording at Electrical Audio in Chicago, an incredible studio in Chicago owned by Steve Albini.  BOC’s own JT Nero is co-producing with Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars, Black Crowes).

    It’s been an terrific experience recording Love in Wartime.  We started tracking on the same day Trump was inaugurated as President.  It feels great to be putting something really joyous and positive out into world.

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    Summer BOC shows

    Here are some upcoming summer shows with Birds of Chicago!

    July 1 to 3 – Stan Rogers Folk Festival, Canso, Nova Scotia
    July 8 – Celebrate Brooklyn, New York, NY
    July 9 – The Colonial Theatre – Bethelhem, NH
    July 10 – Green River Music Festival – Greenfield, Massachusetts
    July 15 to 17 – Vancouver Folk Festival, Vancouver, BC
    August 13 to 15 – Bear Creek Folk Festival, Grand Prairie AB
    August 26 to 28 – Fayetteville Roots Festival, Fayetteville, Arizona

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    Winter comings and goings

    Thus far winter 2016 has been about storm dodging, joyful music, the Caribbean, and lots of travel. 

    January was with The Birds of Chicago playing up and down the Eastern US, followed by seven days in the Caribbean playing an Americana festival on a cruise ship.  The cruise is called Cayamo, and the lineup was incredible: John Prine, John Hiatt, Lucinda Williams…plus many more.  My favorites were Larry Campbell and Theresa Williams, as well as fellow Canadians Bros. Landreth.

    Last weekend BOC was in Kansas for the annual Folk Alliance Conference.  Imagine 2000 performers vying for the attention of 250 presenters, all packed into a hotel.  Rooms are converted into makeshift performance spaces with beds replaced by a dozen or so chairs.  The hallways are completely filled with musicians.  There are posters everywhere and music in every room until well past 2AM.  It’s pandemonium in a friendly folky kind of way.

    Coming up in early March is a CBC first play live performance with Matt and Jill Barber, and Mia Sheard’s annual Joni Mitchell tribute.  Right after that I’ll be on the road with Amelia Curran for a short western Canada tour, followed by a few Ontario dates. 

    Cayamo 2016

    Cayamo 2016  Photo: Lisa Constantino

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    Freshgrass Reviews

    Birds of Chicago recently played at Freshgrass, a fantastic festival in the Berkshires set in the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, and run by some of the nicest people around.  A reviewer compared me with Jerry Garcia and that’s alright with me!

    “…I walked in midway through a song as lead guitarist Joel Schwartz was coaxing sly leads out his hollowbody electric guitar. Nero, who played acoustic guitar, blended his vocals well with Russell, who performed on ukulele and clarinet. After “Sugar Dumplin,’’a bluesy three-chord song Nero described as being about thinking before you speak or act, they played “Barley,” which featured first some fine slide work from Schwartz and then a well-conceived solo that recalled Jerry Garcia.”   Glenn Weiser (http://metroland.net/2015/09/24/fresh-grass/)

    More kind words and some pics can be found at this reviewer’s site.