Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Mighty Fine Merry Xmas (or belated Hannukah ... or Kwanzaa)
I got the 2 + 3 volume from the Old Town School's four-part collection of folk music standards from Santa (masquerading as my wife, Nancy). It's phenomenal. A real treat. Get them all for a friend or loved one. Here are the best deals:

- Buy all four volumes on good old-fashioned compact discs (Disc 1, Discs 2+3 set and Disc 4) directly from Chicago's own Bloodshot Records for $30. (Trust me, you'll want the liner notes, which you won't get if you download from Amazon or iTunes; and if you buy the CDs from Amazon, you'll pay way more than $30 for all four.).
- Download the Disc 4 bonus tracks from Amazon.com for only .99¢ each - that's cuts 21 through 36. (The various advertisements and even the Bloodshot web site claim these bonus tracks are only on iTunes. But I found 'em on Amazon.com, where you can download the individual tracks in MP3 format versus iTunes' proprietary AAC format.)

God bless the Old Town School. So, buy their new CDs to express your support.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mighty Fine Historical Recordings on CD


Dust-to-Digital : About Us
Dust-to-Digital was started in February 1999 by Lance Ledbetter, a radio disc jockey at WRAS — the student-run voice of Georgia State University. Having been recently introduced to vintage 78 rpm records by the reissue of the Anthology of American Folk Music in 1997, Ledbetter decided to set out on a search for rare gospel recordings.

Four and a half years later, Goodbye, Babylon was released. The six CD box set was accompanied by a 200 page book and hand-packed with raw cotton in a wooden box. The response from music fans around the world was astounding, and Dust-to-Digital followed up the gospel set with Where Will You Be Christmas Day? in 2004.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mighty Funky World Beat

Adam Grosso's band Euforquestra will be performing at Martyrs this Friday, November 30. They will play from 9:00 to 10:00pm, and be followed by Bumpus and Garaj Mahal, featuring the jazz guitarist Fareed Haque in a "jam band" quartet.

Martyrs is at 3855 N. Lincoln in Chicago (between Addison and Irving Park). The kitchen opens at 6:00, so think about going early for dinner.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Mighty Fine Concerts at The Old Town School

2008 Concerts at the Old Town School
Click the link for details. There's the Trad Fest Open House in late January with Foghorn Stringband and the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Also concerts with the singer-songwriter/producer Joe Henry, the New Orleans pianist/composer Allen Toussaint, the Celtic Fiddle Fest, the David Grisman Quintet, Cowboy Junkies with special guest Mary Gauthier and, among many more amazing shows, the ukelele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro with guests Sarah Lee Guthrie (Arlo's girl) & Johnny Irion (whose recently released solo CD is very, very good).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Bluegrass Blog is Mighty Fine

Have your say on The B!

Yet another good ... some would say great ... bluegrass music site.

Mighty Fine Americana Music Site


Since first launching the OPFMB blog site, I have noticed the number of "Americana Roots" music sites have blossomed across the Net. Check this one out.

Americana Roots : Merle Haggard - The Bluegrass Sessions
"Surrounding himself with some of the best musicians in the business (Marty Stuart on mandolin, Carl Jackson on guitar, Rob Ickes on resophonic guitar, Charlie Cushman on banjo, Aubrey Haynie fiddle and Ben Isaacs on bass) as he runs through 12 songs – three new songs, two covers and seven Haggard classics receiving the bluegrass treatment."

Curious? Read the rest by clicking the link. Americana Roots is a great site. Try it, you'll like it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Upcoming Mighty Fine Jam Session

The Django Jam continues each second Friday of the month. Come check it out next Friday, November 9th, 7:00 pm, at the Zen Community of Oak Park - Empty Sound Temple, 163 N. Humphrey Ave. in Oak Park (1/2 block north of Lake St., 1 block west of Austin Blvd).

If you have any questions, call Bob Althouse at 708-445-1651.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Mighty Fine Upcoming Shows ...

Charlie Louvin

The surviving Louvin brother released his first studio recording in a long, long time last year. This is perhaps our last chance to see this living legend in performance.

Sunday, Dec 16. $20.
Schubas, 3159 N Southport Ave, 773-525-2508


John Prine with Iris Dement
Favorite son. Esteemed songwriter. Cancer survivor. Maywood's own. Angel from Montgomery. Need I say more?

Friday, Feb 8, 2008. $49.50 - $59.50.
Chicago Theater


Sones de Mexico
Like any large nation, Mexico boasts regional folk music forms that differ in style and substance. Unfortunately, here in the States we tend to generalize, which robs us of distinguishing between them. The Mexican Son (the word son means almost literally "song") is, generally, a southern folk form native to Guadalajara and vicinity.

Friday, Nov 23. $12.


Ralph Stanley and his Clinch Mountain Boys
See my notes below. Opening act, the Henhouse Prowlers (pictured above), are a group of Chicagoans who play with conviction and respect for the Appalachian tradition, yet they're never stale. Let's call them unconventional traditionalists. Listen to a track on their MySpace page.

Thursday, Nov 25 at 8pm. $25.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Dr. Ralph Stanley
Ralph Stanley & his Clinch Mountain Boys at Fitzgerald's
Thu., Nov. 15th, 8pm, $25 with The Henhouse Prowlers
"After 55 years in the business, Ralph Stanley is still the best banjo picker and tenor singer in bluegrass music. As a recording artist, he has performed on more than 170 albums, tapes, and CDs. Ralph's played throughout the United States and in many foreign lands, too, including several tours of Japan. In addition to the many honors Ralph has received as a bluegrass musician, including membership on the Grand Ole Opry, he is also a Shriner, a member of the Primitive Baptist Universalist Church, and active in his local community, having served on the Dickenson County School Board."
O Brother Buy My Dobro!

Regal RD 75 Square Neck Resonator
guitar (aka Dobro): Solid mahogany back and sides, solid spruce top, bone nut, spider bridge, spun cone, maple saddle, solid headstock with excellent tuners, includes a Stevens(R) steel and finger picks, plus a gig bag. It's only limitation (in my view) is that it's a 24.75" scale, making it a wee bit narrower at the nut and teeny bit shorter end to end.

I bought this guitar brand new at The Old Town School's Different Strummer for $350 plus $45 for the bag and this 'n' that for the picks 'n' steel. Plus tax.

You get it all for merely $150.

This guitar is no longer in production. If you want to try it, visit Musicopia on Roosevelt Road west of Oak Park Ave. Or drop me an email - miggonz@sbcglobal.net
In a file photo Grand Ole Opry star Porter Wagoner, right, sings 'Someone I Used To Know' with Dolly Parton during his induction to the Country Music Hall of Fame ceremony in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, May 4, 2003.  Wagoner, the rhinestone-clad Grand Ole Opry star who helped launch the career of Dolly Parton by hiring her as his duet partner, died Sunday, Oct. 29, 2007. He was 80. (AP Photo/John Russell)
Country star Porter Wagoner dies at 80 - Yahoo! News
Porter Wagoner was known for a string of country hits in the '60s, perennial appearances at the Grand Ole Opry in his trademark rhinestone suits, and for launching the career of Dolly Parton.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Reply to: sale-462457661@craigslist.org
Date: 2007-10-28, 7:55PM CDT
This is a mint condition Washburn prototype mandolin. Is has Solid Flamed Maple back and sides and a Solid Spruce top along with maple binding. Great sounding Mando. Email with any questions, tunetime@earthlink.net.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

"Artists: Get a SNOCAP MyStore!

* Sell your music on MySpace and beyond
* Easily upload your music
* Set your own prices
* Monitor your sales on a daily basis
* It's your music - you keep all the rights
* Only $30 per year (the first year is FREE)"

Click to see some major artists who are using SNOCAP, a diy Net music store app you add to your MySpace or other personal music page online.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Jack Swain Showcase Performace - Don't Miss This!

Thursday 10/25, 8:00pm, at Fitzgerald's
6615 W. Roosevelt Road, Berwyn

Spade Kitty Records night at Fitzgerald's! Two bands - Trakan and The Red Plastic Buddha - will do a very special suburban label showcase as a pre-release show. Also on the bill are local sensations Jack Swain and Alex Mizicko and friends.

More info at FitzgeraldsNightclub.com

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Raising Sand
Amazon.com: Raising Sand: MP3 Downloads: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
To be released on Oct 23, "Raising Sand" is a complete album that blends two distinctive voices from totally different strains of popular music. Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant is a high-voiced screamer who's mellowed through the years. Yet he retains the edgy timbre befitting his "Hammer of the Gods" upbringing. Alison Krauss needs no introduction. She possesses the purest soprano in bluegrass, country and beyond. Absolute beauty, she has.

On the ballads their voices blend wonderfully in a strangely-new-yet-familiar way. But the rock-tinged tracks are just okay. When they invoke Mountain Soul, it's blessed harmony.

Check out the Amazon.com download system. It's a new online music store with MP3s formatted at twice the audio quality of iTunes. Buy only the tracks that suit your taste. Or take the whole album for $8.99, a considerable discount from the plastic disc.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Innovative UK guitarist Richard Thompson performs a solo acoustic number in this parlor video from his controversial new(ish) CD "Sweet Warrior" on Amazon.com.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Go see Loudon Wainwright before the current political situation makes you want to end it all!

Loudon Wainwright III with special guest Lucy Roche
Saturday, September 22, 2007
7:00 PM & 10:00 PM
Gary and Laura Maurer Concert Hall :: 4544 N Lincoln Ave.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Jorma Kaukonen and Friends perform "Operator" from American Beauty

Though this video is seven minutes long, there's a wonderful minute or two with Jorma in which he describes the quirky, creative and innovative approach to traditional American songcraft that makes the Dead's old-time songs both interesting and attractive to old-time pickers.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Mighty Fine Old Town School Gala

50 Years In Chicago | Concerts & Events – Old Town School
Join in celebrating the Old Town School's 50th Anniversary -- and help provide vital support for the School's education, scholarship, performance and outreach programs -- with this once-in-a-lifetime concert at the historic Auditorium Theatre.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Oak Park Arms Update

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Bob Lopardo reports that performances are continuing on a once-a-month-ish basis at the Oak Park Arms. The next date is Sat, Sep 15th. Music begins at 9:00 am and continues through about noon.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Carolina Chocolate Drops are a group of young African-American stringband musicians that have come to together to play the rich tradition of fiddle and banjo music in Carolinas’ piedmont. Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson both hail from the green hills of the North Carolina Piedmont while Dom Flemons is native to sunny Arizona.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mike Casey on the Radio

Tune in to 88.9 FM for Bluegrass Deluxe

Mike Casey hosts a mighty fine radio show dedicated to great acoustic music. Broadcasting from Triton College in River Grove to your electronic receiver. Request a tune by calling 708-583-3110.

Monday, August 06, 2007


An evening of songs from Carl Sandburg’s landmark 1927 folksong collection, The American Songbag. The selections, some familiar and others obscure, some humorous and others haunting, will be sung and played in authentic styles of the 1920s and 1930s and accompanied by historical commentary.

Friday, September 7, 2007, 7:30 pm, at Historic Pleasant Home,
217 S. Home Avenue, Oak Park, IL. Showtime TBA. Tickets are $12
in advance, $15 at the door. For more information call 708-524-0963.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Django Jam
The Zen Community celebrates the Gypsy Jazz tradition once a month by hosting a jazz jam session. All muscians and instruments are welcome. Everyone is welcome to join in - bring along some food and something to drink and enjoy yourself.

Some of the standards in this genre to practice are: Bossa Dorado, Daphne, Dark Eyes, Djangology, Django's Castle, Douce Ambiance, Minor Blues, Minor Swing, Swing Gitan, Swing 39, Swing 42, Swing 85. And there are still many others such as: After Your Gone, All of Me, Avalon, I Can't Give you Anything, It Don't Mean a Thing, Lady be Good, Limehouse Blues, Lulu Swing, Ma Premiere Guitare, Nuages, Out of Nowhere, Rose Room, Sweet Georgia Brown, Sweet Sue.

For more information, call 708.445.1651

Django Jam Dates:
Aug 10, Sept. 14, Oct. 12, Nov. 9, Dec. 14

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Everybody check out Greg's newly re-designed Web site at www.OldTimeStrings.com and let him know if you think it's mighty fine or what, listen to a four tracks from the Ganz Hall Recital (which will soon be released on CD) ... or just say "Hi."

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Mike Casey - Elementary Fiddling

For beginners, intermediates and even advanced fiddlers, OPFMB co-founder Mike Casey presents his original method for violin technique including more than 30 fiddle tunes and much more. Click the link above for details and an online order form. Or call Mike Casey Music directly by dialing 708 780 0332.

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Definitive performance or what?

Jimmy Martin - 1994 - Freeborn Man

Whew! Now you can certainly see and hear why this man was and still is a true legend.

Mighty Fine Concert in Evanston

Mighty Fine (and Long) List of Fests

Bluegrass Festivals
This list just keeps on going and going and going. It's got great links. But it fails to accurately list the home state of each listing (they're arranged by date).

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On Tyme: I'll Be No Stranger There

I found this link from the NIBA.org site - that's the Northern Illinois Bluegrass Association.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

+ = Mighty Fine World Record!
Old Town School World's Largest Music Lesson - August 7th, 2007

The Old Town School of Folk Music is poised to enter the Guinness Book of World Records! Guitar players of every level are welcome to join the Old Town School guitar faculty at the Welles Park Gazebo to learn basic chords and play two songs in full unison.

The current record holder for the world's largest music lesson involved 539 participants being taught to play the harmonica by Roland van Straaten at Camlog Biotechnologies Congress in Montreux, Switzerland on May 12, 2006. We're hoping to register 2,000 participants (not that we have anything against the Swiss, but let's beat them good).

Check in at 6pm for a lesson starting promptly at 7:30pm.

The first 1000 registered participants are automatically entered in a drawing to win a beautiful Martin 00X1 guitar, accessories, and a free Old Town School group class! (drawing will be held immediately following the lesson. Must be present to win.)

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Early notice: Mighty Fine Carter Family Tribute Concert

Event Detail Concerts & Events
The swansong of the Secret Country series [ at the Old Town School ] is an all-star celebration of the weird and wonderful music of the Carter Family. A.P. (whose 114th birthday falls December 15), Sara, and Maybelle gave country music a canon ("Wildwood Flower," "Wabash Cannonball," "Keep On The Sunnyside," just for starters), and their timeless recordings, hard with the stoicism of poor Southern Baptists but sparkling with crystalline melody and sly syncopation, both revere and reimagine the folk music of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Those two poles will guide new interpretations by Danny Barnes, Joy White, Casey Driessen, Kelly Hogan, Bill Kirchen, Scott Ligon, Robbie Fulks, and a secret guest TBA. Carter Family biographer Charles Hirshberg will be on hand to provide historical color.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

July 13-14, 2007
Jim and Mary will be performing with the Grosso Family Band at Camp Euforia in Lone Tree, Iowa. They'll be doing a one hour set at 3:00pm on Saturday.
Grosso Family BandClick here for details and directions

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Event Detail Concerts & Events
Here's a mighty fine double bill. Ollabelle is a New York-based roots-folk-gospel band with multiple lead vocalists and string band instrumentalists.

They take their name from Ola Belle Reed, the great West Virginia songwriter/banjoist who wrote, among many, "High on a Mountain." Ollabelle the band is also known for one particular member, Amy Helm, whose dad is vocalist/drummer/mandolinist Levon Helm of The Band.

The warm up act, King Wilkie, is much more of a straight-up string band playing Bluegrass with an old time tilt. They're from Virginia, they wear suits, they play at Merlefest and they've released at least one superb CD. This show is on August 10th. Advance tickets are on sale via The Old Town School and the usual outlets.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

From the dept. of Where're They Now?

Official Ticketmaster site. Richie Furay Band : Chris Hillman W/Herb Pedersen - Park West
Richie Furay Band : Chris Hillman W/Herb Pedersen
Sat, Jul 28 at 7:30pm
Great country-rock bands of the 70s were largely led by great bluegrass upstarts from the 60s. Chris Hillman is certainly a poster child for the lot of 'em - from the Byrds to the Burrito Bros. and beyond.

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Upcoming Events at Fitzgerald's

Open Mic in the Club
Tue, Jul 10 at 9:00pm
Once a month the open mic is on the big stage. If you ever wanted to check out Jack, Bob and Miguel ... or even better, join 'em ... under the hot lights and beefy sound system, this would be the night. It's still (almost) all acoustic, so grab your favorite stringed instrument and join the jam.

CJ Chenier & his Red Hot Louisiana Band
Fri, Jul 13
It's a Zydeco Party with one of the original and finest Creole Soul bands from the Bayou lands!

Sonny Landreth
Thu, Jul 26 & Fri, Jul 27
The electric bottleneck blues maestro is in town to tape a TV show. So he's playing two nights at Fitz's. The magic of seeing Landreth is his tasteful approach to electric slide guitar that remains free of "blooz bar band" cliches.

Jim Lauderdale
Fri, Aug 3
A true wordsmith, singer-songwriter, sometime producer and collaborator who has shared stage and studio with everyone from Ralph Stanley to Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris. Last year's bluegrass album was a critical success, but he's equally adept at classic country styles as well.

The Blasters
Sat, Aug 4
Back between 1980 and 1984 there were two neo-rockabilly bands vying for supremacy: New York's Stray Cats and LA's Blasters. Fans of each band practically came to blows (as did the members of the bands at one point). High energy, house-rockin' rockabilly is the rule of the night with Phil Alvin's amazing Teflon-throated singing.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bob Lopardo wants everyone to remember the upcoming Downer's Grove Heritage Festival. It's June 21 thru 24. Click the link below for a bunch of PDFs with lots details. Including ... Thursday's Child playing two sets on Saturday in Fishel Park. (See a complete line up of artists here.)

Downers Grove Heritage Fest Home Page

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Ghosts Of Waldheim

Not a music video, but it concerns a very local site of historic importance - The Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park.

Old Town School 5th Annual Fiddle Championship

Old Town School of Folk Music – Celebrating Fifty Years

Chicago Folk & Roots Festival | Concerts & Events – Old Town School

The Midwest Fiddle Contest is a contest for music teams - a fiddler and a second lead player - that celebrates the diverse sounds of fiddling in the Midwest. Five Team Division finalists and three Youth Division finalists from earlier rounds will play for $1,250 in prize money on the Folk & Roots Festival Main Stage Sunday at 1pm.

This is part of the 10th Annual Chicago Folk & Roots Festival on Sat, 7/14 and Sun, 4/17 from Noon - 9:30pm at Welles Park (Lincoln and Montrose).

Entries must be received by Mon, 7/2. Entry is free.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

BBQ Drummer

Some folks I work with made this funny, strange, musical video. I'm diggin' it!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Kid's Day at the Farmer's Market in July


Farmers' Market Special Events - 2007

July 14 -- Kid's Day

We could work up a bunch of kid-friendly tunes for Kid's Day and perform a special set just for kids. Post tunes you want to play by writing comments on this blog and I'll compile a set list. Then I'll post that list here with links to tabs, etc.

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Wow! It's that time of year again! And we're counting down the days until we regroup under the old oak tree. Ah ... the sweet smell of donuts in the air. Opening day is June 2nd.

See the Village of Oak Park's official site here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Help FolkAlley.com Save Net Radio!

On March 2, 2007, the federal Copyright Royalty Board released a decision that will have damaging consequences for public radio stations that stream music. The Board rejected decades of precedent by placing commercial royalty payment schedules and reporting requirements on public radio stations. This decision exposes the public radio system to huge increases in royalty payments and promises drastic curtailment of the programming diversity found on public radio stations' websites.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

FitzGerald's Calendar Listings
Friday, June 1 (BLUEGRASS) Cornmeal plus Tangleweed, 9:30pm
Cornmeal is "heavily influenced by American roots and folk music, Cornmeal was started as a side project over six years ago only to watch it grow into a Chicago institution. Info at cornmealinthekitchen.com

Warming up is Tangleweed, who combine high-energy performances, impeccable musicianship and a wide-breadth of influences to create a unique sound that is simultaneously modern and old-timey. More info at tangleweed.org

Also, Fitzgerald's is now smoke free!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mighty Fine Streaming Documentaries ...


FolkStreams » Homemade American Music

"A history of rural southeastern traditional American music, as told and played by Mike Seeger and Alice Gerrard. Mike and Alice recount their own involvment with this music, and briefly trace its history as we meet their mentors: the late Tommy Jarrell, Lily May Ledford, Roscoe Holcomb and Elizabeth Cotten."

Cover Image

Folkstreams is a collection of independently produced documentary films that have languished for decades. This one, "Homemade American Music," is one of dozens featuring blues, old time, bluegrass, Cajun and more.

You can't download them; they're for streaming only. But they are without equivocation mighty, mighty fine!