Friday I'm bringing the Dilettantes to Bleecker Street - nothing but covers for happy hour at Wicked Willys 8/3 7-9pm; Saturday I'm at the Peace in the Streets Festival in the Bronx, playing during the 3pm hour; then Saturday evening the Dilettantes bring their full catalogue to the Branded Saloon in Prospect Heights Brooklyn!!! Then Sunday I'm heading to my hometown Schroon Lake for a BBQ Brunch with my good friends Shelby and Chris at Mr. P's Mountain Smokehouse - 12noon! Looking forward to seeing everyone!
Summer is here! I spent this past weekend waterskiing in the Adirondacks; amazing... its going to be a great season for me, I'm in great shape and may even get involved in some competitions. I've got tremendous gigs coming up on the calendar, in NYC, in various venues in upstate NY, even in North Carolina for a big film festival in July. I've got a whole slew of new songs already written, and am trying out new sequences to see what works best for the next record! Tonite I played a showcase - just four songs - two of my new songs on 12 string, two others on accordion; the audience dug it, the other musicians dug it, it was very gratifying to be able to go into a room full of strangers and come out of it with a crowd of people who like what you do. Thanks NYC - great place to be a musician!!!
It was a fun week of birthday gigs and meeting up with friends old and new! on Friday June 8th, the actual event, I performed on the ReW & WhO 2nd Anniversary Extravaganza at the Branded Saloon in Prospect Heights Brooklyn - it was AWESOME! there's a fun clip posted... on Saturday I was at Neirs Tavern with the Dilettantes - so nice to play with a big band, beautiful arrangements and tone, some real jaw-dropping musicianship; and Neirs even bought me a cake! (thanks Chris Evie Nancy Chiffra and everyone at the best and oldest tavern in NYC!) More gigs this past week; on Thursday I played an almost solo show at Ella Lounge with Val Kinzler sitting in on a few; then Friday I had a crazy drive to get to WIOX's Crackle Weekend radio show for an in-studio performance and also debut of my new "single" For Every Evil/Long Long Time; then Saturday I played a solo set at the Parlor in Hudson before heading back to Dobbs. Also spent time in Saratoga and Lake George spreading the music; best was jamming on buddy holly songs on mandolin wth the kids on the town hall steps in Lake George while the parking cops walked by and left my double-parked car be!... sometimes its good to be a troubadour!...
It was a terrific weekend of music! On Saturday morning I was at the Mt. Kisco farmers market; it was great fun playing for my friends old and new! Then a bunch of us headed up to Katonah to play the 125th anniversary of the local hardware store; they had a great BBQ, and we were the old-timey band, with yours truly on mandolin... then it was down to Manhattan for a 12midnite set at Connollys 45, closing for great NJ hard rock band the Handful -celebrating my buddy Mike Felber's birthday - president of Hells Kitchen Artists Guild, they sponsored my set; mellowing out the crowd with mandolin/accordion vibes! Today was Tarrytown Music Hall with Tribes Hill - it was a special and wonderful event! Curtis and his local Dilettantes Bud Coughlin and Maria Clair rocked the crowd to close the street fair; then I played accordion with Tribes Hill singers to open the benefit show, featuring Rob Morsberger and Brad Roberts from Crash Test Dummies; met them both, nice guys, down to earth; I was wearing my Superman t-shirt, I apologized to Brad for appropriating his emblem, we laughed; I introduced myself to Rob, his face lighted up and he said "you have a squeezebox!" He asked me about my music and said "well obviously you're a piano player" ... I told him I'm really a guitarist and untutored musician - he smiled knowingly and said, It's always that way with true musicians; they are driven by something inside. To hear that from such an accomplished composer and artist was very gratifying, a re-affirmation of my commitment to being a musician. This weekend was the musical life in action; it was everything I could ask for.
Then it was over to the park overlooking the town beach where I had spent so many hours lifeguarding and being a kid. I played 40 minutes for the vendors and their customers, picking up right after Deb Philp's yoga class which looked awesome; big responses from my fellow craftspeople! Lots of remarks on the various instruments I play... people seem to like to know about how music gets made, the accordion especially provokes many questions that may be better answered by someone with a physics or engineering degree... and I'm just a lawyer... and a troubadour... Next I ran up to Paradox to say hi to my sis and open up the house; then back to the Bandstand at 7:30pm to catch the Steve L. Smith Band - and they were awesome! I've know Steve for three years now, he and Mark and I met at the Schroon Lake Boathouse Jam that occurs every Monday thru the good graces of the SL Arts Council - Jack Osborne was in attendance at the festival, as were many friends from my boathouse jam days when I used to have Monday nights free... S.L. and his band are big time country rockers! Original tunes with heart and grit, great taste in choice covers; and total thrill when Steve pulls me onstage to sing along with him and the band on You Can't Always Get What You Want (I guess sometimes you can!) Great to see Steve's wife Keisha selling some really great looking merch too; they got it together, SL Smith is a premier band, North Country rockers that should not be missed! So after all that, time to go home and crash, right? Except that if there is more music to be had, its' gotta be at Witherbees, my true home base, the first room that ever let me play music for them. So I'm walking up the stairs when suddenly owner Bill Christian bounds down the stairs with a friendly handshake and a warm greeting! and I'm thinking, that's funny, I thought Bill had a bum knee this winter... and then I'm looking at him in the light and I say "Bill... you've lost a significant amount of weight!" ... and it's true, he lost 40 lbs or more! and he told me that my changes had inspired him; and he told me that it was hard sometimes especially because he is in the restaurant biz; but that he had taken good advice from me and others and had changed his habits - and he has achieved tremendous results!!! We congratulated each other and promised to continue mutual support. Then we talked business - and Curtis Becraft and perhaps a few Dilettantes will be playing his home venue, the cradle of his music, the fabulous Witherbees of Schroon Lake, on Saturday July 14th -- high summer baby!!! So this Memorial Day Opening Party was amazing!!! Thanks again to Shelby Davis and Mr. Ps Smokehouse for putting it all together! Shelby and Chris have a fabulous new smokehouse BBQ joint on Main St. - I hope to perform there this summer as well, love love love the BBQ!!! Thank you Schroon Lake for being the best home town anyone could ever want. Thanks to my friends and family for their love and support as I continue my travels and play music for the people! --Curtis Becraft, Memorial Day 2012.
It wasn't the easiest gig I've ever played... I worked late on Friday, then hit traffic going home and didn't get to my desktop until almost 10pm. Then it was homework time... we all think we know how to sing children's songs, but think about it... do you remember all the words? I sure didn't... so it was onto the internet, doing what I should have done weeks ago - but three hours later, my setlist was ready. Then it was crash till 5am, then pack up the car with guitars, amplifiers, accordion, mandolin, miscellanieties and other such and such... and I was on the road at 6am!!! 250 miles, 2 xl Dunkins and 2 McDs sausage biscuits later and I was pulling into the most beautiful town I will ever know, my hometown Schroon Lake NY. The town was just waking up and having breakfast, sleepy-eyed wanderers... My bud Steve Smith pulled up minutes later, his fabulous band was headlining the evening concert, and he generously provided sound for the afternoon performers too; so we carried PA components till my back was barking... ...and then suddenly I noticed, there were all these kids hanging around, and uh oh, time to go on! I set up a portable amplifier at the top of the hill while Steve continued to set up the main stage at the bandstand; and we launched into the ABC song like a rocket booster, and every kid was singing every word! There was a sweet redheaded girl who danced throughout the performance. There was a little blond boy who watched every single move my fingers made. There was a little brown eyed boy who had a good voice and sang with a smile. There were parents and children milling around, enjoying the shade and sun and small town life. My sister Catherine Walker was there with my neice Ashley, the co-author of my only (so far) original children's song "When the Bus Got Stuck". We sang Yellow Submarine and Country Roads Take Me Home - favs of my neice and nephews... we played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and you could hear a pin drop. I wore a Superman t-shirt and a red shirt over it draped like a cape; I didn't say I was Superman, but I didn't say I wasn't either... ; ) ... and a Beatles baseball cap, cause everyone likes the Beatles... The thing I will never forget, the thing I knew was coming because I've seen it before, but everytime it amazes me, is the intense look of concentration and cogitation that appears on the faces of very young people when they listen and dance to music; every time I see it, I feel like I am being shown a secret that only the very blessed can share. It was one of the most special sets of music I've ever experienced, I am grateful to those children for showing me how significant and joyful music is for a child, and for us all. Next was my afternoon set of Folksongs and Singalongs; and I think it went over well! Out on the main stage, playing my 12-string guitar on songs like Freight Train and Rosa Lee McFall; accordion on songs like Molly Malone and Redemption Song; mandolin on songs like Well All Right and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down; 1pm sun beating down on the crowd - I was on the mainstage under the shade of the Bandstand - it was a glorious bluebird day, but I'm glad we all had our sunblock! When my set was over I handed the stage over to my bud Mark Piper and his terrific rockabilly AdirondacKats group - great vocals, great instrumentalists, good guys!... and headed out seeking food and comfort - and found it at Mr. Ps Smokehouse with a smoked turkey leg that rivaled my mandolin in size and smoky tone... I ended up gnawing on the thing all afternoon (the turkey, not the mandolin... : )
... to be continued...
Today I was on ReW & WhO! Its this great long-running internet show hosted by Rew Starr; it was fun! you can check the vid I just posted for most of my segment, including my original song Rebecca performed on my brand new mandolin! Tomorrow I'm the in-studio performer on WDFH in Yonkers; with a very special Westchester musician sitting in; if you are in the area please message me for details to attend; otherwise check back soon for broadcast and streaming schedule... Finally, please check the great review of my record Tales of a Traveler on Examiner.com! Good things are happening, lots of music to come out for; hope to see you! -Curtis