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Mike Babyak/Triple Fret / Blog

2015

Quite a year, this 2015. On the solo front, a career highlight was playing an opening set on Mohan veena for David Torn at Cats Cradle. I also decided to get serious and embarked on formal study of Hindustani Classical music. Craziest part to that story? I found my teacher by answering an ad on Craigslist. Brilliant sitarist who commutes between CH and Brooklyn. Turns out he's roommates in Brooklyn with one of my best friends, keyboard great Jim Kost!

Lots of other musical highlights on the band front, almost too many to name. Continued my collaboration with the wonderful rhythm section of Mike Rosado and E. Scott Warren, and the guitar master Danny Gotham,. Also started a new collaboration with Rebecca Newton. And a new album on the way, which deatures great contributions from Taz Halloween (Kitty Box and the Johnnies), Shannon Culp Morgan (Gasoline Stove), Michael Sokolowski (Soko), Jim Kost (Rodney Holmes Band), Leo Kishore (Doby), and engineer Bongo John. Also privileged to have live guest appearances from Jim Roberts, Scott Sawyer, and Dave Bentlage.

I also did a number of sit-ins and guest appearances, including another annual "Circle" concert where I get to pluck a little primitive dobro alongside some of the genuine greats of NC traditional music, such as Jim Watson of red Clay Ramblers fame, Jeff Hart, Jan Johansson, Hank Smith, and so, so many more.

Maybe the most unusual project this year was being asked by a well-known baseball writer to record one of his original country tunes-- With the help of Danny, E. Scott, Scott McBride, and Ed Butler, I must say it turned out very nicely!

We were sorry to see the closing of The Station in Carrboro, where we had the pleasure of having a monthly residence. We're looking forward to finding another such home, and already have a few shows slated for the new year, including what will be our first appearance at The City Tap in Pittsboro. The project we're probably the most excited about, of course, is the above-mentioned record. At the time of this writing, we're about 85% through the actual recording process, and have 4 tunes completely "in the can" ready for mastering.

Whew! I'm sure there was more, but needless to say, a full year, and much to be thankful for!

Ackowledgments and thanks for Sawyer Benefit

Well, the dust is cleared a bit, as is my head. I just wanted to thank everyone for their contributions to what I think was a very successful event. Thanks to: The band--E and Mike, wonderfully done, as always, making the music live and breathe; Kimock--some sort of supernatural being in a human body; Dave McCracken--the groovin-est B3 guy out there, making big beautiful sounds and raising the music to a whole new level; Hank Smith--his new career as a backup singer is off to a great start; Don Eason--thanks so much for the donation of that fat B3 for the evening, and the brave one-armed help with getting the thing on stage; Rich Saltz--for donating Kimock's backline for the evening and getting the word out to a whole lot of people; Danny Rosin--for his invaluable, experienced hand in organizing and promoting and help with the auctions; Scotty Brownell--not only for his overwhelming generosity in allowing us to hold the event at his club, but also for his support and advice on all sorts of aspects of the show; Robbi Cohn--for her support and very generous donation of the Kimock/Garcia print for the auction, which raised a nice sum; James Benson--for his help with the auction table and transportation after the show; Kitty Kinnin--for incredible support, using her radio time to promote the event; Rick Ramirez--again for a long, long radio spot allowing me to drone on and on; Rich Cox for the beautiful pics; All friends new and old--coming out and being so supportive; and of course, Scott and Ghezzi--for letting us do this for you, and for your long service and generosity to the community. I hope I didn't forget anybody?!

Memories of musical highlights: Muhlenberg's Egner Chapel

Thinking back on the most satisfying musical experiences I've ever had, I can name several very distinct performances I've been involved in. Two of these occurred at my undergrad school, Muhlenberg College. The first was the opportunity to play tanpuri (an easy drone instrument that anybody can play) for Ken Zuckerman, a sarod master who was a student of the late Ali Akbar Khan, and presently the director of the Ali Akbar Khan School in Switzerland. I can't recall the name of the table player, but do remember that he was a student of Zakir Hussein. We performed to a full house in Muhlenberg's beautiful Egner Chapel: http://www.muhlenberg.edu/studorgs/newman/images/egner-inside.jpg. Two and half hours of sheer bliss!

The second event was again in Egner Chapel, this time as part of the Christmas concert. I played classical guitar along with the school choir. The piece was "What Sweeter Music" by John Rutter. Again, a packed house and the incredible acoustics of the chapel made for a "peak" experience. Totally transported by it all. Here's a version by the King's College choir at Cambridge. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ucVQSJunR4

More later...