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Anni Blog May 4, 2015

Shake Russell & Anni in Wylie TX

Hello to All! It’s been a week since I got home from Texas & I’m still waiting for it to warm up! I got spoiled… shorts & sleeveless shirts, sandals & sunscreen… I have to believe it won’t be long now before we get to shed some layers here in Maine. After the winter we had, my fingers are crossed for a long, warm summer ahead. A little spring would be nice before we get there! It IS supposed to warm up this coming week… I hope the weather guy is right.

I am posting dates for both May & June this month because reservations are strongly encouraged for two June shows in particular: June 2nd at Drummore Bay in Phippsburg (with Dan Merrill!) & June 18th at The Noble House Inn in Bridgton. In addition to these very special shows, my music calendar is starting to get busier… a real big hint that warm weather is indeed just around the corner. Here’s the scoop, in this order:

1. MAY/JUNE SHORT LIST (Date, Venue, Town & Time Only)

1. MAY/JUNE SHORT LIST(Date, Venue, Town & Time Only)

FRI, MAY 8 - Ocean Pizza - Old Orchard Beach ME - 7PM
TUES, JUNE 2 - Drummore Bay Concert Hall - Phippsburg ME - 7PM
     (with Dan Merrill! Reservations encouraged!)
FRI, JUNE 5 - JJ’s Eatery - Old Orchard Beach ME - 7PM
THURS, JUNE 18 - Noble House Inn - Bridgton ME - 6:30PM
     (Outdoors, weather allowing… Reservations encouraged!)
THURS, JUNE 25 - Bueno Loco - Falmouth ME - 6PM
FRI, JUNE 26 - Ocean Pizza - Old Orchard Beach ME - 7PM


FRIDAY / MAY 8th & JUNE 26th / OCEAN PIZZA / OLD ORCHARD BEACH ME / 7PM / 207-934-2900... Ocean Pizza sounds like a little diner thing doesn't it? There's a take out spot in the front, sure 'nough... but the dining room is really warm, woody & comfy, with a bar & music on Friday nights... & GET THIS: the only music allowed is... ORIGINAL MUSIC! Totally cool. Pam, the owner, is a petite fiery lady straight outta Italy with some of her Grandma's best recipes tucked up under her sleeve. This is another splendid specimen of a local family run business with something unique to offer. Here's their [website].

TUESDAY / JUNE 2nd / DRUMMORE BAY CONCERT HALL / PHIPPSBURG ME / 7PM / 207-446-7199 / $15… with DAN MERRILL! This is a TRULY COOL NEW VENUE! My friend & fellow musician Jackson Gay & his wife Jean purchased this building with a vision for all good things happening inside & around it, mostly musically involved. I played here for the first time on 9/11 last year… it was a moving evening in so many ways. I’m psyched to come back & share an evening with the one & only Dan Merrill! Surely, this will be a stellar evening… The venue is at 516 Main Rd (Rt 209)… easy to find. RESERVATIONS are strongly encouraged. You can call Jean at 207-446-7199 or order tix from the website [here].

FRIDAY / JUNE 5 / JJ’S / OLD ORCHARD BEACH ME / 7PM / 207-934--0222... a perfect choice of venue to celebrate the coming of summah! If it’s warm & dry I’ll set up outside on the patio & let the tunes fly… if not, the inside’s just as fun! Great food & drinks & local color combine to make this a fave hang in OOB 12 months of the year... I call it "The Cheers of Maine" for good reason. Here's JJ's [website].

THURSDAY / JUNE 18th / The NOBLE HOUSE INN CONCERT SERIES / BRIDGTON ME / 6:30PM / 207-647-3733… Cindi Hooper has been doing a fine job of finding an impressive roster of artists from all over the country to perform at this concert series. I booked this show almost a year ago, because I was so impressed with what she’s doing & where she’s doing it! Word of mouth has spread like wild fire, so I encourage y’all to call ahead to book seats… the shows sell out frequently. If weather allows, I’l setup outside in front of the Inn, so maybe we can get few extra people in on the fun. If it looks like an outdoor day, bring a chair or a blanket, maybe some bug dope & 2 of your best friends. I am SOOOO looking forward to this! Suggested donations are $10 to $15… & here’s Cindi’s [website]. You can e-mail her directly right [here].

THURSDAY / JUNE 25th / BUENO LOCO / FALMOUTH ME / 6PM / 207-619-7057... I heard about this Mexican venue a while back from some fellow musicians, so I checked it out on my way to visit family in Yarmouth, right next door… very cool spot. Sharon (the owner) & her staff were friendly, enthusiastic & very open to my performing there to get a feel for the room before they pause their music nights for the summer months. This will be my 2nd gig here & I dare say it won’t be my last. I had such a wonderful time here in April & saw a lot of fun faces I had not seen in years! Food’s good & the Ritas are, too! Here’s their [website].

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Jan, David, Anni & Maell in San Antonio

When I began to conceptualize a “Maell Memorial Bluebonnet Tour” to celebrate & honor the life of my late friend Merry Ellen Featherstone, I had no way of knowing just how powerful an experience it would become… not only for me, but for so many people who had come to know Maell & love her like I do. The fact that her son David had agreed to fly out from CA to join Jan Reed & I was a good start, I thought… & in the end, it came as no surprise that Merry Ellen came along for the ride as well, in more ways than one.

We had a pretty tight schedule right from the git-go, kicking off the tour with a Saturday night house concert in Cypress (just outside Houston) at Pam & Dave’s beautiful home. I dreamt of Maell the night before the house concert… it was as if she was thanking me for coming to TX to share her love & her stories… & on the night of the house concert, just after I played the last note of my song “Touch Another Life”… a big shaft of sunlight broke through clouds outside & poured into the living room right where I was standing… I got a tad choked up & we turned our attention to the outdoors… above the canal of water outside Pam & Dave’s home, we saw a full, bright shimmering rainbow! Merry Ellen at her best, we thought. After much laughter & many tears, we all hugged one another good night & tried to sleep, knowing the road trip began early the next morning.

Jan had saved some of Maell’s ashes for our journey, tucked away safely in a small red tin shaped like a mail box, complete with a flag that went up & down. When we packed up our rental car Sunday morning, we made sure Maell was riding shotgun… her place beside me for all those happy years of traveling TX making music, meeting people, making memories. Pam & Jan had made about 6 pounds of Merry Ellen’s famous spiced pecans for the trip, so we could share them at every stop. Five hours later, we arrived in Wylie (northeast of Dallas)… one of Maell’s & my favorite spots. Here, I joined Shake Russell for a house concert at Tom & Linda Noe’s. Mind you, Shake & I had not played together here in 11 years… we had maybe 20 minutes in a back room to noodle guitars & refresh our memories before we were ON… & we never missed a beat! It was pure joy to sing & dance again with Shake… & Maell, of course, had a front row seat (here & at EVERY venue, restaurant, picnic or concert we were at along the way!)… her flag was UP indicating “Maell is in residence.”

On Monday, we packed up the car after a breakfast fit for kings, leaving for San Antonio before 10AM… another 5 hours on the road. On our way out of Wylie, I learned how to use the “Waze” APP on my phone for directions & road alerts… I had just plugged in the destination address when the APP showed me we’d be passing “Featherstone Drive” on our left. Wow… we stopped, of course & took pictures. Next thing we knew, we were hangin’ with Nancy, my San Antonio pal who had housed Maell & I more than one time. We had a glorious dinner that night, seated outdoors at La Fonda, Maell in the center of our table… & that was the ONLY night we left her on the table (or ANYWHERE) for the rest of the trip! Honestly, we were in the parking lot for less than a minute when we realized… where’s Merry Ellen? She was still sitting there on the table when we went back… PHEW!

Tuesday morning was a little less rushed… we had only an hour & 1/2 to drive to Austin that day, but we DID want to beat rush hour… so we grabbed some yummy lunch at Betos (where the picture above was taken & where Maell, Nancy & I had been before) then we hit the road again. See Maell in the mailbox? Soon, I was walking with my friend Judi in Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin. I hadn’t seen Judi & her husband Ron since Maell & I stayed with them way back when. We stayed two nights in Austin… I won’t detail every event, but know this: we heard some awesome music & revisited several spots where Maell & I had made memories before. We saw old friends & made new ones… I even managed to keep a secret for 3 days & surprised Jan & David with a Shake Russell, Michael Hearne & Bob Cheevers music night at Z Tejas! I think we had about 10 or 12 people gathered there & Jan & David were the only ones who didn’t know Shake would be playing… nice surprise.

Thursday morning dawned a warm & sultry day… this was the day we would drive back to Cypress, passing Kickapoo Road… the road whose name became a song I wrote for Maell so many years ago. Our plan was to spread some of Maell’s ashes there on the way through. We stopped in Brenham for a picnic, hoping to find a field of bluebonnets, but most of them had gone by in that area. At the suggestion of a gal in the visitor’s center, we found a small, peaceful cemetery off a back road & uncorked some wine to toast to Maell while we ate some lunch. Up to then, it’d been really hot & sticky… but within minutes of our being there, a cool breeze came in from across the meadow in front of us & a male cardinal flew in & perched on a wire fence nearby & kept us company most of the time we were there. At one point, I held out my wine glass asking for more, saying “Cos you know, the more the MerryEllener”… & that became our mantra for the rest of the trip! Not long after our picnic, we took the Kickapoo Road exit & found a small pond in a field of tall grass alongside the exit road. A heron was standing in the middle of the pond & butterflies flew around us. I sang a bit of the Kickapoo song as we spread some of Maell’s ashes… it felt good, it felt right. We had made the loop that Maell & I had traveled so many times & on the side of this road we found some peaceful closure.

Friday night was my show at Anderson Fair with Shake Russell & Mike Roberts… Maell loved this room! So many great nights of music here… to me, it felt like coming home. A stellar evening was had by all & another revisited memory was made that much sweeter.

Saturday went by in a flash… we made another trip back to Kickapoo so Pam could take part in spreading more of Merry Ellen’s ashes on the other side of the road. The day was perfect for doing this… I sang loudly & we did Merry Ellen proud. That last night I got to sing with Bill Ward & Ken Gaines (like old times) at an outdoor house concert not far from Pam & Dave’s… I never would have met those guys if it weren’t for Maell. We were up too late given the fact that I had a plane to catch the next morning, but I figured I’d sleep on the plane. Which I did… well, some of the way.

A week later, I’m still partly back there in TX… the whole experience was more than words can ever describe. One thing I know for sure… Maell is smiling… but then again, she always did. And NOW? It’s time to smile my way into the spring & summer months of New England. I put my skis away this weekend & got out the lawn furniture. Bring on the warmth, I say… I am ready! Thanks, as always, for staying tuned to my ramblings. I hope I see y’all down the road soon…


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2 - Drummore Bay Concert Hall - Phippsburg ME - 7PM
     (With Dan Merrill! Up Close & Personal / No Alcohol)
5 - JJ’s Eatery - Old Orchard Beach ME - 6:30PM - 207-934-0222
18 - Noble House Inn - Bridgton ME - 6:30PM - 207-647-3733
     house concert: reservations encouraged:
25 - Bueno Loco - Falmouth ME - 6PM - 207-619-7057
26 - Ocean Pizza - Old Orchard Beach ME - 7PM

14 - Drummore Bay Concert Hall - Phippsburg ME - 7PM
     (SOLO - Up Close & Personal - No Alcohol)
23 - Greenville Gazebo - Greenville ME - 7PM - 207-695-2702

7 - JJ’s Eatery - Old Orchard Beach ME - 7PM - 207-934-0222
17 - Lake Pemaquid Campground - Damariscotta ME - 7:30PM

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