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June 2004

Last month left us enthralled with the Australian trio "Bluehouse", and the thrall and offer remains: If you go to see them at MSC this 7/31 and are not delighted, I'll give you a refund myself. I took the road to Houston after that show, arriving to the long promised hospitality of one Orris Brown III, a fellow well met at last year's Wildflower Festival.

Orris had offered repeatedly this past year to take me around to the Houston music venues, and our first stop the first night was the open mic at JP Hops. I walk in the door and Michael Troy says hello from the stage, the same guy I just shared the Calvin gig with three days and a few hundred miles ago. Michael is a Kerrville finalist, we share some beer and cheeseburgers, and Orris extends his hospitality to the both of us.

Troy is simply a good man, with good, deep lyric-driven songs, and in the next few days we hit the other open mics in Houston, from Anderson Fair, with posters of performers stretching through every room, to a pool hall open mic run by Robert Frith, another Kerrville finalist this year., and also this year's Wildflower winner.

Michael has a gig at Casbeers in San Antonio, and we travel down there together and we share his stage time. This may sound more generous than it is. Casbeers is a true Texas honky-tonk, great enchiladas, stuffed animals on the walls, a steer skull, it's horns wrapped in Christmas lights on the stage, the NBA playoffs on the big-screen TV stage right. We spend the night at Butch Morgan's house, deep in the true Texas. Butch was also a Wildflower winner this year.

As neat as Kerrville was, this serendipitous meeting was the highlight of this trip for me. Just an easy companionship with someone who's doing the same thing you are, who understands the dream, easy time spent on the road. Someone comfortable enough with what they are and with their act that there's no competition, just fellowship.

I head on my own to Albuquerque to see my oldest friend of this lifetime, one I first met 42 years ago. I'd heard that he died some years ago and was good to find this not so. Went and saw the Isotopes beat The Area 51's in AAA baseball. Checking the local music scene on the net I find...nothing. Except that Dan Bolling lives there. So I visit him and his family, we break bread and share songs. It is a habit I am getting to really enjoy. It's different from performing, more music and less stagecraft. I head out of New Mexico and begin my pilgrimage to Kerrville.

I drive in Wednesday afternoon. Michael Terry finds a spot to jam in my tent, helps me set it up, finds me an air mattress for godsakes! This feeling of being made welcome, a slower, back-porch drawling conversational pace takes over. Folks ain't really rushing to get anywhere. They're already there. I've come mostly to hear the Newfolk Contest, to study, to listen, to see what the judges are looking for. I'm still trying to figure out the last one. If I can stick with this a few more years I might be able to write songs as well as some that lost.

Sunday night is my last, and I leave the guitar back at the tent and just walk around listening. Jack Williams is holding court in the middle of the street, Rachel Bissex is a few yards down, each with their circles. I've heard way too many folks to mention and played my full measure of camps and trees and stages. I just want to listen, to change stations gently by the movement of my feet. I am content to walk the length of this camp for my last hours. I'll be back.