Misa at the Helm (A Hobbit's Tale) 

Hey everybody! I thought I’d let Son have some time off from updating the blog and share what’s going on down here in the Husky world from my perspective (4’ 10” from the ground). It’s hard to believe we are already into the second month of 2016! With the recent snowstorm here on the east coast, we unfortunately had some January shows cancelled but made the best of our time off. Tim explored the quiet streets of Asheville while Son and I remained snowed in for the duration of the weekend - he experimented with his birthday gift, a MIDI keyboard, while I made my way through Season Three of the X-Files. The truth is out there! 

Tim, wandering Asheville's snowy streets (photo by Laura Connor)

Luckily for us (especially cold-blooded Son), the cold spell seems to have passed and spring’s weather seems to be making its way here. It felt great to be back on the road this past weekend, all crammed into Tim’s Honda CR-V just like our cross-country touring days of yore. We brought the ruckus at Ruckus Pizza in Raleigh Thursday night, playing our favorites and eating slices twice the size of my head. Friday brought us to Liberty Brewing in High Point, a new town for us, and Saturday at the 2nd Wind in Carrboro absolutely filled our Husky hearts with joy. Old friends aplenty came and we made lots of new ones with the banjo’s siren song. We can say unabashedly that a great time was had by all! The next day I let the music help fight back my cold (I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell) while Tim and Son enjoyed some delicious brews at Fullsteam Brewery in Durham. We played to a serried crowd enlivened by the warm breeze outside – a wonderful ending to the weekend. 

All of this gear (plus 3 people) fits into 1 car

This Triangle run also marked the debut of my new mandolin, handcrafted with love by my uncle Paul. It started out as a crazy idea we had over a year ago, and I never imagined it actually coming to life in such a harmonious way. I’ve always been interested in lutherie but I was slightly intimidated by the actual construction process. Enthusiasm won over, however, and my dad, my uncle, and I jumped into the project head-first, using two pieces of spruce from some old shelves for the back and front and a perfectly curved branch of mountain laurel from my parent’s neighborhood for the neck and headstock. We planed the wood until it was thin enough for Paul to begin construction, and after months of gradual progress, he brought it over in December, all strung up and ready to play. Come see our newest member at an upcoming show! 

We've received our education in mandolin creation, me and Paul

In equally exciting news, My Old Heart is in the most final of final stages! Both art and audio have been uploaded, so now we hold our breath, press send, and wait for the coveted packages to appear on our doorstep. We’ll have more updates for you on that front very soon! 2016 has been off to a great start for us, and we have only more good things to look forward to in the coming months.  If you’re in Asheville next week, come join us at One World Brewing – we are stoked to announce we will now be playing there on the second Wednesday of every month!

The front cover of My Old Heart, designed by the wonderful Meg Lemieur

2/3 - Foggy Mountain Brew Pub, Asheville, NC 
2/4 - Oskar Blues Brewery, Brevard, NC
2/5 - Lost Province Brewing Co., Boone, NC
2/6 - The Hotel Tavern, West Jefferson, NC
2/7 - Blue Mountain Pizza, Weaverville, NC
2/10 - One World Brewing, Asheville, NC
2/11 - Yee-Haw Brewing, Johnson City, TN
2/19 - Holy City Brewing, Charleston, SC
2/20 - Hourglass Brewing, Longwood, FL, w/ Applebutter Express
2/21 - Terra Fermata, Stuart, FL
2/24 - New World Brewing, Tampa, FL
2/25 - Sheila's, Sebring, FL, w/ Santo Feo, The Andeeks Roadshow, and Scotty Crow
2/26 - Barley Mow Brewing, Largo, FL
2/27 - The Hub, Tampa, FL, w/ Derek Forrester and Jeff Brawer
2/28 - Harry's, Anna Maria, FL

Virginia is for Huskies 

Well, the last road weekend of 2015 has just receded into the rear view, and what a weekend it was. We trekked on up to the Commonwealth of Virginia in the midst of a December heatwave, and found the warmth in the air reciprocated by the many good people who came out to enjoy their nights with us. 

The trip began with a beautiful drive up 26 and 81, through the leafless mountains of Tennessee and southwest Virginia, bringing us, eventually, to Charlottesville, where we had not stopped since the summer. We were there to make our debut at World of Beer, a barroom with an absolutely astounding selection of craft brews, as well as an excellent stage and even better sound guy who turned out to be a veteran of the Dave Matthews team. To top it all off, we had a great audience of old friends in attendance, who were the last ingredient needed to create a pretty perfect night. 

Photo cred goes to Misa on what will surely be one of the most iconic pictures ever taken of Tim

After the last song was played and the last friend hugged in Charlottesville, we got right back on the road and headed east to my former home, Richmond. Saturday was spent ambling about the sunny streets of the capital, with a stop at Deep Groove Records, home of the finest dollar bin anywhere. I stocked up on Ray Charles and Stephen Stills, while Misa picked up some Emmylou and Sleater Kinney. 

The night kicked off with our return to Triple Crossing Brewing Co., which again was an intimate and highly enjoyable event in front of many friends and family. Our waking hours were far from over, though, as Tim and I continued on to my home away from home, Cary Street Cafe, to enjoy two of the city's finest country and bluegrass bands, Red Light Rodeo and The Hotseats. It turned out to be as fun a night of music watching as either of us have had in a while, and one of the longest too, as we returned to the house just after sunrise. The day continued with some great hours spent playing our songs at Saude Creek Vineyards, and then the well worn return drive to Asheville town. 

I had the pleasure of joining Richmond's finest for a spirited rendition of 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken'

So it is, with that trip made and this week almost over as well, that our 2015 schedule is coming to a close. By Tim's calculation, we will have played 172 shows as a band once this weekend is over, which means 172 times that we have had the chance to do what we love – share the celebration of life through music with so many of you, all over the country. 172 times that, we hope, at least one person seeing us perform has been able to forget about their cares and join us in genuinely enjoying themselves in that moment. So, thank you all for being a part of it this year and giving us the chance to do what we do. We hope to see you often in the new year. 

Speaking of new year, we've got a whole lot of exciting shows on the books for the coming months, including our first ever foray into Florida, in February. The calendar is now updated with those dates, plus our nineteen January shows. Check 'em out and come on out, and, til then, happy holidays!

Sunrise over Richmond and the James River

Happy Thanksgiving from Redleg Husky! 

From Tim, Misa, and myself, to all of you, Happy Thanksgiving! It's been such a busy month of November for us that we've been letting the blog go a bit, but that means that there's that much more to report on in this entry.

The bulk of the last few weeks was spent doing what we do best – playing shows and shows and shows, both in our Carolina mountains and in Tim's home state of Ohio. The latter run included stops at The Listing Loon in Cincinnati, a show with Iowa indie band The Multiple Cat in Dayton, and back to back bar stops in the towns of Galena and Marietta. It was my first time spending any real amount of time in the Buckeye State, and it was a pleasure. There was consistently delicious (and very filling) food, quality backyard football (turns out I'm better than Tim), and some spirited education on the difference between the state that is the birthplace of aviation and that which is first in flight. The weekend was highlighted as well by a thorough, and much appreciated, newspaper feature about Redleg Husky, in the Dayton City Paper.

Dayton's been expecting us!

Besides the performances, November has been in no small part a time to look forward. We've been doubling up our practicing efforts to develop new material for our ever-expanding repertoire, with traditionals like 'Greenville Trestle High' and 'If I Lose' among the recent additions, as well as a revamped version of Johnny Cash's 'Get Rhythm.' The latter two feature backup vocals from your favorite bass player, as do some of the new originals from the album that have recently become staples of our shows. One or two new originals are already in the works as well, so we're looking forward to polishing those and getting them to the stage soon.

On the business side of things, we've been working the phones to fill up the early months of 2016 with shows, and are excited to be announcing some of the major dates soon, including our first foray into Florida, in February. For now, we'll leave you with our December dates, and again wish you and all of yours a very happy Thanksgiving. The three of us are grateful for a great deal in our lives, but near the top of the list is the opportunity to do what we love for a living, which would not be possible without your continued support of and appreciation for our music. So, if you're reading this, thank you!!

Somewhere between Cincinnati and Galena

12/3 – Oskar Blues Brewing, Brevard, NC

12/4 – Water'n Hole, Waynesville, NC

12/5 – No Name Sports Bar, Sylva, NC

12/8 – Jack of the Wood, Asheville, NC

12/10 – Chetola Resort, Blowing Rock, NC

12/11 – World of Beer, Charlottesville, VA

12/12 – Triple Crossing Brewing, Richmond, VA

12/13 – Saude Creek Vineyards, Lanexa, VA

12/15 – Son and Tim duo show, One World Brewing, Asheville, NC

12/16 – 5 Walnut Wine Bar, Asheville, NC

12/17 – Lookout Brewing, Black Mountain, NC

12/18 – Tipping Point Tavern, Waynesville, NC

12/19 – Hotel Tavern, West Jefferson, NC

Dirt Floor + Philly = Happy Huskies 

Hello again Husky heads! It's been an amazing couple of weeks for Tim, Misa, and I, so it's exciting to write this post and share it all with you.

Tim lays down banjo parts while Eric and Steve man the controls

The big event, of course, was spending seven days making our second full length album, My Old Heart, at Dirt Floor Recording Studio in Haddam, Connecticut. It was a process that proved to be a bit of a rollercoaster, with some significant moments of difficulty but some even more significant moments of overwhelming enjoyment and satisfaction. The ten songs that we brought with us as seedlings grew into their leafy, flowering, beautiful selves in a way that has brought almost permanent smiles to all our faces. The studio's owner, Eric Lichter, and his team – James Maple, Steve Wytas, and Cody Urban – balanced persistence and attention to detail with a really warm, inviting atmosphere, and did a great job of both coaxing our very best playing and singing out of us and of contributing their own sounds (drums, piano, pedal steel, slide guitar) to flesh out the tunes. All in all, an amazing experience and one whose fruits we cannot wait to get into your ears. If you'd like to see more pictures than the couple featured here, check out our photo album.

Eric Lichter and James Maple on the porch at Dirt Floor

I'd like to take a moment, too, to thank everyone who pre-ordered My Old Heart and our new merch through our indiegogo campaign. The Dirt Floor team is now in the final stages of producing the record, so we're on track for our early 2016 release date. That means less than eight weeks to wait for those that pre-ordered. Now that we've heard what has come out of those sessions, we feel confident in saying that this will be an album you'll enjoy. Thanks so much again for giving us some extra peace of mind by ordering early.

After Dirt Floor, we began our southerly journey with a stop in Philadelphia, where we played two shows with my old friends Darlington, including a house show that also featured amazing sets from locals Driftwood Soldier and Andy McLeod. Driftwood Soldier, by the way, is coming south soon, for a show at Jack of the Wood on December 6th, and are definitely worth checking out. As Tim mentioned on the microphone that night, although it's the South that is known for its hospitality, the warmth that we felt in Philly – and every day of our stay in Connecticut – was really humbling and left us honored to be part of this amazing folk music community. That warmth continued late on into the night as we all kept the music going with post-show jamming, first by Tim and Andy tearing up some old time banjo music, and then with Tim and I rounding out the night with acoustic blues. Thanks again Philly! We're still feeling the brotherly love.

From there it was a brief stop in my old stomping grounds of Richmond, VA, for shows at the ever hospitable Triple Crossing Brewing Co. and Saude Creek Vineyards. They're both community institutions that craft the highest quality beverages, and seem to attract some of the most engaged patrons anywhere. That made for a really fun Saturday night and Sunday afternoon before packing it all up and rolling home to Candler town.

I'd like to wrap up this post with a list of upcoming shows since we've got quite a few in WNC before the end of the month, as well as a jaunt up to Ohio that I hope many of you are looking forward to as much as I am. Bring a friend, a will that won't bend, and stay 'til the end! 'Til then, thanks again for all of your love and support. We couldn't do this without ya.

11/4 – Foggy Mountain Brewpub, Asheville, NC

11/5 – Chetola Resort, Blowing Rock, NC

11/6 – Hotel Tavern, West Jefferson, NC

11/7 – The Bywater, Asheville, NC

11/11 – The Listing Loon, Cincinnati, OH

11/12 – Canal Public House, Dayton, OH

11/13 – Mudflats Bar and Grill, Galena, OH

11/14 – Marietta Brewing Company, Marietta, OH

11/17 – Tim and Son duo show at One World Brewing, Asheville, NC

11/18 – Chetola Resort, Blowing Rock, NC

11/20 – Tipping Point Tavern, Waynesville, NC

11/21 – Lost Province Brewing Company, Boone, NC

11/22 – Town Pump Tavern, Black Mountain, NC

Get to Know Redleg Husky, pt. 3: Tim McWilliams 

Your chance to get to know us Redlegs continues, with an interview with T-Mac the Big Mac himself, Tim McWilliams. Here are his thoughts on life:

Why do you play music?
I guess it's evolved over the years...I think I've always been infatuated with sounds that I've heard. I've tried a lot of different instruments, but the guitar was the one I really fell in love with, and now, in the last few years, the tone of the acoustic guitar is what I love. I don't really know how to explain what playing music does for me. I love performing, for sure, but my favorite time to play music, and some of my most treasured times, are when I'm alone, I know nobody can hear, and I'm playing for my own personal enjoyment because that's what I want to hear. And those moments where you feel like you take yourself out of everything that's going on around you, take yourself out of the world, and you get so lost in what you're doing, you just lose yourself. When you snap back you think “Wow, that was so euphoric.” The first time I had that, I was hooked forever. It puts me at ease, too...I feel weird if I go a day without playing.

Who's one artist or band that people might be surprised to learn that you listen to?
There are moments when I love listening to lounge music, like Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong. I love Armstrong's instrumentals but I love when he sings and does duets with other vocalists. That's probably one people might not expect.

If you could have the career and life of one musician in history, whose would you take?
That's such a hard question...I think everyone I love has had such hard times. My first thought was Doc Watson, but he lost his son, so that would be terrible, I don't want to experience that. Tony Rice can't play anymore, and that's my worst nightmare. Maybe a guy that people might not know – a guy named Jack Lawrence because he's still around, he's still playing, and although if you passed him on the street you wouldn't know who he was, he's an amazing guitarist and I'd love to be able to play like he does. Plus he got to tour with Doc Watson and got to be Doc Watson's right hand man for over a decade. So that would be amazing, to be able to be day in and day out with Doc, on the road with him, hear all those stories, and just be able to pick with him every night, that would be incredible.

What's your favorite thing about being on the road or on tour?
It always feels like an adventure. No matter if we're going for a few days, two weeks, or three months...when we pack up and load up the car before we leave, it just feels like an adventure. You never know what's going to happen, and when you're traveling time slows down, I think, and you're more able to be in the moment.

What's your favorite beer?
I really love the beer that I just drank, which is Green Man's porter. It's delicious and smooth and good.

What's the best live show you've ever seen?
The best live show I've ever been to and the one that really started me on the path of acoustic music was in 2009, when my friend told me to buy these tickets to go see this band with him. I was in college and they were twenty bucks and I thought “That's a lot of money, and I'm not getting paid very well at the job I'm working,” but I went because he insisted I'd love them. It was at this small theater at Ohio University, which held not more than fifteen hundred people, and it was the Avett Brothers, just after they had released I and Love and You, which was their first big album, with Rick Reuben, and their first album on a big record label. At that point in time, all I was listening to was Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and old Red Hot Chili Peppers, and if a song didn't have an intense electric guitar solo in it, I didn't want to listen to it. But I went to this show, and I was just blown away. From the first song to the end I was really just taken away from anything I might have been thinking about, and I was just blown away by the emotion that they conveyed and the energy they conveyed. It's still the most energetic show I've seen, to this day. The way they bared it all on the line...That's what led me into acoustic music, and then later I heard Doc and thought “Oh, you can shred on the acoustic guitar.”

What does being a Redleg Husky mean to you?
It's my identity now, I think. It's what I am. When we're on stage together, it just always feels so right. Being able to share that experience with two of my best friends...that's such a special thing, and I don't think a lot of musicians get to do that. I've put a lot of heart and soul and blood and sweat and tears into this band. I can't imagine playing with anyone else.

What do you think is a misconception that some people might have about the life of a professional musician?
I think the biggest misconception is that it's an easy life, that we do it because it's easy, and that we just laze around and go play shows a couple hours a week. But the reason we do it is because there's a burning passion, and a burning feeling that you can't get rid of, and you have to satisfy. Of course it's a ton of fun, and I don't want to trade it for anything, I love it. But there are hard moments and in those it seems like a regular, salary job would be a lot easier, but I know that I wouldn't be satisfied and I'd feel like I let myself down if I didn't pursue this.

What's your favorite episode of MTV Cribs?
OK let me run through a few in my mind...OK, the one that calls out to me from the recesses of my mind, is Ice-T's episode. I'm pretty sure he had an aquarium built into his bedroom wall with a shark in there, which was unreal.

If you had to get a different job, what other job would you have?
The only other job that I think would give me fulfillment – not like music, but some fulfillment – would be teaching. Before I joined this band I was working with inner city high school students [in Cincinnati] and I really enjoyed trying to be a mentor, helping with any problems, and if they had a goal, trying to help them meet that. That was great.

How badly do you want everyone reading this to pre-order the album in the last hours of the indiegogo campaign?
Really badly! I'm really confident that it's going to be a great album. I think people will really enjoy it. I know, personally, when I've spent money on music and I've really enjoyed it, it just makes my life so much better and makes me so much happier. I think this album has the chance to do that for a lot of folks. We've been putting so much work into it. These songs are road tested, and have so much put into them. I think a lot of people that have heard us before will enjoy it especially, because they're not going to believe how far we've come.

What are your predictions for the coming fantasy hockey season?
I'm going to be honest here – I just don't want to come in last.