The Good Busy 

over the last couple of months has included several trips to New York for Lincoln Center Local performances with illusionist/inventor Mario Marchese, sessions for ABCs Nashville with Buddy Miller, writing and producing an instrumental record of Gulf Coast-inspired jazz/blues for The License Lab, scoring some music for a new series on a prominent cable network (details soon), and producing an EP for the inspiring Brooklyn-based artist Pete Lanctot.

Ahead this week: a couple of low-key AMA Week performances with Brigitte, Will, Danni, and Phil, some more recording, and hopefully harvesting the first few ghost peppers from our backyard.

“Hey There, Sunshine” video single 

Congrats to Danni Nicholls (and co-writer Dave Burn) on the release of the video single for Hey There, Sunshine! Some killer dobro playing here by the legendary Al Perkins. Spoiler alert: cute dogs and kids contained herein.

A new musical in the works for our friend Myra Taylor, Queen Of KC Jazz 

In 2010, a mutual friend hipped me to the ethereal vocals of KC jazz legend Myra Taylor. After a bit of digging, I was able to turn up some obscure recordings of Myra from the thirties and forties which eventually led to the inclusion of Myras Spider And The Fly and Quit Barking In My Rhubarb on two different Coal Train Railroad projects. My friend Katy Bowser and myself also conducted nearly an hour long interview with Myra, excerpts of which were featured on a CTRR podcast. It was during that interview that I realized the extent of Myras importance not only to jazz history, but also as a pioneer for women in the music industry.

Whilst in KC with Emmylou Harris in 2011 to play the Lilith Fair, I actually got to spend a day with Myra having lunch in the old Vine district, touring the American Jazz Museum and Negro Baseball League Museum, and then hosting her as my guest for our Lilith Fair performance that evening (she even got to talk baseball with Emmylou herself):

Emmylou Harris with Mama Myra Taylor, Queen Of KC Jazz

Undeterred by her wheelchair, direct sun, and the 90+ degree heat, Myra insisted on staying at the Lilith Fair from mid-afternoon until Sarah McLachlans set ended at almost midnight. When I found her after the show in the dim glow of the amphitheaters exit lights, she looked at me with huge tears in her eyes and said I will never, never forget this day for the rest of my life. I realized then how the concert must have closed a circle for Myra, who faced not only the normal challenges of surviving as an artist but did so as a woman of color in a segregated America, and was completely awe-struck.

Myra passed away in December 2011 at the age of 94.

Just today, a Kickstarter campaign has launched to raise funds for the first phase of All For A Song, a new theatrical production honoring the life and legacy of Mama Myra Taylor. I encourage you to consider supporting this project on behalf of a remarkable woman that I am truly honored to call a friend. Miss you, Mama!!

Summer 2013 

No touring for me this summer (aaaaahh!) but there have been plenty of musical projects to keep up with:

  • Danni Nicholls A Little Redemption, recorded last December in East Nashville with a host of our most treasured friends and colleagues, was officially released internationally last week. ImageA HUGE congratulations to Danni, certainly one of the most inspiring and motivated artists that Ive ever had the pleasure of working with. The album has already gotten excellent reviews in the UK and were eager to continue the buzz when Danni returns to Nashville this fall.
  • Were in the late stages of recording a new Brigitte DeMeyer album with Will Kimbrough, Brady Blade, and Jimmy Wallace as the core rhythm section (affectionately dubbed The Wicked Barbershop by Mme Brigitte herself). There is a lighter touch arrangement-wise on this album consistent with the acoustic trio setting weve been performing in over the last year or so. than on BDMs previous projects. Well be premiering some of the new songs at the Station Inn on 5 September.
  • This month I have the great honor of playing in the pit band for The Theater Bug production of Showmance A Summer Musical. This non-profit theater troupe of young people led by the tireless and exceptionally talented Cori Anne Laemmel is quickly becoming one of East Nashvilles favorite bragging points.
  • I wrote and recorded an album of rather strange music entitled Vintage Cheeze for The License Lab that will post to the music librarys site later this month. In terms of genre, visualize a fez-clad Peter Sellers chatting up Steve McQueen at the afterparty of the 1971 Moto-X Championships and their surprised expressions when Brigitte Bardot rides into the gallery on the back of an ostrich. Or something like that.
  • NAMM comes to the brand-new Music City Center this weekend. Im going to hang around the KALA booth for a bit on Friday and play the U-Bass for jams with Will Kimbrough and Ukedelic Andy Hudson (Andy actually purchased the last two tickets to the Jake Shimabukuro show at the Franklin Theater last month I was very glad for him but kicked myself for having waited).
  • Weve got another Mario The Magician & Sleight Of Hand Band hit at the Queens Library @ Cambria Heights on 27 July, sponsored by Lincoln Center Local. Avi Rothbard and myself will be joined that afternoon by acclaimed drummer Pete Zimmer, who will no doubt have ample opportunity to expand his rimshot and press-roll repertoire. (;

Will check in again before Tomato Art Fest on 10 AugustCx

Presenting “Danni Nicholls – A Little Redemption” 

Danni Nicholls - A Little Redemption

Now available worldwide at all major online retailers and in select record stores within the UK!

Produced By Chris Donohue
Recorded December 2012 by Stephen Leiweke at Yackland Studio, East Nashville, TN

Danni Nicholls Vocals, electric and acoustic guitars
Chris Donohue Electric and contrabass, electric and acoustic guitars, banjo, keyboards
Bryan Owings Drums and percussion
Will Kimbrough Electric and acoustic guitars, mandola
Alan Bennett Keys on Home Down The Line
Billy Livsey Keys on Beautiful Game
Steve Fishell Pedal Steel
Al Perkins Dobro
Jordan Hamlin French horn, trumpet, accordion, ukulele
John Mark Painter Brass arrangement and performance on
Goodnight Moon
Dave Burn Background vocal on Hey There, Sunshine
Cindy Morgan Background vocal on Bird Of Paradise
Brigitte DeMeyer Background vocal on A Little Redemption
Butterfly Boucher Background vocal on A Little Redemption
Laura Donohue Background vocal on Cold, Hard Light Of The Day

All Songs written by Danni Nicholls on this album are published by Jimmy Turner Ltd/Notting Hill Music (UK) Ltd. Additional Writers and Publishers:

Bird of Paradise by Danni Nicholls, Cindy Morgan (Green Bike Music/Simple Tense Songs, ASCAP) and Alan Bennett (Over The Bush, BMI)
Beautiful Game by Danni Nicholls and Billy Livsey (Billy Livsey Music/Bluewater Music, BMI)
Hey There, Sunshine by Danni Nicholls and Dave Burn (SGO Music Ltd)
A Little Redemption by Danni Nicholls and C.Austin Miles (Warner/Chappell Music Ltd)
Goodnight Moon by Will Kimbrough (Will Kimbrough Music/Bluewater Music, BMI) and Gwil Owen (Turgid Tunes/PEN music, BMI)

NYC, Mechanical Chimps, and Q The Music. 

It was the standard routine of 18-hour days on a moving walkway last week in NYC. I was able to visit and/or jam with Mr Freddie Stevenson, Julia Haltigan, Bennett Miller (thanks for letting me play that sweet Juzek), Tanya Braganti, Tara OGrady, Jodie Moore, JT Tutalo, high school-chum and architect extraordinaire Chris Dowdell, and various members of my immediate and extended family.

We reconvened the Sleight Of Hand Band (Avi Rothbard & Antoine Silverman) for a series of performances at Lincoln Center with inventor/magician Mario Marchese, whose ingenuity and combustible energy continue to dazzle. Last week marked a new addition to the show a robotic chimp, designed and built by Mario himself, that interacts directly with the audience and proves a mischievous foil to his master. From a musical perspective, the process of group-underscoring a spontaneous magic performance in front of an audience has proven a unique but rewarding challenge. The chance to finally perform numerous shows in succession enabled our ensemble to finally settle into a casual and comfortable flow.

Upon arriving back in Nashville, I was very grateful to receive from Danni Nicholls this photo of the latest print edition of Q The Music Magazine (UK) featuring a four-star review of the album we made last December:


Coming up later this month Nashville gigs with Brigitte DeMeyer, Will Kimbrough, Big Dog Al Perkins, Julia Haltigan, Pete Lanctot, the continuation of a several recording projects begun last month, and the process of fleshing out some Calixte recordings in preparation for a full-length project later in the year.

PS: a VERY VERY Happy 12th Birthday to my darling Minty! Minty

Springtime affairs 

Theres some great stuff going on this month thats taking the edge off of the post-spring break letdown new recordings with Derek Hoke, Brigitte DeMeyer, and Josh Farrow, plus a return trip to NYC on 23-25 April for more performances with Mario The Magician at Lincoln Center.

The new Kala U-Bass model I picked up from the Kala factory last month (solid mahogany, fretted, with an on-board preamp and Aquila Corde Silver Rumbler strings) made a very successful recorded debut yesterday on a couple of Derek Hoke tracks. Played through an Ampeg B-15, it suggested a warm and contained sonic explosion. Referring to the instrument at the Banff Centre last year, Emmylou Harris told our audience, Let it never again be said that size matters. Very well done, Kala, and many thanks again to the tech team for the tweaks to my fretless!


Milkshake & Minty give an impromptu performance of Adeles Rolling In The Deep on the family ukes as we rolled through Sugarloaf Ridge State Park headed for Sonoma, CA.

Upcoming Shows


w/ The Bittersweets

Douglas Corner Cafe, Nashville, TN


w/ Emmylou Harris

The Gorge Amphitheater, George, WA


w/ Rita Wilson

CMA Festival, Nashville, TN