Mo Prior Updates
October 2006

As some regular visitors to this site may have noticed, this fall has been
notably slow gig- and workshop-wise; I needed intestinal surgery in early September (to remove a stricture whose pain that had been plaguing me for much of the spring)—and between my painful spring and the operation and recovery I needed a break from my usualy routine.

Am glad to note that my recovery is almost complete and that I have begun booking things again (cf November entries above). I look forward to getting back to work on my recording project and to resuming as active a schedule as I can muster in 2007.

Let me note the passing of Richard Lieberson, a wonderful NYC-based acoustic jazz guitarist who I took a few lessons with when I lived there. (There's a nice commemorative page on him at, which I added a brief entry to.)
------------------------------------------~ ~ ~
They say things happen in threes, and my life of late would seem to echo that
bromide: this summer and fall has been a kind of Entropy Trifecta for me, with the three Cs—car, cat and colon—all going south. (Actually the small intestine, but alliteration dictated we go with 'colon'). The question in all three instances wasn't really "if" but "when". And when for the car and colon turned out to be Septermber; for my cat, October.

So it's been an eventful and challenging fall.

But: I love my new wheels (a Hyundai Sonata—first car with automatic windows and whose locks and trunk can be opened by remote); I'm no longer plagued by the stomach pain that clouded my life; and though terribly sad, I know that relieving Sandy of her depleted state before it got any worse was the right thing to do.

Whew. And maybe time for another maxim: change is good.

May 2006

After a slowish winter season, 2006 got off to a nice start for me with a crowd of 100 at the season's opening show at NJ's Minstrel Coffeehouse, followed by a very fun house concert in Clinton, NJ.

In mid-February I did my first show with John Seebach, a former student of mine and great rhythm guitarist/fine harmony singer who I have been rehearsing with for an upcoming recording (more on this later) and starting to perform with regionally. Then it was off to California for a 12-day solo tour (which included my first visit to Southern CA inseveral years - as well as my third visit to the Bay area in the last year and a quarter; I dig the Bay area, and plan on returning there at least annually.)

Last month I returned after a long hiatus to Harford's renowned
Sounding Board Coffeehouse, and also did a packed house concert in Falls Church, VA, with my sometimes duo partner Jimmy Gaudreau.

(Gaudreau of late has been busier than a banshee with a Country Gentlemen Reunion recording project, touring with Robin and Linda Williams and getting ready to back up Emmylou Harris at this year's MerleFest with John Starling's new band. But most notably, a Jimmy Gaudreau retrospective CD called "In Good Company" was released by CMH Records on March 14th. It features tracks from an amazing range of bluegrass talents who he has picked with over the the past three decades, and I am honored to appear on two of its cuts ('Follow the Leader' and 'Ashes of Love').


These have evolved into an important part of my performing life. They are a great alternative to the usual way people get to hear music, and I am thankful to the many folks who have opened their homes (or music stores or even law offices) to me and made these happen over the past few years. (If you'd like to know more about them, there's a House Concert page on my website.)


I am preparing to record a new CD. The idea for this one is an intimate solo and duo guitar-oriented project (a la Norman Blake's "Whiskey Before Breakfast" and Tony Rice's "Church Street Blues") and will include some of favorite fingerpicking tunes as well as the usualy eclectic flatpicking stuff (and some singing).


Like house concerts, week-long summer music camps for adults have been growing in popularity over the past decade, and they are a great excuse to get away from our computers and busy modern lives and focus on music (at whatever level you're at) and the camaraderie of people with a shared interest. This summer I am teaching at two such camps that come highly recommended

Traditions Week 1, July 3-7 (plus music festival on the 8th).
Classes: Intermediate/Advanced Flatpicking and Mandolin

'Bluegrass Week', July 30 - August 4th
Class: Intermediate Flatpicking

Come study with me - and a host of other great teachers - for a week in a relaxed and congenial environment.

1. for car rentals.
You know Priceline right? William Shattner telling us that
we can "name your own price" airline tickets and almost anything travel related? Well, I've never tried using them to book a flight because you can't select a time of day for any flight. But I recently learned that you CAN lock in a a car rental to coincide with when you'll be arriving at a given airport (if you're willing to use whichever major rental car company they select for you - and I don't really care about that at all). I've used them twice now
for car rentals an I've gotten good savings both times.

2. Netflix
I don't have cable. But I do have a nice TV. And I joined Netflix
(the online service that delivers DVDs via the mail) shortly after moving to Maryland. I watch mostly documentaries, and have found it to be very enriching.

A few favorite documentaries:
The Fog of War (Errol Morris)
The Yes Men
The West (Ken Burns)
Lewis and Clark (Ken Burns)
Ram Dass: Fierce Grace
Riding the Rails
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
The Eyes of Tammy Faye


Have a good spring, and I hope to see you somewhere
down the road.


From A Musician on a Newsgroup I Subscribe To:

"The last time I played for a shut-in, she just laid there
and showed no response. After awhile, I decided that
was enough and in parting said, "I hope you get better soon."
She said "I hope you do too." "

With John Seebach, June 2006
San Diego, Feb 2006
August 2005
Am enjoying a slower-than-usual August. July was nicely busy and included a very good 9-day trip to CA (my second time teaching at the CA Coast Music Camp up in the redwoods north of Frisco, plus a couple of fine house concerts on either end).

Two important musicians have passed away in the past few weeks: John Herald and Vassar Clements.

John was a seminal figure in the northeast bluegrass scene, a long-time Woodstock resident, and someone who I'd accompanied on sundry gigs over the past decade and a half. He was folkier than most bluegrass players of his generation, wrote many of his own tunes, was at times very intense and neurotic, but always had a glint in his eye and a memorable tenor voice; he could really connect with an audience. But he ended up taking his own life.
Will miss having him around.
This appreciation/obituary of John appeared in the Woodstock Times. One
of the most moving pieces like this I've ever seen.)

Like John Vassar was a smoker (though a pipe was his chosen implement), and I'm guessing that contibuted to his physical demise as well. But unlike John, his greatness was more fully acknowledged during his lifetime; he was
recognized as one of the fiddle greats of our time. I don't think I've done a show during the last several years at which I didn't perform Vassar's tune The Lonesome Fiddle Blues; that tune just won't let go of me.

A famous Vassar stoy which I just heard:
"After Vassar had hooked up with Old & In The Way, they practiced at a mountain hideaway in California. He knew Peter Rowans’ background because of his own time as one of Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. He also knew David Grisman from the bluegrass circles. Who he didn’t know was Jerry Garcia.
As they were riding down a highway together for the first time, Vassar saw a billboard of the Grateful Dead. Vassar turned to Jerry, and said, “You know Jerry, that guy looks a lot like you."

June 2005
After a way-long winter, the nice springlike weather has finally appeared.
I turned 50 in March, and had some nice tours to California (in January) and
North Carolina (in March) with Jimmy Gaudreau. Also, got my solo gigging
mojo back on track with a really fun set at Acoutifest 2005 (a day-long
acousitc guitar festival at melodee Music in Sterling,VA in late March), at a show for the Savannah Folk Music Society (in GA in April) and yesterday at
the Washington Folk Folk Festival at Glen Echo Park in MD (where I go contra and cajun dancing at least weekly).

During the slowish month of May I've been working on the ol website here; if you haven't scanned it in a while, check out the completely updated Live
Photos page.

Two recent cultural recommendations: the book Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt and the DVD The Yes Men (a hilarious and pointed documentary
about a group of cultural activists/Swiftian parodists who successfully
impersonate the World Trade Organization in the media and at a number of conferences).

From the Further Reasons for Optimism File
I happened to read my Horoscope (Aries) in this past Wednesday's
Washington Post and it opened with

----Acting on impulse results in bizarre but interesting outcomes.

December 2004
I'm settling into Maryland and enjoying my new home. The move down here feels like it was absolutely the right thing. One reason: I've embarked on a musical partnership with JIMMY GAUDREAU, a fellow Yankee (he's originally from Rhode Island) who's a household name in bluegrass and shares my eclectic musical tastes. Our debut duo performance was on October 8th, in Herndon,VA (cf the photo on the right) and we've now got a bunch of things in
the works, including a 10-day Caliifornia tour in January. We also have a new duo website:

(The duo is a work in progress; I still do quite a bit of solo touring and Jimmy performs extensively with Robin & Linda Williams. But it's been fun working with a talent of his caliber, and we hope to perform together whenever our schedules allow.)

My area of Maryland is rich with thrift shops. There's a supermarket-sized onenot far from me where I went browsing several weeks ago an emerged with three hardcover books - one of which was Knee Deep In Paradise, a memoir/autobiography by Brett Butler. I think she's a good comedienne, and the book was OK. But what really made it for me was a blurb on the back cover by J.P. Donleavy which said

And through her desriptions of her growing-up life, the real America
comes fuming out of its soil to let us know it's still there, unchanged
by its towering mass of communications...

What a great description of my musical calling! The real America - unchanged by its towering mass of communications.