January 2011

Greetings from frigid (but not yet snowy) Maryland.

That's me and Jimmy Gaudreau in the photo (on the right) ,at
our Annual Thanksgiving concert at the 'bluegrass church'
in Herndon, VA. (A memorable evening. Also the debut
of Jimmy's "Pieces and Bits" CD of his original tunes,
on which I play guitar on four tracks.)

Another notable duo show this fall was in September with
DC-area bluegrass eminence Leon Morris.  Though we'd played
together here and there, this was our first actual concert. It was
fun and we plan on doing some more this year.

(I've always enjoyed the duo format; it's intimate yet interactive.
When I started playing music full-time in 1977 it was in a duo
with a fellow flatpicker and fine singer named Gary Mehalick.)

In the teaching realm, in addition to my regular home-based lessons,
I've now been teaching online via Skype to students in far-off locales
for several months.  It works.  Not as well as in-person. But it is
a credible format.

Musically speaking, my love for Irish tunes and for the mandola
continues apace. (I will be teaching an advanced Irish mandolin
class for Fiddle Week at Swannanoa this summer.)

My Big Winter Tour kicks off later this month, with stops in
Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Texas and Georgia (cf below).

Stay warm this winter and hope we cross paths during 2011.

Best,

Orrin

RIP Dave Giegerich

Dave was a great DC-area dobro player and a lovely guy.
He was 57 when he died last month following a long illness.
Though not a close friend he was someone with whom I felt 
a personal connection and always enjoyed being with.
In particular, he was witty. The first time I saw him after some
major surgery he'd had a couple years ago (which left him gaunt
and hoarse) he says "I'm thinking of having a T-shirt made that
says 'Ask me about how to lose weight without dieting or exercise.'" 
He also coined this MC line for the ages:  "And now let's welcome
to the stage a fellow who's no stranger than bluegrass…"
(His hometown paper obituary is here.)


Ouch!
My HMO (part of United Healthcare) hiked my rates 56% this
summer - then decided to drop all individual policies in Maryland
by year's end. The new plan (which I was grandfathered into and
is based in Illinois) costs more and covers less; given that I require
an expensive medication, my health costs will now be running
$900/month. 

I do not like this.

(Nor that there are 50 million Americans who cannot afford coverage,
30,000 of whom die each year as a result.  Nor that thirty cents of every
HMO dollar we spend goes to overhead - including millions for lobbyists
and pr firms whose sole mission is to neuter any kind of reform.)

Campaign finance reform anyone?


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