The Greg Blake Band Mid-West Mini Tour by Todd Davis

I thought I might share my experience briefly on our little tour that took place from January 4th through the 6th.

My old buddy, Greg Blake has returned to the KC area this past summer and recently formed a Mid-West version of The Greg Blake Band to play some dates when he is not touring with Jeff Scroggins & Colorado.  The Mid-West band consists of Grant Cochran of Bolivar MO on bass, Brian McCarty of Kansas City MO on mandolin, and myself on banjo and a little guitar and of course, Greg Blake on guitar and lead vocals.

After Greg asked us to play a show at HABOT this past December which included Larry Ellis on fiddle, Greg set up a “mini-tour” that actually began in KC and ended in Lincoln NE.   Here is a synopsis of our trip, which went very well, I’m happy to say.

Thursday, January, 4th:

We performed a 3 hour show of bluegrass music at Knucklehead’s Saloon in Kansas City on Thursday evening with the addition of the incomparable Larry Ellis on fiddle.  By my estimation, there was a good crowd, for a weeknight, of around 50-60 or so in attendance.  Some of you reading this were there and thank you to all who came out on a cold night to hear some bluegrass.   This was my first visit to Knucklehead’s and I highly recommend it if you’ve never been there.  It’s a little off the beaten path but it’s a great music venue and has some fantastic food also!  It was a lot of fun to play there with a great sound system too.

Friday, January, 5th:

Grant spent the night at my house Thursday, and the band rendezvoused there on Friday morning for a trip to Iowa.  Greg rented a Ford Explorer and we crammed 5 instruments including a bass fiddle, luggage and 4 guys inside.   Wow, I should have gotten a photo of that!   We arrived in North Liberty, IA in the late afternoon for a house concert at the home of fiddler Annie Savage who hosted the event in her beautiful home.  Annie fed us some homemade soup for supper and sat in with us on fiddle for a few tunes during the concert.  She also hosted a jam session which preceded the concert, with some of the local pickers, whom we got to meet.  Also in attendance was former Blue Grass Boy, banjo picker, Bob Black, who sat in with us on a few songs also.  This was the second time I had met him, and what a nice, charming person he is.  After visiting with some of the nice folks that attended and visiting with Bob Black also, it was off to bed.  Annie and her husband, Scott put us up for the night at their beautiful old home.

Saturday, January, 6th:

After a home cooked breakfast provided by Annie and Scott at their beautiful home on Saturday morning, (did I say they had a beautiful home?), we headed out in -10 degree clear weather toward Lincoln, NE, with Annie, Scott and her fiddle following along in their little red KIA.   We checked in at the Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown Lincoln late in the afternoon and then drove over to the venue a few blocks away called The Loft.  This concert was hosted by LAFTA, The Lincoln Association for Traditional Arts, which is a local music arts organization.  We tuned up and did a sound check with a great sound guy named Dave, and then had a little supper provided by LAFTA.  We performed a 2 hour concert, with Annie sitting in with us on fiddle, to an extremely responsive audience and received a standing ovation for our efforts.  How humble that made us feel.  We got to meet some mighty nice folks there that really appreciate bluegrass music.  Then it was back to the Embassy Hotel for the night.  What a high-faluten hotel that place is! The rooms were provided by LAFTA.  What nice folks they are.   We were late to bed as we spent a few hours just visiting among ourselves.   We thought about doing some jamming but we didn’t want to cause any trouble with the hotel and other guests.

Sunday, January 7th:

Sunday morning, we took advantage of the complimentary breakfast buffet at The Embassy and then we hit the road for home.  We arrived safe and sound back home that afternoon.  There was a bit of drizzle, but not cold enough to freeze.  It was the only inclement weather we experienced on the tour.

On a personal note I would like to say what a pleasure it was to share the stage with such great guys and gal, and such awesome musicians and singers too.  The camaraderie of the group of us 4 guys as we traveled was such a pleasant experience for me.  We joked and laughed all the way going down the highway.   Thank you to all the hosts of the events, to Annie, her husband, Scott, the guys in the band, Brian, Grant, Larry, and especially to Greg Blake for inviting all of us to back him up on this “mini-tour.” I give thanks to God and his blessings for seeing us safely home and on the road.

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Todd Davis

I've been a bluegrass musician for over 40 years now. My two uncles, Darle & Martin Siegel played guitar and banjo and got me started at age 12 along with my dad, Gene Davis who played some mandolin. I live in Excelsior Springs MO. I've played with several different local and regional bands. Currently playing with the recently resurrected Straightline Bluegrass Band. I love to jam and attend festivals.

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