Ross Nickerson on the Road
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Ross Nickerson performing in Arizona, Texas, Florida, Kentucky, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Wales, British Columbia, Alberta, Ireland, Scotland, England, Germany and Australia this year.
Here is an update of where I've been in the last year and the new places I am visiting this year. I have traveled to some amazing places while working hard at all the things I do to keep the show on the road.
In 2012 We want to Africa on the Banjo Safari it was unbelievable, really was. We are doing it again this year. I was in Australia a lot last year and the rest of the time in Florida and went to New England and Nova Scotia in the summer. I flew down from NS to Texas to teach at the Acoustic Music Camp in July and did a few other trips here and there. I did several events in Australia, Perth, Dorrigo and two camps in Maleny. My band X Train came over again and did shows. We had a great Banjo Cruise and the Nova Scotia Banjo Camp was the largest group I've had except the first year. I am able to travel but I work a lot related to BanjoTeacher.com. I answer all phone calls and do all the email customer service. I don't mind though, I like serving other people. I don't have time to give private lessons anymore so I make friends with my students and customers online.
In 2011, I was away from home a fair amount, spending extended time in Australia and Canada. I also moved to Florida full time and have been happy there. My band X train had a successful one month tour of Australia and New Zealand and we have been playing in Arizona and California. I have been able to keep up with work as I travel but I work a lot in any spare time I have. In 2012 we are combining a banjo workshop with an African Safari. The Banjo Safari
In 2010 I've had some great travels, The Banjo Cruise, Canada, Europe, Australia and lots of places in the US too. I just returned from playing shows in Tucson and in NH and am in Australia now, (nov, 2010) I played at the Tucson Bluegrass Festival with a new band I am performing with called X train. It features old friends and band mates, Former Winfield guitar champion, Peter McLaughlin, Mark Miracle on mandolin and Bob Dennoncourt on bass. I'm in Australia preparing for our third Australian Banjo Camp. The band I have been playing with off and on for the last 5 years or so, Hungry Hill performed at the European World of Bluegrass and also a festival in Germany and one in Holland this year. We also played in Switzerland and Belgium which was a highlight. One day we drove from Belgium to Switzerland and hit five countries in one day, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland. I also visited Ireland and Germany this year playing and teaching at the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival and at the Munich Banjo Camp. I taught some workshops this year in Florida, Maryland, Virginia, New York, NH and likely some places I'm forgetting this minute. I'm happy to say I filmed three new DVDs in October 2010 that at this time, (nov, 2010) ) have not been released yet.
2009 was full of interesting traveling for me as well, visiting Europe, Australia, Canada and many usual spots at home in the US. I recorded a new CD which I'm very proud of. It was engineered by banjo player Scott Vestal in Nashville and featured members of the well known bluegrass band, Blue Highway. It was a CD I had wanted to do for some time featuring straight ahead hard driving bluegrass. I called the CD Let's Kick Some "Bleep" but I may be changing the name. Its by far my best cd and I'm afraid the title might be putting some folks off, actually its been kind of hard to say it on stage with a straight face, especially for some of the older audiences I play for.
I had a great time in Tucson that year too. Tucson is my home away from home as I lived there for off and on for a long time. I have friends there that go back 30 years and it always recharges me to visit. Kind of like Cheers, where everyone knows your name or more importantly knows where you're coming from. One of the places I taught and performed last year was Sorrento Bluegrass Camp in British Columbia, Canada which is where I met the band Hungry Hill 6 years ago which led to me joining them. Sorrento is a great experience for the instructors and students, I recommend it!
2008 featured trips to Arizona, Texas, Florida, Kentucky, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Wales, British Columbia, Alberta, Ireland, Scotland, England, and Australia in 2008. I really accomplished a lot between my travels too. I seemed to have developed a routine of working by self imposed deadlines when I'm home. If I am home for a month, I'll pick some projects to get done and then work furiously to complete them before having to leave for the next trip. We worked really hard on rebuilding the whole website this summer and I'm just about finished. Well its never a done deal but the basic design is there. I developed the original website my self on what I learned at a weekend course at the University of Arizona. In true to my nature fashion, I took what I knew and improvised! I've come along way since then, I'm still a much better banjo player than web master but I'm hoping everything is much more navigatable now and functional as well. When I put the first book up on the site in 2001 or 2, I had no idea it would sell, and it did, so... dang.. I better finish writing it! Talk about working furiously, but I got it done and I guess the rest is history for me. I've come a long way since then and I'm grateful for the interest and support I've received for the efforts I've made teaching banjo and writing and recording instruction material.
I traveled to many amazing places this year but Australia was the most recent and was incredible. Of course one the best things about it was the weather was absolutely beautiful and winter was coming on here so that was a big bonus. I was there for a whole month and made some incredible friends and got a lot of banjo playing in too. I am going back next year for our Australian banjo camp and am already looking forward to it. I was in Ireland and England for 42 days in August and September touring with the band from Canada I work with, Hungry Hill. What an incredible tour that was. We were so fortunate for the experience. I've been to Ireland 5 times now and this was the best trip, the most organized and the best venues too. We played several bluegrass festivals, Omagh and Dunmore East, and the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival. We did 33 shows in 40 days, so it was mixing business with pleasure for sure. I taught at a bluegrass camp in Wales in May which was a great experience. It was an added thrill for me as the fellow faculty members were incredible. Kenny Smith and Amanda Smith, Emory Lester and Mike Bub. We had a concert at the end of camp and that was a lot of fun. I was planning on returning this year but they had to cancel basically due to the economy and the plunging pound. A funny but not so funny situation arised over there last year. I was in Nova Scotia touring just before the trip to Wales and on the last night we were up later jamming, hence very little sleep, then I went to my friends house to see his new banjo,...when I arrived..... his family was really sick, and yes, I got sick a couple days later, then I went to Wales, and was sick, then I got better, but my host caught the bug and got really sick and another associate there got it from her, then they called it the banjo bug, how humiliating!! All was forgiven but I felt so bad about it. I wasn't real pleased with my friend who invited me over when his family was sick but I forgave him too.
Hungry Hill played at South by Southwest in Austin TX in March, that worked out good and was perfect timing to get out of the cold. I'm not from Canada but I might as well be these days, I moved to near Niagara Falls a couple years ago, which I love, but my plan is to be in Arizona or parts south in the winter, truth is I don't mind the cold....to a point.. I love snow... just like to get out of it from Feb to May and then its perfect! Anyway, We first played at a church in Tucson and stayed there for bit. I was able to introduce my Canadian com-padres to my friends from Tucson, (I lived in Tucson and then wintered there for many years, still own a house there). That meant a lot to me as I had been meeting every one connected to Hungry Hill touring Canada but they had never been around my home town or friends. It gave them more to anchor who I was in their minds and they really liked Tucson. In Austin at South by Southwest we played at 10:00 PM and Bela Fleck who was there with Abigail Washburn played at midnight, so I got to say hi to them and listen to their set. Bela was also there premiering a film he did in Africa playing banjo with native musicians. I'm a big fan of Bela Fleck, not only musically but personally too. He's an inspired person who has really raised the bar and moved the banjo forward in many, many ways.
I had some adventures in Saskatchewan, Canada last year that I really enjoyed both in summer and winter and a whole tour in the Canadian Rockies in February, that is always an adventure!
I completed a lot of projects in 2008 that I hope are helping a lot of people to learn to play the banjo better and have more success and fun with it. I spent 10 days straight recording and editing dvds in Virginia with Brance at Clear Blue Productions in January. 5 days recording and the rest editing. One day I recorded 40 songs at three speeds in 5 hours. That with a little multiplication is 120 songs. When it comes to play the arrangements that I write for the books, I nail it and that's not easy, it has to match the tab perfectly at all three speeds.... but the hard part for me is the speaking parts on DVD. The lights are so bright and it makes one of my eyes half close. When editing I sit there and make fun of myself a lot.
What's coming up in 2009 is more travels to Canada, Florida for a few weeks, and two cruises. I am going to be working on a CD finally this year. I've been so busy writing and recording instruction material that I have not recorded a cd for 10 years. My Blazing the west cd was purchased by Pinecastle Records and re-released in 2003 but I recorded it in 96. I am long overdue. I'm excited about it. If all holds to plan its going to be a very bluegrass CD with a few twists, straight ahead as we call it and if it comes out like I want it too, it will jump off the CD. Wish me luck!..and if you've gotten this far in my on the road blog....THANKS FOR YOUR INTEREST!
I told this to a couple friends and they got a kick out of it so I'll write it in my blog. I have a real bazaar way of typing and for somebody who types a lot, it's kind of comical. I type with a pencil in my right hand and then on my left I use two fingers, sometimes three. I think I must be pretty fast at it, fast as I can go anyway. Because of banjo playing my fingers just don't want to shape themselves to type and it makes me cringe to type with my pickin hand. I also rigged up the mouse so I click the mouse with my left thumb, it's probably the only left hand finger I haven't overused or maybe I use it to protect the other ones from being overused. I don't know, I cant mouse with my left index finger though, that hurts in about ten minutes. That's my new book, how to type with a pencil, just do it over and over and over and over.. laughing out loud.
I have been touring with the Band Hungry Hill quite a bit in the last couple of years. We have upcoming tours this year in BC, Alberta, Arizona, Texas, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ireland and Wales. Last year I toured with them in many of the same places including Alaska, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. I met the band Hungry Hill about 3 years ago while teaching at a Bluegrass Camp In British Columbia. We just finished a new CD of all original material.
On my own I just returned from Germany, and Norway where I held banjo workshops. They were well attended and a great experience for me. I also had workshops in Virginia, Arizona, New York State, and some other places I am likely forgetting at this moment! Not to forget to mention the Nova Scotia Banjo Camp we had this summer, Tom Adams, Ian Perry and myself, it was fun and a success, oh and last years Banjo Cruise too!
have an exciting event I'm part of this year in 2007 called the Trans
Atlantic Bluegrass School in Wales. The faculty band is comprised of some
legendary players and I am thrilled to be part of it, Bobby Hicks on fiddle, (former
Bill Monroe, Ricky Skaggs member) Kenny and Amanda Smith, Mike Bub on Bass, Emory
Lester on mandolin and me on banjo. We also have the Banjo Cruise coming up with
Alan Munde. This year the Banjo
Cruise is combined with the 10th Annual Bluegrass Cruise. I am going to have
the opportunity to perform on the bill with some top bands including, Cherry Holmes,
Tim Graves, Grasstowne, Jesse McReynolds. Loraine Jordan, Mark Newton and more.
I am also going to tour for 3 and 1/2 weeks in Australia in November of 2008. Peter Nayuhsen is setting up the tour which includes workshops and performances. Peter is the builder of Bell Bird Banjos Peter and I are working on signature model for me called the Nick Kick
This year on the instruction front, I've completed a new DVD called Essential Licks, produced some new, more advanced Online Lessons, Upgraded my Online Lessons, Upgraded some of my books, we are just finishing revamping the artwork on my Playing by Ear and Jamming DVDs, and I am going in the studio to film some more videos next month.
My Monthly Free Banjo Lessons for mailing list members seem to be going well too. So far the lessons have been mostly for beginners, I plan to make them more challenging this year.
Earlier this year I recorded the CDs that will go with two new books of mine coming out soon. A Gospel Song Book and a book of Popular Children's Songs. These will be available as E-Books in later December 07. I posted a couple of bonus tracks free at this link.
Finishing the Hungry Hill CD was an accomplishment. Fortunately for me and my time constraints, much of the work, (the work besides recording) was done by folks other than me, so all I did was play my best when called upon to do so, and wrote a couple songs too.
I almost forgot, I went on the greatest vacation I've ever had to Costa Rica last April. I liked everything about that trip.
This has been my first full year in my new home of Tonawanda, NY. I moved here from the Baltimore area in 05. My daughter is in her third year of law school here and I love the area. I live not to far from Niagara Falls. I still have a house in Tucson AZ too. My son is doing well in the Air Force in Germany, he is an air traffic controller.
That is enough about me, I hope anyone who has taken an interest in reading this is doing well too! Thanks again, please keep checking back for more updates, new music and banjo instruction help. I am always hard at work.
All in all it's been a productive year!
More Travels from past years
Went on a cruise in Alaska, what was I thinking? Actually it was a ferry, got some pictures of eagles on the trip. I'm in Whitehorse Yukon doing some recording, Alaska was a lot closer than I thought. Check out the Eagle Pictures. I had never seen anything like it. They are feeding on the salmon this time of year.
Bones Playing Bass in British Columbia! Now he's earning his keep, eh? (That's Canada talk ya know), been up here for 2 months now!
Moved To Niagara/Canada Travels Again/Nova Scotia Banjo Camp/Cruise Coming Up/Missed the Storm In June I closed on a house in Tonawanda, NY. I've never lived here before but I love it. My daughter is going to law school at Suny/Buffalo and that is how I arrived here. I'm a block from the Niagara River. Been hanging out at Niagara Falls, canoeing and kayaking, wow. I just realized how stupid that sounded, I should say, canoeing and kayaking, NOWHERE NEAR THE FALLS. I won't elaborate much more but I'm really happy here and it was all unexpected.
I toured with the British Columbia based band Hungry Hill again this summer. One place we played was in Dawson City, Yukon. The sun never went down, or barely. The weirdest thing I thought was the hottest part of the day was like 7:30 PM. That was an experience. I spent time in Whitehorse Yukon too and enjoyed that. Bob, our mandolin player let me drive the bus for awhile, I still have my CDL. I almost ran in to a herd of Buffalo on the Alaska highway, seriously, like 15 or 20 huge Buffalo just wandering the highway.
I had a funny story with a student I had never met or had contact with before. She emailed me kind out of the blue through the website. She wanted to know if I knew of any camps or teachers near her. She told me that she lived way up in the Yukon and it was hard to find instruction. I emailed her back and said .. no problem. LOL I'll be there next week. I don't think that is what she was expecting. I knew it would make her laugh. Small world, aint it!
After I got home from the tour with Hungry Hill I drove up to Nova Scotia through Maine from Tonawanda. I played at a company party for a student that I met through the website. I put together a band and we had a great time. Then it was off to Nova Scotia to put on the first Nova Scotia Banjo Camp.
Wow, this is another unexpected story. I put together a great faculty, had a great location and facility, and was pumped up about it. However, two or three weeks before the camp I had only 12 or so students signed up. I was sweating it; I wasn't at the break even mark by any stretch but was still hopeful.
student in Nova Scotia named Keith Jollymore set up some media coverage. First
the Halifax Newspaper called me and did a long interview with me and also another
student, Lyle Goldberg who helped a whole bunch with getting the word out. That
generated a lot of interest and the registrations started trickling in. Then Keith
set me up to play live on TV on a show called Live at 5, which goes to all the
provinces out there. My relatives in southern Nova Scotia even saw it. That experience
was an adrenalin adventure. 10 minutes before the show went live, the anchor decided
that he bet I could play their theme song, so I worked it up and went live with
it. I can't turn down a challenge I guess, I pulled it off, well, I think I did...seriously,
adrenalin is the secret I think. When I pick banjo around the house, I feel lethargic
and uninspired a lot, but as soon as others are playing, or the tape is rolling
or some kind of good reason to try hard comes up, I do a lot better. Not sure
if that is a tip but it may make some sense to you.
Keith set me up with CBC radio too. One of the DJ's on CBC played banjo and came to the camp too, he was great and did a follow up show on the weekend too. What a great bunch of folks we had. Almost 40 students all together. Thanks everyone who helped! Bill Keith was amazing all weekend. He has been playing regularly and is chops were up. He reminded us all of why he's the legend he is. I was really impressed. He wasn't resting on his legend or laurels, he was ripping it up. Ian Perry was great too. I've got him coming back next year, I hired him for the Banjo Cruise as well. He is really a good teacher, hell of a guy, great player, I feel like he is really the perfect person for a banjo workshop.
Anyway, the concert in town went well too so we are on for next year!!!! If you want an excuse for an awesome vacation in one of the most beautiful places in the world, please come next year, or if you're local, it's going to be even better this time around.
I've gotten settled in my house and it's leading to me accomplishing some things for the website and allowing other instruction ideas to happen. I finished two Mel Bay books and I've started a new monthly newsletter with a free lesson video each month.
videos are amateur, filmed with your average Sony DVR camera with only one angle
are free and they should be very helpful. So far I've been teaching some licks
that I get a lot of questions about or I see misplayed a lot. I hope they help.
It's one way for me to keep you all interested, progressing and learning new things.
Since I moved to Buffalo, all I get is snow jokes, I was actually starting to get kind of sick of them. I was thinking how nice the weather had been, how nice it is being near the water, and thinking basically that anyone that thinks all it does is snow here is full of ...
Then this happens, I'll never live it down. Two feet in October! The most snow in October in 137 years! I was canoeing in shorts three days before this, no one will believe me! I'm looking out the window, it's going to be 63 and sunny tomorrow, will anyone remember that?.. no. Now every time when I'm performing and I get introduced from Buffalo, a chill will continue to go across the audience I better get a sense of humor about it!
I got really lucky though, this has been a big tragedy here. I actually feel kind of guilty. I left Tonawanda at noon on Thursday for Ottawa, It started snowing at 2 PM. I got home Sunday night about 8PM. When I got home my electricity was on and the snow had all melted. As I was approaching my neighborhood Sunday night before I got to my house it was pitch black, no traffic lights working and somehow the electricity in my neighborhood was on. It was out for 36 hours here but was back by the time I got home.
I basically got off with about 20 minutes of picking up tree branches. I didn't even lose any food. I've been watching the news and I can't believe it. It's a federal disaster area just down the street practically.
There are 200,000 people still without power. I am so lucky, I don't even know how lucky I am. I would hate being without power right now or have water in the basement. I left my guitar leaning against the wall on the basement floor, that would have been gone.
OK, that's it for now, Coming up is a tour in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, then to the Yukon again for recording.
I must have lived in AZ long enough to think going to cold weather is fun. I'll be in Tucson this winter too.
Thanks everyone, Ross Nickerson
Virginia, DVDs, Italy, British Columbia, Niagara Falls, Vancouver, Bowen Island, Spring Training, Tucson, Banjo Cruise, Florida!
Hello out there! I've been busy; I've recorded two new DVDs in VA in Feb and some new Online Lesson clips for streaming video. One of the DVDs is on playing by ear and learning more about and to play by the chords etc, and the other is a jamming DVD. They should be edited and completed in the next two to three months. I'm also finishing up three new books for Mel Bay and I'm going to edit some more videos for the member's site! I'm going to learn to edit the streaming videos myself so I can get them out when I want, and how I want. I have about 10 free songs and other lessons in the can ready for the site but not edited, hang in there, they may all come at once but they will be available soon! I've got so many projects near the completion point, but too many open! It will all come together (then I'll fool myself in to thinking the work will be over) but, guess what, I'll open even more projects up and the cycle will begin again! It always does. I remember when I was learning to fly, at every new pilot rating I thought life would be complete, then it was always another step to climb, that's life I guess, I doubt I'll ever stop trying to reach the next goal. I heard a great saying that should help a person like me. Achieve Happily, not, Achieve to be Happy. In other words, enjoy the process, because if you think it will make you happy when a project is done, the truth is, there will just be another goal to reach, It's a good thing I picked music, it's never ending, I'll never know as much as I want, or could, or think I can, there will always be a new song, a new lick, a new key, new scale, something I can't play as well as I should, a tone left to find. I hope it keeps me young instead of making me old....... My B-day is May 17th I'll be 49. yikessssssssssssssssss,sssssssssssssshi......I'm at that age where 5 years ago I looked 5 years younger then my age, now at 49, I'm looking 5 years older then my age. I'm joining the older club....... and it shows. I flat out ain't looking that great, I better get used to it.
I went to Italy do you believe it?? What a trip, Venice, Rome, Capri, Cinque Terre, Amalfi, kick ass, drove too, they drive crazy over there, rented a scooter on Capri too, that's the pinnacle of anarchy on the streets. It was a great trip, the prices were reasonable too, what an unbelievable place to visit and see. Something everyone should do at least once, my turn was three weeks ago!
I'm in Niagara Falls now, this is an unkempt secret. When I mention Buffalo, all people do is laugh and say, hope you like snow, what are you doing there????......This place is great, great people, beautiful water, no huge lines, no outrageous prices, no bull, what you see is what you get here. Hey, at this point in my life I can say I've been around, and this area is awesome. Of course I do go to AZ every winter so I guess I got a plan! I toured Canada for two weeks in March with Hungry Hill, BC Bluegrass Band, (another benefit of Buffalo, it's close to Canada) What a great group of people and musicians. I wish you could all see and hear that band, they are very good, hard working, professional.... and fun too. I'll be touring with them this summer in BC and Alberta. I joined them also in Bowen Island (Vancouver area) first week of April. That was a great experience.
The cruise went very well this year. Everything seems to work so well, especially from a practical standpoint. I learned a lot from the first one. I didn't have as many students this year but the ones that came I think really enjoyed themselves and learned a lot too. Next year is the Bahamas, sailing out of Florida.
I spent a week down in Florida in March doing some workshops and catching some baseball too. My friend and student Matt Ginter is with the Red Sox this year. He's pitching great, he brought one of his buddies Rudy Seanez to the workshop too, he's got 20 year in the major leagues, he plays guitar. Being a huge baseball and sports fan in general it's fascinating for me to see inside that world from a player's perspective. All of these guys were the best at what they do when they were growing up, when they hit the big leagues, all of a sudden everyone is like that, it must be a huge adjustment for them to be treated like a commodity that you can keep, sell, trade or discard.
I made some practice CDs for myself tonight, can't wait to get out of the office soon and hit the road with just the banjo! I can't get any practice or playing in around the house it seems, too many distractions. With any luck, I'll have the new DVDs edited, my books submitted to Mel Bay and a bunch of new stuff for the member's site up before I head off for the next adventure. Thanks! Till next time! Ross Nickerson
Christmas/Cruise/New Videos/Playing by Ear Workshops/Nova Scotia Banjo Camp
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas season this year! I was very fortunate to have a great visit with my children, family and friends this year. With all the traveling I've been doing, this holiday season was perfect. We were all in Tucson, my daughter was home from college and my son even had a long break from the Air Force.
I've been working very hard over the holidays and this week on the cruise workshop schedule, writing some new books and making preparations for travel in the upcoming year.
I'm going in the studio to record two new DVDs, some new Online Lessons and other banjo projects in February. I have four days booked. The studio is tops, these new videos will have state of the art split screen and quality. I've also been recording some new songs her in Tucson that will be available as advanced tabs. Sorry folks, this time I'm not going to play it at three speeds, I'm going to play it at will. I think you'll enjoy the songs though and I'm going to make the recordings and tab available for all the arrangements.
I also launched a new series of workshops based on Playing By Ear and playing without tablature. It doesn't focus on not using tablature per say, but rather on how to use it more effectively, and play without it. There is a lot of instruction on how to use chords, playing by the chords as well as developing your overall ability too. Of course, things like, how to practice, what aids to use in practice, how much time on different aspects of your banjo playing, and lots more. The first one was in Phoenix, January 15th, 2006 and it seemed to really connect with everyone.
I've started the Nova Scotia Banjo Camp which will be held this year on August 11th, 12th and 13th. It's in a beautiful spot right on the ocean at a perfect facility for it too. I have myself and Ian Perry so far and I've asked Bill Keith, he wants too, he is now just checking on his availability. Check the workshop schedule for more details. I think it would make a wonderful excuse for a vacation to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Cape Breton. All very easily accessible from the Sunrise trail where we'll be. I plan to put some time into having links to local attractions and more about there area as soon as I get to it at the website too.
I added a new format to the way I offer books or I should say I expanded on it. I now have several more of my books in E-Book form that you can download, but now I also have the CD Tracks you can download right off the net too. Makes for no shipping or waiting and you save money too this way. I also added some new online lessons and am really looking forward to the new ones I'm going to be filming in February too.
All in all, I've been really busy, but really enjoying all there is to do too. I hope everyone is progressing with their banjo playing and having fun with it. Keep checking the New Stuff page at the members site for new tabs, videos and other tips. Thanks again! Ross Nickerson
On the Road 10-14-05
Since I wrote last Ive performed in the Baltimore area, Nova Scotia, Maine, NH, Germany, and Ireland. Im on my way tomorrow to KY, and WV for several shows workshops and some live radio spots. Right now Im on a plane coming back from visiting my daughter at law school in Buffalo, NY. I had a great time, they were having Indian summer there, it was 80 degrees today and the date was October 6th. Im excited about this next tour down south and Im also fitting in a little trip to perform with Jenny Lester and Hungry Hill in Canada the weekend of October 19th, 20th. Going to Vancouver and Edmonton. Then back to WV and heading down to Nashville for the International Bluegrass Music Association Trade show. This is the first time its being held in Nashville, I think its going to work out great. From there I have workshops in Oxford and Jackson, MS, Huntsville, AL, Asheville and Charlotte, NC, then back to Baltimore for a week and to upstate NY and Toronto in mid November. My son is going into the Air Force October 18th and graduates boot camp in 6 weeks after that so after NY, Im heading to TX for his graduation. Then to Tucson for December and January, back to Baltimore and then on the 2nd Annual Banjo Cruise, Feb. 13th to 18th. After reading what I wrote I realize how much planning ahead this all takes.
Last few months highlights were Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival in Ireland and getting to hang out pick with banjo heroes of mine, Bela Fleck, Tony Trischka and Bill Keith. Also had a great summer this year traveling in Canada and New England and made some great new friends along the way.
Special Thanks to Chris Keenan, Kathy and the whole staff at the Johnny Keenan festival, banjo player Andy Glandt for setting up such a great tour in Germany, Susie McNutt and Junior Johnson in Nova Scotia, Jenny, Mark, Bob, Ann Louise and Matt from the Hungry Hill tour and to all the folks that help keep this show on the road!
Got a lot to write about coming up, but need a minute from driving!!!! EEEESHHH
Wow, going to spend most of the summer in Canada, who knew?? I got hired by Jenny Lester and her band Hungry Hill to tour with them in Western Canada this summer. I'm psyched! I filled in with them at the Sorrento Bluegrass camp I taught at in Canada last summer. They must have liked my stuff, I liked theirs. The band was solid, Jenny is a real talent, not just a practiced picker but someone who comes alive on stage, gets in front of people and transforms, I was impressed. She plays fiddle and guitar, sings of course, she's a big attractive woman and has a lot of stage presence.
Video of Ross Nickerson and Jenny Lester sitting in with Del McCoury Band at Calgary Folk Festival click here
Then as soon as I get back home in late July I'm heading to Nova Scotia for the 32nd annual Bluegrass and Old time festival and also a few other gigs and R and R. Nova Scotia,.. ah, it's like going to Ireland without crossing the Atlantic, great people, really genuine, great scenery, ...summer visits only though..I ain't no fool.... Speaking of Ireland I'm playing in Ireland at the Johnny Keenan Banjo festival, if you been on the site, I guess you know, it's all over it. Hey what can I say, who wouldn't be excited, I hope I get to pick some with Bela or just talk to the guy, got a lot of respect for him and he's got it all, and he's also worked his ass of at it too.
Check out these pictures of Camden Yards. I'm a huge baseball fan and I've made another great friend through banjo teaching, Matt Ginter. Ginter pitches for the Tigers, he's not as famous as Clemens, (he did beat him when he started against him in 2004 though) but you know he throws hard, to get to that level you have to be something special. He's a banjo fanatic just like you all must be too. He's going to beat me to having a platinum album. He recorded a song on a Major League Baseball CD of players doing all kinds of different songs. Him and his brother have a band and they recorded the old Dillard song, Dooley. They're selling the CD at the ball parks and most of the proceeds go to charity. He's pumped,... again who wouldn't be, he's living the dream, ain't he???
Matt Ginter after the game!I
I might get a hit if they let me use the banjo for a bat, you know I could bunt my way on, eh?
My Daughter Theo and I went to Niagara Falls. Bones too!
5-05 I've been blogging on the Banjo Blog about my travels but had forgot to update this page! Since I logged on to this page last. I've been to San Diego, North Carolina, back to AZ and all the way across the country to Baltimore, Delaware, Virginia, Rhode Island. Tomorrow I'm off to PA and NY. My daughter is looking at law schools she got in to in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Buffalo. She has lived her life in AZ so I guess that might explain why she's not looking at schools in warmer climates. Looks like I'm going to Canada for practically the whole summer. I've been asked to tour with Jenny Lester out in the west of Canada. Her band is from....well north of Edmonton....I met them at a camp I taught at last year in Canada and we hit it off....she's something special...great talent.... here's a link to her site..http://jennylester.com/. .then off to the Atlantic Provinces for the Nova Scotia Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival....then I'm staying around for some R and R in Nova Scotia and a few more gigs. Got to write some more music, I want to begin recording a new CD this fall. Going to Ireland and Germany in September and then heading south in October, and back out west in November...well in case I forget to update this page for a bit, we'll both know where I am and if I lose track of myself in this, I can check too. -:) 5-24-05
3-24-05- I'm off to Phoenix, for lessons and two shows, San Diego in two weeks. North Carolina next week.
2-25-05 Back home in Tucson, I'm staying put after postponing my San Diego workshop till April 9th. I still have room for any one in Southern Cal. I'd love to have you join us.
Back in Tucson as of 2-05, going to Vegas with Tammy this weekend for fun. Haven't been there since they built a bunch of the new ones. Should be fun! Supposed to go to San Diego next weekend for a workshop but the enrollment has been kind of weak. What's up with that? If you're from So Cal, we need you! I may have to cancel, it's a long drive and they don't give hotel rooms away around there. I hope not. Tucson workshop the 5th of March, that one is doing well, and it's only 10 miles away. I guess I'll consider that too when I make a call on San Diego. I've only canceled one that I can remember since I began traveling and doing the workshops.
Check out the Banjo Blog if you want. I've been doing a lot more updating there.
I'm home!!! well kind of, be here 2 weeks
We just got back from Tucson, AZ, next stops, Newark, DE, Herndon, VA, Ft Lauderdale, Key West, Cozumel, (Banjo Cruise), Tucson, San Diego, Phoenix, Albq.....(however the heck you spell it)
Nickerson signs with Pinecastle Records. 2002
Ross Nickerson with Tom Riggs, President of Pinecastle Records. Tom Riggs received a lifetime achievement award from the International Bluegrass Association this year!
Update! 2006. I moved. This is my new home. I live in Tonawanda, NY. Near my daughter who is going to law school at Buffalo/Suny. An old friend traveled all the way up and painted the house. It looks a lot better. I have a view of the Niagara River from my office. Niagara Falls is close too. What an awesome area.
This is a picture of my house in Tucson, AZ. I spent most of the winter, working, teaching and playing here. Tucson is where my children grew up.
Here is a picture at my folks guest cabin at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. My folks and family roots are from New England and Nova Scotia.
Ross Nickerson Performance Videos you can watch online
On the Road Blog Adventures in Banjo Travel
Doug Dillard of Andy of Mayberry fame., What a great picker and a great guy too!
Banjo wizard Bill Keith. I'm either really tired or really confused!
Ross Nickerson with Nancy Nitche of Banjo Newsletter
With banjo legend Butch Robbins of Bill Monroe fame.
From Nova Scotia Banjo Camp 2006
Ian Perry, Bill Keith, Ross Nickerson
Picking with Danny Barnes at Calgary Folk Festival. July 2005. Danny Barnes kicks ass.
Picking with Bill Keith, Butch Robbins, James McKinney, Larry McNeely, Doug Dillard and camp director Jack Hatfield.
Interview with Ross Nickerson
by Phil Morley
BG. When did you start to get interested in the banjo?
RN. My best friend in High School played the guitar and he encouraged me to buy a used one. I really got interested after I went to the Union Grove Fiddlers' Convention in North Carolina.
BG. At what age did you start playing?
RN. I was 16 or 17 when I began playing.
BG. Who were your main influences?
RN. I was influenced and inspired early on by the Will The Circle Be Unbroken album which included Earl Scruggs and John MCuen. I thank all the great players and publications that have made tab available to learn from.
BG. What was your first banjo and what is now your current banjo?
RN. The first banjo I had was a Kay. I've had a variety of other banjos including Mastertones, and a Stelling. I now play a Goldstar. I call it the Masterclone. I also have a Deering Crossfire that Deering made custom for me.
BG. Did you play in bands as you were developing your style?
RN. I was in a band after only playing the banjo for nine months. Playing with others helped me progress more than anything. Also I practiced a lot in the first year.
BG. What style would you say mostly ( Scruggs, melodic, etc..?
RN. I play a mixture of Scruggs, melodic, and single string. I use whatever technique best fits the material I'm playing.
BG. What gauge strings do you use?
RN. I use 11,12,13,20,11.
BG. What height bridge do you use and type of action?
RN. 11/16 or 3/4.
BG. What gauge finger picks do you use?
RN. I use shelor picks with the cobalt coating from Bob Perry and a variety of thumbpicks. I cut down the blade and cut the lip that wraps around the thumb back so it won't catch in the strings.
BG. How many hours of practice do you do?
RN. When I first started, I practiced about four hours a day. Now I practice on an as need basis. For instance, if I have an upcoming gig or recording session I practice specifically for that.
BG. What advice would you give someone who is starting out?
RN. Practice a lot. The banjo masters credited with developing a style named after them such as Keith, Crowe Adcock, Fleck etc. are all quoted as practicing 8 or more hours a day.
BG. Do you listen to other forms of music other than bluegrass?
RN. I grew up on a normal diet of Rock and Roll. I got drawn into a love of bluegrass through my interest in the banjo. I've been able to use the many influences I have in different band situations I've been in.
BG. Do you play any other instruments?
RN. I play electric guitar and some Dobro but banjo is my main instrument.
BG. Do you read music notation or do you play from feel.
RN. I started with a little tab, by tape and sharing licks. Then I learned a lot from tab. Now I play mostly by ear.You can also check out some instruction articles that he wrote for the Ibluegrass web magazine or check out the story on the adventure of picking with Earl Scruggs.
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