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January 2016

It's a beautiful sunny winter morning here in the mountains, and I'm finally off the road and out of the studio and settled down long enough to write a new newsletter...guess I better do it now, while the chance presents itself, given the way these things seem to go...

2015 was an amazing year here in Celtic Guitar Werewolf Land. Undoubtedly my busiest yet - March, April and May I was on tour pretty much constantly with the legendary singer-songwriters Tom Paxton and Janis Ian, all over the US, England, Scotland and Ireland. Inspiring and powerful as always. Tom kept insisting all year that 2015 would be his final year of touring, and nobody has or had any reason to doubt that, but he's since informed me of dates coming up this year in Colorado, Texas and Virginia (so far)...well well... Be that as it may, this past spring was insane (in the best possible way); many songs were sung, many stories were told, many laughs were had and many Tom and Janis fans were very very happy. Not enough sleep was had, perhaps, but that's not what we're out on the road for, is it?

From there it was straight into my usual summer schedule of solo concerts and music camps, including a return to Common Ground on the Hill in Maryland after an absence of far too long - I'll be back this summer, for both weeks and the festival - and my usual two weeks on staff and three weeks in unofficial residence (since I live only fifteen minutes away now) at the Swannanoa Gathering. Somewhere in there I'd been hoping to resume work on the ongoing Bach Cello Suites on Mandolin project, but by then it was pretty clear that that'd be far too much to take on in the midst of all that traveling and teaching and playing, so now I'm aiming for Volume One of that to see the light of day sometime this year (he said, crossing his paws). Suite No. 1 is finished, so the CD really is underway now, really it is...

However...in September I played a benefit concert in my hometown of Black Mountain for Full Moon Farm Wolfdog Rescue and Sanctuary, which is right up the mountain from where I live and as you might guess is a cause close to my heart, and that gave me an idea: I've always loved the 18th-century Irish harp music of the great blind bard Turlough O'Carolan, and over the years I've recorded quite a number of his tunes, and for a long time I've been mulling over the possibility of gathering them onto one compilation CD...so this fall I did, and made it a benefit for Full Moon Farm and another wonderful animal organization here in western North Carolina, Brother Wolf Animal Rescue and No-Kill Shelter in Asheville. The creatively-titled result is The Carolan Collection, which hit the street just in time for this year's Christmas tour, and I'm pleased to announce that it's already into some nice profit - got some $$$ here for the causes, which I'll be delivering to them in person as soon as I shake this cold I'm fighting at the moment!

After some well-earned and much-needed downtime this winter I'll be back on the road (solo, and here and there with Tom) and back in the studio working on two projects: the aforementioned Bach Mandolin Suites Volume One, and a duo Christmas album with my guitar brother Steve Baughman. Steve and I have been playing Christmas concerts together for years now, we both love the music of the season, we've both made solo Christmas albums, and we just made our second duo CD in 2014 that we both felt was one of the best things we've ever done, so it seemed like the time is right for this now - something to look forward to this coming holiday season. And two album projects and the tour schedule should keep me out of trouble for a while...or not...

Stay warm, y'all, and I'll see you along the road.



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