Walnut Valley Festival 2011- Our week in Kansas

Hello everyone,

Well, I hope you were able to join us a little bit on the trip to Kansas via facebook. It was quite the experience! So much has happened since we left 14 days ago and I don’t want to make this update too long since that would make it a newsletter instead of an update. ;-)

It all started with us getting a new vehicle 2 days before we left. Our other vehicle had over 400,000 miles on it and it would not have made it 800 miles out to Kansas. The kids love the new van. As the photos tell, it’s so spacious that we took the hamsters with us. They occupied Lyra quite nicely on those 7 hour driving days. We are thankful to God for miraculously providing such a great vehicle for the trip and grateful to the Shank family who went above and beyond to get it all ready for the long trip.

First order of business- Hutchinson, KS for a radio interview at an NPR station for a program called Nightcrossings. Playing live in the studio was a blast and they were really excited about my music! Many thanks to Jeff for arranging the interview and to Ken and Michael for engineering and interviewing so professionally. It was great to work with you!

Then it was on to Winfield where we had a great time, despite the cold and rainy weather. This year we had several days with temps of 61 degree for the highs and nights in the upper 40s. Brrr. Contrast that with last year’s temps of a stifling 97 degrees and we were not prepared with quite enough warm clothes! Still we would rather weather the cold than try to tent in unbearable heat! I had a great concert on Wednesday night and enjoyed meeting and playing with some amazing musicians- Akihiro Tanaka on finger-style guitar really stands out to me for his incredible musical feel! We heard him play both Amazing Grace and then My Favorite Things. Wow. Talk about inspiration to keep on learning and growing! On Saturday we all gathered to watch the 2011 Hammered Dulcimer Championships and I handed the 2011 trophy off to a new champion. It was astounding to see the talent that gathered this year to compete! Frankly I’m thankful that some of these contestants did not show up last year when I participated! Congratulations to Tim Simek, Karen Alley and Sam Wachtler for your success this year at the competition.

Sunday morning we enjoyed some extra time with Russell and Merla Cook from Master Works Dulcimers and I played on stage with Russell and another past champion, Josh Messick, at the Gospel Sing concert. Then we packed our tents up and headed out around 3 PM for the long haul home.

Since arriving home on Monday we have so enjoyed the comforts of a roof and 4 walls! Protection from the elements is a luxury that makes life so much more pleasant. I think we have all been just marveling at the ability of having extra blankets, socks and coats handy if they’re needed! Donna is going crazy in the kitchen, enjoying having a full arsenal of refrigerated foods and utensils at her disposal. We celebrated Lyra’s 3rd birthday the day after we arrived home and so put that oven to good use right away baking 2 dozen cupcakes!

Winfield was a long trip but an experience we look forward to again next year… I think Donna is already praying for a tour bus or even a pop up camper for a few more creature comforts next year in 2012, but we are all relishing the idea of meeting up with all the wonderful musicians that gather there every year and being part of the Walnut Valley Folk Festival tradition once again. Anyone want to caravan out there with us?

In the meantime we have a new Fan Friday video for you, inspired by some of the music we learned from our new friends at Carp Camp in Kansas. We missed hanging out with you as usual last weekend and look forward to a few quieter weekends here at home where we can visit more with you. Come on over and enjoy!

Ted and Donna for the whole family

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