Cow Bop, Route 66, 2014

The following is the full account of Bruce Forman’s experience leading his band Cow Bop for the world’s first linear music festival.

July 19

Tell Me A Bedtime Story

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A dozen years ago while searching out a place to eat during a tour with my band, I ended up at an old Route 66 roadhouse. While the bar and restaurant were still holding on, the attached motor court was dilapidated, weeds growing through the caved-in roof, the parking area buckling and impassable. I thought to myself, I sure would love to see all of Route 66’s history before it is gone.

Route 66 is intertwined in American culture and history, and its impact reaches deeply into our musical experience through song and the legacy of the musicians who traveled west. Somehow, I managed to talk my western bebop band, Cow Bop, into what I called the “Route 66 Challenge.” We left Chicago with only $100 between us and a full tank of gas, with the hope of playing our way across the country to the Santa Monica Pier with no scheduled gigs. Following in the steps of Dust Bowl-era minstrels, we played in bars for tips, set up in parks and community centers and played for donations, busked on street corners, sold CDs – whatever it took.

Bear in mind that this was just after 9/11, a time where our nation had been shaken. A sense of vulnerability and a tendency towards insular behavior had taken hold. To incorporate a community building aspect to the trip, I kept journals and posted them to the web (this was before blogs had been invented), and encouraged everyone who read them to pledge per-mile to a music mentoring workshop program for young people.

Cow Bop made it the whole way, playing at some unique places: wigwam motels, beneath the world’s largest catsup bottle, by roadside dinosaur and spaceman sculptures, near Cadillacs buried in a windswept patch of Texas prairie, and on the pier overlooking the Pacific. People along the way proved generous and we made many fast friends, whom we continue to stay in touch with and have visited on subsequent trips. (That trip, and two subsequent trips are archived at:

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Looking back, I realize how cynical and misguided my first impression of Route 66 was. I had thought that this linear community was soon to be extinct, but found it vibrant and robust, with families deeply committed to the road, their roots and their place on the highway. Yes, they have endured challenging times, and continue to, reinventing themselves in order to endure and thrive. I realized the similarity with my own community of musicians, who in the face of emerging economic shifts and technological innovations that stress our business, also endure. Through ingenuity and dedication we remain steadfast in our commitment to create a personal musical statement.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard: “This is the end,” “You can’t make any money in the business anymore,” “File-sharing and streaming are killing our ability to sell product,” from peers and fans alike. Yet, everyday, I am inspired by my peers’ and my music students’ commitment to their art and to making their world a better place through music.

To celebrate that, we are embarking on a larger Route 66 effort we are calling a Linear Festival. From July 25 through Aug. 9, the entire 2,451-mile road will be a place where bands and artists can join in to commemorate our shared past and take responsibility for creating a new musical future. To keep us connected we are using every available iteration of social media, as well as a streaming platform that will serve as a central hub. The technological infrastructure for the entire tour, with 50+ bands involved, is provided by, a new music community website. The asphalt highway meets the digital highway at:

I am acutely aware of the challenge in this — I am no stranger to road challenges —but traveling musicians aren’t going away anytime soon. I invite you to experience us on the open road, or pull up your computer and ride along. As we rediscover the small towns and charms of The Mother Road, in person or digitally, we just might be creating a road map for a musical future.


July 20

Take Five

Tomorrow we begin the beguine…we pack up the van and head east…to head west. Confused? Gotta get us, the gear, and the van to Chicago in order to get back, don’t we? This is our fifth trip down the road, and so happy that we’ll have so much company on this one. Stay in touch, and let everyone else know, still time to get involved, just sign up at: And if you don’t like this, please share it with someone you hate…

Now would be a good time to introduce the cast of characters:

Description: rom L to R: Pinto Pammy, Ryan McDiarmid, Bruce Forman, Davie Wise, Santino Tafarella

From L to R: Pinto Pammy, Ryan McDiarmid, Bruce Forman, Davie Wise, Santino Tafarella, Joey (forefront) cannot make the tour due to scheduling conflict

Bruce Forman, me, aka Clem Brulay

I play guitar, lead Cow Bop, thought all this up and got everybody into this mess. Gonna end up a hero or a heel…

Pinto Pammy

She sings, plays uke, trombonaphone, trumpazoo, and saxaphonium. Pammy, like me, is a veteran of five trips down the road, plus another one that she did before the turn of the century. She is the real hero, besides being locked in a van with four guys, she also deals with our antics on the stage…like Keely Smith on steroids! Send her some love, she’s gonna need it!!!

David Wise

Saxes, cornet and thingamajig. His second trip. Talent for days, newest Packmaster and CEO of Facebook posting.

Santino Tafarella

Bass: walkin, thumpin and buck-a-de-dunkin!!! His first Route 66, wish him well. We call him Tiny…nice name for a guy we all have to look up to!


Ryan McDiarmid

Drums, box and washboard cravat. His first trip down the Mother Road, dancers love this swing machine, and so do we, come find out why. Also, our man in Twitterdom.

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Vinny (VanGo)

Toyota Siena, 2008, 5 people, equipment (two guitars, string bass, drum set which includes 28” bass drum, bari and tenor sax, cornet, uke, guitar and bass amps), hats, boots, luggage…everybody…hold your breath!

 Here we go…let’s find out how the shin digs!!!


July 21

I’m Calling You

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Bagdad…in France? The Sunni Side of Tikrit? Stay with me here: On our way out to Chicago couldn’t help but re-creating the first road challenges with a guerilla hit…and where better than the famed Bagdad Café, just east of Barstow in a dusty patch of the Mojave Desert. Headed to the door playing and met a guy from Denmark, he didn’t look like the heat was treating him too well, but was pretty good-natured about it. Busted into a full joint playing Route 66 (what else?), we were well received… and everyone of ‘em spoke French. No wonder, they were…well, some were Swiss, I felt like the two hour drive had taken us to another continent…OK, universe! Had to do a yodeler for the Swiss, and they took care of us, got some CDs, fed us, and of course, they left on time! Blastin’ to Flagstaff, gonna take our time on the way back, plus, both the shoe tree and the bra tree on 66 near Amboy got overloaded and fell over…it’s true, look it up! Probably not a good idea to jettison clothing at the beginning of a tour anyway.


Got a new contest for you all: Where’s Cow Bop? If you post pics of the band or the van out on the open road to our Facebook page: Cow Bop, with the hashtag: #wherescowbop we will send you a prize…no, not a puppy, baby nor cell phone with a two-year contract?! While you’re there, please give our page a lick and since we’re hashtaggin (I remember when we put the # sign after the letter…F#?), go to #RT66 or #Rifftimeon66 to follow the whole tour…which officially begins Friday.


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 Didn’t eat here…don’t know why?

July 22



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Today’s the biggest travel day of ‘em all, gonna try and make it to Tulsa, OKC at the least…long way, and two time zones (AZ doesn’t do Daylight Savings, we’re still on CA time). Some of you might have noted that all my post titles are song titles as well? And now you’re thinkin’: Grateful Dead? Yup, apropos I’d say, they did a lot of road-style touring like this…you got a problem with that?

I know there is a lot of cereal posting…oops…serial posting, am eating breakfast so both work right now, but we are out on the road, got to write while it’s happening or someone cuts you off in traffic and there it all goes. Can’t tell you how many songs we have probably lost from the world because the composer was cut off in traffic…I know I’ve lost many…that idea gone forever, replaced by some road rant…sad indeed. I digress, again, gotta get to Chicago, to turn around and begin all this…so we’ll just keep truckin’ on…

Speaking of breakfast, found this contraption at the continental breakfast:

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What continent? Anybody know what this is?

 Got a question for you out in the blogosphere: Do you prefer short posts, minimal words and pictures or more meaty ones? I’m not talkin’ War and Peace, but posts that are a bit more descriptive and delve a little deeper into the pathology of it all? Your comments are most appreciated. Warning, I am a guy who lives by the credo: Take my advice, I’m not using it!!!


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July 23
Don't Know Why


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Why? Why does this road have a hold on me? It is hard to remember a time when it didn’t? Is it the song? The TV show from when I was kid? The part of America it represents? I don’t really know, but I keep coming back…and always bringing new/more people along. Maybe that’s the theme: community.

These trips are like the music I play and the stories I tell. You make a decision and take a chance, commit to a place to start, take the trip, never knowing where you might end up or how it will turn out.

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The juxtaposition out here is stark. The kitschy co-existing with originality and honesty, commitment to what often seems to be a losing battle, quixotic, windmills be damned. This is the America before chains and mini-malls, yet it has had to reinvent itself to survive, and that reinvention is another nonconforming mishmash of tenacity, dedication and creativity.

Mostly they rely on foreigners who come in search of that America, from places that embrace that aspect of their own culture and don’t find it the least bit out of the ordinary. They support the road and seem to accept its decay and dissonance with stoicism and appreciation.

Is playing creative music that different? In a world obsessed with celebrity and commercial success, there are still people who create their sonic vision, make their personal statement with integrity, many times accepting that same type of appreciation I see in the eyes of these Route 66 travelers.

Maybe that’s why? By all of us striking out together out here, headed who knows where…whether it be a place inside a sound or tune, or a place along the road in space or time, we are together, community. And now, if we fight the urge to let it isolate us, technology can help it all come together.

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Footnote: Had a lot of time to think today, blasting through endless desert turning to prairie so flat you could watch your dog run away…for two days…it sent me into a reflective space. Or maybe it was the sopapillas? Better get back to driving!

July 24

Meet Me In St. Louis…Louis


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Tornado Alley, that’s what they call it. Woke up in Clinton, never quite made it to OKC last night, the Texas Panhandle…that is one big pan. Luckily, we decided against the free 72oz steak challenge, got to eat it plus sides in less than an hour (see yesterday’s pics), not quite sure I would participate in a sport that the major accessory is a barf-bucket…just saying!

We faced the long haul to St. Louis, had to get there by nightfall. Endless wide rolling plains stretched out as we passed through Oklahoma City and Tulsa, making the northeastern turn. We had just had a shift change, Ryan taking the helm and boom: the weather turned. Black clouds turned the day into night, and just as he said the words: “They have tornados around here, don’t they?” a gust hit us from the side like a freight train.

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Within seconds, the clouds above were undulating, and we watched as they gaped and bulged. We were out on the freeway, can’t stop now, and gonna be tough to outrun it. Leaves, twigs, swatches of red dirt swirled across the roadbed, pelting us like a Buddy Rich snare drum solo. Then the rain hit, a steady torrent like a cow pissing on a flat rock…Oklahoma-style. Made it to Miami, (OK), up in the northeast corner of the state, where we are playing in the Coleman Theater in a few days, and hunkered down hoping it would pass with only thunder and lightning, no funnels. Nice work, Ryan!!! Take the rest of the day off…

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Cruised up through the Ozarks, slicing our way through Missouri, knowing we’re coming back down the old road, and looking forward to a full order of it…hold the tornados please!

Radio interviews, offers coming in, gigs teetering, connectivity challenges, crankiness, food comas, all part of what we have come to expect from these trips. Hope everybody understands that. I imagine my name is being bandied about in less than friendly or respectful tones about now. What was he thinking, that no good…? And how did he talk us into it?

We did this tour the first time without gigs, and starting with only $100! (See the archived tours at: now it is still challenging but like a first class cruise in comparison, of course, all the other bands probably don’t have that point of view. It pales in comparison to the early pioneers or even the first people to travel Route 66…and think of all the songs we’ll write, stories we’ll have to tell…hope I don’t have to go into witness protection or something though.

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Any way, meet me in St. Louis…Louis…meet me at the fair…maybe even dance the hootchie kootchie?


July 25

Only The Beginning


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Only the beginning? Apropos, and it’s a Chicago tune too…Let the games begin! Made the official start this morning, the beginning of Route 66, Michigan and Adams.

Chicago…it’s an El of a town! Got our city thing a goin’. Started off with a show at the Lurie Children’s Hospital on the skygarden, high up in the Chicago skyline, and overlooking Lake Michigan. Was great to give these hard working health pros and patients a show, they seemed surprised, as if they didn’t expect a cowboy jazz band to show up? Acoustic, of course…our box set. Bill Kane set it all up for us, thanks Bill…he’s the one without the spurs!

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Went out to Logan Square to set up our stuff, park the van and then headed back to downtown to Millenium Park, via elevated subway…wish we had one of these in LA. Navigated quickly…if a bit noisily…directly there.

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This city takes a lot of pride in itself and it should, a beautiful skyline, lots going on, great landscaping in every available spot…they even had tomatoes and corn growing next to marigolds and hydrangeas in a median on Michigan Ave. Lots of cool stuff, people from everywhere in the world hanging out, probably gonna come to our gig tonight…or maybe they’ll stream it?

I’ll let you know how it goes, a soundcheck awaits…let it happen Cap’n!!


July 27

Out Of This World

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Gotta catch up here, been so slammed didn’t have time to post yesterday. Might even happen a few times, your patience is appreciated.

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Back to Friday night: (seems like a year ago) Fun hit at Logan Square Studios, not sure how many of you caught the live stream. I saw the set-up and it looked like a balcony shot, which made us look a lot shorter than we are, it probably had the same effect on my playing. Tried to keep the crowd in check, but Cow Bop does have a tendency to bring out the party in folks. Thanks to those of you who put something in the tip jar…you might have been contributing to the future…your comments are most appreciated, either on the stream page, FB, Twitter, smoke signals, wherever.


Left Chicago Saturday morning, and as soon as you hit the countryside on Route 66 you are in another world. Rows of corn, small communities, catfish contests, vintage cars, winding two-lane roads, bucolic atmosphere with old houses, mostly made of brick. First stop for us is always the Launching Pad, with the Gentle Giant, a huge spaceman that stands in the corner of the parking lot. Unfortunately, the place has closed, and hopefully whoever goes into business there will at least keep the statue (be hard for me to transport, the van is pretty full). Pammy serenaded the guy with ‘Take Me To Your World’, she wants to desert us already? With more than 2,400 miles to go? Click here to watch it, seems as though the radio-active field had a strange effect on her body.

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Then, another iconic stop along the road: Funks Grove. Here you can get (and my sincere apologies to Vermont and Canada) some of the tastiest maple sirup you could ever hope for. It comes from a stand of sugar maples right between Route 66 and I-55. That’s right, sirup, I was informed it is an old spelling, when syrup meant boiling down sugar and sirup came from the sap of maple trees. That’s what they say…and you know that 85% of stats are made up on the spot! Got some sent home and to friends, watch out for this, it is addictive!

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Made it to Springfield, not before one of the biggest gully washers I have ever driven through. Lightning and thunder augmented the trip and the manholes looked like fountain spouts shooting a foot in the air…no kidding! Stopped for a bowl of chili  (chilli? A day for spellings) at Dew, owned by a descendent of one of biggest pals, Lew Grigsby, a trumpet player who took care of us and played too on our first trips. RIP Lew! Settled in with our friends, Bruce and Margi, who have taken care of us before, since the challenge days, and man, it is so nice to get the home-treatment out here on the road. One of the things I learned from our challenges, was in stark contrast to my normal touring regimen, in hotels, is the personal contact, catching up on life, getting a hometown perspective is always refreshing and enlightening. And a big part of the music is reaching out to people and exchanging, communicating. I admit: I would play it anyway, but it gets better when there is both a transmitter and receiver.

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Played at the Hoogland Arts Center, what a great place! They did everything first-class, and what a difference. Pardon my rant here: It is so refreshing when everybody does their job. Social media is great, but bands, especially touring bands, are not promoters. When the venue or club takes responsibility for things like mailers, posters and reaching out to local media, and then bands help out with their own network we all have a chance…and in this case we ended up packing the place. Gus Gordon runs the performing arts center, and because of his thoroughness we could do our gig to the fullest, wish it were like this more often, and if we all worked together, bands, venues and the press/blogosphere, the music would thrive and the fans would be energized…OK, enough pontificating, but Rifftime could be this place where we all create that community.

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We saw many old friends, our first tour through here being ten years ago. One notable friend is Patty Kuhn…Palomino Patty…she ran the Illinois Route 66 Association, and was responsible for many of the signs that help travelers fiend their way down the old road. It is not one contiguous road, it was dreamed up by Cyrus Avery in the ‘20s and he knitted together a patchwork of existing roads for what would eventually become an interstate highway model that emerged in the following decades. Thanks to Patty you can take the old route without getting lost and see a lot of incredible Americana. Also ran into Jim, a scientist who assures me that Cow Bop is the perfect music for cloning…just saying, his words not mine!

Off today for Collinsville, but not before a stop at the Ariston Café, in Litchfield. This place is an old rock building, a classic diner, and we are just gonna march in the door playing…watch out! Then to the Catsup Bottle, the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle, where we have played many times before, and it is also for sale. This road is not simply nostalgia, it is still in a constant state of change, and preservation of cultural icons are not a given, we all need to get involved. I can’t fit this into the van either, maybe I’ll buy it and commission Christo to make a giant basket of fries underneath? Stay tuned, and watch FB and Twitter we might be streaming out some of these guerilla-hits…it is our moodus boperandi…

PS: #wherescowbop #RT66 #cowbop #momsendmoney!!!

July 28


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Boppin round like a bunch of rabbits…four different hits in a day of blistering heat…but it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity…got that too!!!

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First of all got an amazing feast in Springfield, fattening us up for the kill. We discovered yet another packing scheme, which gave us enough room to pick up a small vintage suitcase…mini-merch for street-hits, yeah!

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Ran down 66 to the Ariston Café, an iconic dining establishment, was packed to the gills when we stormed in playing…you guessed it…Route 66! We were doing a selfie-video, but forgot to hit the record button…yikes! There were locals and tourists there, many who saw us last year, and some new ones, We have gotten on the same time frame as a group of EagleRiders, people who rent Harleys and drive the old road, most of them were Italian, some Spanish and a Brazilian guy, we are gonna get to know each other really well I think…see you guys down the road! Paul Adam, the proprietor took real good care of us, not the we needed to eat again…got to take it though, never know where the next good meal is gonna come in, at least that’s what we told ourselves. Thanks Paul!!! To the guys in the cool MG: best car of the trip by far!!!

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The Rabbit Ranch, title is pretty self-explanatory, Rich Henry was glad to see us again, he got some CDs to sell, the quality control was pretty intense. (see pic above) And he has the VW Rabbit Ranch out front…take the Cadillac Ranch!!!

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Then to the Catsup Bottle, what a great time…we streamed the show (I think, there have been some buffering issues and such). This is all in its infancy, imagine what it will all be like in a few years? And we are the first on the moon, using this technology for a linear festival, and you can be everywhere checking it out, just by having a computer, tablet…or even as smartphone…Thanks Rifftime! An opening act of The Tomato Princess, go to the Cow Bop Facebook page to check it out…and while you are there, give us a lick…er, like…autocorrect?

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It was a scorcher by the jug (The Catsup Bottle), and we sure appreciated all the water. Lots of people there, all sitting in little patches of shade from the building, the shadow of the tower and some other signage that gave respite form the heat…but not the humidity. As soon as we began to set up Tino’s G string snapped (the one on the bass!)…so Thumper (that’s it’s name), had three gigs as a three string bass. I guess we’re off to the music store in the morning…Then, to Carisilos for a Mexican meal, a margarita the size of a swimming pool and another set. The temp had abated so it was rather pleasant out there, and a great audience had us in a great mood and full of energy…or was that the tequila?

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Three hits…can’t stop now, not with Ted Drewes Frozen Custard within shooting distance. The place is an iconic stop along Route 66, and always packed, a St Louis tradition. We bombed the joint, played Route 66 (again, going to do that quite a bit!) and got rousted, but not before they offered us as much custard as we could eat…which wasn’t all that much, it was a food-ful day. I got a tour of the inside but was worried they were gonna throw a yellow shirt on me and put me to work! We streamed the hit on an iPhone, and it is up on the Rifftime festival site. Terry Thompson came by and played too, probably why the neighbors complained…not!!! Got to get some rest, misery awaits…I mean Missouri…dang autocorrect! No strings attached…well, three out of four ain’t bad!!!



July 29

Missouri Waltz


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Back to the old ways…in more ways than one. We three-stepped our path out of St. Louis and through the Ozarks. Like the road challenges of years past, we left everything to the rhythm of the road, no planned gigs, just flow and let it all unfold. But first we had to say goodbye to Mike (The Big Tomato) and Judy, they have taken care of us since our first trip and we love you guys. Thanks for your dedication to keeping the Catsup Bottle in action. You are in our Hall of Fame!

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One stop that had to be made was St. Louis Strings, a specialty shop where we could find the right strings for Thumper, our bass. The bass belonged to Buddy Jones, in many ways my surrogate father. Buddy was a jazz musician and cowboy with quite a storied past. He grew up in Hope, Arkansas, moved to KC to go to school, but blew the money listening to Count Basie and Lester Young, alongside a fledgling sax player named Charlie Parker. They became good pals, and then Buddy moved to NY and lived for a short time with Bird (Charlie Parker). Buddy loved to tell me the story of one night he slept in the only bed, it was a small studio apartment, as Bird usually wanted to practice all night anyway. Buddy woke up in the morning and Bird told him that he was tired of playing I Got Rhythm-changes with a Honeysuckle Rose bridge, like many of the tunes the beboppers were playing at the time, so he wrote a tune with Honeysuckle Rose changes and a Rhythm bridge…Buddy was in the bed and Thumper was in the room when Bird wrote Scrapple From The Apple! Thumper has played with Bird, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims and a host of other great jazz greats, and now it plays with Cow Bop, the stories it could tell!

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(That’s Thumper and Tino on the right)

Thanks to Misha, who set it up, we are back in action with 4 strings…and Tino is very happy about it I can tell you.

We left St Louis and headed out on the open road. Being from California, which is mired in a severe drought, it is strange for us to be around such verdant landscape, and air that seems to be filled with water. The hues of green and the gentle slopes of Missouri are pleasing to the eye, and the trees and grassland sway gently in the breeze, a light waltz that is hypnotic. Craggy rock outcroppings and deep river beds punctuate the turns in the old road.

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Missouri is known as The Cave State, and we stopped to visit Meramec Caverns, even took the tour. The coolness of the air was a welcome respite from the heavy, humid heat. The caves are mostly known for being a place where the James gang made a dramatic getaway, but I was taken by the sheer geologic impact. You should take the tour, the ending is something I won’t ruin for you…

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Made it to Springfield for the night, staying at The Rail Haven Motel (Elvis stayed here the year I was born…a long time ago!). It is a landmark on the old road, and we decided to rest up for the big swing through 13 miles of Kansas and into Oklahoma where we have a show at The Coleman Theater in Miami. Gonna be fun, it is the start of a Route 66 Roadshow Revue, and Rifftime is going to stream it out to the world, check the media page at Duchess, a swinging singing Boswell sisters-inspired band from NY, plus some great acts from Tulsa and Cow Bop finishing it off. Now that is something we are looking forward to going into 4/4 for…

July 30

Doctor, Doctor

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(Blue Monday, Jim Recabaren on left)

Only six days into the tour and it feels like an odyssey, so many events, miles, people and places. The community created with this and the lives touched are significant. One such person who is making an impact is James Recabaren, a surgeon who is also my colleague at USC (Univ. of Southern California). Jim’s blues band Blue Monday has been playing gigs on the route (check the site) and Jim also connected the tour to the American Cancer Society, creating opportunities for bands to reach out to families dealing with illness, providing the healing and soothing powers of music.

There have been shows all along the corridor—and will be more—and it is indeed heartwarming to know that the music community is stepping up, helping out any way we can to make these families ordeal a little bit better and perhaps more tolerable.

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(Terry Thompson, right, playing at Hope Lodge, St. Louis)

Bands are donating any proceeds they get from the virtual tip jar or from the gigs to the ACS and as we all know someone who has been touched by this, we should all endeavor to do our part to help out any way we can. To you, Jim, thanks for giving the tour extra meaning and significance. More at:

 You can catch some action this weekend at Relay For Life events in Albuquerque, NM and Chino, CA

July 31

Take Me Back To Tulsa


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Dateline Tulsa: Gully washer, monsoon, deluge, torrent, you name it, we got it. In a place mired in drought (much like California) this place is under siege. And if I remember correctly, this happened last year when we were here? And we actually broke the drought in Texas last May when we were there…Cow Bop, the new rainmakers?

Nothing stifles street hits more than a steady downpour, it’d be like a streetwalker in Venice…not much future in that. Hunkered down and planned out the next few days…er…hours. With these kinds of trips, you gotta flow with it all. The OKC show on Friday was cancelled as we were held over for a second night here in Tulsa at The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. I know, some of you are thinking: Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame? Well, not to sound like a professor here, but, hell yeah! Charlie Christian, Oscar Pettiford, Barney Kessel, Chet Baker, are just some who were all born here…you got a problem with that? Thursday and Friday we play here, and Thursday July 31 is going to be live-streamed at: Looking forward to this, it is part of our Oklahoma Route 66 Roadshow Revue, with Duchess from NYC and some other bands too!

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Braved the rain and headed out to OKC for tonight’s hit, glad we didn’t wash the van. Did a show at The Blue Door, truly one of the best music venues, with some of the most knowledgeable and appreciative music fans in all of the world. Greg Johnson runs a first-class outfit, he is a real music lover and committed to the art form, and that’s why he gets all the great acts to come into his small space…sound: perfect, vibe: even better!

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Duchess opened up for us, and then joined us on a rousing Route 66 encore…complete with kazoo chorus at the end, if you don’t believe it, check out the live stream. Believe it or not, that was all done on an iPhone! A big part of the story of this tour is that we can now do this, and old-school minstrel-style tour down the old road, but are able to keep the entire world in touch…in real time! Thanks Rifftime! And Rifftime’s mission is to connect bands and musicians with fans, venues and writers to create community. You can also get guitar lessons on the site, say, with me? Gonna go now…As Bob Wills said: Take Me Back to Tulsa….wonder if it was raining that day?


August 1

Eye Of The Hurricane

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Stillness, the kind of light rain that mutes the sounds of a city. It comes down gently, a warm mist that lands like a butterfly. Had some basic maintenance to take care of: Vinnie (the van, Vincent VanGo) needed an oil-change, had tons of emails and phone calls to return, had to catch up on blogging, and we are making a video montage of Route 66 singing Route 66…stay tuned for that one!

A Hall of Fame evening ensued. The big night of the Rifftime Route 66 Roadshow Revue at The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame:

John Wooley as MC. John is a fantastic writer (check out his blog posts on the site: Hubbing It and The Bunion Derby, he also writes novels and is an award-winning journalist), he is one of the most knowledgeable experts on Western Swing music, and has a western-swing radio program Swing on This, airing at 7 p.m. on public-radio station KWGS (89.5 FM) in Tulsa and streaming at It was an honor to have him speak, introduce bands and give context to the musical event.

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John Wooley on left, Michael Wallis, center

Then Michael Wallis made some remarks. Michael is the foremost authority on Route 66, and wrote the best-selling book The Mother Road, we use it as a guide and derive inspiration, especially in those challenging moments out here. His heartfelt oration is one that I won’t ever forget. If you want to see it, it is online as part of the stream of the concert. Michael was also one of the advisors for the movie, Cars, and the voice of the sheriff!

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Playing in the hallowed halls of a place like this, where so many icons are enshrined, (Charlie Christian, Oscar Pettiford, Don Byas for example) and where so much great music has been made, it brings out the best in everyone. Most importantly for me is Barney Kessel, from Muskogee, his inspiration and mentoring changed my life. We were actually playing here the night he passed away, and his presence and inspiration are always with me. Love you, Barney!!!

The bands: Duchess, what a great, swingin group, am loving playing and being with them. Really gonna miss them, but after all the road antics and kazoo choruses, they might get run out of NY…you are always welcome anywhere Cow Bop plays!

The Jambassadors: A great group of kids, promising talent, and The Jazz Hall of Fame deserves credit for creating the opportunity for these kids to follow their dreams.

Then Cow Bop stormed the stage…we don’t know how to do it any other way! Better tighten your cinches, it’s always a wild ride! The gig was a whole lot of fun, so much so that we are going to do it again…tonight! Our pal, Shelby Eicher, fiddle hero, came out, and after he had had surgery in the morning. We couldn’t believe it, winner of the Iron Man award…heal quickly and well, Shelby!

One of the tunes that has been going exceptionally well on the tour is our Turkish infused-version of Istanbul. It features David playing a double-reed instrument that looks like a leg off a coffee table…its loud, but it’s really loud! Everyone seems to dig it, but then again, the applause could be because they are happy it is over?

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Then to Rick & Terry’s for the party of the century. Rick & Terry saved us on our first trip to Tulsa, back when we were doing the challenge, having left Chicago with only $100…and no gigs! We ended up playing all night, music, shuffleboard…and I think there was some drinking too…but can’t remember…probably means yes…and we were back for an encore. Rick is an incredible banjo player and his comment to me was: “You play so many notes…you should’ve been a banjo player!” Touche!

Being in the center of so much activity is surreal, yet there is a calm to it all, just got to let it happen, everyone does their part and we swirl in harmony in the center of a giant storm, members of a linear community interconnected in ways we don’t even comprehend, the eye of the hurricane.

August 2

This Land Is Your Land


Played at the Woody Guthrie Museum…you’re never far from his ghost out here. Especially as we amble our way across the red-dirt plains of western Oklahoma. This part of Route 66 seems largely forgotten, desolate at times, towns spread far apart. It is a place largely ignored by chain-establishments, here you’ll find mom-and-pop diners serving pies that they made themselves to the travelers who are out looking for something different, willing to stray a short distance off the freeway.


Last night we said goodbye to Duchess. It was a truckload of fun doing the Rifftime Route 66 Roadshow Revue with them, the girls sounded great and are a hang of superior magnitude. We all busked about Tulsa before the show, even played Mambo Italiano in a restaurant/bar called Hey Mambo!


The remarkable part of it all is that even though we are doing this tour like medieval minstrels, anyone in the world can watch…in real time! That’s a whole lot of story right there!


Stopped at The Cherokee Trading post, but only to entertain the buffalo with a chorus of Cherokee. I think it was the guitar solo that knocked out one of ‘em, had him rolling in the dirt in fact. If you don’t believe it check out the video…everyone’s a critic! It was a remake of a video from last year’s trip and I think they remembered us…hey you guys, two-drink minimum!!!


Making our way to Texas border we always stop in Erick, the birthplace of Roger Miller and home of Harley and Annabelle. They are deservedly the only living landmarks on Route 66. The interstate has not been kind to Erick, the town seems mostly deserted unless you look real close. Generations of denizens are firmly entrenched, dedicated to their home and this patch of the road. A visit with Harley and Annabelle is a must. Alas, they are not around right now due to health reasons, but their spirit is still a tangible presence. While it was eerily quiet, I thought I heard an echo of all the music, hilarity and insanity blowing in the warm breeze, and I hope they knew we were there and sending our best wishes. We did a little tribute video on their porch and if you want to see their act just click here for a video from one of our past trips. While we were there a few travelers stopped by, also saddened that the shop was silent.


As we head westward into the glaring sun, the Texas Panhandle stretches out before us. A cloud-filled blue sky, cows happily munching on knee-high grass, silhouettes of water towers far off on the horizon. We are our way to an evening show at The Cadillac Ranch…that’s our land, a windswept dusty patch of flat prairie with Caddy’s buried at a slant…what’s yours?

August 3

Things Ain't What They Used To Be

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Crossed the mid-point of Route 66 (Vega, Texas) as the last vestiges of the sun settled beyond the horizon. While we are at the geographical mid-point, it seems like we are much closer to the end than our start almost two weeks ago. Everything stretches out here as the prairie gives way to the desert, towns far apart. As the Dust Bowl migration happened, imagine how difficult, daunting and treacherous this element of the journey was. In a time before air conditioning, cars and tires far less reliable, with vehicles loaded down with a family’s entire belongings, everyone relied on each other or became buzzard fodder real fast. Our van (Vinnie VanGo) is also laden with the heavy burden of five people, equipment and luggage, but it is fairing well, and we are eternally grateful for it’s stoic tenacity.

The mountains, deep red ravines, cacti and adobe buildings of the desert southwest fill the landscape. We decided to take the old alignment of the road, through Santa Fe, looking forward to a day of street hits and hoping for good weather. (So far, every time we have come through it has been raining coyotes and chupacabras).

Hey, we got wi-fi, Starbucks, Trader Joes, Whole Foods? Wow, things ain’t what they used to be!!!

 PS> Check out the new Route 66 sings Route 66 video, be there before it goes viral…don’t worry, it’s totally curable


August 4

Bang Bang


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Just like that, things change quickly here in the high desert. We pulled into Santa Fe, had a short walkabout and found out that Roberta Donnay and The Prohibition Mob Band was playing a house concert less than a mile away…and they are also part of the 66 Linear Festival! She asked us to come by, and I ended up playing most of the gig with her (except for a little while, when I had to excuse myself for a short time to do a live interview on KABC Radio in LA…ah, show biz…the smell of the crowd, the roar if the greasepaint!!!) The band plays a fun mix of standards and originals, all 20s/30s inspired. You have probably heard Roberta with Dan Hicks…she is one hot lick!!!

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This is what I envisioned for the festival, bands crossing paths, jamming and sharing stories, creating community. After a stellar hang, we stuffed ourselves with New Mexican cuisine (the chiles here are amazing) and margaritas, but not me, I was driving us into Grants, NM for the night. And it was a good thing cuz: Bang Bang, we got rear-ended by someone who had!!! It was a big one, but luckily, we were going the same direction and I pushed us out of his way as best I could. He swerved over, almost hitting some other guys, and I pulled over to inspect the damage. A pickup truck made chase, maybe he got hit too? Luckily, the damage wasn’t too bad, just a crushed bumper and a dent in the tailgate, but it still works (sure would be hard to get the bass out any other way!) I got back in and we headed west, and sure enough the guy was pulled off to the side of the road, I began to pull over to get his info and wham…he gunned it right into traffic, just missing us and taking on a huge semi, needless to say he didn’t fare too well, and he spun out into the median.

A man named Jeremiah had seen the whole thing—even his first smack on me—and had pulled over to give aid. The driver was so soused he couldn’t even talk! We wrested the keys so he couldn’t try and drive away but he just passed out in the front seat after some garbled utterances. The cops arrived, we made the report and continued on our journey, thankful for how lucky we were that no one was hurt, not too much damage and that we had Jeremiah there too. You all: please be safe out there! Life may not be serious, but it sure is dangerous!!!

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Morning brought a beautiful cloud-filled New Mexican sky, warm velvety air and a gentle breeze. We crossed the Continental Divide, now it feels like we can coast the rest of the way home if we have to. The tour has been fun, exciting, and I will admit tedious at times. Lots of miles traveled, and lots more before we’re home. Looking forward to our upcoming hit at La Posada, an historic Harvey House in Winslow, AZ. Until then, ‘Take it Easy’ everybody…chow for now!!!

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Vinnie can take a punch!!!

August 5

Along The Navajo Trail


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Everyday, along about evening

When the sunlight is beginning to fail

I ride, through the slumbering shadows

Along the Navajo Trail

The swirls of red in deep ravines change hue as the sunlight changes. The Painted Desert has a visual movement even though it stands still…mystical, harsh and haunting, home of the Navajo and Hopi. It’s no wonder they are such deeply spiritual and stoic people. Their movements and responses seem slow to a person who moves at my speed. Yet, the gravity of their thought and their solidity and humanity exudes a deep connection to this place.

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La Posada, a southwestern-style hacienda and original Harvey House, sits on the rail line in Winslow Arizona. Well over a century ago, this was a place where migrating easterners came for a respite from of the harshness of the west. Fred Harvey developed a model of consistency and quality, where travelers could get good food, a clean place to sleep if they so desired before they continued their journey. The Harvey Houses’ model is the blueprint for every chain-establishment we have in this country: McDonalds, Howard Johnson, Holiday Inn…you name it. His driving desire to create a reliable experience that travelers could count on had never existed before the Harvey Houses. It changed the world.

As the car replaced train travel, these places had all been bypassed (foreshadowing what would happen between the Interstate highways and Route 66, decades later) and thanks to visionary people like Allen Affeldt, artists Tina Mion, Daniel Lutzick and other historical societies and preservationists these places now once again flourish.

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 A selfie? On the gig? Yikes!

La Posada is always a homecoming of sorts for us on the trip. We are now less than ten hours drive from the Pacific Ocean. The beauty and serenity here provides a place to regroup, energized to finish off the journey. We played a concert in the grand ballroom, ate in the historic dining hall and then played a few tunes as we watched the trains roll by, rhythmically slicing their path through the high desert, along the Navajo Trail.

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August 6

California Here I Come 

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Some might call it a run for the border, but we’ve been out here for two weeks, almost 5,000 miles. Through Flagstaff and Williams, the gateway to The Grand Canyon, we made our way west through vibrant fields of yellow wildflowers.

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Took the old road up in the mountains to the southwest of Kingman. Into the old mining town of Oatman, where Clark Gable got stranded on his honeymoon…not by his wife Carole Lombard…by his car! The town is now famous for the donkeys that run amok in the streets extorting food out of tourists. They are advertised as wild donkeys, but speaking as an avid horseman, I’ve never seen wild equines clipped like this? Their hooves well cared-for, and jennies happy to let a human touch their practically newborn foals? They must be descendants of burros left behind when miners panned out the area and went bust. Good to see they are thriving, although they should cut back on the potato chips if you ask me. One even inspected our bumper…I guess he’s moonlighting as an insurance adjuster?

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This is desolate and inhospitable country. I can only imagine the Dust Bowl migrants, on their way to California, with promises of lush vegetation, the land of milk and honey, only to experience a long hot treacherous journey over the mountains, then cross the state line into the Mojave Desert. Must have seemed like a cruel and surreal joke.

We dropped out of the mountains and into the plain of the Colorado River, which divides California and Arizona and supplies much of the water for the thirsty southwest in these drought-stricken times. Crossed into Needles for hit at The Red Dog Saloon. We met up with John Bergstrom, cowboy singer and historian, who was doing the early show, and streaming it as part of the Rifftime Route 66 Linear Festival. John is doing some more things out on the road, then meeting up with us for the Saturday night Finish-Line Party at Viva Cantina, August 9…come on out to Burbank!

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Had an enthusiastic crowd in Needles, it was lots of fun and then we decided to blast home. We could smell the Pacific air like it was taunting us…or at least thought we could. Since we’d traveled the old road on the way to Chicago, and stopped at The Bagdad Café, had gone through Amboy, Barstow and Victorville, it just felt right to sleep in our own beds for a change. That and crossing the Mojave at night isn’t the worst idea I’ve ever had. For that: just ask the band!!!

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We are still on the tour though, stay tuned for our Duarte Show, this Thursday, August 7, at Westminster Gardens, a serene outdoor setting, bring a picnic! The address is: 1420 Santo Domingo, @ 6:00. We’re gonna stream it, but nothing like the experiencing the real thing if you can. We are planning to make the trip out on the Santa Monica Pier Friday around noon too…right back where we started from!!!


August 7



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Crazy? Me? Well, some of you might think I’m crazy…and the rest of you know I am! Was it that far-fetched to dream up this hazy scheme? I didn’t seem so to me…at least not at first. Route 66 is intertwined in our culture and represents a time before our turn towards generic. No cookie-cutter anything…except cookies! When a big part of it all was not just the arrival, but the getting there.

 Music is like that, we have a sound in our head, we work and strive, and along the way, influence and experiences help to refine it and send it in unexpected directions. And when we get better…or even good…we just want to stay on the path, to find the next sound. Getting there is better than being there!

Thinking that bands would take to the road, and create their own community, join up with others and use emerging technology to share it with their fans is not crazy. Hopeful, optimistic…maybe? But I do feel a responsibility in this time of major transition (due to technology, economics and a huge cultural shift) to help define a path to a more connected and meaningful future for my peers and students. I know, lofty, but hey, I thought it up, and the only failure is not to try!

 Well, we actually did it, and are the first! Now, there are dozens of shows, concerts, jams and crazy (that word again) interactions archived, that were streamed in real time to the world via a handheld phone…even Dick Tracy would’ve been impressed! Now the corridor is full of new friends, and if it seems just a little more hopeful that we can turn the steering wheel back toward community I am pleased. I met countless people dedicated to what might at first seem like a losing battle, but it is their home, their life, and their story, it won’t go away. Our music won’t either, and no matter what genre (or combination of genres) it is, we have that in common. Life isn’t about music, music is about life!

Thanks to Rifftime, who wants to provide tech support and community for musicians, for coming along in this crazy (that word again) venture.

We have created immediacy: now people can stay in touch in a way never before realized, hardly even imagined.

We have created community: groups of people now know that they have a world of kindred spirits out there and have a strong foundation for growth.

We have created a migration: Down an old road that represents America’s robust spirit to strike out on new paths, take chances and search for something new and better. Taking the old road into a new world.

 This is driving me sane!!! And there is still more to come!!!

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Singin a tune in Needles


August 9

My Way


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Made it! After 5,000 mile round trip on highways and byways, gigs and giggles, and steps and missteps, we were out on the pier, the Pacific Ocean daring us to try and go any further. Nah!!! The concert last night in Duarte, a central part of the Route 66 experience in LA, was a sunset-lit tree-laden park setting, lots of folks, with the music winding down just as the last hint of light drained out of the sky. More than 350 folks, that’s what they said, what a homecoming! Mary Barrow, one of LA’s most ardent jazz fans and the best hang in the San Gabriel Valley put it all together and then threw us a party…thanks Mary!

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A big part of this story is just that, the community that develops when people get together, share and make something happen. Music is a great rallying point, and the sheer warmth and generosity we experienced on this trip is staggering. You are all my heroes. You prove—to me at least—that the idea of striking out on a quixotic quest (windmills be damned), living in the moment and having faith in fellow humans is not folly. It also shows that taking risks, while scary, prove to be stimulus for growth and enlightenment.

Why would a guy, who has a lot of gigs already, has a teaching position, does recording projects, and has to leave a dog behind at home do this? Because of all of you…that’s why! It reminds me of why I play music in the first place. To find the sound that resonates with the world around me, to take chances, and trust my instincts, believing that I will somehow find the right note, chord or sound that sets everything on the right axis. To experiment, find another way, and challenge my imagination to make the most of whatever comes my way…and doing my best to leave expectations behind. I will always look back at all of these trips with a sense of gratitude and accomplishment–from the first challenge where we left with only $100 and made it the whole way, to this Linear Festival, where we found a new use for technology and social media and I had the accompaniment of other like-minded artists and groups–they have been the kind of stories that inform and give a humble perspective to the journey. Thanks to all of you for your participation, spirit and willingness to go out on the edge with us.

Some musicians think it is their own sound design and painting that makes all this work, but I think that you who listen and share your lives with us are what make this a completed experience. I appreciate your input, I am deeply effected by your interactions, and yes, I am stingingly disappointed at times by your choice to disengage from a heartfelt attempt to reach out…but it is your option, and I respect that. I warn you that it merely inspires me to try and be more badass, to get you away from the phone or camera, and make you unafraid to meet me halfway.

There’s more, a party, and lifetime of friendship, community and more music, and some words from my fellow travelers…and more, much more than this, we did it our way.


August 10

Route 66


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Wow! What a rousing finish…rather than fade away and skulk home to lick our wounds, we held court and had a stellar party at Viva Cantina, a jam-packed finish to an amazing couple of weeks. Numerous bands and dozens of musicians took part. The Rifftime Route 66 Linear Music Festival (the first of it’s kind) is now officially in the books. Incredibly, not only was the world able to view it by going out on the road and finding it along the route, they had the opportunity to watch it in real time anywhere in the world…and it is still archived at and all my blogs are here at:

Please pay close attention, as I want to take the time to acknowledge and thank many who helped out (and this is dicey, because I know I will miss some of you…please forgive! Or better yet: let me know, I will add you!!!)

To the folks at Rifftime: David, Lance, Krystina et al, your vision for an online music community that provides tech support to musicians and creates a place where bands, fans, venues and writers can work together is admirable and much needed. I hope that my efforts have helped that vision become reality. I know we had many challenges, this kind of trip had never been done before, and I think it is a paradigm that will emerge to become a viable means for touring in the 21st century. Thanks for believing in my idea, and for working so hard to make it a reality.

To Jim Recabaren: A colleague, a new friend, a man of vision and energy. Thanks for all your planning wisdom, your get-it-done attitude and for getting the American Cancer Society involved, for adding an extra humanitarian element to this saga.

To Bill Kane: To you and your family for the Chicago hospitality, you are a great man who does great things, we couldn’t have done this without you.

To Margi and Bruce: Home Sweet Home! You guys are the nicest, most generous friends anyone could have. Thanks for the fun!

To Gus Gordon: The first-class job you do at the Hoogland Center for the Arts, they are lucky to have you and we are fortunate to work with you, looking forward to the next!

To Terry Thompson: A friend in the truest sense of the word. Thanks for putting us up, putting up with us, your generosity and being Cow Bop‘s biggest advocate. St. Louis is now home away from home, because of you!

To Michael Gassman (The Big Tomato) and Judy: A trip down the road just isn’t complete without you. Thanks for your friendship, for your caring commitment to the community, keeping an iconic piece of Collinsville alive for generations…and of course, both of your supremely over-the-top jollification factor!

To Janet and Shelby: You guys looked out for us, encouraged us and showed us the true meaning of what it is to be a friend…Shelby, that you came to the gig on the day of your surgery…Iron Man!!! Heal quickly and completely, we need your fiddle playing gracing us all again soon!

John Wooley: Your writing is inspiring, your knowledge of Western Swing music and history is staggering, thanks for teaching me so much. But most of all, thanks for your generosity, your kind, caring words at the show in Tulsa and for always being there for us, every time we make this trip.

Michael Wallis: The man of Route 66! Thanks for your insights and your book, which inspired us on every trip. Your perspective, which informs us to the importance of the road, teaches us all what it means to be a citizen and an American. Thanks for your words of support for what we are doing. You once said that there were five things that kept Route 66 alive throughout its history: the original migration (Woody Guthrie), the Bobby Troup song, the TV show, your book and Cars…I hope we will prove to be number six! A man can dream!

Duchess: That you guys came out from NY and took a chance to experience all of this, you win a Cow Bop road medal. You were great addition to our time in Oklahoma, I know we are going to hear a lot more from you!

Rick and Terry: Not sure whether to thank or curse you? Those parties are epic, and if we do much more of that we are gonna have to go into training first. Your generosity and fun factor….music, shuffleboard, and everything, I am still laughing…we took it to another level…I hope you don’t do that every day!!! On second thought…why not?

Dewain Manek: Saving our ass and giving us the warmest and most memorable of welcomes, right when we needed it most…in a monsoon!!!

Greg Johnson at The Blue Door: Great club, the walls ooze music. Thanks for bailing us out, understanding…even if you did bust my bells for it…we’ll be back!

To La Posada: Magical place, always. Thanks for rehabilitating a piece of history, making it the jewel is it and for welcoming us they way you do.

Linda Fitzpatrick: Needles was great, great to see some people taking the initiative to revive the Harvey House and the Theater. Your commitment to community is inspiring and is the essence of the spirit of Route 66.

To Mary Barrow: Wow! I can’t imagine what the LA music world would be without you! Your spirit, support, love and sincere generosity make a difference in so many lives. We (musicians) all appreciate you more than you will ever know. Cow Bop sends our undying admiration and appreciation for your tireless work in putting together the show in Duarte and the party. You bring out the best in everything!

To Cody, my brother from another mother (and everybody at Viva Cantina): There is no greater home club in all of the world. Thanks for listening to my stories, providing ideas and support, going along good-naturedly, and for hosting the party at the end of the trail. Looking forward to next Saturday, and to hundreds more next Saturdays, happy birthday to you!

To Brick Wahl: I am continually impressed by your unique voice, your uncommonly twisted yet concise and exacting perspective. For me, that is what writing is about. Thanks for covering the trip, guiding me through this blogging process and talking me down after that drunk guy hit us. For the rest of you, read his blog. Brick is the real deal, context, heart, and imagination. Thanks again, Brick!!!

Kudos to Jack Cimo and the LA Duo: You guys made the whole trip…brag on it!!!

Most of all, to the band: I know I ran every element of your daily life, and you had to play under some of the most strange and difficult circumstances. We took it to the outer limits and experienced things that will solidify our family and take the music to the next level. Thanks for your understanding, support, professionalism and insanity…you can all go back to your regular programming.

In their own words:

Pinto Pammy: I feel like such a pro at Route 66 (sounds like a board game!) I’ve done it now five times with Cow Bop, and once by myself before I met Bruce…that’s a lot of miles! It’s a BIG drive that doesn’t get easier as you get older. But a lot of fun was had because of wonderful, helpful friends along the way. Personal thanks to: Bill and Mandy (Chicago), Margi and Bruce (Springfield, IL), Mike and Judy, Terry and Sue (St. Louis), Terri and Rick and Janet and Shelby (Tulsa), Tina Mion of La Posada (Winslow), Mary Barrow (Duarte)…oh, there were others, but it’s really just a blur now.

And another big thank you to the most positive thinking and tenacious person I know, Bruce Forman. As I said, it isn’t always easy or fun on the road, but Bruce constantly had his “eye on the prize” and kept all us Cow Boppers laughing and making beautiful music together (OK, a little tequila might have been involved now and then).

It took almost a village to keep the home fires burning while we were gone, what with the house, garden (it was 100 degrees here!) and most importantly Joey the border collie; so thank you Ellen, Emily and Ryan, and our sweet Sabrina.

Thanks for the memories Route 66 – see ya!

Ryan McDiarmid: “You see this boys? This is called a map!” Bruce joked with us while in the car. What a wild ride it was down the Mother Road…full of adventure, mishaps, exhaustion, hilarity, and lots of music as we traveled across much of the historic route’s pink, weed-ridden, cracked pavement through what seemed like a time-machine. I (as well as many others in my generation, I’m sure) had a hard time imagining a pre-corporate American culture and it was a great experience to peer into what little is left of that history while on our Route 66 tour. Driving through some fairly unforgiving landscape, whether it be the barren Texas panhandle or the dark, churning skies of an Oklahoma thunderstorm, one can’t help but imagine the fearless, adventurous spirit that many of the earliest Route 66 travelers must have had. You couldn’t count on a Jiffy Lube, Wal Mart, or Starbucks (NOOOOOO!) being in every town or being able to pull out your cell phone if you have a suspicion that you’re lost. Having not traveled much before joining the band, it was also great to see some of the places that the songs we play are written about and you really begin to see the connection between landscape and music. You realize that music can act as an aural map of the world. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to experience a part of American culture that I might have never seen if it weren’t for this tour and couldn’t have asked for a better experience thanks to Bruce, Pammy and the guys in the band!

Tino Tafarella: What an exciting tour! I’m still trying to process what just happened… so many cool people, places and events condensed in such a short time. Even the time we spent driving was filled with excitement, from driving through tornadoes in the making, to dodging drunk drivers. I got to experience traditional America through the people that opened their homes to us, the audiences we played for, and all of the friends I made. One thing I learned for sure is that Route 66 is an invaluable part of American tradition, where hospitality, hard work, and a strong sense of community still thrive. A huge thank you to Bruce, our leader, mentor and friend.

Route 66: One man’s vision in the 1920s, to knit together existing roads, paths and gullies to bring the country together, still stands. No longer a harbinger of what is to come, it represents our past: our struggles, accomplishments, our joy and sorrow, a symbol of promises kept and things forgotten. From a time when individuality was a given, just a part of being American, the road is populated with some of our most tenacious, inventive, colorful and committed citizens.

Music is the fabric that knits it all together, making a tapestry that tells a story…our collective story. To all of the people who give so much of themselves to make a brilliant present and work towards a brighter future through community, you are Route 66…Long Live Route 66!