Long Live Levon Helm

April 19th, 2012


Sneak Preview

February 23rd, 2012

It snowed 4 feet in the Tetons over the past 5 days. I watched it fall out my studio window, while hunched in front of my computer, with occasional interruptions via text from my son and other friends reporting on the waist deep conditions. Not complaining though as I’ve been up to my ears in music. Just finished a fun week of recording with Jackson Hole’s One Ton Pig (with guest appearances by Matt Flinner and Ross Martin), which fell on the heels of a new CD by Michael Batdorf, which fell on the heels of something else I cant remember right now – memory loss being partly due to a string of dixieland gigs with the Jackson 6, culminating in Fat Tuesday.

Am also in the final stages of proofing a mando instruction book which I’ve been writing with Brian Wicklund – The American Mandolin Method; Volume 1. It is the first in a series – this one for beginners – and will  be published by MelBay later this spring. More to come!

If We Make it Though December

December 5th, 2011

ben_glenn-oakley-smWe’ll be fine – so says the Hag.
-10º F in Victor this morning.
The skiing has been marginal, been mostly polishing up projects in the studio. Mixing projects for bands from MN (the BarleyJacks) and UT (Buying Time), John Cooke (seen last Sunday in the NYT playing w/ Joan Baez & Joni Mitchell), the King Street Ramblers, Allison Altherr from Canada, the Lowes from Sheridan, John Sidle, Heather Bristow from the UK, The Stagecoach Band and some other stuff I’m not remembering. Even worked on some Hip Hop this week. I’ve also been working on the final stages of a mandolin instruction book w/ Brian Wicklund for Mel Bay (more soon on that!). Butchered an elk in there recently as well —  but I figured not everyone would want to see those pictures.
Hope you all have a merry one!

Be of Cheer


Jolly England

September 14th, 2011


Shortening days and cooling nights. Had a beery evening at home last night playing tunes w/ Cahalen Morrison, Eli West and local pals Tom Marshall and Thomas Sneed. Leaving behind a slew of studio projects in various stages of completion and heading to the UK for a brace of gigs w/ the international version of Growling Old Men (if my flight ever gets off the ground). Not planning to play the hurdy gurdy (pictured) on this tour, but maybe someday. Onward!

Summer’s here and the time is right

July 23rd, 2011

for dancing in the streets. Feel like I’m going a million directions at once. Most of it is good, though at times I’d like to slow down, or sit on this red bike and watch the world pass by.

In June I drove my truck east. Stopped in MN to teach Brian Wicklund’s Fiddlepal Camp. This country is a big sucker – seemed like a more massive entertprise than it did the last time I drove across it when I was 21… But I took some great bike rides along the route, which included the UP and Canada. Ended up in VT. Got to see our oldest, Owen, performing with Circus Smirkus which was fabulous. Been busy in the studio of late, and am heading to Colorado tomorrow to teach and perform at Rockygrass. Then back home for a slew of Fishing Music gigs. Back to VT in Aug and then to the UK with John Lowell in Sept..

More Later….red-bike

Spring May showers, Jazzfest, steelhead…

May 16th, 2011

jazzfest May 17, my mother turns 90 today and its still snowing here in the steelhead-fishing-salmon-river-april-2011-022 Tetons… But Caroline and I partially solved that problem by putting away our  skis and heading to New Orleans for 4 days of JazzFest. Hadn’t been in about 10 yrs. Completely mindblowing and  inspirational. Heard everything from dixieland to gospel, Nevilles to Michelle Shocked, rap to Jesse Winchester. Crawfish etoufee, late night at Tipitina’s, beignets at Cafe du Monde.  Just like Idaho…

Idaho did come into its own, however, a few weeks back with a fun steelhead fishing trip on the Salmon. Other than that, things are alternately slow and hopping. Oldest son, Owen, on the cusp of high school graduation and heading off for his final summer of touring with Circus Smirkus. Not too many gigs this month, but quite a few studio projects for various local and regional bands – Anne & Pete Sibley, Elena Yeung, Many Strings & Co, Allison Altherr, Heather Bristow, Buyin’ Time. Stat tuned!

Rabbit Rabbit Groundhog Still

February 28th, 2011

Just coming up for air after a great run of music right in my backyard. Last week, bsky-41my friend Leon Hunt (banjo player extraordinaire) came over from the UK for a run of gigs with John Lowell and me. We played Growling Old Men stuff, some Irish stuff, “groundhog”, and  and generally had a big time…culminating in 3 days at the Big Sky Big Grass fest where we caroused, skied and picked with Crooked Still and the Stringdusters and all the great Montana pickers. Some great late night jams.

Then the fun continued when Crooked Still came to Jackson for a show at the Center for the Arts. After a big powder day at Targhee w/ bass player Corey Dimario, I was lucky enough to sit in  for a few numbers at their show.


More bass players here to ski & play when old friend, Jim Whitney arrived for a gig in Jackson with the Andy Statman trio. Had a nice dinner and jam w/ Jim & Thomas Sneed. The rest of Andy Statman trio was late for their gig yesterday at the Jackson Hole Jewish Music Festival, so Thomas, Jim and I were called upon for an impromptu set  – the Flight Delay Mountain Boys.  Was an honor and a treat to meet and listen to Andy; sweet guy. I believe I’ve listened to him for over 35 years, but never seen him live. I think he’s the most technically proficient and improvisationally uninhibited mandolin player i’ve ever heard. The trio totally blew my mind.


And on top of all this, we just experienced the biggest powder dump of the winter. 50″ 0r 60″      in the mountains over the last week. Sore legs, happy heart.


January 10th, 2011

ben-targhee-20112The icicles are long, the snow is deep and the pack boots are always at the ready. It’s been a big winter so far and -3º as I write this. Both my skis and my new Toyota Tacoma have been coming in handy!

Had big family travel fun over the holidays – MA, NY and VT – but I’m glad to be working mostly close to home now. Mike Dowling has been by the studio a few times and I’ve been busy recording a cd worth of original instrumental music on contract for a sound library. Its been an interesting challenge to come up with a lot of new material that sounds distinctive, and record it all myself in a short time frame. Kind of like having a lot of homework – but way more fun. Also looking forward to some local gigs ahead with the Hooligans and the dixieland band – The Jackson 6.

Thanks to Garrison Keillor for reminding us all to play the 8th of January the other day.

Ho Ho Holiday Sale – all CDs 20% off!

November 28th, 2010

154784_173146426037488_112783468740451_517020_98103_s1 Greetings one & all. Winter has struck early – the local ski area has already  received over 100″ of snow and everyone around here is busy trying to grow  their beards. The folks at Snake River Records have decided to offer 20% off  all CDs in the catalog for the month of December. Visit the store to get your  Christmas shopping done without having to visit the mall this year.

I just returned home from two really fun weekends in Colorado, playing cd release shows with Mollie O’Brien & Rich Moore. Their new CD, Saints & Sinners (produced by my pal Eric Thorin and myself) has been receiving rave reviews. It was a blast to relearn all those songs and play them live. For the rest of the month I’ll be home working in the studio – got a few bands coming in to record and some music library recording of my own stuff to work on.

Keep the woodstove lit and have a joyous holiday season



Fall Back..

September 25th, 2010

After a busy couple of months, its time to fall back here at home. Looking fwd to some time exploring the hills, valleys and rivers of my backyard – especially if this fall weather continues. After being gone so much (most recently in UK for 2 wks with Brother Mule), I’m ready to do my share of the dishes, cooking and, hopefully smoking a big batch of salmon. Got a few nice gigs coming up with Growling Old Men and some cd release gigs w/ Mollie O’Brien & Rich Moore down in Colo. Got a new song of the month posted (left) from our Fishing Music set at Targhee back in august – enjoy.