By Pete Wernick – December 2010 column, Banjo Newsletter (PDF)

Last month I was kinda busy during the time I’d usually prepare a column; Hot Rize’s “Berkeley to Berklee” tour, as we called it:

Oct. 27-28. Reconnect and practice at wonderful ranch in Marin Country, north of San Francisco, good food and comfort thanks to hosts Vernon and Robin. Thanks!

Oct. 28: The Freight in Berkeley/ Oakland. Ate a half-brownie of the wrong type, played okay anyway I was told, but paranoid! Sellout crowd likes us quite a lot.

Oct. 29: Fly to Seattle, good show at Benaroya Hall, reacquaint with two of the crew of Flight 232.

Oct. 30: Drive a few hours to Portland, fun gig at Aladdin Theater, nice to see good old friends and family.

Oct. 31: Reveille at 6:15 (ow!), plane to Denver, van to Boulder, set up, sound check and then a touching memorial for our recently departed music friend Clover. Time for a meal, then a packed house of 1000+ for exciting Halloween (Boulder’s principal holiday) gig. Slade makes surprise return appearance, alongside Swade.

Nov. 1: Fly to NYC, settle in midtown hotel, night off in the big city!

Nov. 2: Appear live on Sirius XM Trucker/Outlaw Channel (36th floor, lots of security in a tall midtown skyscraper), did Midnight on the Highway among others. At night, a mighty fun party at Steve Martin’s apartment, also attended by the Punch Bros, Tex Logan, and Tony Trischka. Tour bus picks us up after party, on to Boston.

Nov. 3: Workshop for students at Berklee College of Music, Matt Glaser hosting. Music, fun, and teaching in 90 minutes. Sierra Hull and others in attendance. We invited questions but only got one(!). Gig that night at National Heritage Museum, sold out 6 weeks in advance, not many young folks in the crowd, as they don’t buy early! Bus to NYC overnight.

Nov. 4: Load in to BB Kings Blues Club on 42nd St. at 11 am, interview and video taping at offices of Relix Magazine (specializes in jam bands like Phish), who will do a feature on us. Gig at BB Kings, crowd includes many old friends and listeners to my 60s radio show. Overnight bus to Charlotte, NC.

Nov. 5: Relaxing afternoon in Charlotte, sound check, band powwow and nice gig with Bryan’s mother, Nick’s daughter and local celeb Jack Lawrence in attendance. Overnight to D.C., picking with Tim in the back of the bus, then by myself, still trying to “bulletproof” solos.

Nov. 6: 10:45 am, stroll off bus into WAMU studios, pretty fried, play music and chat with Katy Daley and Lee Michael Demsey on bluegrasscountry.org. Music sounds fine, our looks work okay for radio! Birchmere at night, another sell-out crowd! On to West Virginia after the show. Thank you DST switchover for an extra hour of sleep, squandered.

Nov. 7: Load in Morgantown, WV at noon, sound check and rehearse, eat, woodshed on banjo at hotel, rehearse more for Mountain Stage radio show including massive 5-group finale My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It with Waldo and Wendell playing right alongside Tim and Bryan, rare.

Nov. 8: The bus arrives Nashville airport at 6 am. Tim and Bryan head right home, Nick and I fly to Denver, get 1st class upgrades on small plane, and my wife picks us up and gets us home by 11 am. Life is good, especially bed.

To promote our tour, we made two new recordings, one of the old Hot Rize favorite Wichita Lineman, and a new number for us, Diamond Joe, a unique version Tim got from the unaccompanied Charlie Butler song recorded years ago. Both cuts are on my web site and also on hotrize.com.

Still taking signups for January Banjo Camps, filling but not yet full. Come on out for 6 days of full banjo immersion! These are the only banjo camps I host each year, a week each for Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced.