It was about 5 months ago that we got one of those phone calls that make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. The Embassies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates each were looking for a bluegrass band to do some diplomacy work in February, and were we available? It took significant effort to maintain composure as we politely wrote back “YES!!!!”
Above: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
So, here we are with mere days left before we take off on the longest tour the band has been on, domestic or abroad. In total (two months), we’ll be in the Middle East for 3 weeks, and the rest of it we’ll be spending in Europe, hitting some new countries (Spain, France, Switzerland and Italy), as well as going back and hitting our mainstays in the Benelux and beyond. We’re naturally excited and nervous.
Before we go, we’re playing one more show in Evanston, IL at the American Legion Hall for the Bluegrass Legends concert series. It’s fitting, honestly. Chip Covington, who has been running series for almost two decades, is an eccentric and fiercely passionate bluegrass stalwart here in Chicago. He likes to throw proverbial wrenches in people’s ideas of what bluegrass is and should be, all while paying tribute to an honestly American art form.
We’ve been working hard on a Saudi Arabian tune and we’re planning on performing it live for the first time at this show. It’s called Ya Reem Wadi Thaqif and it could easily be considered the “How Mountain Girls Can Love” of Saudi music. You can listen to the original version here. We’ve been working hard on our Arabic.
While we don’t know exactly what we’ll be doing yet on the State Dept. parts of this tour, we will absolutely keep you up to date here regularly with pics, stories and video. We do know we’ll be in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam in Saudi and we’re going to be spending time in Abu Dhabi in the UAE. Surely we’ll be collaborating with local musicians and putting on performances in conjunction with the Embassies in both countries. It’s hard to wrap our minds around it all right now, but it will be a reality very soon.
Please join us in Evanston this Saturday for one last show and an effective send off for the band as we head to a part of the world we’ve never been to. We can’t wait.
Here’s the info on the show: