Well, I’m in Brunswick, Ga. tonight and tomorrow I’ll be back on Florida soil for the first time since Friday, July 13th. I’ve traveled over 3,000 miles, touched the soil of nine different states, played 9 shows and spent 5 wonderful days working with some unbelievable songwriters and guitarists at The Gathering in North Carolina. I met many, many truly wonderful people, discovered an interesting little town in West Virginia and made many new friends. It’s been an indescribable, pleasure-filled three weeks. The Swannanoa Gathering takes place each year in North Carolina on the campus of Warren Wilson College just outside of Asheville. It is 5 weeks long split up into various instruments and styles (including old time, fiddle, guitar, etc.). This past week was focused on contemporary folk and guitar. Seminars on various types and styles of guitar work, song writing, performance, etc. occur each day from 9 to 5 followed by concerts, open mics, song swaps and jam sessions to the wee hours of the morning. The real problem is that there is far too much to learn and do. I spent my time in a guitar class with Brooks Williams (http://www.brookswilliams.com/) learning how to use various chord form and structures to give more color and variety to songs and arrangements. It could easily have been a 3 hour per day course by itself - fantastic! I also worked with Cliff Eberhart (http://www.cliffeberhardt.net/) looking at melodies, their structure and what makes them interesting - again, a magnificent course that could have been a retreat all by itself. And I worked separately with two superb songwriters, Kate Campbell (http://www.katecampbell.com/) and Tom Kimmel (http://www.tomkimmel.com/) and examined different perspectives of the craft of song writing, as well as methods, tools and resources. These sessions included specific song evaluations and critique. Again, tremendously fascinating. After 5 days of pretty intense study and work (plus night time activities) I’m exhausted. I’m ready to get home and see Judy, but I have to admit that, given my druthers, I’d just do some laundry, spend a night in my own bed, pack some bags for Judy and take her back out on the road with me. And, that’s almost what’s happening. I was notified this week that I’ve been selected as one of six finalists in the Avalon Music and Arts Festival Rising Star Competition which will be held next weekend in Paw Paw, West Virginia. So, Judy and I fly out early Friday morning so I can perform that afternoon and enjoy the festival weekend. The six finalists all receive some nice prizes and the winner from those six will get some additional cash, a set on Saturday and an invitation to return as a booked performer in 2008 - Wish me luck! Hope to see you soon!