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Notes from the Road   by Dennis Warner

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December 1, 2005 (Clearwater, MN)
I wound up the fall tour last week and look forward to a peaceful December around here. There's a little snow on the ground and it's gorgeous outside. Brewster and I just came in from our daily jaunt in the woods.

Most of this month will be spent booking the summer tour for '06. Oh, and trying to come up with a good present for Tammy. They tell me the stores have been crowded so far, and that's great! Everyone should be shopping NOW so that when I get out to the mall in a couple of weeks, I might actually find a place to park.

When I shop, I generally go without any idea of what gift to buy. I wander around (and around and around) looking through every aisle, hoping something will spark an idea. I usually see lots of things I would like for myself. I guess "It's better to give than to receive" applies only to things you give to someone else? So I try to rationalize that Tammy would enjoy a new laser equipped Skillsaw. Eventually I know it can't be justified, so I wander off to the next store. Hmmm, new headphones for the studio? I keep wandering...

And so it goes, until I find just the perfect gift for her. At least, Tammy always tells me it's the perfect gift. She's a good woman, that Tammy.    :)

Happy holidays, everyone!

November 18, 2005 (Vermillion, SD)
I just finished a wonderful concert at the National Music Museum. It was a full house - with some folks even set up in the hallway on extra folding chairs. I’ve done a lot of shows in this part of South Dakota over the years so it’s always a treat to come back. If you’ve never been to the National Music Museum, it’s on campus at the University of South Dakota and well worth the visit. Old, rare and beautiful instruments of all kinds make up this three story building. My friend Andre Larson, who also happens to be the head cheese here, gave me a personal tour of the new “guitar” room. If you’re at all interested in seeing some of the best guitars ever made, this is the place to go, not to mention all the other cool instruments. Stop in and say "Hi" to Andre for me.

I’m battling a lung/allergy thing that began somewhere in Ohio last month. I was in Lincoln, Nebraska a couple of days ago and could hardly find the voice to sing. Very kind and patient people there, putting up with the snorts and hacking in between songs. A lovely image, eh? Thanks to the Jacoby’s for taking me out to the finest buffet I’ve ever experienced at Valentino’s. I waddled out of there wondering how to bring a franchise to Minnesota. Maybe I’m just a sucker for any place that has kalamate olives in its dishes?

Thanks, too, to Bill and Sandy Thurmond in Lincoln for letting me crash at their house. Bill is a music enthusiast who used to be a school principal in my home town of St. Cloud, Minnesota.

October 14, 2005 (Charlottesville, VA)
Greetings from the beautiful home of Len and Ginny Jaffe, where I’ll be doing a house concert tomorrow night. Len and I have been trying to work out this concert date for about 5 years, maybe longer. He first called me after hearing my Perfect Morning CD, and that came out in ‘98? Glad the routing finally worked out. I don’t get to the east coast as often as I used to. Back in the day when I played mostly colleges, I’d get out here at least twice a year.

It’s tough for a Midwesterner to travel out east. We don’t seem to drive fast enough and thus end up being honked at or given an honorary salute.

Here on the east coast, many towns and cities have “rotaries”. In the Midwest, the Rotary is a worthwhile civic club that the local town leaders belong to, meeting on Saturday afternoons, drinking weak coffee, griping about the mayor and sharing the “secret handshake” before getting around to doing good deeds for others. But on the east coast, a rotary (also known as a “roundabout”) is a small circular "road" that replaces an intersection, with several different entrances and exists, and NO stop signs. With the popularity of NASCAR, cell phones and tourists, rotaries strike fear into anyone with a weak heart.

I noticed last month that those darn radicals in Nashville have come up with an innovative scheme to slow traffic through their downtown rotary. They recently put a bunch of nude statues right in the center of it all! Amazingly, traffic does move slower, though I wonder how many accidents may have been caused by inattentive drivers.

Other thoughts:
I was in Chicago a few days ago, a city equally famous for it’s toll roads and fine restaurants. I blew a lot of money on both. By request, Darlyne Cain and I did an impromptu couple of songs before a spirited (and I mean “spirited”) and packed house at the Bucktown Pub. Dar and I also met up with musician friend Alice Peacock who’s new album should be out any day now. Like her previous releases, I’m sure it will be outstanding.

So after the house concert here in Charlottesville tomorrow, I head to Chattanooga, Tennessee, which is about a 500 miles drive. Gas is about $3 a gallon. If you're a stockholder in Exxon Oil, I think the least you can do is send
me a Christmas card and a little "thank you" note. :)

August 18, 2005 (Prior Lake, MN)
Darlyne Cain left yesterday for Chicago. She's been gigging with me the last few weeks. We also recorded a bunch of songs for her new CD, which I'm producing. This is going to be an awesome CD!

Are you ready to say, "OOOH, AHHHHH"?

Tammy finally convinced me to enter the world of cell phones.


I've resisted this technology, if for no other reason than it's one more piece of equipment to keep track of while I'm traveling. But thanks to ALL OF YOU who have cell phones, the phone companies don't see the need for pay phones anymore. Twice so far I've forgotten to turn off the ringer and have had the cell phone go off at my own concert. Now THAT'S embarrassing! I did get a headset, so when I'm driving I can still keep both hands on the wheel. It's kind of fun to be able to call in the middle of a long days drive in western Nebraska and to tell Tammy, "Hey, I just saw a tree!"

July 10, 2005 (Brookings, SD)
Okay, it warmed up! Brookings is always hot in July and this year at the big arts festival, it's no different. Nice to be back, though. I've played this festival many times over the years. While I lost count, they claim over 100,000 people show up for the weekend fest. Isn't that more than South Dakota's whole population? All I know is Margie and the gang put on a great party and I've pleased to be a part of it. An interesting note about Brookings is that Jimmy Buffet once lived here, very briefly. As the story goes, he was living in a trailer on the west edge of town, going to summer school at the University when he got a glimpse of a tornado heading towards the trailer park. Apparently, after that, he decided to take his chances with hurricanes in Alabama. I guess they give you more warning?

I made it home for the 4th of July weekend. I never take gigs over the fourth. That's family time. So yesterday we went on an adventure, in search of LOST LAKE! My Dad and my brothers used to fish and duck hunt at this hidden oasis, tucked deep into a state forest of North Central Minnesota, accessible only by four wheel drive. Being too young (the excuse they gave me), I never got to go with them. As soon as I WAS old enough, they quit going.

A few times, in recent years, I've discussed this with my brothers and we even made an unsuccessful attempt at finding this mysterious water hole.

But that all changed last weekend. Tammy and I, along with neighbor Theresa and her grandson Lief, piled into the Geo Tracker and set off on an expedition. With no maps (and consequently several U turns), we four-wheeled through mud and muck and came to a stop at a beautiful, undeveloped little lake where several others were camped out. They confirmed that we had found Lost Lake!

Tammy says, "So it's not lost anymore?" My question was, "How did all these other people find it?"

I thought about my Dad a lot that afternoon. He passed away years ago. I think he was my own little GPS
, guiding me through the woods to the jewel he never got to show me.

June 7, 2005 (North Logan, Utah)
Well, who would've thought this time of year would be freezing cold in Utah! The road over the pass was closed with six feet of snow, so I had to sneak in the back way, going north and west around the mountains. I toured out here a couple of years ago in early June and it was in the 90's every day. So far this week, it's been in the 40's and 50's. Last night in Provo we had 998 very enthusiastic folks. The Fire Marshall cut us off, otherwise we would've had even more in the grand old ballroom.

Heading to Salt Lake City tomorrow, in search of warm weather and a good dark roast coffee....

May 28, 2005 (Warner Family Cabin, Northern Minnesota)
May has been a busy month with school programs and presentations around the BEADS ON ONE STRING Project ( It's amazing how creative the schools are with presenting the concept to the kids. There's nothing I've done in 21 years of performing that's been as rewarding as seeing kids grab a hold of the message and to take it to heart. We've got a long ways to go in better understanding and respecting differing beliefs and cultures, but these kids are on the right path. "We're all Beads on One String..."

Also this month, I got to catch up with Bill Miller (, a musician originally from Wisconsin who moved to Nashville many years ago. We lost touch along the way. He's had a great career, including a multi record deal with Warner Bros. Nice to see him having such great success with his newest CD on Paras Records.

On Wednesday, June 1st, I'll be the guest of honor at the ORDWAY THEATER in St. Paul. They're using my song BEADS ON ONE STRING as the kick off to their International Children's Festival. From there I head to Des Moines, IA for a show with Mustard's Retreat, then out to the Rocky Mountains. I'll be on the road mostly 'til the end of July. Wave if you see me.....

March 15, 2005 (Home Sweet Home, Minnesota)
So I've been enjoying this new coffee grinder that Tammy gave me for Christmas. I found out today that when you're grinding the beans, make sure the little plastic cup is in place to "catch" the coffee after being ground up. It's amazing how far coffee can travel in it's powdered state. In an instant, I was covered in expresso roast. You can imagine what the kitchen looked like. If nothing else, this experience will teach me keep the cupboard doors closed. Well, maybe...

It's been a busy winter tour-wise, but things are slowing down now for a couple of months. Plenty of time to regenerate for the summer tour which will kick off in Utah! I can't wait...

The new LIVE CD is out! Samples are available for listening on the MUSIC page. It's a great representation of me in concert with the band and also as a solo artist. This is just volume 1. Volume 2 has been recorded and will be released later this year.

I think it's time for a cup of coffee...wish me luck. :)

January 21, 2005 (Clearwater, MN)
Well, it's finally snowing. YEAH! Last week was actually our first real snowfall of the season, with 7 inches. Brewster (The Wonder Dog) took us out for a snowshoe hike in the woods. It was awesome. Now today, we might get another 5-7 inches. Funny, but I especially like the snow when I'm not on tour...

I've been doing several school programs this month with the The Beads on One String Project™. It has been great fun and I thank Royalton Elementary School for the terrific response at the RIF (Reading is Fundamental) concert last night. 400+ enthusiastic parents, teachers and kids.

Next week I head to Des Moines and the Lighthouse for a benefit concert for neuromuscular disorders. My friend Chris Stark has ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's Disease). Alice Peacock, Dave Moore and others will be there, too, with guitars in hand. The Des Moines Register did a nice feature in the January 20th edition. I'm sure you can find the article on the internet.

Nashville writer Julie Rust's new CD is a really good one. Check it out! It just so happens that yours truly has a couple of co-writes on the album... :)





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