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Notes from the Road  
by Dennis Warner 2019

Gordon Lightfoot - Dennis Warner

Gordon Lightfoot - Dennis Warner-Tammy Anhalt Warner

June 8, 2019
Mankato, MN

Tonight was a "pinch me moment" when in walks Gordon Lightfoot, backstage at the Mankato Civic Center. For a songwriter, I liken it to what a catholic must feel if they get to meet the Pope. Gordon is the master songcrafter who's contempories include folks like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and James Taylor.

He's been faced with several health challenges, the most serious being an aortic aneurysm about 20 years ago. In a coma for six weeks, his family tried to wake him up by playing his music over and over. In typical Lightfoot humor, he says if they wanted him to wake up, they should have played Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell!

He's 80 years old now and still writing great songs and doing what he loves - performing. Tammy and I were graced with his humor, his conversation and his sweetness. Note the autograph: "To Dennis & Tammy - Love, Gordon Lightfoot"

Gordon Lightfoot - Dennis Warner

He was pleased when I told him I was recording one of his songs for my new album. It was fun to hear the back-story of how and why he wrote it. You'll all find out soon enough which song it is as the recording is nearing completion!

Dennis Warner-Spook Handy - Eric Lambert

May 19, 2019
Chattanooga, TN

It's been a while since I've been in Chattanooga. I'm playing as part of the Southeast Regional Folk Alliance conference at the Chattanoogan Hotel. It's a beautiful space. My guitar player, Dan Neale grew up here. A few years ago, he gave me a tour of the historic area so I have a whole new respect for the what this part of the country went through back in the civil war days. It's gorgeous here, by the way.

I'm on the shuttle to Atlanta now and will catch a flight back to Minnesota. I'm exhausted but in a good way. Late nights with good friends kind of exhausted.

PHOTO: DW, Spook Handy, Eric Lambert (around 2:30am)

Madelia Elementary and Dennis Warner

JanaleeSteinberg and Dennis Warner

May 2, 2019
Madelia, MN

Holy cow! Teacher Janalee Steinberg and the fabulous kids at Madelia Elementary honored me today in a way I'll never forget. They learned two of my songs, "Have a Little Faith in the World" and "Beads on One String", and invited me in to sing with them for their spring concerts. Ms. Steinberg is a great teacher. I'm an old choir guy and I know it when I see someone doing what they are called to do.

We did two shows today, both ending in rousing applause. I love it when kids are singing and it troubles me when school districts cut music programs. My hat is off to the Madelia school district, principal Carol Wrightson and others who recognize the importance of music. Way to go Ms. Steinberg and the kids at Madelia Elementary!

I'll be home for a week now and hoping to reassess my new album project to see where I left off back in January when the tour started. This summer should see the release. We will see! I've been writing more now than I have in years. Life is busy, but good. I'm happy to meet so many incredible people on my journey.

DW-Jeff Vee-Thomas Cabbot

April 16, 2019
St. Joseph, MN

Always a pleasure hanging out at Rockhouse Studios. Jeff Vee (left) and I have been friends and have worked together in the studio for almost 30 years. He's engineered and produced a lot of my music, with many recording sessions that lasted deep into the night and may have ended with me crashing on a couch or in a spare bedroom. Thomas Cabot (middle) is one of the hardest working "behind the scenes" guys I know. He works for Rockhouse and flies around the country helping run sound and lights for the various acts they represent, besides all of his regular duties in the studio as an engineer and producer. Missing in this photo is Tommy Vee, who had to leave early from our little recording party. They all represent the very best of this business, treating folks with respect and kindness. Nothing but love for these guys.

Multnomah Falls in the Winter (C) Dennis Warner

Multnomah Falls, Oregon. I've been here countless times
over the years, and it's absolutely stunning in the winter.

March 6, 2019
Stevenson, WA

It's been much fun out here the past week in the pacific northwest, my home away from home. I finished the tour tonight with a wild and loving crowd here in Stevenson. We had a little snow here and many of the folks walked to the show. I love that!

Besides the great concerts out this way, I have the privilege of singing for my Uncle Jim and Aunt Helen's 50th wedding anniversary on Saturday! They've been great to me in so many ways. They are the ones who gave me my first sailing experience as a teenager. Role models in my life, for sure.

As Jerry Reed would sing, "I'm Eastbound and down" in a few days. Weather forecast looks favorable for an easy mountain crossing this time!

Mom and DW
My first time to see an ocean. My Mom took me to Oregon
when I was in 8th or 9th grade? Can't remember exactly.

I found this photo in my aunt and uncle's album.

Montana
A few hundred miles of snow through Montana and Idaho...  

dennis warner
Happy to be in Butte, Montana.


February 26, 2019
Livingston, MT

So there's a winter storm warning across Montana. Hmmm. I tried to get off the interstate at Big Timber, but the exit was blocked with a jackknifed semi. So I keep going. Slow and steady. Next exit, another semi misjudged it and is off in the ditch. And believe it or not, I saw that one more time further down the road. Many of the exits are drifted over and you can't tell where the roadway is.

So I just keep going...

Not a lot of traffic, luckily. There is one lane open. That's all I need, right? Growing up in Minnesota has given me some winter driving skills, but I'm happy there are not a lot of other vehicle's out here. The biggest danger comes from those who feel compelled to pass because they have superior rigs or something. As you can see, the other lane is snow covered, so when they pass it creates white out conditions for me. I have to slow to a crawl for several seconds, blinded. That's when I'm the most vulnerable. Several of these speedy people have ended up in the ditch and I'd pass them down the road. It's hard not to wave at them.

I'll make it. I'm stopping whenever the gas tank gets to 1/2, just to be safe in case the roads really deteriorate and I have to hunker down somewhere. I have lots of water on board. And girl scout cookies!

I like to tell people who hire me, the concerts are free. You're paying me to get to them. Guess I'm earning my money this week, though I'm not sure I charged enough.


Marietta, Ohio with Suzyn Mills and Mark Neyman

February 13, 2019
Marietta, OH

I pulled into town a couple of hours ago and am all set up for tonight's concert with the First Settlement House Concert series. I've been here before and LOVE IT! Host Suzyn Mills (along with husband Mark) have a great thing going here. I first met Suzyn when she ran the Acoustic Renaissance Concerts in Hinsdale, Illinois, one of the premier music series in the midwest. Her support is unwavering and appreciated.

All the shows have being going well. I'm almost sold out of T-shirts already. The weather has been beautiful, and I certainly won't complain given that parts of Minnesota have been recording -30 to -40 below temps, and that's without the wind factored in. Combined with the big snows, they are having an old fashioned winter back home.

From here I head to Downers Grove and Lewistown, Illinois. I'm paying attention to the weather forecasts, now as snow is moving through the midwest.

 

Sandy and DW   Florida with Andre
Sandy the Sandhill Crane dared me to look into her eyes!

My pal Andre came to see me in Tampa!

 

Florida Hike-DW
I took an afternoon to stretch my legs, hiking in the
beautiful Apalachicola National Forest.

February 9, 2019
Tampa, Florida

Another great night in Florida, this time with Gloria Holloway's South Tampa Concerts. She's a legend down here and I love that she's still actively promoting concerts. This is my second time with her series. Her boyfriend Craig helps out on concert night and kept us well fed with three trays of lasagna.

And look who showed up! Andre worked the evening maintenance shift at the University of Wisconsin/Eau Claire for many years. On his break, he would come and hang out during sound check. If it was a slow night for him, he would stop in for a few songs during the concert. Andre has since retired to Orlando but made the 100 mile drive to surprise me tonight. We shared a lot of stories. It was good to see him again.

FLORIDA PHOTOS

DW and the Kennedys
Loved working with Pete and Maura Kennedy! Great musicians.

Florida Shells
I learned a lot from my mom, including
the fun of gathering shells from a beach. She's smiling at me!

Florida
A late afternoon/evening at St. Pete's beach, where I wrote a new song!

Florida
Sunset at St. Pete, FL

Port St. Joe
The Port Theatre in Port St. Joe, Florida
Rebuilding the stage after hurricane Michael totally destroyed the theatre. We will reschedule the show and play here next year!

February 1, 2019
Port St. Joe, FL

I was supposed to play in the Port Theatre last night, but Hurricane Michael took care of those plans when it destroyed much of this area last fall. It was truly heartbreaking to drive into the panhandle and see the total devastation. My friends Jill and Wayne Seiler wanted the show to go on, so they sponsored a concert for some of the hurricane survivors. It was a privilege to bring them a couple of hours of entertainment knowing how much sorrow they've endured the last few months.

Port St Joe FL

Auburn Alabama
Auburn, Alabama

Nashville funPlaying cards in Nashville with my great friends
and fabulous musicians, the Rust's.
L-R   DW, Katie, Julie and Rusty.

January 26, 2019
Auburn, AL

Last night was fantastic! I really appreciated the enthusiastic crowd with my first appearance at the Sundilla Concerts. Bailey and the crew work hard to put on a first class performance series and it shows.

It was really sweet to reunite with my old buddy Jeremy and his wife Weike. Jeremy and I went to high school together and had a few adventures of our own back in the day. On to Nashville tomorrow!

Pond in Nashville DW

It snowed again while I was in Nashville. This happened last year as well.
I'm fond of this beautiful private swimming pond, having taken many dips
here over the years. It's just not quite warm enough today....

Chatfield MN Dennis Warner
The encore at Chatfield Center for the Arts - January 2019

January 13, 2019
Rochester, MN

When I tell people I'm from Minnesota, a common comment is something along the lines of, "How to you survive in that climate?" Truth is, I love it. I'm fortunate, though, in having the right clothes, a warm house and dependable vehicles to drive. Without the right equipment, I would probably not look forward to the season.

But here we are in January and I'm about to embark on a two month tour that will take me to south Florida and all the way to northwest Washington state. I'll run the gamut on weather, so the van is packed pretty tight in anticipation of what mother nature might toss my way. A few days ago I was snowshoeing in northern Minnesota. Next week, I'll hopefully be barefoot on a beach. I'm lucky to have learned about living in the moment. And to have a career that takes me to some really fun places.

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