The Mammals

Nice Surprise From FestivaLink Today

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Who knew this blogging thing would pay off so big? 😉

Seriously though, today I got an unsolicited email from the good folks at That should immediately redirect you to a specific subdomain on I was one of (who knows how) many people that were all bcc’ed on the email. It started “Dear Blogger:”.

Anyway, they do high-quality records of live Festival concerts (of which there are tons around the country, every year). I know I blog a lot about music, and even about a number of groups who play a lot of festivals, but I didn’t realize I was on their (or anyone else’s!) radar. 🙂

They wanted to thank the blogging community for covering them (I presume), so they were offering a sampler download for free (not available to the general public), and the link was to expire today! (I likely missed any previous notes they sent, as this too was marked as possible spam, but I spotted it, thankfully!)

Even though it was free, it could still have cluttered my disk and iPod, so it was a nice touch that each of the seven songs had a 30-second clip available to listen to on the website, before downloading the full version. I liked them all, so I downloaded the the full stuff.

The package consisted of seven songs, from seven different artists, from seven different festivals in different venues. I just listened to all seven, and I like them all, but not equally. First, in order to provide a tiny payback to FestivaLink, let me at least promote the individual artists:

  1. Bob Schneider
  2. Diana Jones
  3. Jimmy Ibbotson
  4. Leftover Salmon
  5. Robinella
  6. William Topley
  7. 3 Fox Drive

To repeat, I enjoyed all of the above. That said, I was instantly hooked by Leftover Salmon. I can’t imagine I won’t be buying some of their stuff (quite possibly the live stuff from FestivaLink, but possibly some studio stuff as well). They are a great Bluegrass (Jamgrass?) group. Superb banjo playing, among other wonderful sounds.

FestivaLink also has two shows by The Mammals, a group I’m not familiar with, but really want to see live (badly). I’ve written in the past that I had tickets to their show at Tarrytown Music Hall, which got canceled at the last minute. 🙁

Anyway, a new find for me (thanks FestivaLink folks!), and hopefully, covering their good deed will be a more proper thanks than just saying the word.

Coincidence or Serendipity?

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You be the judge. 😉

As many of you know, Joe’s Pub is one of our favorite places to see a concert. We’re going again later this week, but that in itself is a good enough story to merit its own blog after the show. None of you may recall how we came to discover Joe’s Pub in the first place.

In this incredibly long post I mention seeing a number of acts at Joe’s Pub. The Duhks were the first, and I was specifically searching for any places that they were playing, which is how we first heard about Joe’s. (As an aside, pointing toward the serendipity angle here, The Duhks was a recommendation by for me based on the fact that I had purchased Nickel Creek CDs from them in the past, and they turned out to be a wonderful discovery!)

During that original The Duhks concert, they discussed on stage that they were really good friends with a group called The Mammals, and that they were influenced by them. That same week, The New York Times wrote an article about this genre, and included both The Duhks and The Mammals in the article, with glowing reviews of both.

Ever since then, I’ve wanted to see The Mammals live, but the one time they were scheduled to be in NY, we were at Zope, and were not able to rearrange our schedule. The person The Duhks most talked about was Ruth Unger (who’s father Jay Unger was/is also a musician). Another member of The Mammals is Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, Pete Seeger’s grandson!

In another recent post, I talked about how wonderful The Tarrytown Music Hall is. Two months ago, I noticed that they had The Mammals scheduled for last night. We were already going to be in NY, so this was perfect. I snapped up two very good orchestra seats, and was really looking forward to the show.

We got home on the 11th (concert was scheduled for the 19th), and on the 12th, I got an email informing me that the concert was cancelled due to a scheduling conflict. This was definitely a big disappointment for me…

Switching gears, which will momentarily appear to be a complete non-sequitur…

In August 1987, Lois was working at Citibank. Her boss sent her to a conference in Vail, CO. As a bonus for a particularly grueling stretch of work that Lois successfully completed, he offered to pay for my airfare so that I could tag along. The conference was from 8am-noon, Monday-Friday that week, so Lois was free every afternoon and evening. I spent the mornings reading John Barth’s The Tidewater Tales. Barth is still one of my all-time favorite novelists, and The Tidewater Tales is simply an awesome book. The first 80 pages are torture to get through, even for a die-hard Barth fan, but the torture is worth it, because the rest of the book is simply amazing. In the end, he wraps it up nicely, and the first 80 pages finally make sense…

In the afternoons, Lois and I did things we rarely even think of doing, let alone actually do. One day, we rented a canoe and paddled around a gorgeous mountain lake. Another day we took a gondola (cable car) up to one of the higher mountains. On another day, we went horse-back riding. Now comes the connection with this adventure, and The Mammals disappointment.

The minute Lois got up on the horse (we were in a large group of tourists), she started to cry. Yes, literally, cry. A woman on a nearby horse had her 3-year-old daughter with her on the same saddle. When Lois started to cry, the baby started to cry too (she was fine until Lois started crying). The woman looked over at Lois and loudly said: “Hey New York, stop crying or my child will refuse to stay on the horse!”

Lois was startled into stopping, and sure enough, the baby stopped crying as well. The rest of the ride was uneventful. Afterwards, we chatted and laughed with the woman. We agreed to meet later that night for dinner. We had a lovely meal with her and her husband (who was not there for the horse incident) and were very glad to make two new (and very interesting) friends.

Not surprisingly, we never saw them again (they lived in Colorado Springs at the time). Lois stayed in touch by phone for a while with the woman, but eventually, that connection faded as well. Last year, Lois did some searches on Google and found the husband’s name as a Department Chairman at Notre Dame. It would be too coincidental for this not to be the right person, so she wrote to him, and indeed, we found them again.

Two hours after receiving the email saying that The Mammals concert was canceled, Lois got an email from the woman, saying that they were going to be in NYC this weekend, for her big birthday (it has a 0 at the end, but still only a single digit at the front) 😉

They are seeing Wicked this afternoon (another amazing coincidence?!?), but were free on Friday night for dinner. Of course, if The Mammals weren’t canceled, we would have missed them. We got together for a great meal and great conversation at our favorite Mexican restaurant, El Rio Grande, and we hope to see them for brunch again tomorrow morning, before they leave town again.

It turns out that he’s on leave this year from Notre Dame, on a research fellowship at Princeton, so we will likely get to see them a few more times before they head back to Indiana.

Obviously, I consider this incredibly serendipitous, but some of you might think it’s mere coincidence