The importance of Plan B

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But First…

Workshops with Joe Weed at the Grass Valley Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival

Please join us whether for just a few minutes or a whole session. They’re always lots of fun, and I hope to see you at one or both of these two workshops:

Friday eve, dinner break, “Texas Fiddle History Workshop with Joe Weed”

Stop by Building F and hear about tunes and fiddlers that helped shape what bluegrass fiddle is today!

With pictures, recordings, and stories, I’ll show the profound effect Texas fiddle has had on the sounds of bluegrass fiddle.

Saturday eve, dinner break, “Recording acoustic instruments in your Home Studio”

My most-requested workshop helps non-professionals learn to make the most of their home recordings.

I’ll answer your questions about recording and provide easy-to-implement solutions.

The importance of Plan B

“It’s pneumonia. Just look at that lung X-ray. See these light areas? That’s it. She needs rest. And lots of rest.”

Marty gave a half-hearted look at the film. I was transfixed, my heart in my throat. We were in Cáceres, Spain, in the hospital’s “urgencias” wing, looking with Dr. María Victoria at the computer display.

“I’m hooking her up to an IV right now, and we’re going to put her on a variety of things, including a strong anti-biotic. You can get the pills for it at the pharmacy down the street – they’re open this weekend. Then get her to bed. And bring her back next week. And stay off the bicycles.”

We were on another long-distance bicycle trip, which began in late March in beautiful Lisbon, Portugal. We’d planned to pedal our way across Portugal, then Spain, and finally France,

ending up in Paris in late May. I noticed, as we made our way through mountainous eastern Portugal, that Marty’s normal resilience has deserted her, and we were tackling smaller distances and resting more than usual. By the time we reached Badajoz, Spain, it was clear something was up. So a few days later in Cáceres, we went to the hospital and got the news.

What to do? I went to the best hotel in beautiful historic Cáceres and booked us a room for two weeks. If we’re going to have to rest up, why not be comfortable? Prices in Spain are really low to begin with, and Cáceres is in the isolated, fairly untraveled western reaches where Roman and medieval ruins, tiny farms, olive trees and native plants vie with each other for the few tourists who care for such things. We love it in Cáceres.

While Marty alternately napped and did crossword puzzles, I buried myself in my computer, working on my research project about Frankie Rodgers and his beautiful “Ookpik Waltz.” I’d brought a portable hard drive, so I had access to much of the raw material I’ve acquired over the last couple of years. It was like enforced quiet time for me too, as Marty mended and rebuilt her strength. I’ll be presenting my research for the International Country Music Conference at Belmont University in Nashville in late May, so in some ways it was really handy to have this enforced study hall. And now I have a good jump on writing the documentary film.

Eventually, Marty began to regain her normal herculean strength, and we went on a few “test rides” near Cáceres, increasing our distance every day. We left two and a half weeks after we’d arrived, thrilled to be resuming our adventure and thankful that the interruption was relatively minor.

While we didn’t anticipate this change, we’ve traveled enough that we’ve developed the flexibility to go with Plan B when Plan A doesn’t work out.

A few years back, we’d carefully traced out the historic route across Spain traveled by “El Cid,” a famous Spanish crusader. We planned to follow that route on our bicycles, and began in the tiny village in northern Spain where “El Cid” was born. The trip was glorious, until… high in the northern plateau, we got caught in rain, sleet, hail, snow, and freezing temps. The weather systems dragged on, until the news reports explained that this (2013) was the longest, wettest, and coldest winter in Spanish history since records had been kept. We finally gave up and went with… Plan B! We packed the bicycles in bubble wrap and caught a bus to Barcelona, where we pedaled our way down the Mediterranean coast, ending up in our original destination of Valencia. Plan B rocked.

Since I’ve had a many-decades career in music, I learned long ago to be open to changing plans when faced with road blocks. If gigs were running slow, I could bear down in the studio and push the next album ahead. When clients came to the studio for production work, I could

put my own projects on hold and work to make their music sound its best. Or I could finish up a sound track or complete a film score.

I remember when my bands in the 70s and 80s tired of the routines and lack of challenge in playing for the local club scene, we took our music on the road. We gained skills in performance, audience management, tour planning, navigation, and pay negotiations. Of course, there were many important people who contributed to each of these career stages/channels, but the flexibility to be able to move from one to the other was an important key to success.

We all hope to stick with our Plan A — but sometimes Plan B brings us wonderful opportunities. Good luck with your Plans A, B, and C!

Copyright © 2019 by Joe Weed

Joe Weed records acoustic music at his Highland Studios near Los Gatos, California. He has released seven albums of his own, produced many projects for independent artists and labels, and does scores for film, TV and museums. One of Joe’s productions with British guitar virtuoso Martin Simpson was heard in “The Mayo Clinic,” a film by Ken Burns, which premiered nationally on PBS in late 2018. Also in 2018, Joe released “Two Steps West of the Mississippi,” a collection of his original instrumental music based on American fiddle roots. Reach Joe by email at [email protected], or by visiting

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