New name, big gig.

For starters, the name changed.

We are now formally, officially The Frye. It feels great, much more suited to what we’re doing these days. Which is playing a lot, not plunging cod into Crisco. We’ve had fun with the old name but as we enter our seventh year, we’re going for something a little less novelty-sounding. This is, after all, serious business.

And I can’t help but think club owners will breathe a little easier posting The Frye to their entertainment rosters rather than a menu item they might not be able to provide. It’s happened.

We had named ourselves Fish Frye because we’d just written the song and were crazy about it. We added the “e” and away we went.

Which brings us to The Frye of today, which is happy to announce we’ll be at the Vetter Stone Amphitheater Friday Sept. 7 as the opening act for Indigo Girls and The Shadowboxers. Tickets are available at the Verizon Wireless Civic Center or Ticketmaster, but get them at the Civic Center box office and avoid the extra charges.

See, we’re already picking a fight with Ticketmaster. Told you it was serious.

Weekend Update

It was a fast, fast weekend, one that had us giving performances Friday afternoon, Saturday evening and Sunday morning. I’m sitting here Sunday night feeling as though I haven’t even sat down for a meal yet. Can it really be time for bed?

Nah. One more run-through.

Friday was for the after-work brethren and sisteren (?) of the Wine Cafe for happy hour. We opened with Loudon Wainwright’s “Unhappy Anniversary” and proceeded with an array of happy songs about crummy relationships until, 15 minutes later, two hours had gone by.

Saturday night we were honored to play for a 70th birthday party for Patty, who we hadn’t met until that night and … wow. Let’s just say we had a fun three hours and after packing and loading everything up we noticed Patty and friends and family were still going strong. Judging by the “toast and roast” that took place during a break, it sounds like those gathered have been going strong for a long time.

We also tried out “Diamonds and Rust” which Ann delivered so beautifully it put chills on the regular chills I get when I hear that one. Call it an extra-chill night, whatever that means.

This morning, Sunday, we played the early show at Pub 500 where former Blue Velveata songstress and now star of stage and screen Zillah Langsjoen was kind enough to watch and take notes. She’s helping us with sound and staging and other stuff. So like any raging narcissist I loved the opportunity to shamelessly play for the note-taker and of course hope that her notes turn into a report that’s a complimentary love fest. At the same time, “Joe’s guitar and voice need to be quieter” is maybe the tough love I need.

Speaking of guitar, there were no hand issues this weekend and no medication, either. So who knows? Maybe that’s gone. Which is a relief. Because more and more that guitar is dropping me into some good places.

Those include Savoy Thursday and Indian Island Winery Friday.



The Sting

News from the doctor’s office: A reality TV star is ready to begin a new life after a quick divorce and Dr. Benson says my hand is fine – a little carpal tunnel, little tendonitis but nothing serious. Keep the wrist straight when you can, he said, give it some rest but play guitar all you want.

It was about two months ago that the ring finger of my left hand started seizing up — hurting like hell — when hitting certain bar chords. I’d hoped it was something weird that first night, but it still felt tentative and tender over the next few weeks of playing. Fish Frye, of course, made do. I dumbed-down those chords and on some nights just ruled out certain tunes (till next time, “New Wave Girl.”) Sometimes it wasn’t pain but numbness, either in the hand or up and down the entire arm. Sometimes it was absolutely fine.

So in an experiment with being preventative, I spent hours of web-based research that amounted to watching lots of Leo Kottke. Further research suggested I should just go see the doctor, who today took my hands and pushed, pulled, twisted, tapped, jabbed, turned and squeezed and concluded it isn’t a blood flow issue or anything novel. It is, in fact, common – a result of over-use. It’s irritation that’s not going to do any damage if I keep playing during painful stretches. It’s just going to piss off my nerves, he said.

Tonight I can play like a champ, painlessly. And this past weekend all went fine at a winery, two wedding parties and a trucking company party. So with a confident smile from the doc, I’m choosing not to worry about it. But can you really do that with something you love? Just not worry?

It’s hard to tell, it’s hard to tell.  Maybe the daylight hour gigs will be the suspenseful ones. And wouldn’t you know there’s one coming up this Sunday at Pub 500, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Oh, and do catch us Friday at 5 p.m. at the Wine Café.

Set break

Ann and I were walking down the golf club stairway after the first set Friday when a woman approached us from behind. Didn’t recognize her, but she was smiling in that way that said she needed to say something and it might involve hiring us.

“Excuse me,” she said. “You guys sound WONDERFUL.”

Thank you. Thanks a lot.

“Are you from around here?”

“Yeah, Mankato.”

“Wow. And how wide an area do you play?”

“Mostly around here. We did just get back from Madison. And this fall we’re doing a thing in Memphis. But mostly we play in this area.”

She was taking it all in.

Memphis. Really? That’s so neat. How long have you been playing together?”

“About five years.” We always check with each other on this question and usually go with five years. I think it’s been six, though.

“And a lot of what you do is your own material?”

“Yes. We’ll play lots of covers here, for instance, and put our own material in the mix.”

“Well. I just wanted to say it’s wonderful and you sound fantastic.”

“Thank you. Thanks a lot.”

“You’re so welcome,” she said. “Do you think you could turn it down a little?”