Finding the Folkway Tour with Mark Dvorak – May 7 to May 19 (Part 1)

This tour schedule started about 4 years ago when Mark Dvorak’s booking for the Atlanta Area Friends of Folk Music’s Fiddler’s Green Coffeehouse got rescheduled to May 18, 2024 because of Covid. When venues started opening again Mark developed a booking campaign called “Ready When You Are” and sent out mailings. Some were to be fill-ins for the road to Atlanta date. One by one requests came in and dates were filled. Some required miles and hours of driving in between and criss-crossing a bit. But in the end, looking at the calendar, it was all doable, with only two nights off without a performance during the 12-day tour. Not bad. The tour coincided with Mark’s release of his new book “31 Winters; Finding the Folk Way” and his new CD “Live & Alone”. He has been working on the production of those for quite a long time. Perfect timing.

Here’s the schedule, followed by my notes from the road, as I tried to document each day. 

Alton IL • Tuesday May 7 • 6:30 pm • What a Wonderful World Family Concert • Jacoby Arts Center • 627 Broadway • Sponsored by the Hayner Public Library District

Asheville NC • Thursday May 9 • 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm • Music My Mother Would Not Like • With Bruce Swan • Listen in the Asheville area 103.3 fm • Streaming live at

Black Mountain NC • Thursday May 9 • SERFA Conference • 

Black Mountain NC • Friday May 10 • SERFA Conference • 

Metamora IN • Saturday May 11 • 7:00 pm • Metamora Opry Barn • 19189 Pennington Road

Norwood OH • Sunday May 12 • 7:00 pm • Queen City Balladeers • Leo Coffee House • Zion UCC • 2301 Indian Mound Road • 513.399.7227 • • 

Knoxville TN • Tuesday May 14 • 12 noon • Blue Plate Special • WDVX fm • 201 S. Gay Street • 865.544.1029 • • 

Salisbury NC • Wednesday May 15 • 7:00 pm • The American Folk Song • Rowan County Public Library • 201 Fisher Street • 980.432.8670 • • 

Lexington KY • Thursday May 16 • 4:00 pm • Friendship Christian Village Community Concert • Baunta Building Cafe • 3816 Camelot Drive • Private event • 859.271.9000 • 

Lexington KY • Thursday May 16 • 6:00 pm • Friendship Christian Village Community Concert • Friendship Towers • 580 Greenfield Drive • Private event • 859.271.9000 • 

Mt. Vernon KY • Friday May 17 • Songfarmers National Gathering • Kentucky Music Hall of Fame & Museum • 2590 Richmond Street • 606.256.1000 • •

Atlanta GA • Saturday May 18 • Fiddler’s Green Coffee House • First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta • 470 Calendar Park Drive NE • 404 378 5570 •

Monday May 6 – I picked up the rental vehicle…a very large Chevy Tahoe.  Room enough for a sound system, 3 instruments, merch, Mark’s other stuff, snacks/beverages, my Uncorked showcase room stuff and my clothes. 

Tuesday May 7 – Picked Mark up at 9:30 and loaded the vehicle, on the road to Alton IL. Made it to the Days Inn Alton after GPS took us on a one lane country winding road that seemed to go for miles. Careful driving–didn’t want to ditch the Tahoe. Jacoby Art center is cool. It used to be a family run furniture store, now an Art center and a listening room. Good turnout, lovely audience.  Mark sold some merch. Off to a good start. 

Wednesday May 8- Travel day… Checked into the Days Inn in Sevierville TN.  We dodged the bad weather. Tornadoes behind us. It was a long haul. We had dinner at Longhorn. I accidentally ran over the median when I was making a left turn out of the restaurant and didn’t cut it wide enough. Resulted in some comments from the passenger. Still getting used to this big vehicle. The steering is a bit loose, not tight like my Jeep. Nice hotel on a river/ stream, the rooms have a little balcony. I actually saw some large fish in the water. Catfish, I think. 

Thursday May 9- On the road to Black Mountain NC for the SERFA Conference. Stopped at Pizza Hut to order pizza for the Uncorked showcase that evening to be delivered by 9:45pm. Went to check in at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly where the conference was held, but check in was not till 3pm. Drove into Black Mountain for lunch at a small café. Nice place. Then back to the YMCA to check in. A bit pressed for time. We have to be in Asheville for a radio show from 4-6. Checked in and got rooms. I’m in the basement of the main building and Mark is in another building up the hill. Registration said it was a 3-minute walk. Headed to Asheville for Bruce Swan’s Music My Mother Would Not Like radio show.  Had a lovely visit with Louise Baker as well. Back to the YMCA, unloaded and put the Uncorked room together. Pizza was delivered and the room went great. 11-2am. Mark walked back to his place. I was hoping he didn’t meet a bear.

Friday May 10 – Took down the Uncorked décor and loaded it in the truck. Leftover pizza for breakfast. Went into town to the grocery store. Had lunch and dinner at the YMCA, salads. Mark sat in the lobby and changed strings on his instruments, a good way to meet and reconnect with folks. Visited a couple late night showcases. Mark played Roots and Sources at midnight. He did a great set, got the room singing. Heading out at 7am tomorrow for Indiana and Ohio.

Saturday May 11 – Brought the vehicle around at 6am and Mark walked his stuff down the hill. The elevator at the YMCA is a bit tiny… will fit a cart and one person. The door kept closing on the cart and I had to manually push it open. It wacked my arm a couple of times as I tried to prevent it from closing. I do not like elevators to begin with.  Got on the road by 7. Eight hours later, got to Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Will be at the Baymont for two nights. Could not check in for another hour, so we went to the grocery store. 

Took narrow winding roads to the Metamora Opry Barn.  No way could I drive this road in the dark. Mark says “Whoa” when I swerve or slow down to let a vehicle pass.  The vehicle is large, but not heavy as I expected it to be.

The Metamora Opry Barn is a very cool place. There was a country singer, Tay Bronson, who opened. Really good Nashville sound. Did a fun song called “Golf Cart”.  Small but mighty audience. Mark sold a few CDs.   

Driving back to the hotel, had to take the narrow winding road 12 miles in the dark. I was counting each mile that went by. Went slow- not much traffic, and a few cars did pass me. I get blinded by the oncoming lights of cars, especially on dark country roads with no other lights. It took 45 minutes. I was glad to get back to the Baymont and a glass of wine. 

Sunday May 12th (Mother’s Day)- I expected it to be a slow day. Workshop and performance are tonight in Norwood, Ohio. I think it was 8:30am when I got the text “Awake and Ready”. What? Mark wanted to do laundry, so we headed to the small town of Aurora, Ohio for the laundromat, and he showed me how these new digital washers work. Then walked down the quiet small street looking for coffee, and there it was. A flag said open. It was a small coffee/book shop. Two young cute girls behind the counter.  Got coffee and sat outside. Mark brought his guitar and played a little. Then he took a walk to the river, to make a phone call to check in at home. I stayed at the table and enjoyed watching the small town wake up on this Sunday morning. 

Took a drive along the river and then another country road, curvy with blind spots. Drove it for what seemed like several miles. Made me nauseous. Lost the GPS signal so had to turn around.  He makes fun and it’s okay. I just want us to be safe. Told him I would give him the key to the vehicle, and I would take an uber to the airport. I was joking, of course. 

There was one diner in town, but it was crowded, so we went back to the main road and stopped at Frisch’s for breakfast. Not a good idea. 

Stopped at the Kroger. We don’t eat out much. We’d rather buy supplies from a grocery store: fruit, vegetables, hummus, pita, a rotisserie chicken, tortilla chips and pico de gallo for me. Carrots, celery, granola bars, salami, cheese, V8, sometimes a healthy frozen concoction to microwave for him. The Days Inn/Super 8/Baymont has coffee and usually continental breakfast but sometimes the nicer hotels have hot breakfast options like biscuits and gravy and sausage, which I can’t eat, but they also have scrambled eggs, so I get to have that with my coffee. Sometimes we stop at McDonald’s, and I can get two round eggs and an English muffin, and I am good for the day. 

Drive to Leo Coffeehouse took 35 minutes on the interstate. Mark did a workshop at 5:30 on performance. It was well attended with very good interaction. 

Then had to wait till 8:15 for him to do his 45-minute set. There were two performers ahead of him, a woman trio and a couple. It was a good turnout. They had chairs and also some couch seating areas in the main room and all were taken. 

Going back to the Baymont, Mark said I would get pulled over for going too slow.  Almost got sideswiped as I was turning to go on the hotel road. A car came speeding around the right. I think he turned from the other road.  So that led to more comments.

Time for a glass of wine. We review the day. The venue, the performance. Mark said he should drive the vehicle because we will be sharing the driving on the road back home from Atlanta. It will be a long drive.

See Part 2, coming soon, for the next installment of the tour blog!