Home of Michael Perry – New York Times Bestselling Author, Humorist, Singer/Songwriter, Intermittent Pig Farmer

Posts Tagged ‘Big Top Chautauqua’

Up There In The Big Blue Tent


Tomorrow will be a full day. First: Feed the chickens. Second: Load the car with books and guitars. Third: Bid wife and daughters adieu (also acceptable: “See y’later.”) Fourth: Point car north.

Yep, it’s another Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua performance up there in the Washburn/Bayfield area. Tomorrow night the Tent Show Radio crew and I will be sharing the stage with the Blue Canvas Orchestra, The Okee Dokee Brothers, and Laughing Fox. For more show info including times and tickets, please click here.

Also note as part of the Essentia Health Free Family Series, a special Okee Dokee Brothers free show at 1 p.m. All ages welcome, no reservations or tickets necessary. A great way to introduce younger folks (well, anyone, really) to the tent.

If you’re up there early, please consider visiting show sponsor Madeline Island Museum. When I posted this previously I received several positive comments about the museum and more than one person mentioned that it’s a wonderful place to take children.

Finally, if you’ve read down this far, congratulations: Rumor has it that I’ll stop by Apostle Island Booksellers at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow to shoot the breeze and sign books. Please don’t tell anyone as we’re trying to keep it a secret. You know, so the huge crowds don’t block access to Big Water Coffee, which would be a problem for me.

Raising the New Tent Saturday

I’m going to be at a family event, but look what’s going on up there in Bayfield this Saturday (with temps projected to be in the mid-70s):

Big Top Chautauqua friends and volunteers will gather Saturday, May 24 to help pitch the NEW 160′ x 70′, 950-seat, 2,000 pound all-canvas tent for Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua’s 2014 season of music making and star gazing.

The fun begins at 7am as we unroll five giant 400 pound rolls of canvas. By 10am we normally have the canopy rising off the ground. After a break for lunch we complete the truss work while beginning to hang the sidewalls. By about 4 or 5 we are ready to share in the hard-won feeling one only gets following a good day of effort. Whether you stay all day or just come for an hour, there’s always something to do with enjoyable camaraderie. The weekend roustabouts and Big Top “roadies-for-a-day” travel to Bayfield each year from far and wide to sling some canvas, share a meal, swap stories and perhaps play a little music.

This is a free community event and every one is invited to participate. The only job requirements are energy, enthusiasm and a little bit of elbow grease. Lunch will be served to the workers. We do suggest that volunteers bring a pair of work gloves­ – and a camera.

Singing With The BCO

Mike BCO Ainsworth

Usually when I stand up with a guitar (like tomorrow in Wild Rose), I have my beloved Long Beds backing me, but when I head out on tour with Tent Show Radio, I always get to perform a couple of my songs with the Blue Canvas Orchestra, and they take real good care of me.

Here’s a rough cut of us performing “Could Be You” in Richland Center:


And this is “Shaman Girl,” from the show at the Door County Auditorium:



Big Top, Big Heart

Even as host of Tent Show Radio, I consider myself a late-arriving guest participating in a canvas tradition pegged to the hard work and volunteer efforts of people long predating me. I always say I find it easy to brag on the tent because I was a ticket-buying fan long before I ever set foot on the canvas-draped stage.

I use the term “canvas” specifically, as it is a critical part of the Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua tradition. Last year it became clear that a new tent was needed. Longtime supporter Don Funk has stepped forward to make a remarkable matching commitment that will add two dollars to every one dollar donated for a limited time. The details are here.

Thank you to Don and all of those who have pitched in to pitch the new tent. Nothin’ like the scent of fresh canvas.

New Book Now Available for Pre-Order

It will be released November 27, but you can pre-order a signed copy now.

From the Top_small


From Scandihoovian Spanglish to snickering chickens, New York Times bestselling author and humorist Michael Perry navigates a wide range of topics in this collection of brief essays drawn from his weekly appearances on the nationally syndicated Tent Show Radio program. Fatherhood, dumpster therapy, dangerous wedding rings, Christmas trees, used cars, why you should have bacon in your stock portfolio, loggers in clogs—whatever the subject, Perry has a rare ability to touch both the funny bone and the heart.

Tent Show Radio Podcasts


If you’re new here because of Visiting Tom, I’m pleased to let you know that although typing is my main job, we have a few other things going on as well. For instance, this Saturday I’ll be joining my band beneath a beautiful blue tent overlooking the Apostle Islands.
I’ve also been privileged to host Tent Show Radio for the past two years, and I’m happy to say that you can now listen to Tent Show Radio pretty much whenever you wish. In addition to listening on your radio or streaming the show in real time you can go back in time and listen to that Ruthie Foster, or Nanci Griffith, or Greg Brown, or Arlo Guthrie or any other guest one more time (as of now, nearly all shows are archived for one year – some variance depending on contractual obligations). Just go here, scroll down to the show of your choice and click on the player.
And if you missed one of Mike’s ‘Backstage Monologues,’ why, you can just dial it up whenever you like…he did a number of them about his cannon-shooting neighbor Tom (the subject of Mike’s current book) but he also talks about being a Dad, remembering his Irish grandma, and whatever else comes to mind.
Of course you can also listen on the beautiful radio (or stream) in real time. List of stations and times right here.

How Cool Is That?

This weekend on Tent Show Radio it’s Rickie Lee Jones…and listening to her sing got me to thinking about what it means to to be cool. For those of us who aren’t particularly cool, there is hope. From the monologue:

I do think you can be temporarily cool. I’ve been cool a couple of times. It usually doesn’t last more then ten seconds, usually until I shut my seatbelt in the door, or realize I had my t-shirt on backwards. As a matter of fact, the second I start feeling cool, I check my fly.

My all-time record for being cool was six minutes. I was at this deal…

Tune in for the rest…