When we announced that this was going to be our last show, unbeknownst to us, Teri McCarthy and Mary Sack asked some folks if they wanted to send us messages. Man, you just KNOW we cried through these as Teri and Bob Rasmus read them. People are far too kind but we appreciate your words, and your videos, more than you can possibly know. Here are their messages, in no order of importance although I did put Phil Lee first to make him happy. ❤️

Our beloved Phil Lee (above). He’s so funny and quick witted that you sometimes forget how brilliant he is.

Cynthia and Ernie: Thank you for creating such a beautiful community of music fans over the years. Thanks for opening your home and heart to so many of us. You’ve kept us going, and we are grateful. ~Wild Ponies (Doug and Telisha)

It was going to be a wonderful and wondrous night, when I was going to be lucky enough — yet again — to play in Cynthia and Ernie’s living room with Peter Cooper and Thomm Jutz, before dozens of their friends. Those tremendous friends had been cheering us on since Peter’s and my first Sandwich Life house concert on March 2, 2012 (the night we got the LEGO figures of the two of us, figures made by the boys Leo and Owen, and which still live on my dining room bookshelf).

But the universe spoke and the virus swept through and that April show was canceled, pushed down the road a few months until we could reschedule. Those few months became a few years, and now, everything has changed. Peter’s gone. And Cynthia and Ernie are calling it a day.

The Sandwich Life was one of the first house concerts we ever played, and was the one we played the most over the years. I got incredible “Moon Landing Cakes” there (thank you, Heather!), I learned Phil Lee dance steps there, I hung out with pets on the staircase there, I ate the best “covered dish” suppers there, I chatted with more fine humans there than I can count, and I met Cynthia and Ernie there. That’s really the main thing, isn’t it?

If you’re reading this and you’re NOT Cynthia and Ernie, you already know what spectacular human beings they are — loving, giving, thoughtful, kind, generous.

But if you’re reading this and you ARE Cynthia and Ernie, I sure hope you understand what a beautiful thing you did when you first opened your home up to a bunch of scruffy rambling singing jokers. And I really hope you understand how much I love you both.

I can be understanding and say that I totally get why you’re retiring the Sandwich Life Concerts shingle, but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t hurt. More than a little. Love, love, love.

~Eric Brace

I’ve been to a lot of house concerts in my life, my dearly departed wife Audrey Auld played tons of them. She took me to the Sandwich Life house concert with her to do a show. And that’s where I met Cynthia and Ernie. We had such a great time before, and after the show. Although I ended up leaving there with a black eye and a cut above it. But one of my all-time favorite pictures is after the show there’s a picture of me and Cynthia and Ernie and Audrey, and van and Karin who I’m sure will be there tonight if not I’m sure they’re sad they could not make it. Anyway, Cynthia and I are looking at each other laughing our asses off Audrey‘s leaning against Ernie and flipping off the camera man and Karen and Van were on the other end of this line of us. It is a great picture. I hope it gets shown tonight. I wish I was there. There’s no place I’d rather be. Also, just a little side note. I’ve been out on a lot of tours with Audrey and one of my favorite tours with her was also with Jon Byrd. We had a great time traveled all around in the minivan. Give Jon and Paul the Byrd for me. And give my love to Cynthia and Ernie. ~Mez Mezera

Headed to the Heartland (for Cynthia and Ernie, with love and gratitude)

I’m headed to the heartland the mighty might heartland.

I’m driving across the prairie to sing like a canary in a home that might explain the propensity to call this place the heartland.

I came here first with the self-proclaimed Mighty King of Love who lied about his age, not to get beer before he was old enough but to join AARP when he was too young. He flirts with the lady on the couch by asking “have you ever made love to a little old man, they tell me it’s wonderful.”

I hit the stage to warm up the crowd, and when I say stage it’s just to the right of the potluck buffet, and this stage comes with windowsills where you put your capos and drinks. A new friend is telling me a great story while I chew, but it’s time to put my plate down and play. I strap on my guitar, and these are fascinating people who do interesting things, (some even run for office!), but I’m here to play so we continue our conversation with song, making a few of these strangers join my imaginary band right there. The fourth estate is here snapping pictures faster than Richard and Van and slap my nameless photo on the front page of the variety section of Champaign-Urbana Register Star Tribune Times, much to the chagrin of my feigningly furious boss.

I’m headed to the heartland, to a place that feels like home, and I would be forgiven for admitting I never liked REO Chuckwagon, because my new friends had Mott the Hoople on the turntable back then, just like me.

I’m headed to the heartland to the living room where my heroes have sung, reminding us that we’re all mortals, a few too mortal for my tender heart.

I’m headed to the heartland to make friends with Cynthia and Ernie’s friends, friends whose names and occupations I may forget but whose love I’ll remember forever.

I’m headed to the Heartland. ~Tom Mason

Cynthia and Ernie are such wonderful hosts. I had a great time at my concert. Thanks to you both for all these great shows you have put on over the years and for being an integral part of the great underground indie touring circuit. ~Anne McCue

We salute you!
Greetings and limitless admiration from your daft Welsh buddy Jon Langford who sends vital and energetic good vibes into your legendary living space

I was with my brother Bill Jackson and his side man Peter Fidler when they did a gig at Sandwich Life. I have met Ernie and Cynthia and have followed their life and family through Cynthia’s writing on her facebook page.

We were welcomed into their home like we were family and I was struck by the warmth and love oozing from them. I know they were acquainted with many of the people we had met and stayed with through our trips to the USA. It was a great pleasure to be involved in this wonderful network of house concerts arranged for my bother Bill and Pete by Mary Sack.
I was struck by Erine and Cynthia’s house in Champagne, it was a home and had all the trimmings of an everyday family dwelling. After being there for five minutes I would not have been surprised to see a neatly folded stack of clothing straight off the clothesline sitting on a chair somewhere. The experience of going into a stranger’s home has always been a strange experience for me. I immediately felt I was in a happy place when I visited Ernie and Cynthias house.

Thank you to you and your family for making travelling musicians welcome and giving them a genuine friendly, family environment to sell their wares, I am sure your followers from the district will miss the experience you have created for them. I realise your health problems have overwhelmed your lives at this point and I wish both you and your family a speedy resolution. All the best from Australia, we have not forgotten you and your kindness.
~Ross Jackson

Barry and I only played the Sandwich Life house concert once, in 2019, the summer before Covid grounded us from touring for two years. I wish we could have come back before this last show. We arrived in Champaign tired from a long, hot 10 day run of touring the upper Midwest, and we were rewarded with a warm welcome, a good dinner and a beautiful audience. It’s not an overstatement to say that folks like Cynthia & Ernie keep independent touring artists going – financially, musically and spiritually. We’re sending all our best to you as you gather tonight to close this chapter and start a new one. ~Gretchen Peters

As of last count, I was second only to Fats Kaplan as most appearances at The Sandwich Life House Concerts. Over the years, I played with artists; David Olney, Julie Christensen, Amelia White, Irene Kelley, Megan Jane and Chris Tench. Thanks for the gigs and the Sandwich Glass Goblets. All the best, Amigo ~Sergio Webb

A great house concert is a true gift. It centers community, fellowship, and songs. Songs are perhaps one of the most meaningful ways we tell each other our stories. Our stories in song then go on and take on new life and new meaning when there is community happening around them. Special songs become not only spiritual lamps on our path in life but medicinal springs of refuge and our most honest teachers.

The recognition and further cultivation of these truths is why Cynthia and Ernie are so special. Through the lens of their living space and the generosity in their hearts, they invited us all to witness and feel the love that exists in their home. At each concert, we got to hear incredible music full of stories that continue to help to shine light in the darker corners of our lives where light is needed most. They gave us the gift of these wonderful concerts and in doing so built a community of musicians and music listeners that we will all take with us along with the treasured memories of these house shows whenever we seek them from here on.

Take a bow, Cynthia and Ernie. We are grateful for you both and always will be.

With big love and respect,
Aaron Lee Tasjan

Thank you Cynthia, Ernie, and family for the years of concerts and fun. I first played with Tommy Womack, over a decade ago, and last played with David Olney, not long before he passed away. Your shows always set the standard for house concerts. If it weren’t for pioneers like yourselves, there would probably be no Americana scene and we are all forever in your debt for that. The friends, music, and memories we’ve made at your concerts will stay with us forever. Love you all!

Thank you! Have a great time with Jon and Paul. Wish I could be there.

~Daniel Seymour

Cynthia and I started out as blogging buddies, I loved reading about her and Ernie and their sons’ lives, gigs they’d go to, favorite eating places. Fun and tough times too. I played one of the early Sandwich Life shows (the first?) in 2009. How do people you’ve just met feel like lifelong friends immediately? Pals who love Ian Hunter and flea markets, bbq and family. Thank you guys, I love you and feel like I’ll always be there with you in that brightly colored living room rocking out and drinking wine. ~Amy Rigby

Lastly, the brilliant and extraordinarily kind Jason Ringenberg.

Love, love, love to all these people as well as all the others that joined us.


2 thoughts on “The Last Show Part IV: in which we blush and get teary

  1. Oh, thanks for sharing all these! How can you narrow it all down to just a few sentences?! I loved reading Tom Mason’s prose. And Eric Brace’s. and all of them, really. Ge
    Phil Lee–what a crack up! His video is A+
    Jason Ringenberg–who can forget his dancing on your hardwood floor during some of his songs-this one particularly?! Love it!
    My daughters & I searched for pennies from the years we were born, thanks to the Wild Ponies. 🙂 loved their shows.
    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed ALL the shows I’ve been to, and like Bob, I have a great collection of cd’s in my car from these shows. Wish I had gotten Aaron Lee Tasjan’s though, darn it.
    Your sister is right, Cynthia, you & Ernie deserve all these accolades.
    Thank you!!