Saturday, March 30, 2002

Got some lap steel in during the ball game in the afternoon... some was single-note work, but there were periods of playing-in-sixths and tight triads too. No tunes, just working on progressions and positions.

Also had a session on the box in the afternoon, with a couple of times through Tom Turpin rags like "Harlem Rag" and "Ragtime Nightmare".

Hit Amoeba Records in the early evening and gorged... Louis Armstrong post-Hot5/7 work (wanting to see how his vocal style evolved), some Duke Ellington solo and small-group work (curious how he himself plays, sans band), Western Swing radio transcriptions from Los Angeles in the 1940-50s (Tex Williams, Merle Travis, others)... Leon McAuliffe's Cimarron Boys, who are highly spoken of but whom I've never heard... some James P. Johnson, Turk Murphy & associates, Jelly Roll Morton's final session... an Irish accordionist, John Whelan... Buck Owens' first recordings, some early Mariachi, dobroiste Rob Ickes, and what seems to be a reprint of original recordings by Pixinguinha, the Brazilian chorista.

Right now I'm listening to "Face" by Karen Tweed, an Irish piano-accordion player who has a great session book on Mel Bay, but I'm baffled because this disc seems so strongly influenced by Maria Kalaniemi, the wonderful Finnish CBA player. But I'm not getting a sense of who Karen really is...?
Had three sessions last night and this morning, and the theme continues to be classic rags and long runs on Irish tunes. Woke up with Joseph Lamb's "Ragtime Nightingale" in my head and read through the first two sections... it has some right-hand block chords with chromaticism, and the melody is sometimes carried across octaves in the bass, so it requires a little work for the stradella accordion. Real pretty melody, though.

Other rags include Lamb's "Bohemia Rag" and Arthur Marshall's "Ham And!", both with some good rhythmic jump. Did about 20 reps each on Miss Monaghan, Love at the Endings, The Banshee, Ragtime Annie. The latter always seems to veer off into a Benny Thomasson direction, while with the former tunes I'm following Andrew Macnamara's influence and looking at which notes I can remove. Also had some fun with Lefty Frizzell's "Forever and Always" and Cindy Walker's "Cherokee Maiden".    

Still listening to Conjunto Bernal, over and over, and may be able to play along with it later today. Book of the day remains "The Art of Ragtime" by Schafer & Riedel... first few chapters go on about racism, but now they're starting to get back to music.

Friday, March 29, 2002

Started off with trying to sound out Paulino Bernal's "Hoy No Es Hier"... it's sort of a hokey polka, with box blending with sax, but it's still good stuff. I've got to play along with the recording to catch his phrasing and accents, though, it can sound like overcooked pasta otherwise.

After that I read out "Galway Reel" and "Tom Ward's Downfall" from some Ed Reavy scores, but they didn't sound right to me. I spent about 15 minutes on his "Love at the Endings", try to clean up the spaces between the notes, and I don't understand why what I hear, from Liz Carroll and others on this tune, is so different from what he wrote himself as the way the tune goes.

Spent about 15 minutes on "The Banshee" too, again focusing on the spaces between the notes, trying to get it more meaningful each time, pretending that a good player was listening to me and I was trying to say something to them. Had a run at Scott Joplin's "Weeping Willow" too.

Album of the day: Mi Unico Camino by Conjunto Bernal.

Thursday, March 28, 2002

Howdy. I play chromatic button accordion and lap steel. I'm also exploring weblogs. I don't think there will be a lot of earthshaking content here, but you might be interested in it if we play together of if you play a similar instrument yourself.

This morning I worked on some classic rags on the box... Joseph Lamb's "Bohemia Rag", Arthur Marshall's "Ham and Eggs", and am still working on Maple Leaf. I think I started out with a long run on "Little Sadie" in Dm, modal from Appalachia. (I had first heard "Little Sadie" from Tony Rice, and recently re-heard it from Clarence Ashley.) It's fun to play tunes like that for 15-20 minutes, to really learn new things about it.

After work I had a very short session because an exhibition game with the Giants was on... tried to sound out the nonsense song "Same Old Man" (again from the Clarence Ashley and Doc Watson Smithsonian reissue, which I first heard from one of the Canote Brothers twenty years ago), and then ran Ed Reavy's "Love at the Endings" to close out.

No lap steel yet, working online, maybe when the ball game's over.