Saturday, April 13, 2002

Have gotten some light sessions each day, but haven't been attempting new work... think the crunch should ease a bit now. On the box songs include Merle Travis's "Sweet Temptation" and "Kentucky", and I've been working on Cindy Walker's "'Tater Pie", which I first heard on the Bob Wills MGM recordings, and recently heard by Hank Penny on a set of Western Swing radio transcriptions from Los Angeles in the 1950s (Country Routes #25). Hank didn't have that nice corny turnaround on the vocals that the Wills group used. I have no idea whether anyone else knows the tune to sing along.... ;-)

On that Wills MGM disc I also work with "My Little Rock Candy Baby", "Don't Be Ashamed Of Your Age", "Faded Love", "Maiden's Prayer" (vocal version), "Blues for Dixie", "I Ain't Got Nobody", and "I Married the Rose of San Antone". I need to learn "Cadillac in Model A", "Bubbles in My Beer", "New Road Under My Wheels", "Keeper of My Heart"... I've probably got the words, but never sat down and checked it.

Won't be playing much today... will be bringing my Dobro down to Gryphon Strings for renovation. I've agonized over tuning, and am leaning towards a G13 tuning (F-G-B-D-E-G-B-A) for a couple of reasons: it keeps the basic C6 tuning with the low Don Helms style of b7 and with an inside-out second degree at top for scalar runs. It will use heavier strings than a C6 tuning would and so should project a bit more. It also gives me more open strings for Irish tunes in D and G. Ideally it should all be MIDI and instantly reprogrammable with a built-in solar-power amplification system, but hey.... ;-)

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Time continues tight, but I'm persevering. No new tunes, but trying to get good playing in on a certain set: Jesse Polka, Maple Leaf, Kadegasar Khosidl, Old Mother Flanagan have been in each of the last two sessions. Others include Arthur Marshall's "Kinklets" and "Ham And!", other klezmer tunes, some Irish to warm up and check in, and browsing through a Kenny Hall tunebook. Trying for good clean note separation without as much bounce. Even got my hands on the lap steel for a bit last night, but I'm not getting significant time on it still.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Time is tight, but I'm getting practice in. Realized that I do play in flat reel time (no swing) when the occasion demands, but when I can't hear someone else's phrasing I try to default to a spoken, swung phrasing. Need to work to be able to play in flat time at slow and fast tempos to match what other folks may choose to do.

Finally starting to get Jesse Polka, in five parts. Played Mark O'Connor's "College Hornpipe" for the first time in a long time. Had a couple of good rips at bluesy swing, may be a reaction to playing strict in other genres, felt good. Rags continue; interim goal may be to memorize a half-dozen for off-book playing, then take it to the next stage. Haven't played any musette in quite awhile due to bandwidth.

Monday, April 08, 2002

Went to slow session at Ireland's 32 on Geary, got in some playing. Realized that at slow tempos I swing reels more... need to work on flattening the spaces between the notes for slow tempos. Should help with reels at fast tempos too. Looking forward to some lap steel tomorrow night.
Made it through a constricted week without gaps... sometimes I was too tired to think well, but I didn't lose any continuity while practicing. Tunes were mostly refreshing some Irish, running over some Klezmer I used to play, and some rags. Added "Powder Rag" by Charles Johnson... was reading through some scores and the melody seemed familiar, believe I got in on guitar years ago from Rory Block. Can still remember Original Rags and Maple Leaf after a few days' layoff, so the next step is to repeat them until there aren't gaps.

Attended a workshop at Boaz Accordions with Michael Alpert. Parts of it were excruciating, with a group of eight trying to learn a three-part tune, repetition by repetition. In the preparation for it and in some questions I had some freedoms confirmed, though... overall a good thing.