Saturday, May 25, 2002

Four sessions so far today, more of a variety than during the rest of the week. Got down to the Farmers Market at Embarcadero and played for a bit, and got over the awkwardness to play "The Mathematician" for the first time in front of others, as well as other hornpipe-y stuff like Hippodrome Reel, Presidents Garfield & Grant, others. Got chased away when some bums unloaded their stolen shopping carts near me. Spent a good amount of time at home going through Earl Scruggs exercises. A couple of hours listening to Carter Family tunes too.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Great sessions, just the same dang tunes over and over.... ;-) "Hunters House" is cold-start memorized and I'm getting to the place where I'm debating styles of spacing and emphasis... it's almost at the point of setting aside for awhile, but I want to burn it in a little more so I retain some of the unique note sequences. "Bucks of Oranmore" has settled in an arrangement, and it's memorized but not cold-start yet. "The Mathematician" is also being played from memory, with that internal hearing... it's an easy tune to speed up, but it sounds better with some good space between the notes. I've also been doing the Flatt & Scruggs "'Til the End of the Worlds Rolls Round", which I used to do years ago via David Grisman but had completely forgotten about. I'm really working at trying to hear plausible rolls in there, get some snap on the chordal tones. Still listening to Flatt & Scruggs during the day, Derrane & Gavin at home.

Monday, May 20, 2002

Sessions last night and this morning focused on just a few tunes: "Hunter's House" (now cold-start memorized but not yet always smooth), "Bucks of Oranmore" (originally learned from Joe Burke & Krassen's O'Neill, then forgotten, now retrieved through Joe Derrane & the original O'Neills), "The Mathematician" (J. Scott Skinner multi-octave hornpipe). Had 15-20 minutes on a country blues in A last night, loosening up the banjo-style articulation, adding rolls to fiddle-style playing. Ran through "Jesse Polka" a bunch of times this morning as well. Listening to Joe Derrane and early Flatt & Scruggs, over and over... reading interview with JD Crowe, scores.

Sunday, May 19, 2002

Currently listening to Joe Derrane's latest, with Frankie Gavin on fiddle and Brian McGrath on piano. He is the liveliest player... made the mistake of walking outside while listening to it for the first time, couldn't stop smiling, almost couldn't hold back tears. Will meet him next month.

Last night I watched "Easter Parade", for what turned out to be the first time, surprised. That first scene with Fred Astaire in "Drum Crazy" was incredible, just incredible. I don't know why or how Judy Garland draws such intense attention... her voice is rich and her phrasing carries meaning, true, but there's something from her eyes, small meanings, never know what will happen next, have to pay attention. It was good to hear so many Irving Berlin tunes that I had read but never heard, too.

Went over to Fifth String Music in Berkeley yesterday and picked up a bunch of banjo books... Earl Scruggs, some extensive JD Crowe transcriptions, some Alan Munde handlings for fiddletunes. I had been starting to get some good articulation and bounce, but now I realize there's more going on with the slides than I had previously recognized, much more use of sequential notes of identical pitch too. I'm not sure why people haven't connected this with norteno before.

Am playing Ed Reavy's "Hunters House" quite a bit, just about at the point of cold-start memorization. I've taken pains to play it as-written, because it contains some unusual phrasing, but I have a feeling other people around town will play it differently than the page.