A Final Hop

April 21, 2009

For the past several months I’ve been fiddling at The Civil Cricket once a week.  Today I’m doing my last day there.

Playing there has been a very special experience for me – more so than I expected.  It isn’t so much about the music.  I never play anything terribly exciting or complicated.  It’s about the people.

Maybe it’s the whole Piano Man thing.  People start talking to you.  Since I play quite a few Irish and Scottish tunes they like to talk about their travels.  They seem to go back there.

That shouldn’t surprise me.  Music has a unique way of transporting us to a different time and place.  Maybe because you can still enjoy it even when your eyes are closed.  And you can imagine.

I’ll miss it.  I hope to find another outlet like it in the future.

I’ve been all cagey about my future, but tomorrow I’ll write a bit about what’s coming up.


Cotton Patch – Last Sunday

April 20, 2009

Steve, me and Bob in Cotton Patch (2009)

We ended this week of Cotton Patch Gospel performances on a high note (pun only mildly intended).

The show closes this coming Saturday, so indeed yesterday was our last Sunday performance.  In my view it was our strongest overall show to date.

The energy of the show seemed higher, but still with a good, controlled acceleration to the finish.  It felt like we hit all the moments with the proper weight and integrity.

Musically, our tempos were up a bit and we did have a little danger of losing control of it, but we seemed to keep it very well together.  Our harmonies were the strongest they’ve been.

Morgan MonroeIn addition, I have been playing a new mandolin – just got it this past week.  It is much easier to play than my previous mando and has opened up a whole new musical world that I didn’t know existed.

All of that made for a very good day yesterday.  We don’t take the stage again until Thursday, but I would love to be up there sooner.

More Music

April 16, 2009

Yesterday I got to be in a recording studio again.

My friend Clay is doing an album of old standards (and some new songs that could be old standards).  He asked me to lay down a harmony track for I’m Using My Bible For A Road Map.

I love singing harmony.  It’s a language that makes sense to me.  A sound that just shimmers when it’s on.

It went very well and we were finished after two takes.  We had time to add harmony to two other tracks as well.

I’m very impressed with Clay’s work on this work album.  Musically, it is new territory for him and he has truly put his mark on some of the oldies but goodies.

I was very pleased to be a part of it.  I briefly felt like a rock star.  Without the nightmare descent into drugs and booze, of course.

Music and Travel

April 15, 2009

Yesterday I did my stint as fiddler at The Civil Cricket.  A couple of weeks ago I brought in my Scottish fiddle book and started talking to a couple where the lady was from Scotland.  I had been there, so we spent some time talking about Scottish music and traditions.  A wonderful time and it was like being there.

So yesterday, I brought in some Irish fiddle tunes.  A different couple (at the same table as the Scottish couple) heard me tell somebody that I had been to Ireland and it turns out that they frequently travel to Ireland themselves.  Turns out that we had both been to Doolin and heard some amazing music there.  Again, it took me right back.

Next week, maybe I should only play Hawaiian fiddle tunes. Anybody know any?

Music Yesterday

April 14, 2009

Yesterday was filled with music.

First a small band of us lotharios went to Harrisonburg,VA to record a song for Rob Mangus of The Civil Cricket.

We went down to Alive Studios and worked with engineer Robby Meadows (check him out on Myspace).  He was terrific.  All told, I think we had a pretty successful day down there.

We recorded the song, and Robby was able to get a good mix before we left.  Additionally, we got to watch him use the pitch correction software, which I had never seen in action before.  Can I just say, wow (there I said it).  Amazing how he could isolate individual notes and just bump them to the correct pitch.  Robby was a master.

After finishing that, I got to hear my friend Rich play and sing at Skyland Resort waaaay up in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  I fiddled along on a few songs, but mostly just got to listen.  It is a magical place up there and, as always, a wonderful time.

Didn’t get any pictures at Skyland, but I managed to be a tourist in the recording studio.

Robby Meadows and Rob Mangus

Robby Meadows and Rob Mangus

The Band: Rob, Vaughn, David, me and Bob

The Band: Rob, Vaughn, David, me and Bob

My Booth

My Booth

Music All Around Today

April 13, 2009

A busy Monday today.  Heading to a studio in Harrisonburg, VA in a few minutes to help a friend record a children’s song that he wrote.  We assembled a small band to do this and I think we sound pretty good.

Later on today, I’ll be heading up into the Blue Ridge Mountains to listen to another friend play at a lodge up there called Skyland.  I may join in on a few songs, but if not it will just be fun to sit back and listen.

Not a bad way to spend a day.

Viola D’Amore

April 6, 2009

I had a wonderful conversation with a woman with whom I will be working later this summer.  She was telling me about some unusual string instruments that she has seen.

In searching for some of the instruments that she mentioned, I came upon the Viola D’Amore.

Viola D'Amore

This is an instrument that goes back at least as far as the 17th Century, but was most popular in the 18th.  It has had many incarnations in its life, but in its most recent iteration it boasts 14 strings.  You only play 7 of them.  The other 7 are sympathetic strings below the fingerboard, that ring out when you play.

The result is beautiful and haunting.  Treat yourself to the video below of Thomas Georgi playing a one-minute snip from Vivaldi’s D major Concerto.  Good choice, since the instrument is most commonly tuned to a D chord.

YouTube – Viola D’amore

Want one?  Of course you do.  Lark in the Morning has one for $3,500.

[photo: Lark in the Morning]