Thursday, July 3, 2008

It Has Been A While

This will be a bit random. I have left too much unsaid.

Tonight was pretty interesting. The lead guitarist was sick, so it was all on me. The drummer was back, so Keys-to-Drummer was back on keys. The power supply on the synth was gone, so he was on the grand piano. This meant he underplayed, because the weighted keys are tough on the hands. He thought he did poorly, and once he kinda got lost, but I only gave him grief because, with the other guitarist gone, it was my job to give people grief. He did well, he sounded good, and I enjoyed myself.

And my wife said I played pretty.

I'm playing hybrid picking, which in my case is pick and middle finger fingernail. So I'm trying to figure out how to keep my nails in good condition. MusicThing has a compendium of links on that subject. Already, my fingernails are working better. Which actually is getting in the way of my typing, but you do what you must.

Also from MS, silver cast replica knobs for your instruments.

As I told Pribek, my local area has a folk festival. Except it ain't folk. It's called The Fiddler's Gathering, and it has the violin as it's raison d'etre. I don't think I've seen classical music there, but just about anything else where you'd expect to hear a fiddle on is fair game. Including jazz.

In the past, I have seen Johnny Frigo and Claude Williams at this festival before. Great players, but very old guys. This weekend, I saw Aaron Weinstein. I saw him at the festival before, about 10 years ago, when he was on the open stage. Now he's graduated from Berkelee and swinging like a pendulum. Catch him if you can.

I knew I'd really dig him. What I didn't know was that I'd really dig another act. Out of New York, they call themselves Spondoolix. Cello, guitar, fiddle and vox, and fifes and pipes. Might I say that Uilleann Pipes rock? Anyway, the star in my mind is Mazz Swift, the fiddle/vox person. You don't often see a black lady with dreadlocks playing traditional celtic music. And of course she did it well, or else I wouldn't be writing this up. (If I had a digital camera and I didn't have a wife, I might put up a picture of her in her digital skull-and-crossbones t-shirt, which was way cool.) The coolness to me is that, in all the celtic singing I've heard, there's an edge to it, a harshness. And she really doesn't, so it forces you to listen harder. Lovely, lovely music.

Back to the gathering: Some famous festivals have instrument competitions. I'm thinking the flatpicking competition at Winfield, but there are others. I have a bit of a problem with the idea of competition in that way. I couldn't say that Mazz was better than Aaron, or either was better than Sammy of the Foghorn Stringband. How do you compare swing violin to oldtime fiddle?

I wore shorts. I didn't wear anything to protect me from the sun. And Sunday morning, I had a burn on my right knee that felt like a bruise. Rock the SPF, dudes.

And, as it is a fiddler's festival, I pulled out one of my two. I'm a guitarist. I'm a mandolin player. I'm a fiddle owner. But I still want to play with the stuff. And in preparation, I went to the Sam Ash that's (nowhere near) on my way home from work, and I saw a Fishman pickup for fiddle that clips to the fiddle bridge and cost $100. I'm curious as to the volume level from that, whether I could fiddle through my wah and AX1500G or whether I must pick up a Para DI, too. Anyone play that four-stringed beast?


Kenski said...

My first musical instrument was actually a violin. I used to play in school when I was, oh, seven or eight. I distinctly remember doing a show where you played a couple of notes, clapped, sat down, got up, clapped again aaaand REPEAT.

At some point my parents decided to buy me my own fiddle so that I didn't have to borrow school property anymore. It was an old, beaten up, fragile instrument but I truly appreciated their gift. I proudly took it to school the next day to show everyone. I had barely taken it out of its case when one of the more tantrum prone (female) members of the band grabbed it by the neck and smashed it against a chair.

That was the end of my fiddle playing. Rather than replace the instrument with another that had the capacity of replicating the sound of a cat caught in a blender... we got a real cat instead (but we didn't have the money for a real blender). The real cat was much more soothing to the rest of the family and my violin was never replaced.

Looking back it becomes clear to me that if it weren't for that moment of 'bow rage' from my pre-pubescent classmate I *could* have been the next Charlie Daniels.

Patrick said...

I can't comment on the Fishman, but I electrify your violin for $10 in RadioShaft parts. It's not perfect, but it works fine for the CBG.

Dave Jacoby said...

I'm thinking that might be good, Patrick. For the things I'd be doing, great fidelity to the tone of the original instrument will not be a design requirement.