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Archive for the ‘old time’ Category

Has it really been so many days since the last tune? I’m really having a hard time keeping up with this after having stopped. On the up side, while I wasn’t learning new tunes, I was learning some things that might even be better, and straight from the source. And it led me to Temperance Reel.

The place you should check this tune out is in John Showman’s ‘Bluegrass Bowing Technique: Teaching Manual with Play-along CD’. This is easily worth the twenty Canadian dollars you’ll pay for it. Not at all coincidentally, in the notes he tells of one of his earlier violin teachers who told him what my violin teacher told me: it’s all in the bow. So get this book, and you’ll also get increasingly challenging and, dare I say, educational verions of Temperance Reel, Arkansas Traveller, The Cuckoo’s Nest, Cattle in the Cane, Bily in the Lowground and Two O’Clock in the morning. Each new version of a tune adds an element of style and technique, so there’s plenty to practice and apply across all your tunes.

And if you don’t already know who John Showman is, what the heck are you waiting for! He’s one of my favourite fiddlers and one of Canada’s greatest. He’s got plenty of style and a great sense of musicality, and manages to bend your expectations just far enough to keep your two feet on the ground (stomping) and twist your head into the clouds. He plays with a few different groups, Foggy Hogtown Boys being my favourite of them, but you should also check out Creaking Tree String Quartet (possibly the best band name I’ve ever heard).  He recently released a self-titled solo album which features a really nice mix of influences, and almost all original tunes.

The  Foggy Hogtown Boy’s new album ‘Scotch and Sofa’ is kickass, so don’t tarry and get on it!

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Thanks to Lisa for this suggestion – it’s about time I assimilate this one anyways.  Just in time for Sunday’S old time jam, too…

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This one’s for you, Gillian!

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This is such a pretty  tune. I first heard it off of Jayme Stone’s “Africa to Appalachia” album, played with Mansa Sissoko (kora) and Casey Driesen (fiddle). It’s a gorgeous interpretation, in that I feel they somehow manage to really get to the heart of what this tune is.  It certainly is a favourite of mine, because in addition to its inherent quality,  the Stone album was a gift from a close friend, and then a sweetheart taught it to me [but this is not cheating, I really do need to work on it as I’ve alsmot forgotten the B part] and finally, today,  it was a suggestion from an accomplished player and friend. So hurray for Chinquapin Hunting!

Also, check out the new links on the right.

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Well, I dropped the ball (i.e. fiddle) on March 11. So to make up for missing my tune-a-day on day 40, tune 40 (on day 41) is kick ass! Thanks goes to my good buddy Paul, who suggested Old Greasy Coat, and an awesome crooked version of it. I’ve listened to Molsky’s version quite a bit, but I have to say I’m really diggin’ this backyard recording Billygoat and Grandaddy. I checked out the several different versions in the fiddle hangout library. It’s amazing how much a tune can change and mutate into idiosyncratic interpretations but still hit all its reference points and be recognizable.

So check out Old Greasy Coat (a possible reference to condoms, one forum contributor informed me) and rip it up in cross G.

I don’t drink and I don’t smoke and I don’t wear no greasy coat

I don’t smoke and I don’t chew, and I don’t kiss boys like you

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Seneca Square Dance, also a tune suggestion from James W. There are a few recordings at the Fiddle Hangout (see links), but I quite enjoyed this version off youtube from FiddlinRed.

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And we’re back on the wagon.  After a good three weeks off, which saw very little fiddling happen, the tune Forked Dear gets me back to some good ol’, ol’ time sawing. This tune was a recommendation from James W. I really like the Bruce Molsky version of this one, so I’m working from that.

Practicing the last 9 tunes (27 to 35) is…hmmm…a bit of a cold shower. It seems like I have to learn them all over again, especially as a few of these were learned fairly off the cuff (like “Raleigh and Spencer”, which was learned while being performed). So, in addition to a lot of practicing ahead, there’s also a lot of listening to do. That, actually, is what I feel I am most disconnected from – the simple and quiet act of listening to music. Listening is also, I feel, one of the best things you can do to improve. But than entails careful, attentive, focused listening; not background music. Which reminds me, I better get to planning the tunes a few days in advance if I want to be able to absorb them through listening first…

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