Sunday, September 16, 2007

Never be afraid to start a tune you don't know

Hey, time's flying by. So, let's skip Clifftop for now. It was huge. I'm glad I went. It was great. I'll write a bit more about it down the road. Stay tuned, as they say.

But, what I really want to talk about is Lake Genero. It will be my last festival here in the U.S. for awhile. Back to Tasmania I go.

Lake Genero is a gathering that happens in northern Pennsylvania each year at Labor day weekend. Check out the website, linked in a post below, to see some pictures. Every time that I've gone, it comes as a total surprise to me how fareeking cold it can get at night. I had enough cold weather clothes and gear, but after a hot summer, the temp drop hits me like a brick. It made for some neat visuals as the warm lake misted over in the evening, still looking very ethereal in the early morning light. I expected to see Morgaine appear in a boat back from Avalon. But, perhaps that's a different topic altogether. I digress.

In a "what goes around, comes around" sort of way, I hooked up with many folks that I've played with at the other festivals this season. So, some new favorite tunes have percolated up, getting more and more fun to play. It's kind of rewarding to me to run into familiar faces and be able to say "Hey, can you play thus and such a tune that you did at Clifftop?" and have the chance to catch another nuance or refresh my memory for how the parts repeat and so on. Plus, there's the rush of playing a tune one more time around, only this time it's smoother and groovier and tighter and even better than the last.

I was sitting around a friendly campfire one night and we got to talking about starting tunes. As I listen back to my recordings, it's very clear that many times, the person starting the tune is unsure of how the tune goes. They might doodle at it a bit, maybe play the B part fast and ugly to figure out how the A part goes, or just jump into the tune and screw up the first repetition to bits. But, after 2 or 3 times, if folks like the tune and really want to work it out, things fall into place and off we go. Occasionally, we might have to stop all together and have a little chat or demo on one bit or the other. One guy remarked that he'll start a tune, even though not great at it, because chances are the other folks jamming will be better than him and he sort of rises to their level more. That takes some nerve, but I think it's a great lesson. We got to laughing and took up the motto: "Never be afraid to start a tune that you don't know."

To give you a flavor of what we played, whether we knew them or not, here's some names (with an occasional note below) that I caught on my new digital Edirol recorder:

Waynesboro, Josie-O
Tipping Back the Corn
Shove That Pigsfoot a Little Further In the Fire
Step It Out Mary (Australian)
Snake River Reel
Shuffle About
Shove That Pigsfoot
Shelvin' Rock
Salt Creek
Sal Went Down to the Cider Mill
Remember What I Told You
Red Prairie Dawn (Garry Harrison)
Pretty Little Gal, Pretty Little Widow
Old Yeller Dog Come Trottin' Through the Meeting House
Liza Jane
Little Dutch Girl
Kansas City Reel
Julianne Johnson
Jonah in the Windstorm
John Brown's March in A
Jeff City, Puncheon Floor
Downhome Rag
Jackarse Eats It On the Way (Australian)
Horney Ewe
Hawks and Eagles
Gwine Over Da Mountain
Carve It To the Heart
Greasy String (3 part)
Goodbye Mick (Australian)
Golden Ticket
Going Up the River
Five Miles of Elum Wood
Fishing Time
Durangs and Shuffle About
Dry and Dusty
Cutting at the Point
Camp Chase
Buffalo Gals
Briarpicker Brown
Boys Them Buzzards are Flying

There were many more that I recorded, but I haven't gotten to them to rename them from Edirol-eez "R09-001.wav" or "R09-005.mp3" to English yet. The nice thing is that I can plug it into the Mac and move the files right over into iTunes. Add them right into my iJam. And, listen to them through iEars. [laughing to iSelf]

On the ride back to New York State, I rode over a small mountain ridge. On the crest of the ridge appeared a line of wind turbines. That much less oil and that much less smoke. A modern windmill of our age. A beautiful sight, to my eye.

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