Thursday, October 30, 2008

Aussie and Tassie Tune night news

Well, what a noice time I had last noight at the Old Songs building. As is often the case in all things pot luck, the mix was just right. We had 3 and a half fiddlers (Tom's just getting started). Oh, heck, he pulled his weight, make that 4 fiddlers. A strong note-reading mando player. And, a steady guitar to keep us together. I guess I should also count the straggler fiddle/mando, too. Although, next time we'll have to dock pay if anyone's late. :-) And, mention the fact that my banjo-mando that came over from Tasmania got a little work out, too. People may have heard it all the way in Tasmania because, as Fred had cautioned me, IT'S LOUD.

I started off the evening by laying out some souveniers, music books, and CDs on the table for display. My trusty little Mac laptop that traveled back and forth with me was playing a loop of a movie that I'd put together. What a nice walk down memory lane, putting that together. I blended some stills, some movies, and some audio files in an attempt to show a cross-section of the many Tassie and mainland music groups and festivals that touched me over the past 4 years. From some players at the New Sydney Hotel, my first stop in Hobart back in September of 2005, to our precious (and I mean that in the nicest way) Grassroots Union Choir friends singing us off at the airport on our last day in July of 2008. In between, I have movies from the HOT Stringband, dancing at the Windjam festival, a few National Folk Festivals, some Yarra Junction stills, a sweet Festival of Voices clip, a digeridoo busker on the streets of Melbourne, oh, OK, too numerous to list. It ran 25 minutes. I'm thinking that I should work at it some more and even if it lasts longer. It could be a more complete overview.

On the table, I had CDs by Fred Pribac, Steve and Marjorie Gadd, the String Chickens, Generations Three, and a very special compilation from my NFF buddies Will and Carl of tunes that we'd jammed at in Canberra. Music books by Greg O'Leary and Ray Mulligan from the Australian Settlers NFF sessions, 2 Wongawilli's, an Appleshed collection, a contradance collection, and the very dear to my heart Verandah Music book about trad Aussie musos (signed by my HOT Stringband mates upon my leaving). Oh, and various and sundry festival programs, flyers, postcards, and brochures. Accent on the 'bro' in Strine, not on the 'chures' like in elitest Americanese.

So, a half hour or so of perusing and chat, then into the bigger room for tunes. I gotta say, the group was quite handy at their first try. I had put together about 70 pages of tunes that I'd collected along the way. Some from the HOT Stringband, some from Stuart's Tassie Tune sessions, some from Steve Gadd's Appleshed book, some from Marjorie's tutelage at the Heritage Fiddles, some Wongawilli's, and some from NFF workshops. Of course, we didn't have time to play them all, but I'll use them again in the future, no doubt.

There was a good mix between readers and ear players. We started with Fair Go Polka. I, of course, steered through tunes that I loved or at least had some strength on. Moonan Flats, Bruce Smith's, Goodbye Mick, Mark Walter's, The Old Schoolmaster. And, we played the Winster Galop first and then compared it with The Black Cat Piddled. The Glen Huon Waltz and Nora's Waltz were music to my ears, as it were. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Earlier on, though, we played Gordon Powell's Waltz and I talked about pulsing the bow for a truer Aussie sound on a waltz. I plainly confessed that I play my waltzes too fast, and so would make an honest effort to slow them down. But, I didn't. :-)

Gundy's Varsovienna caught someone's eye. Sorry, I forget who that was. But, it gave me a chance to compare it to LIttle River. There's another comparison with American old time: the same but different. Two tunes with different names, but almost the same skeleton. We noticed how many tunes are named after people. Tom said that was true in the Cape Breton tradition, too. Ellen was interested to hear how the Little Burnt Potato had traveled, having known it from our contra dance repertoire. Oh, goodie, I thought... now I can call the tune that we'd medley'd it with. I knew that would get a chuckle. And, indeed, we had some great fun playing "Get Back To Your Mother, You Red Headed Bugger, You Don't Belong To Me".

Don'tchyaknow, I had my recorder running the whole time. And, goshdang it, is my foot thumping the thing that get's heard most. I have to have a stern talk with myself about being more careful of where I put the recorder. Drat.

Folks helped to put away the chairs, and I locked up. Oooops, I forgot to turn out that light in the the ladies room... sorry! Another round of applause for Old Songs and their encouragement for the "Make Your Own Music NIghts". The room was cosy warm and much appreciated. I believe I'll organize another night, if the 5th Wednesday theme works out. Or, maybe we can work out other dates and locations if the interest is out there.

Next up, the American old time jams at the Schenectady winter Greenmarket. We'll be there in whatever pot luck configurations evolve, all skill levels welcome, the first Sunday of each month for awhile, from 10am - noon. Whew, good thing it's near the Muddy Cup, so's I can keep my caffeine level up. Y'all know how it's difficult for me to fiddle before noon. Ah, well I'll quit my beaching for now.

Catch up with y'all down the road, I hope. Hey, maybe I'll throw in and Aussie tune or 2.

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