Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Black Mountain Rag

The "Black Mountain Rag" is one of my favorite tunes to play on mountain dulcimer, so I figured it was about time to conduct a mini-workshop on the tune in DAD, key of D. This is probably the only episode that was done in one continuous take, even though I'm using two cameras. Explains some of the nuttery.

The Dulcimerica Video Podcast: TDVP Episode 37- Black Mountain Rag

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Friday, October 05, 2007

What Did I Do?

What did I do in a former life to deserve the kind of moments that flutter by? There are times when it sure does seem like living in a movie.

So, we've just finished Mohave rehearsal and Roger says let's go down to, what sounded like "Daughtry's", to play. "They serve Guinness," and I says, "well, that's that, then, isn't it?"

The host band was rocking the blues; I was a little fried. Tired from the travel, tired from the rehearsal. I ordered a Guinness, then went outside in the humid-yet-cool night and lit up one of the cigars that Jae brought me from the Dominican Republic last month. The dulcimer case was propped against the wall. This is important.

Presently, a bright-eyed woman walked outside and went over to chat with some of the folks standing around. Some animated discussion followed with much laughter and she was about to turn around and walk back inside when she saw me sitting there. She stopped, took a look at the case and asked what I played and I told her. "You comin' inside to play?" she asked. There. Just a hint of Irish accent.

When I laid the "I'm tired" rap on her, it fired up that brogue.

"So you're not a real musician, then? You just look like one, and look suave with your cigar, but you can't play a fucking thing?" This, with a playful snarkiness - a "come on, I dare you" sort of tease. How could I back down from that? So I offered up "Rosin The Beau" and she sort of blinked, then said "alright, inside then," and into the pub, called O'Doherty's, leaving me to grab my MicroCube amp from the car and prepare to play some traditional Irish music in a traditional Irish pub.

While I'm still fiddling about, she returns and says, "I found someone to sing 'Rosin The Beau' with ye; it's up to him whether you're good or not. He'll tell ye," she said matter-of-factly. Not long after that, someone walked up and said, "wow, you're going to duet with the man himself."

That "man", as I perused the many photos and newspaper articles in glass cases along the walls, was actually Irish folk legend Cahir O'Doherty.


The enormity of what was about to go down wasn't lost at that point. This is a guy who knows weepy Irish drinking songs; and as the other cases came into view, containing CDs and signed shamrock-colored guitars, I knew the "A" game needed to be in play, no 'effin' around and, most of all, enjoy the ride.

Cahir came out and joyously exclaimed, "you play lap dulcimer!" He shook my hand and asked what key I'd play the tune, to which I replied "D." A moment's calculation and then he said, "okay - let's go outside for a bit of rehearsal."


What a voice, what passion! What a pro! We played through several verses and choruses, with him indicating for me to take a lead here and there or to "bring it home." Some of the regulars had begun gathering around when we walked outside, and after emerging from the musical bubble, saw that quite a few had been standing within feet of us, big grins on their faces. Cahir did a much longer version of the song when we performed it inside, with a nice little intro explaining what the tune was all about. I gotta say that it's been a dream of mine to play in a real Irish pub with a real Irish musician some kind of real Irish song and by golly, look at my life. It's simply amazing.

So now I'm learning "Whiskey In The Jar" and "Drowsy Maggie" - just to do that again.

Incidentally, the fiery Irish lassie with the challenge is Cahir's lovely wife Theresa, who wanted to make sure afterwards that I knew she was funning and that she enjoyed the music immensely. I thanked her for the whole experience - a very precious memory gone screaming to the archives in another reel of this celluloid life.

Nutmeg, Mohave and More

New England skies were clear and blue as I made my way up Interstate 95 towards Connecticut. The drive had been smooth and uneventful, save some traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike. Nothing had quite prepared me for the sight of Manhattan island looming in the distance. I'm not terribly romantic for New York City, but it was an impressive landscape to consider, an image that no movie or television screen can ever hold. I like how crossing the George Washington Bridge just thrusts you into the guts of the Bronx. It's like shaking hands with someone and then shoving your head into their pants to see their dirty drawers. Welcome To New York. Nothing against the Bronx. Culture-shock, that's what it is. That and I-95 traffic into New Haven. The mantra for this trip was "doesn't matter where you are in the world, bumper-to-bumper traffic is pretty much the same."

Nutmeg Festival was a blast; it was too short. My hosts were David and Nancy Cross, who run a little business called Backyard Music. Flatmates were David Neiman and Gary Gallier, the former being a past Winfield champion, the latter also being a former Winfield champ and the maker of my next mountain dulcimer (I'm on the waiting list.) I arrived just in time to set up camera and get ready for the first evening's events, which featured sets by the workshops leaders and included this magical moment in time:

I've never had an audience respond that way before; it was an incredible shared experience - watching the video again gives me chills, in a good way.

Also, for the first time, my workshops spilled over into larger rooms and in one case, we ended up outside in the beautiful sunshine (temps were in the upper 70's, a rare thing in late September.) What great groups! We had such fun in the Primal Dulcimer class, I thought we were going to blow the doors off the place. Word has gotten around about that workshop. I believe someone said it best, "what happens in Primal Dulcimer stays in Primal Dulcimer."

It was a delight to meet Brenda Hunter and Mary Tulin - wow! They're both super-nice people (from Bakersfield!) and what incredible music they played. Gary was amazing as well - the Saturday night show was electrifying.

Like I said, it was too short. But a lot of love, music and pure living went on in those two full days.

Mohave Gets In Gear

The band is in the recording studio next week to cut four tracks and then our first show of the season will be November 3rd on Stage 3 at 9 pm. The event: The Deland Original Music Festival. Joining me will be Roger Zimish (guitar) and Rich Mueller (stand-up bass) from The Bad Boys of Faith along with Mohave tribal drummer Gil Oliver and special guests. It's the biggest one-day music festival in the southeast, $10 gets you in. Don't miss the fun - check out the schedule, make it a date.

In The Works

I get e-mails! Thanks for letting me know what it is that you'd like to see and hear. There is a Mountain Dulcimer Beginner's book in the works along with the "Dulcimerica: Volume 2" CD. There have been some requests for a DVD instruction video, but I'm not sure about it. I'd rather put things out there on the podcast for free - but I encourage private lessons and self-instruction because you've a better chance at developing your own style. Eh - we'll see what happens.

Sometime this month, I'm taking delivery on a Mike Clemmer MC-2 double-fretted (two necks) dulcimer. There's a little dancing going on.