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Magic happens . . .

Posted by bj on Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Every now and again the stars align just so, the right players show up, the groove is set early and everyone stays right in it, and what's usually a good jam turns into an exceptional jam! That happened last night in Phillipsburg NJ.

I met David and my friend Suze earlier for dinner at this amazing restaurant, a hole in the wall place called Josefina's on Butler Street in Easton PA, which specializes in Caribbean Cuisine. It felt like we were eating in Pete's family kitchen. He took very good care of us and the food was out of this world! So the three of us were already in very good spirits when we got to the Arts Center.

Suze is a dear friend who has never played oldtime, but who is an exceptional guitarist. You can hear her on our tune entitled "Stronger" in my music files. I've been trying to get her to this jam for ages, since I knew she'd be able to get into the groove fast. Boy, did she!

I've come to the realization over the last few months that most of the guitarists find it hard to play a tune they've never heard before and don't know the chords to, even if they know the key we're in, which they always do. A few times I've ended up grabbing a guitar and figuring out the chords for the guitar folks, a talent I've always had (even though I suck at guitar) and always taken for granted, and won't anymore, since it seems to be a rare one. Suze also has that talent, and much stronger and faster than I have! Not only that but she figured out in short order exactly what type of backup would work with oldtime. Having her in my right ear was just wonderful. And by the huge grin on her face and the occasional SuzeGiggle I heard, she was having a great amount of fun with it. So that definitely perked me up even more than I already was. I knew she would love playing OT, and it was great to have her there. I hope she becomes a regular.

David and Rick, my two most wonderful fiddlers, were also there. Rick was just the other side of Suze, and David was to my left, so my ears were full of the most amazing sound!

Everyone else who was there also stuck right in the groove. Turnout was good, considering we're in the middle of both vacations and back to school nutziness.

On a personal note, the two tunes I managed to learn this week, I also managed to kick off well enough to get us rolling. I also kicked off many of the other tunes we did, since, as usual, my call for a tune in a certain key would get me nothing but blank stares and mouths hanging open most of the time.

Mike, our mando player, did manage to kick off a couple. He's really coming along very nicely, considering he isn't on the internet like the rest of us. Now that he's got a cd of the tunes, which he got last night thanks to Judith, I betcha he'll come along even quicker! I met Mike at the bluegrass jam locally. I'm really happy he's decided to play OT with us.

David and Rick do occasionally kick off a tune. But I think they hold back since I don't know all the tunes they do. I wish they wouldn't do that, since I can sometimes learn those tunes on the fly, or at least most of the tune. Last night I managed to get most of Indian Nation, Green Willis, and I Want To Get My Moustache Blacked.

It was also fun hearing Suze giggle every time she heard a tune name. Geez, I wonder why?

4 comments on “Magic happens . . .”

chippyvan Says:
Wednesday, August 26, 2009 @1:30:24 PM

I have to agree that Suze was amazingly quick at picking up the chords and it sure did seem like she had played old time before. Hope she becomes a regular.

bj Says:
Wednesday, August 26, 2009 @1:47:50 PM

I'll tell her you said so, Rick. I did get an email from her this morning. This is what she said:

"I did have a lot of fun. At first it seems like what you have to do as
a guitar backup is boring. In a way it is, I mean it is so simple. . .
but when you go with it, you can adapt it to be a kind of glue for
everything else. And I guess you can do it badly or well.

It is so easy that it doesn't take long for you to get into that groove
where you can let it take you. Especially when there are some really
skilled people around you playing the fiddle.

It was a lot of fun. Thanks for dragging me."

chippyvan Says:
Thursday, August 27, 2009 @7:55:44 AM

I really like backing up OT fiddle tunes on guitar and don't find it boring at all. Besides just strumming the chords, there are many ways to add to the interest of what you do as a backup guitarist.

Besides getting the chords right and getting the timing on some of those crooked tunes correct, there is the whole area of adding bass runs and chord inversions to the backup. It is really a whole nother world of technique that can really add to the tunes.

bj Says:
Thursday, August 27, 2009 @9:00:33 AM

She wasn't there for the crooked tunes we did, since she left before we got there. :-)

And I think her point was it wasn't boring at all once she got into it.

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