Posted by bj on Sunday, October 4, 2009
Last night The Absolutely String Band, aka the Phillipsburg Easton OT jam group, played a set at the Art Center Benefit, then we snagged a room downstairs and jammed for more than three hours.
We were on fire!
First of all, it was a near perfect number of instruments- three fiddles, two guitars, a mando and a banjo. Not too many, not too few. We're normally the 2nd and 4th tuesday and were all suffering from withdrawal during our unusually long end of the month hiatus (and the ones who did come were all the hardcore addicts) and we had our favorite room available AND it was now cool enough to enjoy it. We'd all learned a bunch of new tunes at festivals over the last couple months too, and finally knew those tunes well enough to kick them off strongly.
Upstairs was . . . interesting. We ended up playing a couple, then sitting and watching some Mexican Dancers, then playing a few more, then watching the Dancers again after their costume change. Then we got a reprieve and headed downstairs, which we did after those who wanted to hit the wine a bit.
Hmm, maybe that's how most of us got loosened up! Me, I just drank a glass of soda. I know I was in the minority, and might have been a minority of one in more ways than one.
Anyway, I don't think we played all those tunes that fast ever. You know we were playing fast when David, who has been fiddling for well over 30 years, says, after we wrapped a particularly fast tune, "Hey, why don't we play a REALLY fast one next!" with a roll of his eyes and a smile.
And I kicked off one tune too fast and ended up hanging on by the seat of my pants. I admitted it when we wrapped, by asking if anyone else had ever kicked off a tune too damn fast, and we all had a good laugh about it.
David and Rick played some new tunes, a few of which I was getting a lot, if not most, of, and a couple of which I just listened to (that really crooked one wasn't sinking in the first twenty times I heard it!)
I played my fingers sore and them some.
And then today I went and played with Jane for roughly three hours. We busked in downtown Lambertville. It was a blast, as usual. No dancing dogs today though.
Jane finally yelled UNCLE. I was just getting warmed up. :-)
Geez, now I won't get to jam again until Tuesday night . . .
Monday, October 5, 2009 @2:42:04 AM
Good to hear everything worked out the benefit. Sorry as usual I couldn't make it. I sure haven't stopped playing tho. At this point I have about 20 or so songs that I know well and I'm working on adding drones and double stops to those. And over last weekend I picked up 2 more new tunes. Not to mention my lessons started back up :O) I'm hoping to get in another fire or 2 before winter sets in.
Monday, October 5, 2009 @2:04:45 PM
Sounds like a great weekend of playing! I am so happy for you that you have found folks to play with on a regular basis. As you know, it is key. For me, it is the vehicle and the destination, the inspiration and the reward. And it just keeps getting better and better.
Monday, October 5, 2009 @2:11:36 PM
Well said, Judy! I think I have to steal that . . . the vehicle and the destination, the inspiration and the reward. Wow.
And yeah, it just keeps getting better and better.
What's been really great is the very strong friendships that are developing. The jammers all care strongly about each other. It's so nice to see! And it makes it that much more fun to play music with these people.
Monday, October 5, 2009 @3:13:09 PM
Steal away! I am so tired today, I am amazed that anything that I type or say today makes any sense!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009 @3:30:39 AM
I love reading about your OT jam group. We have begun one up here nearby, 4 of us. At first I tried playing the fiddle but am just not there yet. So I play mando and we have a guitar, and clawhammer banjo and pennywhistle. I really wanted to play the fiddle, but my level does not advance the music. So, I do love reading about your adventures. I am thinking that maybe next year a few fiddle tunes for me to bring to the group.
My teacher said I should concentrate on one tune, memorize it, play it to perfection, and bring it to the group. And then add one at a time in this manner. So I've been working on Blackberry blossom for this.
But, I love reading about your group, BJ. I would have been drinking soda and have been in the minority as well.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009 @4:49:37 AM
Stephanie, don't wait. Take the fiddle with you, stop worrying about perfection and play at least one or two tunes on the fiddle every time you jam. Maybe more. THAT is what will move you forward. I'm sorry to disagree with your teacher, but I do. Strongly. It's when you get the "Aw, the hell with it, let's PLAY!" attitude that things will start changing for you. If you keep working for perfection you'll never achieve anything.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009 @9:10:24 PM
Memorizing is a linear learning method intended to perfect a tune for performance. That's on the other side of the coin entirely. If that's what you want to aim for, so be it. Just recognize that there are other ways of enjoying the fiddle. Jamming for the pure fun of it, does not necessarily grow from memorization. It comes from a different part of your brain. You are not performing when you jam. You are simply playing music the best you can with others who are playing the best they can. On a good day, it works.
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