Thursday, October 20, 2016

Postcards From the Crater: nos: 3 & 4

Postcards From the Crater no. 3: Phelps Park Bandshell (pt. 1 mp3) (pt. 2 mp3) (pt. 3 mp3)
Postcards From the Crater no. 4: Twin Springs Meadow (pt. 1 mp3) (pt. 2 mp3) (pt. 3 mp3)

Here are two more recordings of Postcards from the new book. I played these, along with the other eight, at Java John's on Tuesday night. Here's the setlist from that gig:

Java John’s solo mandolin, October 18, 2016

Set 1
1. Swarbrick Sends a Tune to Iowa (Goodin) / O’Neill’s Favorite (trad.) / Flowers of Edinburgh (James Oswald, 1710-1769)
2. Oswald: Divertimento II for solo mandolin
3. Postcards From the Crater no. 1: Twin Bridges
4. Deer Track, June 9, 2013 / Hogwart’s Express / Highlandville, May 2004
5. Postcards From the Crater no. 2: Butterfly Prairie
6. Telemann: Menuets 1728 – no. 4 & 14 (G.P. Telemann, 1681-1767)
7. St. Louis Railyard
8. Postcards From the Crater no. 3: Phelps Park Bandshell
9. Oswald: Airs for the Seasons / The Capsicum
10. Postcards From the Crater no. 4: Twin Springs Meadow
11. Alice’s Garden
12. Postcards From the Crater no. 5: Pines West

                                                           Set 2
1. Postcards From the Crater no. 6: Ice Cave Road
2. Sauli: Partita for Mandolin III (Filippo Sauli, c. 1710)
3. Postcards From the Crater no. 7: Lower Palisades
3. Bach: Bourees I & II, 3rd Cello Suite (J.S. Bach, 1685-1750)
4. Postcards From the Crater no. 8: The Mighty Oak
5. Deer Track October 2002
6. Oswald: Airs for the Seasons / The Ambrosia
7. Postcards From the Crater no. 9: Dunning’s Spring Falls
8. Telemann: Menuets 1728 – no. 1 & 2
9. Postcards From the Crater no. 10: Dug Road

Thanks to everyone who came out to JJ's to hear the music, whether intentionally or not.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Postcards From the Crater: nos. 1 & 2

Postcards From the Crater no. 1: Twin Bridges (pt. 1 mp3) (pt. 2 mp3) (pt. 3 mp3)
Postcards From the Crater no. 2: Butterfly Prairie (pt. 1 mp3) (pt. 2 mp3) (pt. 3 mp3)

Here is a second installment of Postcards sound recordings. I hope to post the remaining 6 by the end of the month.

As stated in my previous post, these are short pieces modeled after James Oswald's 18th century divertimentos for "guittar" and titled after some of my favorite places here in the Decorah area.

The photo above was taken in July 2015 while walking our dog in what is officially known as the Community Prairie and Butterfly Garden.

I'll be playing all ten of these Postcards tomorrow night at Java John's Coffee House, along with music by James Oswald and others, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. Drop by if you would like to hear some solo mandolin music.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Postcards from the Crater previews

Postcards from the Crater no. 8: The Mighty Oak (1st pt. mp3) (2nd pt. mp3) (3rd pt. mp3)
Postcards from the Crater no. 6: Ice Cave Road (1st pt. mp3) (2nd pt. mp3) (3rd pt. mp3)

Early in 2016 I started writing short pieces modeled after the Divertimentos that James Oswald composed and published in the 1750s in London. At this point I have nine of these pieces that I like well enough to share, each with three short movements.

I've been playing them before or after Oswald's own pieces during my solo mandolin coffee house gigs this year and now my plan is to turn them into a small book that I intend to have available at the Classical Mandolin Society of America annual convention in Valley Forge, early next month.

I recorded a couple of these this morning and I'm posting them here as a start towards recording them all before the book is published. Musicians often ask if there are sound files to go with my books and I haven't usually taken the time (and it does take me some time to create acceptable recordings) to do that.

Postcards from the Crater is the working title for the collection. This is a breakthrough for me because creating titles is a constant problem and I was quite pleased when this popped into my mind. A couple of years ago we learned that our little town sits on top of a meteorite crater, you can read more about it here.

Using the Crater as a way to gather the pieces under one meteoric umbrella allows me to think about titles for each individual divertimento. I still have a couple of weeks before I have to finalize those titles so for this blog I will use the numbers that I currently have for them.

So here are recordings of Postcards no. 8 and no. 6. I should mention that all of these pieces will be easy to intermediate in their difficulty and they should equally fun to play on the fiddle. See what you think.....

Friday, September 02, 2016

Maple Syrup Cow / Summer Kitchen Waffle Time

Maple Syrup Cow / Summer Kitchen Waffle Time (mp3) (Maple pdf) (Waffle pdf)

Two recently composed dance tunes with a breakfast theme, played a little below dance tempo, with a few more mistakes than usual.

August was a great month for music. I was lucky enough to play for contra dances every Saturday night: twice at Tapestry, once at the Seed Savers barn and once for hundreds of brand new First Year students at Luther College. In addition I was honored to play at a country wedding and enjoyed another of my monthly solo mandolin gigs at Java John's.

The first tune was finished early in the summer and the second was written the morning after Nordic Fest ended. A number of my musician friends already have this tune with the title "July 31, 2016." It's current title came to me after a tasty meal during a recent visit to Door County, WI. (See photo above)

Speaking of Java John's, here's my setlist from Wed., August 24 (the night after the 8 inch rainfall in Decorah, which delivered our second 500 year flood in less than 10 years):

Java John’s solo mandolin, August 24, 2016

Set 1
1. Swarbrick Sends a Tune to Iowa (Goodin) / O’Neill’s Favorite (trad.) / Flowers of Edinburgh (James Oswald, 1710-1769)
2. Oswald: Airs for the Seasons / The Ambrosia
3. Blake: Bright Days (Norman Blake, 1938- )
4. Playford Tunes: George’s Maggot / Chestnut (from the Dancing Master, 1651-1728)
5. O’Carolan : Hewlett / Carolan’s Concerto (Turlough O’Carolan, 1670-1738)
6. St. Louis Railyard
7. Telemann: Menuets 1728 – no. 17 & 15 (G.P. Telemann, 1681-1767)
8. Oswald: Airs for the Seasons / The Capsicum
9. O’Carolan: Lament / Morgan Megan
10. Unbelievable

                                                           Set 2
1. August Deer Tracks: August 18, 2002; August 2002; August 31, 2009
2. Oswald: Airs for the Seasons / The Arbutus
3. The North Georgia Hills
4. English Guittar music: Andante (F.T. Schumann) / Allegro (R. Straube) / Minuet (R. Bremner) / Allegretto (E. Light)
5. Playford Tunes: The Happy Marriage / The Last New Vagaries
6. August 2, 2013 / August 7, 2016
7. Oswald: Airs for the Seasons / The Candy-Tuft
8. O’Carolan: Carolan’s Draught / Planxty George Brabazon, no. 2
9. Telemann: Menuets 1728 – no. 3 & 4
10. Maple Syrup Cow / Summer Kitchen Waffle Time

As you can see I gave the Italian composers a rest and focused mostly on music from the British Isles; Oswald, O'Carolan and tunes from the Playford collections. My next scheduled Java John's date is Wednesday, Sept. 21. Drop in if you feel like it. I haven't thought too much about the musical menu beyond wanting to play some more of the Oswald "Airs for the Seasons."

Before September 21 I have a couple of dances to play with Foot-Notes, including a special fundraiser for repair of the Highlandville Schoolhouse. If you can't make it to this event please consider a donation to this most worthy cause. I also am looking forward to joining Pat's Propellers at the Squirrel Moon Contra and Square Dance Weekend, Sept. 16-18. Who knows, today's tunes might make an appearance there.


Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Swarbrick Sends a Tune to Iowa

Swarbrick Sends a Tune to Iowa (mp3) (pdf)

Dave Swarbrick left this world on June 3, 2016 (a few hours before Muhammed Ali) and I wrote this tune in response later that same day. I've been listening to his music since around 1970, starting with Fairport Convention, then going back to those incredible records with Martin Carthy and on into his later work. I can't claim to have heard everything he ever recorded but I never heard anything from him that wasn't inspiring.

I was lucky to have seen him play in person twice in Bloomington, Indiana (I think, but maybe it was in Louisville), sometime in the late 70s-early 80s. Once with Martin Carthy and once with Simon Nicol. Both shows were brilliant. Recently I have been especially inspired by the collection of tunes he composed for Duncan Wood, recorded under the title Swarbtricks (2013).

I struggled with what to use for a title for this tune because I feel like his actual friends should have the right to use most of the titles I came up with: "Swarb" (I'm looking forward to that being a great tune) or "Swarbrick" or "Letter to Swarb" or "Swarb's Second Obit", etc. So, I came up with this title with an Iowa reference. It's a little ironic because the tune was actually written in Carrboro, NC, but Iowa was its intended home.

Anyway I hope you enjoy the tune. Take a little time if you can and listen to some of the real thing. There are plenty of recordings and videos to hear and watch. One of my favorites is the early recording Rags, Reels, and Airs, which also happens to feature lots of great mandolin playing.

The photo above is from a recent auction catalog where it was accompanied by this description:

An early 20th Century Gibson A1 Mandolin, previously owned by, toured, and recorded with Dave Swarbrick (Fairport Convention), purchased from him by the current owners late father, complete with strap, later fitted pick up (Headway - Needs pre amp) embossed strap and hard case featuring "Fairport" lettering and cloth cover. Email from "Swarb" to him in 2012, stating "If I play Mandolin with martin, fairport, anybody in fact its this one.....never recorded with any other instrument"

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Box Elder Stomp, live from Java John's, 7-13-16

Box Elder Stomp (mp3) (pdf)

One more recording from my July solo mandolin night at Java John's. This one is a solo version of a tune that Contratopia recorded on our Smitten CD long ago in combination with another swing-style tune called Lucy's Stroll.

The Box Elder Stomp is a fairly straightforward blues in G. Playing it solo allows me to wander a bit, for good or ill, and I enjoyed playing the tune quite a bit that night. Special thanks goes out to the Mystery Whistler at the finish. (I think I know who you are but I don't want to reveal your identity to the world just yet.)

The sheet music presented here includes the lead sheet for both tunes. Check out the Contratopia recording for further guidance.

Thanks once again to all the folks who have been turning out for these solo mandolin gigs. I love doing them. The next one will be on Wednesday August 24, stop by if you are in Decorah that night.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Woodhaven, solo version live from Java John's

Woodhaven (mp3, solo version) (pdf)

Another live recording from Java John's last week. I played this tune as the final number of the evening. I originally posted a recording of the two part version of this piece back in July 2008 but it works fine as a solo piece also. 

The photo above was taken in August 2009 near Blanchard, Maine, not too many miles away from where this music was first written down. The recording was done with my now vintage Zoom H4 recorder using the built-in mics, direct to mp3 at 320kbps and lightly edited using an even more vintage version Sound Forge Studio.
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