Sunday, September 17, 2017

September Waltz


September Waltz (mp3) (pdf)

A waltz today, written and recorded before some late week challenges. The photo is from our front sidewalk, facing west.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Propsland


Propsland (mp3) (pdf)

Just last weekend I drove up to Minneapolis to play for the Saturday night contra dance at Tapestry with Pat's Propellers (Pat O'Loughlin, Karen Mueller, Linda Breitag and me). We had a great time, as usual, and the next morning I started writing today's tune. "Propsland" went through some changes early in the week but it was ready to record by Thursday. Part of the idea was to make a tune with not so many 8th notes.

The photo above is of my "office" at the Winneshiek Farmers Market last Saturday morning. I played solo for the first half and then Erik Sessions joined me for the last set. It's always fun to play at markets like this. I especially enjoy seeing little kids discovering live acoustic music.

Yesterday in Decorah was really fun. Erik and I played the opening set for the Live on Water Street festival in late afternoon and then we joined our Western Home String Band buddies (last night featuring Bill Deutsch, Sue Otte, Sam Beard and Rob Hervey, along with caller Robin Nelson) in the evening for our first local contra dance of the season, also on Water Street at the Lingonberry. The weather was ideal and the music was good.

Finally, on Wednesday this week (Sept. 13) I will once again play a couple of hours of solo mandolin at Java John's. Stop by in if you are in town.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Dover South


Dover South (mp3) (pdf)

This week's new tune is a waltz that takes its title from a lovely area of Piscataquis County, Maine known as Dover South Mills. Brans Mill Pond, pictured above, is the source of the Black Stream that I used for a title a few weeks ago. Thanks to whoever took the photo.

I had a great weekend of music, playing with Erik Sessions on Friday night in McGregor, Iowa and on Saturday morning at the local farmers market and with Pat's Propellers (Pat, Linda and Karen) last night in Minneapolis.  A lot of miles and much good music, today though (after arriving home around 2:30 a.m.) I am taking it easy.

Just in case anyone imagines the life of an older, gigging mandolin player to be financially lucrative, let me just say that the speeding ticket I earned on Friday night pretty much offsets any profit for the weekend. The music, though, was valuable beyond measure.

Next Saturday, however, Erik and I are featured as the opening act of the Live On Water Street festival just a few blocks from home. I should come out financially ahead on that. Our friends at the Water Street Music Series have created another fun event that would be well worth a visit if you are in the area.

The festival ends at 8:00 but Erik and I will then also be playing for our local contra dance that night, held downtown at the Lingonberry event space. Unfortunately this means that I will have to miss a concert featuring acclaimed Danish musicians Gangspil, along with Norwegian Vidar Skrede a few blocks away Vesterheim's Bethania Church. So much to do, so many tunes.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Ain't Over


Ain't Over (mp3) (pdf)

This week's tune should probably go a little faster than it is presented here. Hopefully the rhythmic, um, inconsistencies won't be bother you as much as they do me. Obviously, however, they don't bother me enough to spend more time trying to tighten it up. Perfection has never been the goal with these blog recordings and I think I can live with this one as it is.

There's a kind of cool effect (at least to my ears) when the harmony part comes in because it's recorded with the guitar and melody parts playing out loud in the room, thereby bleeding into the harmony track. Oh, and there's a neighborhood lawn mower somewhere in the background too.

I've been going through the early entries in this blog because I'm putting together what might become a tunebook that I may or may not have created and printed in time for the upcoming Classical Mandolin Society of America convention in Milwaukee at the end of October.

Visiting the old tunes and recordings is fun and I'm thinking I might post a couple of them again for any readers who might have missed them the first time.

So today I'll call your attention to a tune from February of 2010 called "Something About a Queen." All of the Neil Young fans know where that title comes from. It's a fairly unusual tune for me and never gets played at gigs but when I listened to the recording recently I enjoyed it quite a bit. Maybe you will too.

Something About a Queen (mp3) (pdf)


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Starbird Siding


Starbird Siding (mp3) (pdf)

Traveling north on Maine highway 7 between Dexter and Dover-Foxcroft you will find Starbird Siding to be the first road on the left, shortly after you pass Board Eddy on the right. I'm guessing that "Siding" is a railway reference, there is an old rail track that crosses the road just west of highway 7. "Starbirds" is listed as a locality in Piscataquis County but I don't recall ever seeing anything like an old town there when driving on the short road. In any event it's a great name for this week's tune.

The photo above of the cool amphitheater (the "Bowl") at Highland Prairie Lutheran Church was taken this morning before playing with Foot-Notes for an outdoor picnic event. After we played two sets in the bandstand up the hill from this photo we walked down to the Bowl and played a short acoustic set just for fun. A very memorable gig.

This is a busy week for me. On Tuesday I will drive up to Minneapolis and play solo mandolin from 5:30-7:30 at the Mill City Farmers Market, which should be lots of fun. The next night, Wednesday, I will play my monthly solo mandolin gig at Java John's in Decorah. Finally on Saturday night I will join the Western Home String Band for our annual first year student dance at Luther College.

I am daily reminded of how lucky I am to be able to play music of my choosing with good friends for wonderful audiences on a regular basis. When I'm not playing gigs I get to work on composing, creating music books and various other projects. I don't take this for granted, I am truly grateful that I have these opportunities. With luck I'll get to continue this work for a long time to come. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Black Stream Crossing


Black Stream Crossing (mp3) (pdf)

This week's tune (2017, week 32) is a nice jig in F, presented as a duo for two mandolins.

I went through a couple of titles before settling on this one. I'm once again mining the rich vein of places names in Piscataquis County, Maine (which I have just learned is the same size as the state of Connecticut, with a population of around 17,000) for this tune and I think there will be more to come.

The photo above is not of Black Stream but it resembles what I imagine when I think of the spot where Board Eddy Rd. crosses the actual stream. We have often visited the Dover-Foxcroft area in the month of August (although not this year) and this shot was taken overlooking a different creek during August 2009. I hope we will be able to return to this beautiful area soon.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Enchanted Forest


Enchanted Forest (mp3) (pdf)

The photo above was taken in August 2009 and it might be a picture of part of the woods that housed the original "Enchanted Forest" near Sangerville, Maine. It was a true dream world for children and their families created by Ardell Flanders and the Flanders family, full of wonderful wooden characters from the world of fairy tales.

In the 1980s and 90s we tried to visit the Forest whenever we were out east and it was always a highlight of our trip. There seems to be little information online about this place that delighted thousands of people during its heyday and some of what you do find is mistaken. I could only find one photo but I'm not using it here because I want to respect the privacy of the child in that photo, plus it only shows a tiny piece of the actual site.

In any event I thought of the Forest while I was casting about for a title for this week's tune. I hope you enjoy the tune itself. We certainly enjoyed the Forest while it lasted.
 
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