Sunday, November 10, 2013

Smitten, once again

Smitten (pdf lead sheet)

Above is a video of Mark Davis and myself playing my waltz "Smitten" at the end of the Saturday afternoon open mic session during the 2013 Classical Mandolin Society of America convention in Regina, Saskatchewan. Michael Tognetti has done a great job of making a whole series of videos from the convention available. You can find them (along with dozens of excellent photos by Kelly Paul) here:

This particular performance came about because Col Bernau & Lea O'Brien came all the way from Australia to the Regina convention. When I met them Lea reminded me that, years ago, they had contacted me about using "Smitten" and my "Wedding March Set" as part of their wedding festivities in Oz.

Late on Thursday of the convention I was playing some music in a group that included Mark Davis and it occurred to me that Mark would make an ideal guitar partner for a duo performance of "Smitten", and that we could possibly surprise Col and Lea at some point during the convention.

So, I asked Mark and I pulled up the lead sheet of the tune from the Contratopia Tunebook on my tablet for him to look at. We ran through the tune once that night and it was fun. I then signed us up to perform at the Saturday open mic.

Things don't always go smoothly and a larger than usual number of groups wanted to perform on Saturday. Time was short and I told Mark and Jonathan Rudie (who was managing the lineup and keeping time) that we could skip our piece and play it for Col and Lea in a less public forum later.

At the last minute Mark (who was playing in the final group of the concert) suggested we quickly do "Smitten" as the very last piece. So what you see on video begins as a fairly hurried performance (remember Mark had only seen the music once before a couple of days earlier) but settles into something pretty nice.

"Smitten" is a tune I've played hundreds of times with Contratopia but always on guitar. I almost never get to play the melody on mandolin. So this version is fun for me to hear too. I'm usually pretty critical of recordings of myself, especially video, but I quite like this one. I hope you do also. (btw, Lea and Col were in the front row and I think they were pleasantly surprised as well.)

Historical note: Long time readers of this blog (all five of you) might recall that "Smitten" appeared back in June, 2007 in a different youtube video. That one featured a performance of my mandolin orchestra arrangement of the piece by my English friends the Fretful Federation Mandolin Orchestra. The original link to that video seems to have been disabled but I believe you can still view it here:

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