Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Alice's Garden duo

Alice's Garden duo (mp3) (pdf) (pdf-tab)

A little blast from the past, 2008, this time. This is the mandolin duo version of a waltz that I wrote back then and recorded with guitar and mandolin in March 2008. This duo arrangement is the first piece in my Midwestern Mandolin Duos book that I published in 2010.

Once again I've created a mandolin tablature version of the score in addition to the standard notation. I haven't taken the time to make a tablature version of the whole Duos book, but maybe I will someday.

In March 2008 I said: "Alice's Garden was a roadside produce stand that was located up Highway 52 near the Minnesota state line when we first moved to northeast Iowa. The stand is still there but hasn't been open for many years."

Sadly, the stand is also gone now and I couldn't even spot a trace of it the last couple of times I've looked while driving by. But I made this tune and you can play it if you want.

It's a fine, much-needed rainy day today but I am expecting beautiful mild weather on Friday when Contratopia presents an outdoor concert in the ArtHaus courtyard. Hope to see you there, 7:00 p.m., Water Street, Decorah.

If you can't catch the full band on Friday night it looks like Erik and I will be joined by Pat O'Loughlin the next morning at the Decorah Farmer's Market. Fiddle tunes and vegetables, who could ask for more?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Eight More Miles to India

Eight More Miles to India (mp3) (pdf) (pdf-tab)

Another great summer weekend. I'm honored to be playing, along with Erik Sessions, for an outdoor wedding ceremony this afternoon at the Decorah Fish Hatchery. The weather will be a little on the warm side but, fingers crossed, there is no rain in the forecast.

Later tonight I get to play polkas, schottisches, waltzes and two-steps with my Foot-Notes friends at the Highlandville schoolhouse. This will be our first public dance since the World's Largest Schottische event at Nordic Fest. You can view a fine short video about the WLS event, produced by Bailey Mulholland, at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SF-dLROkOuk (It even has a brief shot of me smiling for the camera!)

Today's tune was written back in April as I was preparing for a presentation on John Coltrane for a jazz history class at Luther College. I've given this talk a few times and I always start by explaining my own introduction to Coltrane's music via the Byrds' recording of their tune "Eight Miles High."

At the beginning of his introductory solo Roger McGuinn quotes a four-note theme directly from Coltrane's tune "India." I play the Byrds' recording first (these days no one in the class can even identify the song) and then the intro to "India."

So back in April I was toying with the idea of bringing a mandolin to class to demonstrate the quote and I ended up writing this dance tune instead. I've played it at a couple of contra dances since then and it seems to work fine. Try it yourself and see what you think.

The recording is at a slower tempo than you might want to use for contra dancing. I also got out my old Flatiron octave mandolin to double the melody and add a little harmony in the B section. And I created a tab version of the sheet music.

I couldn't resist being clever with the title (a little too clever you might justifiably think), combining the Byrds and Coltrane titles with a nod to my hometown anthem "Eight More Miles to Louisville." Also I should point out that last week's tune "Lily's Stars" uses the same four note theme throughout it's melody. It's just a coincidence, though, that these tunes are back to back in this blog.

The photo shows a small island in the Upper Iowa River not far from our house.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Lily's Stars

Lily's Stars (mp3) (pdf) (pdf-tab)

It's been a busy couple of weeks but I finally got around to recording and uploading the first actual new tune of 2015. I have a bunch of tunes written but I chose this one, "Lily's Stars", because it is fairly simple and I like the title. I have also included a mandolin tablature version of the tune.

I actually wrote the tune in mid-June but the title came as the result of a short overnight visit to the camper cabin named Lily at Forestville State Park in Minnesota this week. The weather was perfect and the stars that night were extraordinary.

It's hard to believe that it's already been two weeks since I played two dances at Nordic Fest with Foot-Notes. The second dance featured over 1800 people dancing to Beth Rotto's tune "World's Largest Schottische" (stream the studio recording here, or purchase a download at CD Baby or iTunes), more than double the number needed to best the World's Largest Polka record recognized by Guinness. (The Guinness folks are reluctant to create a new category for schottische and prefer to consider it a form of polka; go figure.)

I also played a 2 hour show with Erik Sessions at Nordic Fest to a great afternoon crowd and then we played a shorter concert the following Thursday for the Decorah Lawn Chair Night audience. This is my first weekend without a gig since the 4th of July, a nice break, but I've got several things coming up soon.

Next weekend, on August 15th, I'll join Foot-Notes at the Highlandville schoolhouse for a dance and then the following Friday, the 21st, Pat and Patrice are coming to town for an outdoor Contratopia concert at ArtHaus. If you are in the area come check us out.
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