Sunday, March 29, 2020

Road to Gnaw Bone and video experiments

Road to Gnaw Bone (mp3) (pdf)

Today's tune started back around 2004 but wasn't finished until a few weeks ago. The title is a nostalgic one for me. All through the 1970s and most of the 80s I drove back and forth between my home town, Clarksville, Indiana and Bloomington, Indiana hundreds of times. Sometimes I would drive north through Salem and sometimes through Paoli but most of the time I would take the slightly faster route up I65 to Columbus. At Columbus I'd take highway 46 west into Brown County, turn left at the "T" in Nashville and head on into Bloomington.

Gnaw Bone lies between Columbus and Nashville. I rarely, if ever, stopped there but I always smiled at the name. For me the town is best immortalized in a Bill Schwarz (now Willy Schwarz) song titled "Purdy Hoosier Girl." This charming number appears on the first Eclectricity (what a great band with Bob Lucas, Schwarz and Miriam Sturm) album. To hear Bob pronounce "Gnaw Bone" (where the purdy Hoosier girl is found) is worth the price of the record.

In my mind there is also a strong Bill Monroe connection to the town. I haven't done a thorough search but I believe that there are several Monroe instrumental tunes that have titles related to the area. I imagine Bill, on his own or with the Blue Grass Boys, driving up from Nashville, TN to his music park in Beanblossom, just north of Nashville, IN. He would have made this journey hundreds of times also.

Before I65 was built he could take US Highway 31 (which passes right through Clarksville) north, but either route is the "Road to Columbus" Indiana. Heading west on 46 he would pass through the town of Stony Lonesome (sometimes spelled "Stoney Lonesome"). A little further west he would pass through Gnaw Bone and, in the process, he would cross "Salt Creek." I imagine there are more Monroe titles from this area, not to mention tunes relating to Beanblossom itself.

While hunkering down here in Iowa this last couple of weeks I have messed around some with making short tune videos. I used "Road to Gnaw Bone" as my first experiment and I've done a few more since then. There's even a youtube channel now ( where you can see a few more tunes.

I hope you enjoy the tune, in either version. Stay safe, wash your hands. If you have the means please consider supporting one or more of your now unemployed local musicians or artists.

Monday, March 23, 2020

South Bend

South Bend (mp3) (pdf)

Well, it's been a month since my last posting here, and what a month it's been.

A few days after my previous posting I boarded the Amtrak Empire Builder (two days out of Seattle (!), headed for Chicago) in order the catch the Capitol Limited into Union Station, Washington D.C. I met up there with my Contratopia friends and proceeded to have a wonderful, nearly carefree, weekend playing for dances at Glen Echo Park and the smaller Ballroom Blum in Adelphi, MD.

We all knew that COVID-19 was on it's way but we figured, correctly it turned out, that we were ahead of the curve. We had good crowds at Glen Echo for both the Friday Night Contra dance and the Sunday Waltz Time couples dance. We didn't, however, know how close we were cutting it and how rapidly things would change. Luckily none of us picked up any virus symptoms on our flights and train rides and, so far, all of our group have remained healthy here in Iowa and Minnesota.

Being an older guy I have been pretty darn careful these last few weeks and, again, so far, I am in excellent health. However, keeping up my self-imposed once a week tune schedule has taken a back seat to adapting to the new reality. Finally today I got around to recording a new tune for this blog.

I always write a few tunes when I have the chance to spend the night in an Amtrak sleeper car. Today's tune was written around the time we stopped in South Bend on the way to D.C. It was dark by that time but I always love looking out my little window and watching the people boarding and leaving the train at the station stops. This tune was written in D but, after returning home, it became a tune in C major. Finally, last week sometime it found its way down to G major and that's how you'll see and hear it today.

In any event, I hope you enjoy the tune. Most of the musicians I know are out of work these days. If you have any favorite musicians (or artists of any kind) and you can afford to help them out please consider purchasing something from them or sign up for an online lesson. Above all stay safe and help keep others safe by trying not to become a virus carrier.

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