Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Seventy-Six Trombones

Via my friend Bill, here's the Ambassadors of Harmony telling the story of when Gilmore, Pat Conway, the Great Creatore, W.C. Handy and John Phillips Sousa all came to town on the very same historic day!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dad!

1968 Santa's Village

Dad and the boys at Santa's Village, 1968.

Preorder The Devil's Alphabet

My friend and college roommate Daryl Gregory's next novel, The Devil's Alphabet is available for preorder on Amazon.

Daryl Gregory - The Devil's Alphabet

What are you waiting for? Order today!

Moral foundations questionnaire

My results from the moral foundation questionnaire at YourMorals.Org:

I found this questionnaire because a friend sent me a link to the TED talk Jonathan Haidt on the moral roots of liberals and conservatives, which is really good. (Thanks, Becky!)

Banjo versus TV week 86: Jug Band Battle prep and Steve Martin

A check-in on the Banjo versus TV project — J.R.'s ongoing plan to spend more time on his banjo than on TV. This post covers 10/18/2009 through 10/24/2009.
Banjo 545 hrs, TV 480 hours

The Brass Note Jug Band is getting ready to compete in Chicago's Second Annual Battle of the Jug Bands.

We're a geographically diverse band with members from Tennessee, Oregon and Illinois. We won't get the whole band together to practice until the day of the competition so we're practicing by playing along to recordings from albums. Two of our recordings were in different keys than we wanted so I used Audacity to change their pitch to our desired key.

Then I put the songs onto my iPhone, changing the icons to remind me which instrument I'll be playing for each song.

The big challenge for me will be the banjo part on Bay Rum Blues, which calls for the chords F#, B, E7 and A. I could do that without a capo...

F#BE7A

...and the F# chord would require me to finally get good at switching to that F position, something I've been bad at for two years now. I already know A and B. That E7 would be easy.

Or I could capo at the second fret...

F#BE7A

...which makes for still-easier chords. That F# is the same as the E chord I'm used to playing.

I'll probably go with the capo so I can try out a little up-the-neck stuff.

One other thing that's kind of a challenge: The kazoo part in Sun Brimmer's Blues, which you can hear here.


Also in the last week:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Banjo versus TV week 85: Roll your own banjo mute

A check-in on the Banjo versus TV project — J.R.'s ongoing plan to spend more time on his banjo than on TV. This post covers 10/11/2009 through 10/17/2009.
Banjo 542 hrs, TV 476 hours

I had some time to kill at an airport terminal and I had my banjo but no mute. I wanted to practice, but I didn't want to disturb people.

So I rolled a mute out of paper napkins.

Roll, roll, roll your mute. TADA!!!  Er, sorry -- tada.


Also in the last week:

Banjo versus TV week 84: Point your toe if you're going to tag the song

A check-in on the Banjo versus TV project — J.R.'s ongoing plan to spend more time on his banjo than on TV. This post covers 10/4/2009 through 10/10/2009.
Banjo 540 hrs, TV 473 hours

I went to Costello's Bluegrass Jam, played along and earned one more stamp on my sandwich card.

Only five more stamps until my free sandwich!

At the jam, Dale showed me a trick I haven't seen before. You know how you raise your foot to indicate that you're going to end a song at a jam? Like this:

End it.

Well, Dale said that he went to a jam in Florida where they added a pointed toe...

End it and tag it.

...to indicate that you're not just going to end it, but you're going to end it with a tag.


Also in the last week:

  • I ordered up a copy of Oliver Sacks' Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain.

    Musicophilia
  • Saw the Carolina Chocolate Drops at the Old Town School of Folk Music. What a show!

    The banjo was an African instrument, brought to America and appropriated by white men in blackface. (I'm looking at you, Joel Sweeney.)

    It's great to see the Caroline Chocolate Drops bring the banjo back towards its roots. The group's entire style of music draws from a long tradition of African-American string bands.
  • I picked up a couple of CCD CDs that I didn't have:

    Live at Merlefest 2008 Heritage
  • I've been watching two DVDs from Greg Cahill (of Special Consensus fame) that I rented from NetFlix: Blazing Bluegrass Banjo Vol 1: Developing Jamming Skills and Blazing Bluegrass Banjo Vol 2: Expanding Stylistic Variety.

    Blazing Bluegrass Banjo Vol 1: Developing Jamming Skills Blazing Bluegrass Banjo Vol 2: Expanding Stylistic Variety

    They're really good, but NetFlix doesn't include the tabs that ship with the purchased version. So I ordered them up from Amazon.

Cross-posted at J.R. Jenks' blog

Banjo versus TV week 83: Going back to Cripple Creek

A check-in on the Banjo versus TV project — J.R.'s ongoing plan to spend more time on his banjo than on TV. This post covers 9/27/2009 through 10/3/2009.
Banjo 529 hrs, TV 468 hours

David, my banjo teacher, recently discovered that I had never really learned Cripple Creek. I just kind of whizzed past it when I was just starting out.

So this week has been all about Cripple Creek, over and over again.

Here's Tony Trischka, playing it the way it oughta be played.


Also in the last week:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mark your calendar: Chicago's Second Annual Battle of the Jug Bands

It's the Big C's big B. It's the Second City's second annual. The battle that's big in the city that butchers pig.

Yes, it's Chicago's Second Annual Battle of the Jug Bands. We've got a space, a line-up, a poster and everything!

Who?You, watching opening act Northside Southpaws and cheering on six competing jug bands: The Barehand Jug Band, Strictly Jug Nuts, Deep Fried Pickle Project, The Hump Night Thumpers, The Brass Note Jug Band and The Schticklers.
What?No-holds-barred jug band action.
When?Saturday, November 12th at 7:00 pm
Where?Morseland, 1218 W Morse Ave, Chicago, IL 60626, (773)764-8900
Why?Because last year was so much fun.
How much?Seven bucks, cheap!

I'll be there, competing as part of The Brass Note Jug Band. You should be there, too.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Banjo versus TV week 82: Move that tailpiece

A check-in on the Banjo versus TV project — J.R.'s ongoing plan to spend more time on his banjo than on TV. This post covers 9/20/2009 through 9/26/2009.
Banjo 527 hrs, TV 458 hours

I'm continuing to fix up those four low- to mid-end banjos. This week I took a good tailpiece from one banjo and used it to replace the broken tailpiece on another.

Move that tailpiece


Also in the last week:

  • Got a Shubb radius capo for my Nechville banjo. The non-radiused capo wasn't hitting all of the strings.
  • Spent a chunk of time photocopying music from my banjo books to put into one easy-to-carry binder. For a binder, I used the Cardinal 09261 Vertical Easel Ring Binder, which doubles as a music stand.

    Cardinal 09261 Vertical Easel Ring Binder #1 Cardinal 09261 Vertical Easel Ring Binder #1