Sunday, February 03, 2008

Think of What You've Done

Where to start? How about the jam last Friday evening with nine Bluegrassers in attendance? In terms of numbers, that's a few more than we would normally have at a private jam due to the possibility of having the noise level get out of control. While in fact it did get loud at times, I found it to be a very enjoyable evening regardless. Maybe I’m mellowing out. No, that’s not it; it was just a lot of fun! We started at 7:30 PM and didn’t end until 1:00 AM.

I started out playing the banjo but wasn't doing much with it, so I handed it over to Mike Scott and took over on the upright bass. As a result of playing the bass I had the opportunity to experience what the phrase "blistered fingers" really means. I played for some 4 hours pretty much nonstop. If you consider the fact that I'm not a bass player, you'll realize my fingers aren't toughened up in the appropriate places yet. Youch! I think that's going to change though, because playing bass is a ball. Who needs a banjo? Actually, I learned quite a bit from trying to play bass and it has made my resolve to play banjo all the more.

With the banjo in mind, I've been working on a tune called Think of What You’ve Done from an old Ricky Skaggs long play album titled Family & Friends. I bought the album when I was still in high school, so you know it’s a few years old. I remember buying it at the music store in Lancaster Mall; I think the store was called A & A Records or something like that.

I used to hang out at the Radio Shack store in the mall every day after school. You know how people that hang around skating rinks become known as rink rats? Well, I was the local Radio Shack rat; not the snitch type, but rather the hang around type. Anyway, I rushed right on over to Radio Shack, removed the cellophane wrap and put the album on one of the turntables and cranked the volume.

Wow! Did I ever get a surprise! About 5 notes into the first song I reached for that volume control and couldn’t get it to zero fast enough. My face turned five shades of red as I wondered what everyone around me was thinking. Actually, I think I knew what everyone was thinking! I had already grown used to being called names like "hayseed" and whatnot and it didn’t bother me a bit, but for some reason I wasn’t ready for the next wave with this Bluegrass stuff. That high lonesome sound is pretty extreme when you think about it.

That was the first and only time I have ever been embarrassed by playing music (except for when I’m trying to play it myself, that is). I had been playing a lot of Skaggs’ material but it was his country stuff; I just didn’t expect the album to be Bluegrass! In fact, I really didn’t know a whole lot about Bluegrass, so it was a bit of a shocker. For the record though, I love this album; it’s top drawer all the way.

I’ve been working on the intro to Think of What You’ve Done for about 4 days now. Nothing in the intro is particularly difficult in and of itself, but trying to play the right licks in the proper sequence is proving to be a bit of a challenge for me. I know the rolls in it, but I just can’t seem to get my brain and hands to work together with regard to the sequence of licks. And of course, timing is everything to get the right feel for this song. On any song, I know my timing is good when I hear that nice steady plunk that results from playing the 5th string repeatedly. Now that is music to my ears!

I worked on this tune for 3 hours in total yesterday, so it shouldn’t surprise you when I tell you I didn’t sleep well last night because I couldn’t get the tune out of my head. But, can anyone offer a suggestion as to why the Del McCoury Band singing "We’re Gonna Have A Bluegrass Christmas" was a contender as well?

I am so very tired right now.

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Blogger jack said...

How did you manage to play three hours without anyone telling you that " you spend all your time on that banjo and ignore me, and it all sounds the same anyway"

Keep on Pickin!!!

Monday, February 04, 2008 2:50:00 PM  
Anonymous fungus said...

Hay Mike welcome to the real world of music--Hard work.Believe me Ive spent more than one night when I couldnt sleep because some tune was in my head.But believe me.Its all worth it when you play it at a jam or on stage and it comes out just the way it should.That hard work is soon forgotten. Now getting to the Friday night private jam we had.WOW I realy enjoyed it.You did a great job on the Bass.But dont give up the banjo.You are coming along realy good on it..Like you said the jam was a bit larger than it usualy is...But I think thats ok.It was nice to jam with a few people that we havnt seen or jammed with for some time..Glad to see Bob and Mike there.I sure was happy with the great work Larry has done on his songs.You can realy tell that he has been working hard on them..Everyone has done a lot of improving in the last few months.Im happy to be a part of this group of jammers.I know Ive learned a lot.Ive been working hard at trying to work out a few new instrumentals.Im glad that I have the transcribe program to help me out.It would be a lot harder if I didnt have it.Well I better close for nowbefore everyone gets bored with my going ons..ha ha Hope the next jam goes as well as the last.Lets make sure that it does by preparing ourselves with lots of practicing. I love Bluegrass music Fungus

Monday, February 04, 2008 3:04:00 PM  
Blogger Michael Floyd said...


From your comment regarding "it all sounds the same anyway," it sounds as though you have been reading the Bluegrass Widow's blog. Hmmmm...

I mangaed to get 3 hours of practice in because the Widow was out for the day. I was supposed to be cleaning the house.

Monday, February 04, 2008 4:08:00 PM  

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