The READIN Family Album
(March 2005)


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Songs are just interesting things to do with the air.

Tom Waits

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Saturday, April 21st, 2012

🦋 Speed

I was at the song swap this afternoon -- for the first time -- I am certainly going to be going back there, and to hope that Deena and Rebecca ask us to perform there sometime. What a great pool of talent! I played "Devil's Dream", and I still can't quite believe how fast I played it -- for weeks now I have been thinking, "well, I'm playing it much slower than the standard tempo; but on the other hand I'm getting a really sweet, romantic sound in that slow pace"; but it turns out one can also get a really sweet, romantic sound in a fast tempo, too! I think I was still not playing just as fast as the bluegrass fiddlers I've heard playing this song... But just being in front of the audience really pushed me, drove me into the song. I also played (a bit slower, but again faster than I have been practicing the song) a new composition called (bet you never did) "The Modesto Kid". -- I also recorded that tune and am loving listening to it. Probably will upload to Soundcloud soon.

Update: Here it is!

posted evening of April 21st, 2012: Respond
➳ More posts about Fiddling

🦋 The lie that helps us see the truth

Edward O. Wilson's article for Harvard Magazine on the biological origins of the arts includes the startling insight that metaphor can be seen as a way of compensating for the limited range of human senses. (Thanks for the link, Joe!)

posted morning of April 21st, 2012: Respond
➳ More posts about Pretty Pictures

🦋 Let's Listen to

Kimberley Rew!

You're welcome.

posted morning of April 21st, 2012: 2 responses
➳ More posts about Music

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

🦋 Danko/Manuel/Helm

Rest in peace, Levon.

posted evening of April 19th, 2012: Respond
➳ More posts about Obituaries

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

🦋 New Book! -- Just in time...

I read about half of The Planets last week before realizing I wasn't getting it... restarted it yesterday and over the last two days, I must have read the opening pages twenty times. It is just not clicking for me. Very happy then, to come home and find a new book in the mail from Amazon, Ondaatje's The Cat's Table -- which Juan Gabriel Vásquez said is one of the finest English-language novels of 2011. Here I go!

posted evening of April 18th, 2012: Respond
➳ More posts about The Planets

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

🦋 Lakes of Titan

Ladies and gentlemen, courtesy of Sylvia researching her science class paper, I give you the lakes of Titan:

posted evening of April 17th, 2012: Respond
➳ More posts about Sylvia

Monday, April 16th, 2012

🦋 Writing about sex

Sex, as an apt pretext for breaking the monotony; motor-sex; anxiety-sex; the habit of sex, as any glut that can well become a burden; colossal, headlong, frenzied, ambiguous sex, as a game that baffles then enlightens then baffles again; pretense-sex, see-through sex.
I found the last fifty or so pages of Almost Never -- and especially the last couple of pages! -- gorgeous, brilliant writing; and at the same time a bit disappointing. All this beautiful prose, you think as you're reading it, and all just in the service of how horny Demetrio is. The final scene -- and it feels very much like what the whole book has been building towards -- is the deflowering of his blushing bride. Which, great -- Sada's descriptions of sex and of horniness are excellent descriptions, his language moving; but where is it moving you to? It just didn't seem to go anywhere in particular, for me. There was plenty that I would have liked to know more about, plot-wise; but the loss of Renata's virginity just doesn't strike me as a plausible destination for the book. Nice writing though.

posted evening of April 16th, 2012: Respond
➳ More posts about Almost Never

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

🦋 Rehearsing...

Hm, looks like me and John should start coming up with a set list... On my 42nd birthday, Friday the 18th, we'll be featured artists at Michael's Songwriter's Circle, at Tapastry in Montclair. Today's practice session had a couple of great new and old tunes in it...

  1. Get up high, and come down easy
  2. The Sailor's Hornpipe
  3. Suicide is painless ("Here's the tune M*A*S*H stole from Johnny Mandel, we're stealing it back!" shouts the guitarist)
  4. The Swallowtail Jig
  5. The Galway Girl
  6. Danko/Manuel
  7. Coulter Hue
  8. Long Black Veil
  9. Commuter Rail
  10. Bonaparte's Retreat
  11. (an abortive) See Emily Play
  12. East Tennessee Blues
  13. The L&N don't stop here anymore
  14. Carrie Brown
Let's listen to the Drive-By Truckers singing "Danko/Manuel".
Tapes of some of our rehearsal tunes will be forthcoming... Some of these came out really nicely!

Update: Here ya go! Now with download enabled.

posted afternoon of April 15th, 2012: 1 response
➳ More posts about Mountain Station

🦋 Martha Takes Times Square

Everybody needs to go look at Martha's splendid images -- they're on display over at Artists Wanted -- you can click a button to collect the Appalachian murder ballads and lakes of fire she paints, and help the images win a trip to Times Square, to the big screens!

posted afternoon of April 15th, 2012: Respond

🦋 Fiddling with the standards

There is a huge body of fiddle tunes that I think of as "standards". Diverse sources, Appalachia, Ireland, Manitoba, Cape Breton, Scandinavia, the Old West... I've historically felt pretty diffident about my performances of the standards, like I don't play them fast enough or sincerely enough. But that is changing! In the past couple of weeks -- really starting in February when I recorded my take on The Sailor's Hornpipe -- I feel like I'm really enjoying playing these old tunes, and coming up with some pretty decent, enjoyable tunes for listening to. They're pretty off-beat, new and different -- my own sound at last! Here is the list so far of the recordings that I have liked well enough to upload for you to listen to:

  1. The Sailor's Hornpipe -- a British dance tune first printed in the 1700's.
  2. East Tennessee Blues -- credited to Charlie Bowman. This song is younger than the others, probably written in the early 1960's. Written in 1926.
  3. Old Joe Clark -- a mountain ballad from eastern Kentucky, first printed in 1918.
  4. The Red-Haired Boy -- I think this is an Irish tune, although I associate it with Boston.
  5. Camptown Races -- composed by Stephen Foster in the mid-19th Century.
  6. Whiskey Before Breakfast -- credited to Canadian fiddler Andy de Jarlis. (Or possibly it is "a traditional tune made popular by de Jarlis")
  7. Bill Cheetham -- I can't find much more information about this than that it is "traditional" .
  8. The Devil's Dream -- a popular English dance tune from the 1800's. I have never heard it played any other way than very fast, but I think this slower arrangement is pretty catchy.
Listening to these in sequence, I think I'm improving, and also I am getting better at putting the videos together. Naturally still much room for improvement in both regards, but...

posted morning of April 15th, 2012: Respond
➳ More posts about Bill Cheetham

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