The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #31722   Message #413626
Posted By: wysiwyg
08-Mar-01 - 07:20 PM
Thread Name: BS: How Many of Us Perform With Family?
Subject: RE: BS: How Many of Us Perform With Family?
LOL Wes!

My husband (known here as Hardiman the Fiddler) and I are the usual lead members of a group that has various other members at various times, including our daughter when she's available to sing with me. We have an old-timey sound, although executed somewhat differently than you might expect-- different instrumentation, etc.

I play autoharp (electric, chordally) and he fiddles and mandolineates, as well as providing some banjification. Often in the lineup there will be our friend Fast Fingers Steve Brown, who used to play guitar in various styles quite a bit but now just jams with us, Mike Vetter on guitar, his dad Ed on tenor banjo or tenor guitar, and now we also have Francis who plays electric guitar in a kind of bluegrass mandolin fashion. Young David Allen used to help with rhythm and was learning some fiddle, but puberty seems to have taken him from us.

Various others sit in at various times.

We play for free, for the experience and fun, at local community events and nursing homes, and some of the gang backs me up on Saturday nights for the good old hymns at church, for what has come to be called our "Come as You Are" communion service.

We are known as the Good News-Goodtime Band, and our music is usually the sort that lifts one up, cheers the heart, sets toes tapping. It is not exclusively gospel music, though there is a good bit of that in our set list usually. But there are also blues, traditional folk, and stuff you'd find in Rise Up Singing.

And now Hardi is teaching the others to strum along on material from the Fiddler's Fake Book. He and I, in fact, have a little gig planned at a local nursing home for St. Patrick's, to do some fiddle tunes for them with autoharp backup.

Our main difference though is that we do not see ourselves at all as concert performers-- we are songleaders. Actually, the bulk of our band is the people you'd usually think of as the audience, and we have boxes full of rhythm instruments we pass out that people will play, if they don't care to sing.

In that vein, Hardiman and I just started a new venture with a local flea market that is changing over to be a used bookstore with musical instruments and strings, etc. for sale. They sell nearly at cost, to get people started.

We dropped in over there a few weeks ago with axes and songbooks at the ready and set up an impromptu jam, to show the owner what we had in mind, with the teens that were hanging around trying out guitars-- they were really good players, and we ended up doing most of the stretching. Another local college prof turned up as well, who I have been wanting to play with since running into him at a coffeehouse that just started including music-- he is very shy, but fell into our little jam and revealed a WONDERFUL bluesy lovesong ballad he'd made up, and we all played like bandits.

This was most excellent because this is a nearly all-white area, and the prof is a new guy to the area brought in to work with and support the African American students that come here for the teacher ed program and find, to their dismay, that racism of the old-fashioned sort is all too alive and well here on the streets of our pretty little town. I've done some diversity work myself, and I'd been wanting to hook up with him--it was a good contact to make. But more importantly he found out there were a couple of white folk here who have half a clue about being themselves when a black man walks into a place. We hope he will start jamming with us more and more.

Right now I am extracting some basic folk lyrics off the DT for songsheets to start a monthly players' jam there, which I will lead and Hardi will help when he can. The owner is heavily into boy scouting, so there will be that as well. No one has taught these boys any camp songs yet-- they are all too poor for uniforms, much less camp, and their leader professes to be nonmusical. (Hah!) But they are willing to let me practice on them, and I am looking forward to it. The rest of our group will join in, or not-- it's pretty fluid, usually, with us, unless we have a big event to rehearse for.