Note to self: when the head climbs up out of the bottle? Chances are it's fitter to be poured over self's hair than down self's craw. Blech.
Further note to self: ...that bleeding crossbrace has Got to Go. Seriously. I can find better ways for tonal articulation than ramming the top of my hand against it and grinding. I've been at this long enough that if I can't work out a better way, I need to cast it aside in favour of...I don't know, the pipes, maybe. That'll keep me busy for the next two decades. Sure jeez. My tiny kingdom for a pot of tiger balm.
Addendum to further note to self: an craic agus ceol was mighty last night, wannit? So mighty that your craic-o-metre's now a bit on the blink. Do yourself a begrudging favour: don't go out tonight.
Note to self: when the head climbs up out of the bottle? Chances are it's fitter to be poured over self's hair than down self's craw. Blech.
One might think I'd have little else to do but lurk round in my flat posting journal entries, and yet...
It's been a month and a day since Stillwater, so it's high time I gave it at least a paragraph's worth of my effort, don't you think?
The week before the festival, I played the seisiun at Trinity Hall. Ken did sort of a Jedi mind trick (he really did do - it was at least a 6 on the geek--o-metre - geeker counter? Sure, jeez. Argh.) on shaddowshoes and myself, and we decided that what we needed more than anything else was to run away for the weekend. With my impending slog out to Georgia...we needed time to ourselves, and driving up to Oklahoma for a few days afforded us that.
We left late in the evening Friday, and mostly enjoyed the drive - there were a few foolish traffic jams, but the first one at least afforded us the opportunity to listen to a radio programme, which we were on the cusp of being out of range to hear. It was Together Time. :) We arrived to our hotel at round 1 o-clock in the morning, and it was off to bed with us.
The Stillwater festival is...right round three years old, so it's still rather young, and thus still a bit small, but I think it shows promise. The venue is a county fair ground, and the local laws permitted that at least the lower alcohol beer could be served. A regional brewery was there flogging its wares, so I had a go at the Irish red ale. Not bad - I could tell that it wasn't as aggressive as its stronger sister would have been, but drinkable all the same. I wish I could recall the name of the brewery, but I'm fixated on Atlanta's own Sweetwater at the moment, and thus it's gone right out of my head.
You know, if the Celtic Heritage Festival could have found itself a venue such as the one that the Stillwater festival uses, it might well have made it - or at least kept its head above the water. (Incidentally, I've heard rumour of a new festival in Denton - anybody who went out to it, do tell me what you thought of it, please.) But no matter, yeh? What's done is done.
The programming tracks were a bit off and Ken's booth was situated near to a stage (but then, there was a stage in each of the spaces used, so I don't know how that could be avoided), which meant that his idea of stopping at his booth and playing when he hadn't another commitment wasn't going to come to pass. I think we had a reasonable number of people wander by and ask about the retreat, so. I couldn't give an actual number, 'cos I ended up sitting in with a local band during their sets, so there were a few hours in which I wasn't there watching the crowd.
It was lovely when there was time for choonz, however, and I much enjoyed playing with Bill and Patti from Arizona. I'd met them at a Trinity seisiun before, but I think we all had a better time this go. Shaddow and myself stayed at the hotel seisiun till we were faced with 'leave now, or curl up into a corner and go unconcious'. Gone are the days that I could play marathon seisiunna and...well...keep playing. By the end of the weekend, the back of my hand was bruised and a bit blistered. One does suffer, yeh.
Kevin was there as well, and it's also really grand to play with him; he's a fantastic guitarist. He told me that he'd spent rather some time in Vinings (my current neighbourhood), and offered up a few recommendations. The Old Vinings Inn topped his list; I've yet to go there, but perhaps in September when Shaddow and Yo come for a visit.
We lingered sunday till mid afternoon. Shaddow bought some wine from a local winery, and we wandered back home at something of a leisurely pace.
Then, it was back to reality and the last of the packing. What do you do, eh?
We left in the morning to minimal fanfare. Alright, there wasn't fanfare at all. There were two brief stops - one for breakfast for us and another for breakfast for the car. Otherwise...it was a drive down to Austin. I suppose I should take in more of the scenery now that it's become so costly as to render such jaunts a bit infrequent. I did, as we passed them, remark at which trees were turning colours. So I wasn't completely switched off. :D
We arrived in Austin, paused to check into the hotel (where I realised that I must have left my driver's licence at the polls the night before), and after that had been sorted out, we drove to the festival. Amberhawke were still playing when we found their stage, so we sat to listen for a while. The last several festivals I've attended, I've been playing and Shaddow's been running a sound board. It made for a pleasant change to have nothing to do but wander about, browse the vendors, and decide which bands we wanted to see. And drink beer. We did that too. :D
Andy M. Stewart (that one, yeh) and Gerry O'Bierne
Amberhawke (this is in no order, really)
Gilmer and Moore (who we know from THSP)
And...I think that was all for that day - oh, and a bit of Ed Miller (an Austin mainstay)
Mark was there - completely bedecked in UT colours. He and his wife (also done up in burnt orange and white cow heads) had planned an evening of Indian food and college football. He was at the festival teaching a workshop, but if he played with Heather and Jeff, he must have done before their later set (which we saw). My feelings concerning Mark can be summarised thusly: if he were to call me 'Grasshopper', I would reach for the pebble. We crossed paths a few times that day - in one of them, I saw him and recognised the shape of him before Shaddow (who'd turned his head to look at the stage) did. Mark played at trying to trip him up, and because Shaddow's attention was elsewhere, he nearly succeeded, much to his surprise. Fortunately, nobody lost an eye or too much face. :D
We met up with Amberhawke (sans Candy and Toar, who'd gone out for the evening with friends), and we all decided that Mark's glowing report of the Clay Pit was too tempting to pass up, so we went there as well. The place was rammed with people, and at first, it seemed as though we'd have quite the weight till they found a place to put us all. In the end , it was perhaps a quarter of an hour before we were ushered to a table in the corner.
I was and wasn't surprised when our path led us past Candy and Toar - of course they'd choose that place. We waved, chatted briefly, and then assumed our Table in the Corner. At some point, during the course of the evening, they Had an Idea. Toar tells it better We called her over afterwards to give her a round of applause. Good times.
We all drove back to the hotel for the usual festival seisiunna (which, I'll admit, was one of the primary reasons I wanted to go). Heather and told me there would be a song seisiun. For the last...Jesus, how long ago was it the Celtic Quill gave up the ghost? 1999? Nine years, I think. For the last nine years, I've mostly avoided song seisiunna. Others may identify me as a singer, but I identify myself as a bodhranaí first and a singer second. 'S how it worked out, really. I've been going to more song seisiunna (admittedly, they're quite rare) of recent, so I decided to go to this one.
We had present:
Lisa (who I'd met at O'Flaherty a couple of years ago)
Lisa's fellow (I'm sure he's got a name, but I don't know it)
Two other people whose names I never knew
One tenor guitar, which only Lisa could play.
We went round in a circle for a few times, but as we were all mostly fagged out, the seisiun sort of degenerated into filthy limericks. None of which I intend to repeat, but you can ask Jeff. :D Sniggering ensued. In all, I stayed in that seisiun longer than I'd planned I'd do - even though the choonz being played in the other room were making me fidget. By the time I gave in, I was too flat to do anything but Make Noise. Liz Carroll and John Cunningham were there, and it was grand just to listen to them. Ken took the room that the singers had been using for his own little seisiun a bit later on, but that was well after I'd decided I'd no more to offer and was likely catching cold (residual O'Flaherty exhaustion; it happens), so I went to my room. :D
And speaking of that room - it had a little balcony! And it was within sight of the pool! And if it had been warmer... :D I was really pleased.
I was feeling more like hammered shite and less like a refreshing burst of sunlight. I'd go for a little while, and then I'd sort of stop going. We heard a few more bands, talked with Mark for a while (thanking him profusely for the restaurant recommendation - I could have wallowed in the korma), and I bought Irish language books. Actually, Shaddow bought them for me. :D I've got screeds of work to do between now and April, so... it's time I got to it, eh? Afterwards, we bought some sort of Food on a Stick (likeyado), sat beneath a tree, and listened to Needfire for a while before heading for home.
What is that you used to say to people, aquila_dominus? If you are early, you are on time. If you are on time, you are late. If you are late, you are dead? Sort of thing, yeh? I was nigh unto an hour late this afternoon. I wanted to curl up into a tiny ball (roughly the size that would fit within my bodhran, curiously enough) and cease to exist. This is something that I Do Not Do. In my defence...the timetable was incorrect - I mean, janeymac you can see for yourselves it Ain't Right. And...frankly, I don't know that at two o-clock in the morning I'd have noticed that June's timetable had the same two Sundays starting at that time (which is whence this timetable was copied). In everybody elses' defence today: oh, we never look at that site.
I'm sure it's no harm done. I hope Ken drops round to Gilligans Tuesday night so that I can explain to him why I went mad, and to point out to him that his timetable's off for the 24th as well, and he's got a chap coming in from Portland, and that's a mess waiting to happen. The timing, rather, not the fellow from Portland - he's a stunning player. :D
When I got home, still in the Mighty Throes of Performer Angst, I learn that there's been rather a profound miscommunication regarding our availability for the Jackson festival early next month.
I had to be talked off a bit of a ledge.
I think it's all sorted now. I'm going to tell myself that so as to avoid hours of staring at the dark and wondering did it all get sorted out? I tell you, I could win a fucking prize.
In other news, here's a Welsh comedian with more problems than me:
And I'll have none of that, will I?
Right then. From where I stood (which is usually between mishajames and typsygypsy, last night's fun was fantastic. I'd many reasons to believe that I'd fall on my face and that would be that, only I rose to the occasion.
I even remember how I got home last night. Usually, I'm so absolutely fagged out at the end of a gig night that I lose time on my drive home. It's dangerous, I know. I did something yesterday that I usually don't do - as I knew I was ailling, I had a long lie in. Not leaving my bed till I absolutely had to do stopped me from falling over between the second and third sets - which is usually when I realise that I've got a problem.
My voice behaved itself, Mallory didn't gnaw away any more of my hand (I've still got a nasty mark on the back of it from last Sunday's seisiun - my mother was appalled when she saw it tonight), and we had a fantastic crowd. Seriously, they were brilliant, and engaged, and there wasn't the usual thinning out that happens round midnight. We closed to a packed house.
Being mindful of crowd dynamics is something that I'm still working out in my head (not speaking for the rest of us). I made set lists...a while ago, and to minimise the possibility of somebody needing to re-tune something in an awkward place, I've simply been reusing them. Now, I'm wondering whether it wouldn't behoove us to have a hard look at them and possibly rearrange everything again. Sure, there are certain pieces that will always be in certain places, but everything else is moveable, I think. So...I'll say this is a reminder to ask the rest of us about this.
mishajames's girlfriend shot video of us, so we'll have that to look at as well. shaddowshoes has seen a bit of it thus far (it was his camera she was using), and it's his opinion that we might have something fit for the web. We need a video presence, so this is a good thing. And...if nothing else, we get to see ourselves from the audiences' point of view. Admittedly, this can be awkward, but I think I'd rather know if I pull faces when I play (and I think that I do).
shaddowshoes has just showed me the video that Leonard Nimoy made for his alarming ode to Bilbo Baggins, and now I've completely lost my point.
So, last night went really well - my only bit of drama was breaking two strings. I never do this, I should add. Other people break my strings, but I never do myself. Or at least, I've not done in years. I was needing to replace them at any rate, those strings were a godawful menace.
Today's seisiun...erm, it went well enough. There was a bit of awkwardness at the beginning borne of a bit of miscommunication, but I think it's sorted out. I'll find out a bit more on Tuesday night (or perhaps even tomorrow). Me, I'm prepared to let it all go - I realise that it's difficult to keep track of as many players as we've got in the rotation. I'd really love to blame the beats I dropped today on being a bit worn out, but I think it's that I've fallen into a routine that isn't exciting me enough, so I'm walking away in my head. Not exactly fair to the other players or to myself, is it? No. I can do better than this, and I think a bit of experimentation is in order. I know there are things that I used to do that I found really challenging, and I would work till I'd got them perfected. Lately, I think I've not been doing that. Time to start, eh?
Well, it's half-eleven, and I've really no business being awake at this hour, much less blathering in my journal.
Cross-posted from myspace:
I've got plague. There are Qs scrawlled across my door, my car, and my desk chair in bright yellow paint - lest anybody overlook them and sadly fall prey to the vicious bit of viral nastiness that is making my life unpleasant.
In all honesty, I should have phoned Ken and begged him to replace me for Sunday's Trinity Hall seisiun, but as I'd been phoned by him to replace somebody else, I felt that was in bad form.
To those people who were watching and (I hope, at least) my bandmates for the day, I managed well enough. To my own self? I fell on my face and couldn't find my feet again. It happens, and it doesn't mean that I'm a rotten player. My bodhrán was in a bit of a touchy mood as well, and she bit me. I've now got a plaster across the back of my left hand to show for it.
My band, Spriggan, will play tomorrow night at the Tipperary, and myself again at Trinity Hall the following day. I am in a state of denial, yes. We'll see what sort of voice I've got at practise tonight, and here's to hoping that I'll honestly have turned a corner by tomorrow.
At any rate, there was an artist at the Sunday seisiun. He sketched the lot of us and we've since scanned that sketch and it's appearing on the TIMES web site (I believe). I've got a copy of it myself that I'll post here (someday - likely when it's no longer relevant. Time moves at a different pace for me).
Tuesday night at Gilligans was more for the craic and less for the ceol. I did play in for a set - but I'd promised before I'd taken the decision to go (after having changed my mind at least four times - sure, you needed to know that) that I'd not be late in leaving. Mostly I chatted with a mate about a story he's written. Poor fellow, I couldn't stop myself looking over at my seisiun mates. He at least seems to understand that my inattention is caused by a force greater than either of us.
We've got a new fellow who's been coming round of late. 'New' meaning 'new to the seisiun' - he's hardly new to the scene itself, in fact he's quite established in it, and that's why I'll not mention his name. :) Sorry, duckies, but I don't do that. I met him properly at O'Flaherty last year, and I came away from that meeting thinking that he'd be a good choice for a mentor. So, I'm glad to see he's coming round.
Oh, for feck's sake - you've got a Myspace page?! you might be thinking to yourselves. I do, actually - and no, it isn't to meet BOYS or for any other stereotypical usage. It's mostly to hoore myself out as a bodhránaí, 'cos...well...that's what I do. Sort of thing. At any rate, more importantly, my band has got a Myspace page as well. You can find us at spriggancelticmusic (you can find mise mi fein at gypsy_youngraven). If you yourselves (I'm not entirely sure how that would be said in Irish, so) have got Myspace pages, then go and add us to your friends list. I'll wait here till you get back.
Right then, here's the posting:
We'd rather a lovely seisiun - there were people who came out that I've never seen at our seisiun before; I hope they weren't put off by us. (Joking)
I didn't play quite as much as I'd thought I'd do. I was a bit manic, and I fluttered about from person to person gabbling frantically at them. Well, perhaps it wasn't so frantic, but the thought of 'Networking' (rarrr) makes me feel a bit odd, so.
There were a few false starts, but otherwise nobody bit anybody. Sure, I've got something more to say about it than this, right?
Hrm...perhaps I don't. Well, that's sad.
Oh, right - I almost forgot. I'll be playing the Trinity Hall seisiun this coming Sunday as well as the one after that, so if you've a scorching need to come and gawk at me, this is where I will be.
Also, SPOT Albert are playing at TH tomorrow night. They're friends of mine (well, at least one of them is - the other I've not actually met yet - beyond accusing him of being Albert's brother. He let me keep my nose. Charitable fellow), so come out in support.
'S all I got. Try not to choke on it.
So, last Saturday was the monthly house seisiun (usually arranged by Mr Fleming, although himself was not in attendance at this one), and it was hosted at peaceful, picturesque Englewood. Usually, these seisiunna are calm, sedate, and only last for a handful of hours, but considering the hosts were typsygypsy and toarthos, this wasn't likely to happen.
The last guests, I believe, left early the next morning.
So, who came out? Well, it was much of the usual Gilligan's lot, along with a fellow from Dundalk who really only plays piano. He showed us a bit of what he knows, including some ones we'd not heard of. I think the one that really caught my attention was called 'the Champion Reel'. I suppose I should go out and try to find it. Someday. Not now.
Bob the Boxplayer had the idea that the party should be in celebration of somebody's birthday - 'cos surely one of us was born in May, right? Actually, not right. Since it worked out that Ken couldn't drop by at all, we decided it was his birthday. We had a cake and candles and everything. We even sang to him. Twice. On video. Each of us chose a different pitch, and the song ended with sort of a merry wolf's howl.
Alright, I admit it. We were sort of taking the piss - but not with any cruelty in our hearts, and I'm sure we would have done the same to anybody who hadn't been able to drop round (after, in essence, organising it all). So. Lest any rumours of nastiness begin to creep about, there it is. The video's lurking about somewhere on YouTube, but I think it's down under lock and key, so I'm really only mentioning that to tantalise. Ah, the wickedness of me.
Betsy came out, and she was fantastic. Betsy's usually quiet and seems a bit shy, but she'd been made to work that day (and on a vexing-sounding project), and I think she came in search of some sort of stress relief. She laughed and joked and played, and even sang a bit of 'The Night Pat Murphy Died' in Ken's honour. That lot's on video too - but Betsy's face can't be seen.
I learnt a new game of darts, which I lost - twice. I don't think I'll ever play darts with mishajames again. He talks to himself to psych himself up (and likely his opponent down), and frankly I was ready to stitch his mouth shut after five minutes of it. That I endured it even that long is a testimony to my patience. I came within points of beating Jeff, but mishajames sort of made me eat the chalk from the scoreboard. Ah well. I've got my own dartboard, sure I can practise.
Pauses to consume banana.
Right, so where was I? Oh yes, in the cafe losing at darts. What do you do, eh? I've already said - practise. God's teeth, but I'm glad it's Friday.
I made a carrot cake to bring to the table, and it was fantastic. Absolutely splendid. I will have to do that again, and soon.
shaddowshoes and I had driven our own cars this time - he tends to be a bit more of the party sort than I am, so this allowed him to stay as long as he liked and it allowed me to leave when it became Time. As it worked out, he was one of the few who left the next morning, and I fell into bed almost immediately upon arriving home and didn't move till the next morning. Sadly, I think it's a sign of age.
Well, I haven't really got a way to end this one. So.
Yes, yes. Whinge and moan. At any rate...
So, here's a bit of my life told largely in chat logs.
The last seisiun but two
S: how's your life?
G: last night's fun was Exciting. :|
G: there was a cyclone near to the pub. we were almost made to go into the...vaults, i suppose.
G: and albert and i had words in an amusing way.
S: what were they?
G: och, he's being a diva. sure, he's entitled, i suppose. only he's decided that he'll not play in unless the rest of all of the bodhránaí do as well. you know, never mind the fact that some of us play other instruments and all, never mind the fact that others of us are sick to our guts of That Particular Reel Set, never mind the fact that there's got to be a bit of craic to complement the ceól.
G: you know...the root of the word 'bodhrán' is 'bodhar' - which means 'deaf'.
G: sprout a gorm alphonso.
G: and well, mum and dad and leonard had come to have a listen. when i went to go and sit with them (LIKEYADO) he creeps up behind me and bawls out 'have i got to pay you to play?' and i squawked 'these are my parents!' and his eyes got big and he blathered something about having been born with a stupid gene.
G: but it's alright, really, 'cos he's a grandfather.
G: in all honesty, it's the closest he's come to actually vexing me.
G: but then he asked that i sit near to him so that he could 'steal licks off me'. i'm a hoore. it was an ego stroke. i took it.
So. There's that. There was Weather, my father told me a few days afterwards that it had been Closer Than We'd Thought, so I suppose we were actually in a bit of danger. Poor Gilligan's would have been smashed to bits. The water was rising up under the south wall. We some of us remarked that at least it would wash away whatever it is that causes our feet to stick to the rug. I try not to ask.
The last seisiun but one
I haven't got a chat log for this one, so I'll have to use all my very own words. Grand.
shaddowshoes's sister and her friend had come down to the pub (this one being Trinity Hall - I realise that the pub is hardly descriptive enough), so I didn't play as much as I'd thought to do, and...as has been occurring of late there were at least five other bodhránaí there, and sure I applaud Albert's decision to make it open for all...there comes a time when a Line has got to be drawn. So I played for a bit, and then I didn't. The open Trinity seisiun isn't my own seisiun (as though any of them are, really, but there you are), so I'm a bit more...likely watch the other players. Sort of thing.
Afterwards, shaddowshoes and I wandered over to the Tipp to listen to Queen's Gambit for a little while. I played in with them there for their first set. It's grand to be Useful. Erm...and...talked a bit Bob the Booking Agent...and I can't recall a thing that we said to each other, and something tells me that isn't to my advantage. Shite, I'll have to be writing it down now. They tell you the mind is the first to go. Whoosh. Ah, but I've got an excuse - and I've just remembered it.
I've got a watch. I do. It's a lovely Citizen which I've recently had repaired. I'm fond of my watch - it was a gift from shaddowshoes. The reason my watch was sent off to the watchmaker for repair has (likely) got to do with the many times I'd forget to remove it before seisiun or a gig or anything that would cause me to Whack a Goat (er, I'm reclaiming the phrase) - the rapid flicking motion had shot the movement. Right. At any rate, I'd taken it off before playing with QG (may I call you lot that?), and I'd tucked it into Grainne's case - which I immediately forgot doing. So as we were driving away, I thought ah shite, where's my watch, and I made shaddowshoes to stop the car till I'd found it.
His car has got a heavy glass window at back which one opens to reach anything inside, and on cold nights, it's disinclined to stay up on its own - a fact that had also slipped my mind. The bloody thing came down on the back of my head with a crash and I uttered rather a loud squawk.
Luckily, I've got a thick skull. However, if I forget my name...sure, you know why. Argh.
Once we'd determined that I wasn't about to cark it, we drove off to Safe House Beta (may I call it that?). I actually don't recall a great deal of that. Shite.
The last seisiun
Office aggro has got my patience stretched nigh to the snapping point. Inconsequential things that perhaps I'd growl a bit over are making me go frothy-mouthed these days. Thus, I arrived to seisiun in rather a surly humour. My mate, Tyson, wandered in round half an hour after I'd arrived, so this night was more for the craic and less for the ceól. I'd intended to leave at half-nine. I left at half-ten. Ah well. Nobody died.
I suppose that brings us round to last night. Last night, I went for a swim with turtliewings which was quite a lovely way to end my sloth. There's talk of making it a standing engagement.
Nothing was broken, so it was no blood no foul. Only last night wasn't really a night for playing. So. More of the craic, less of the ceól; it happens.
I've not a great deal of impetus, thus I've little more to say than went to the seisiun last night. Oish. It's wednesday. Two and a half more days, then I've got a bit of a holiday.
So, nothing at all spectacular happened at the seisiun. Nobody bit anybody, no alibis were needed, it was pleasant. Here's to more like that one.
Sort of thing. I'm not feeling terribly descriptive at the moment, so this mightn't be as glib and pithy as other posts. Never mind that.
( Confucius sez it's time for a cut )
And there it is.
I knew, sort of thing.
So, I began to look round - and there, in the pile of instruments near to the hearth, was a perfectly sized box with the bodhrán case draped over it. The box opened willingly and without need of a knife or sharp edge, and inside I could see a familiar green shape. I was gentle, I didn't merely grab the thing and jerk it out of the box. I didn't waste any time, either. It had occurred to me that there may have been a few changes in design over the years, and I wanted to find out what they might be.
So, out of the box it came, and then out of its protective sack - although what they thought the sack would guard against (a swarm of bees, perhaps?) is a mystery. The first thing I noticed was a change in the cross brace. Had I chosen to do, I could have removed Mallory's cross brace with two turns of two screws (well, likely more than two turns, but still, it would have been a simple procedure). This one's (and I'm still inclined to call it 'Grainne', so.) cross brace appears to be moulded into the frame, and I'm uncertain as to whether it could be removed without a saw. I think shaddowshoes possibly noticed a way to remove it, but I'll have to have another look at it. I don't recall Mallory having a visible seam, and that this one does actually troubles me a bit. I mean, I'm sure it's constructed well enough, however... Sure, it isn't as though I've ever had a notion to hurl a bodhrán down a flight of stairs, so it's likely the seam is nothing to worry about.
I also noticed that the rim's got a foolishly sharp edge, so that'll have to be dealt with. Mallory was only just beginning to bite me a bit, and Grainne, it appears won't wait till we've gotten to know one another. So I'll find something durable (and sticky) to cover over that edge. I mean, it's really sharp. You'd wonder what was going thro' the maker's head - 'it's not a bodhrán if it doesn't draw a bit of blood'. I suffer for my art enough as it is, thank you very much.
I then considered the head. I think I was leaving this till last. The Fibreskyn heads have changed a bit over the years. Having a guess, I'd say that the good people at Remo are trying to simulate the look and feel of actual goatskin, and I can understand why. Mallory...actually, I'd not had her a year before the layers of the skin had begun to separate ('cos I recall showing it to Preston - who's been gone for ages now - and saying 'Jesus, I've already blown out the head!'). I coated Duncan (my goatskin rowboat of a bodhrán) with Nivea to keep the skin pliable - it might be that I do the same with this one to stop it removing bits of my hand, 'cos that's a singular sort of misery - and usually it happens at the middle of the night when I can't exactly stop playing.
Fine, grand, blahblahblah - so how does it sound?
It sounds...exactly as I'm used to a Remo drum sounding. I tuned it to the base tone I recall Mallory having, thumped it a few times with my eejity club of a tipper (oh, that thing has got to go - och, it's horrible), and determined that I've lost nothing in sound quality. Sure, that's a relief - I've still got a bodhrán track on the CD to re-record, and a gig at Trinity Hall at the end of the month.
There's a house seisiun tomorrow (someplace), I'm still deciding whether I should go. If nothing else, to show Mr Fleming (who likely doesn't know about any of it at any rate, and I'm merely indulging my nasty, angsty side) that it's all (mostly) sorted out. Otherwise, it'll have to keep till Tuesday night.
Ha. How many times have you heard a person say 'oh, I can't wait until Tuesday'?
This one, however, is proving more than an annoyance. I've got beyond the lunatic notions that my bodhrán is huddled shivering and cold in a creepy, dark alley. In all honesty, I really only entertained that notion briefly (when it was snowing). I haven't lost that much of my grip on reality. But...I suppose I feel sort of suspended and useless. I'm even questioning my standing in the community, which I'm sure is madness.
'Grainne' (in theory) will be here by Thursday. Her case and cipín (which actually means 'twig') have already arrived. The tipper (which doesn't mean 'twig') is heavier than I'd thought it would be. This means I'll have to go and find Mr Alfonso (thus risking a punch in the mouth - I'm joking, of course, he'd never dare), rather quickly. Since I've now got a tipper, I considered bringing Duncan (my old bodhrán) to seisiun tonight. He's got rather a nasty gash in his head (plastered with duct tape, 'cos that's classy), and...he's big, and a host of other excuses which all sum tidily to 'couldn't be arsed'. Actually, he's a big fellow (18"), and I've since grown unused to playing a drum that large.
Still, I'm really tempted to race home and fetch him, just to see...
So, in short, I'm feeling a bit out of sorts. Sure, that's as angsty as you'll get from me here. Enjoy it whilst you can. ;)
Well, actually it didn't. That line was written solely to release that sad, limping little joke back into the wild. I imagine it'll be swiftly eaten (note, I did not say 'gobbled up') by a passing hyaena. Such is the raw brutality of nature. No, the holiday didn't reduce me into a bibbling thing rocking backwards and forwards in the corner of a padded room, but it did momentarily halt any notion I've had to write about it.
But since we're winding down...
Thanksgiving went over very well - once again we have triumphed in all things turkey. We pwned that silly, flightless bird. Yes. I said 'pwned', and I even pronounced it in my head as though it were a word in Welsh (it comes out roughly to POONehd, which I'll admit sounds rather filthy). It was hideous, it fell nearly apart in two pieces, it was perfect. At Orion Rising, we prefer taste over presentation when it comes to silly, flightless birds, and this one had the former in abundance.
The parents, grandparent, and in-laws arrived in good order, the meal was consumed at roughly the time we'd hoped it to be (which is a feat nigh unto impossible with our clans involved - this alone was a reason for gratitude), and nobody bit anybody (sometimes our cats get a bit excited). Oh, and the pie that was made from the aforementioned PG? Stellar. Better than last year's one easily, and last year's one was notable. This year, I chose organic cream and honey and a pumpkin from a colleague's very own pumpkin patch. I also took a risk and added cardamon - which will now be a staple of the recipe.
There are but very few things that I do well in the kitchen, and the washing up counts as one such thing (when I can be arsed, I should add - eh, honesty), pumpkin pie is another.
So, the annual autumn gorging went over very well, and it ended early enough for shaddowshoes and I to travel to Englewood for a post-tryptophan, holiday decompression gathering. Good craic. It was a small enough gathering to be intimate, but large enough to be interesting. John B. showed up and told us a delightful story about a fellow who hits his head whilst fetching a lantern off a boat in the dark. The Katzes introduced me to Session beer (it's called 'Session'), and I found it agreeable. I've seen it before, so I know I can find it elsewhere. We played tunes, John told his story, we didn't drink ourselves under any tables. Grand music, grand mates, grand craic - all fine reasons for gratitude.
The next day we spent clearing away the remains of Thursday's feast in preparation for our own little soiree Saturday night (which we'd called 'Autumn's Last Stand' in protest of all of the people who were racing about to be the first in their street to deck their halls. Yes, I realise that yuletide preparations begin much sooner in places that haven't got late autumn holidays, however, here it seems a bit soon). We did our bit of provisioning, tarted the house up (much hoovering did ensue), and the morning turned to afternoon, and then to evening. I was wandering about the house in search of my next thing to do to it, when the telephone rang. shaddowshoes answered it, spoke with Somebody (I think it might have been Michelle, but I can't be sure of that), rang off, and then told me that there was a seisiun at the Bull and Bush.
So I fetched up my bodhran and my coat, and we ventured off into the night. I'd never played a seisiun there, and I'd heard a rumour that they've got Smithwicks. Sure, I didn't go to play the seisiun merely for the drink. You don't believe me. Well, never mind that, then.
The seisiun was composed of John B, myself, and Andrea Katz. It was polite, tasteful, and regretably hard to hear one another (I'd a woman standing behind me who was absolutely pealling with laughter. I'm glad she was amused, but dogs in other counties were howlling in pain, I'm sure). We played for a few hours more - John and Andrea had actually been at it for a while when I arrived - and then wandered back home.
Hrm...now that I think on it, we actually did the provisioning yesterday before the party (at which the Beer Fairy made a stealth appearance - so we're set for a great while), not that it matters, really. So...right, we climbed out of bed, drove out to fetch the last few items, and then returned home for the last bit of tarting up. We collected up wood for the fire table, made the rubbish all disappear, hoovered again (which seems strange, we mustn't have done the day before), hid all of our filing, and I'd begun arranging a fruit tray when Chris and Michelle drove up with the margarita machine (which is still full of green shite and tequila - argh). We got that installed, did various and sundry other things with hors d'oeurvres, began mulling the wine, people appeared and it was a party.
The guests were:
Chris and Michelle, Candace and Toar, Michelle F, John W, John B and his friend whose name sounds like Sarell, Linda K, Adam, Mark and Becky, Steve and Lisa, Jeff G, Mike, Victor and Eddie and Winter, Donna, Valerie, and Casey. At this point, you might be thinking to yourselves 'hrm...somebody's missing'. You'd be correct. Somehow - and we're not certain how this occurred - Misha and Dayna never got their invitation. Round half-nine, I realised that it was strange that he'd not appeared, and I phoned and left a plaintive, contrite, message on his ansaphone.
He's going to jump on my head Tuesday night, I know it.
It isn't as though he and Dayna weren't missed - because they were missed - but rather we managed to carry on bravely without them (it's what they would have wanted, to be sure), and thus the evening went very well. The fire table completely upstaged the bar as the hot (literally, at times) place to be. We crowded as many of us round it as we could and played tunes, swopped stories, and told jokes. Whenever the fire got low, somebody would build it back up again. It was lovely, and at the end of it, we all smelt of burning wood and night.
After the last people had made their good-byes, we wandered through the house, fetching up the occasional empty beer bottle and rejoiced in the knowledge that we didn't have to do anything the next day.
Only, it hasn't really worked out that way. I got up out of the industrious side of the bed this morning (alright, so it was this afternoon, eff off), and made myself a list of tasks. I've ticked almost every task off of my list, and I'm about to mark another one done (that task being 'egg nog'). The autumn linens can wait, I suppose, and shaddowshoes has requested no talk of Ex-Moose yet - so those tasks surely will keep. The other task, sadly, is cleaning out the margarita machine. It's standing in the bar now, patiently waiting for one of us to take a thought to do something with it. Sigh. Ah well, eh?
Orion Rising is still very smart looking, I've got the killerest mates and man and family ever (seriously - you lot wish you were me), and for that I'm grateful.
Slainte go deo,
The seisiun went reasonably well - John dropped his plectrum in the middle of a tune, so perhaps it's catching. He blushed as he bent to fetch it back up, and I think Ken gave him a Look. It's difficult to judge what's on in the mind of Ken, and I think I've decided to stop trying. 'Cos otherwise I'd climb out of my skin - and that wouldn't be a pleasant sight to behold.
And speaking of sights, one sees the most interesting ones through the pub window. Trinity Hall is near to a flash, highly commercial art house cinema (note the irony), and thus all of the flash, highly commercial art house people are wont to buzz about near to the pub's door. This afternoon's offering was an attractive, reasonably fit-looking woman wearing an urban, hip hop-inspired track suit - you know, the sort with words such as 'baby' or 'bling-bling' in arched letters across the back of the trousers. Only this woman's trousers read 'juicy'.
I shudder to think on why anybody might have found that appropriate. Somebody needed to take her aside and explain something vital to her.
I think the next time I'm there, I'll beg Ken to leave the curtains drawn. The windows let in far too much light, and we bodhran players have been known to disintegrate into untidy piles of ash that smell of whiskey (&c.) when exposed to sunlight. Sure, wouldn't that be a loss to the world?
Leaping backwards to Saturday...aside from the bit of spontaneous instrument acrobatics and a vocal re-record that landed squarely on its face (I realised at the first verse that I didn't have any energy to offer it, ah well. Hurrah for lessons learnt.), there were no mishaps to speak of. God's teeth, I hate ending sentences with prepositions (but there it is). I realise that not doing sounds a bit pretentious and affected, but janey it bugs my shite. Grr. (Never mind all of the other grammatical rules that I break with impunity...na, they're much more like guidelines.) Where was I? Oh yes, in the studio lobbing tippers and yodelling like a drunken rat. We've come down to the last of it. We recorded our last complete piece - the rest of what we do will be smoothing over the remaining rough edges and then tarting the lot of it up - well, within reason. We've sacked the chorus of valkyries - the feathers were making us sneeze and the steely breastplates were intimidating our engineer. So the tarting up will come in the form of (in the words of Daithi Sproule) whatever is tasteful and nice.
We spent the evening with the 24 crowd eating fish and drinking wine and debating Peak Oil. Good times.
So...tomorrow, I think I'll go to the Cor's rehearsal and hover about in the back row, and then Tuesday night is seisiun, Wednesday night I've got a meeting with a vocal/performance coach, and...and I'm really running out of time to smarten up Orion Rising for the annual autumn feasting. Ah well, it'll happen when it does.
Peace out, slan go foill, and mind the gap.
Peace out, slan go foill, and mind the gap,
I have been playing quite a number of seisiunna lately. I think it's become a reflex. A seisiun appears, I sit, and I play. Perhaps during the course of it I'll think 'hrm, I'm hungry' or 'beer?' or 'for fuck's sake, I've been here for hours, and it's raining' - or something to that effect, but I'm rarely dissuaded. This is an eejity paragraph. Please ignore it. Thanks very much.
Hrm. I can tell that the person on the recording to which I was listening not a moment ago was playing one of Albert's drums (even if I hadn't read the sleeve notes), he's fond of treble and thus there's no bass to the drum at all. All tickety, no boom.
Speaking of which, a fellow showed up last night with an astonishingly large bodhrán. Likely a 16x12, and it had a really thick head. This drum certainly wasn't lacking in boom; however, it made partials that I didn't find terribly appealing. I prefer purer tones, me. It was very lovely - he'd painted knotwork beasties round the rim in red and gold and green, and the tuning ring was crafted out of something that looked like marble (only wasn't).
He said to mishajames that he'd seen us at CHF. I don't recall seeing him, but that doesn't mean anything - beyond that I can't pay attention to even the slightest detail when I'm on stage. Hence the reason I'm for ever tripping over cables or losing my plectrum (Where is it? Halloooo?). He had the look of 'professional bodhrán player' on him. I had the look of 'girl who needs rather a long nap' on me. He might have tried to make idle chatter. I might have responded with 'nrrggh'? I don't recall. Today, I've got the look of 'boy who needs rather a long nap' on me. I'm disappointed that no-one has called me 'sir'.
He wasn't very tall, this fellow.
The rain had begun as I was driving there, fortunately, my bodhrán is reasonably impervious to damp or cold or anything besides dipping it in liquid nitrogen or setting it afire - I imagine it would melt or something.
A friend I've not seen in ages was there - she's one of Michelle's new students, although she wasn't playing fiddle that night. It was lovely to see her. She says to me that she'll be coming round the seisiun more often, as Michelle as recommended it. Michelle was very troubled that no-one knew how to play the Salamanca Reel (I think it's a reel), and she told us all so. I think a few of us wanted (but very politely so) to pinch her.
Hrm...there isn't much else, is there? Only that I've decided that I'm not going to spend as much time nattering with a certain seisiun mate as I used to do. His modus operandi is to build himself up by slagging other people off (and it's not even merely his enemies - it's his mates, his colleagues, random people in the street), and last night it got too vexing to ignore. So.
So...this all seems a bit disjointed. Imagine that you're holding a threaded needle, now then stitch the paragraphs together in your mind and create something cohesive, please.
At the end of it all, I'm reasonably certain I've earnt the last bit of dosh towards my new bodhran - whenever that comes to light. I think my current one realises that she's about to be replaced - which would explain why I lost control of her at the end of Friday's last set. No, I didn't lob my tipper - I waited till today to manage that one.
At least it was spectacular.
At any rate, I'm completely fagged, and am thus inclined to babble, so don't expect any of this to make any sense. Ha. I can recall a time (almost) in which I coughed up journal entries for the benefit of myself alone...
So Friday proved a bit of a challenge, because I've been dubbed Office Lackey Extraordinaire. You know, I'm likely misusing the word 'lackey', but for the life of me I can't think of anything better, so you'll have to sort that one out on your own. What it all means is that I've given far too many logical answers to far too many questions that the askers could have worked out on their own. This has the nasty result of making one an Expert and thus in demand. Such was myself at Friday night - much to my chagrin. As I was frantically preparing to scarper for the pub, a woman phones me to ask me to sort out a complaint that she's got with our document management system. 'Cos I had a look on our web site and your name was given as my primary resource for this office.
'Oh, for fuck's sake,' sez I to myself.
I don't recall throwing my lot in for this particular task, and in fact, I think I was told I'd not have to sort out complaints of this nature. But what could I do? Tell her to eff off? Sure, perhaps I could have done. Argh. At any rate, because I'm desperate foolish, I solved her silly difficulty. Serves me right for being at sea as to what is actually on that web site.
So, erm....right - off to the pub. Our sound check was quick and reasonably uneventful. Since Chris plays everything but the found harmonium, our sound checks tend towards the lengthy. Not so Friday night. Of course, we could scarcely hear each other over the ambient roar (at Trinity, the importance is placed on the craic rather than the ceol), but no matter, as we'd expected that.
For all that the craic is revered, we had a really responsive crowd, and that's always grand. No-one could understand a word we said, but frankly, I'm used to that, so. At the end of the night, somebody had twisted a serviette into a rose and had left it in our tip jar. I've still got it in my bodhran case. It's fascinating. I've never seen that done before - well, not exactly that. I'm going to snap photos of it. Perhaps I can do something artistic with them.
Afterwards, we crawlled home. Literally. I had to slap myself a few times to stop me driving off the road.
On to Saturday. Have I got anything remarkable to say about Saturday? Erm...well, our stage had a sharp list to port, which challenged my vertigo to a duel. Oh, and I forgot the reprise to 'Wearing of the Green'. I don't know why, exactly. I'd wandered off in my head someplace. It happens.
Oh! There wasn't any haggis! I'd gone expecting haggis! So very sad. Yes, I'm fond of haggis, and no, it isn't because I feel the need to prove something to the rest of the world.
After our set, we lingered about for Paisley Close's set. Their stage presence is really killer, although how the lead singer could leap about on that stage without falling off her feet is astonishing. Me? I'd be arse over head - even reaching behind myself to fetch up my guitar proved a bit of a challenge.
shaddowshoes, myself, mishajames, and his fair cailin went for nosh after that, and then we crawlled home again. For a sober weekend, we did a great deal of crawlling.
Which brings us to today. It pissed with rain (I might have mentioned). toarthos might have caught his death of cold from playing a seisiun out in the rain (under cover, to be sure, but still in the elements). Our set went reasonably well - it was indoors on a level stage, so our crowd was good. Erm...it was recorded, so perhaps we'll find ourselves with a few usable tracks. I'd love to have a new demo now as opposed to when the CD is released.
Oh, and we've at last got to meet 0ccam and frostdancer.
Why? 'Cos I'm playing a seisiun there from 3.00 p.m. - 6.00 p.m. That's why. How could you miss an opportunity to watch me launch my tipper across the room (and I will, you know, it's become a regular occurrance)?
I'd said other, wittier things, only a power surge seems to have shot the lot. Ah well, eh?
Peace out, slan go foill, and mind the gap (my cousin knows what that means now),