Tag Archives: bouzouki

The Sudbury Session: Garrett Barry’s

Here is a great sounding tune from Deidre on the pipe’s called Garrett Barry’s. She had some technical difficulty with the instrument about half way through and had to stop for a strain or two. It doesn’t really surprise me that someone would have technical difficulties with that instrument. The musician has to do about nine things at once and only two of them are related to pitch and tempo. Everything else has to do with harnesses, seat belts, air bags, bellows, barometric pressure, wind speed and what the current phase of the moon is. The fact that anything musical comes out of the instrument is a miracle. In my one attempt to play the beast it sounded like I was squeezing a pair of cats.

Anyhow, before I digress any further…Garret Barry’s.

p.s. I didn’t have any pictures of her playing the pipes, so I settled for this cool one of the flutes.

The Long Trip Home

The Long Trip Home   You know the old line:

Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.

Well, I’m gonna try anyhow.
I am supper happy to announce that my buddy Josh Dukes just released his first album. No, I’m not going to do a track by track album review, I think you should listen for yourself. But I will tell you this, the first time I listened I thought, ‘hmmm, this makes me want to get better at playing the flute…damn him.’ The second time I listened I thought, ‘well now, listen to that sweet guitar playing, why didn’t I think of that slick chord progression…ggrrrrr’. Needless to say, I was afraid to listen to it a third time…but I couldn’t resist. And I’m happy to say that Josh is the man. He, along with a host of other very talented musicians have put together an album of really tasty traditional tunes. Plus he’s got all the instruments I like on this album; his Olwell, guitar, the bunka-bunka (that’s the tenor banjo for those not in-the-know), ye ole goat skins and a variety of other cool instruments.
But, I’m sure that you don’t need to hear me ramble on about what a great recording this is and why you should get your own copy. So, instead, take a listen for yourself. Josh was kind enough to let me post one of his tracks here. Then, immediately following, I want you to head over to CD Baby and make one yours so that you can hear the remaining fourteen tracks. Also, if you are local or plan to be mustering in the rain at Sudbury this weekend, I have a dozen or so copies on hand for the reasonable price of $15.

I am certain you will enjoy it.


Growing a Tune: Inch by Inch

We are making some progress on our tune. I’m working on a final flute track. Josh Dukes tells me he wants to add some guitar backing. Luke is planning on taking my wav files and doing what Luke does. And Unstachio has already put down a bouzouki track on my mp3 whistle track. The sound quality is a bit degraded because he was unable to use the original wav files…but this is just for practice anyhow. It should give you an idea where things are headed.

I hope to have the flute wav files done sometime this week. If anyone is interested in using them for their own experiment please contact me and I will get them to you.

South Wind / Out on the Ocean

Two Old Stones
A few weeks back I convinced Unstachio (formerly Mustachio) to swing by and record a few tunes. We had been talking about doing just that for some time but the stars had never quite aligned. We had no real plan other than to just play through some things that we play on Tuesday evenings over at Stone’s.

We did all our recording together, he on bouzouki and myself on guitar. The next day, as I began to play with the tracks, I found that they were super-easy to overdub. It is amazing how playing music with someone else results in a track that is much more musical than anything you can do alone. It is that relationship between musicians that is the real magic dust and it is what transforms notes to music. I feel like we captured some of that here and, at the very least, it was a whole lot of fun.

This track is a combination of two traditional tunes. The first tune is called South Wind and is one we just started playing. The second is a popular jig called Out on the Ocean. I love how the bouzouki (left speaker) just seems to lick around the guitar melody (right speaker). Incidentally, I’ve added this track to the working album title called Two Old Stones (George, did I tell you we’re making an album?)
South Wind Out OnThe Ocean by baconworks

More Collaborative Recording

My buddy, and fellow Plucian, George, A.K.A Mustachio, wrote a beautiful bouzouki tune a few months back called The Christmas Wish. About a week ago Mustachio sent me an mp3 that he recorded in his home, complete with trucks passing by outside and someone cleaning dishes in the kitchen. You gotta love home recordings.

I took his demo of the tune and added a bit of guitar and tried to remove the clinking glasses. I shouldn’t rib him too much because as I was recording the guitar track my interrupting furnace kicked on during the last few notes, forcing me to overdub a couple of chords. Ironically, it only ever ignites during the takes I want to keep. GRRRrrrrr. Anyhow, Mustachio will probably have my head when he finds out I posted this rough cut here. But, in spite of the passing garbage trucks, the dinner crowd in the kitchen and my background boiler, I enjoy the recording.

Nice work Mustachio.

We Are the Mariners – The Rights of Man

Rights of Man
To break up the monotony of fife and drum during our Swiss concert we mixed in some Celtic music. We performed three sets of tunes. Here is the middle and slowest set that we played, which is a well known hornpipe called The Rights of Man. Evidently this was a real treat for the Swiss audience since this is not a style of music they typically hear. At one point, although not in this set, we had the entire audience clapping along with us. It was great fun. The other interesting point is that half the guys playing this set were Swiss including Sam the bouzouki player. The first time we ever played this tune with them was two days before the show. That being said, I think it went quite nicely.

Breakfast at Rudy’s

Here is a set of tunes that the Mariners are expecting to play in Switzerland this summer. I put together this recording as a reference track for them.

The title comes from our St. Patrick’s Day tradition of cooking breakfast in the parking lot outside of Rudy’s in New Haven before the parade. Good times.

I learned both of the tunes off a Kevin Crawford album called In Good Company.
In Good Company

He actually plays them in different sets on the album. The first is called The First Pint. I believe the second is called Mouse in the Mug.

I don’t own a bodhran so the percussion in the second tune is me tapping the back of my guitar.

Einstein Lives and He Plays the Bouzouki

Einstein George
I know, your thinking, ‘Ghezzz, I had no idea Einstein played the bouzouki’. Well, neither did I. But surer than shaving cream he sits in on our session every Tuesday evening at John Stone’s. He, of course, goes by the alias George and will not show me the time warping vehicle he used to propel himself into the present, but I can assure you, here he is. You can see for yourself on his MySpace page where he is seen playing the guitar and includes a few great tunes he wrote.

Einstein … err…George, or as I like to call him, Mustachio, wrote this beautifully mellow tune called Anna’s Dream, which he has graciously allowed me to include on my site.

You can hear more of Mustachio’s playing on a real nice album called The Artery Project. He is the one standing in the middle but since the picture is so small you’ll have to trust me on this one.
Artery Project

Someday, if we are lucky, we may hear Einstein in a Plùc recording (we convinced him to join the band). Until then, come on down to Stone’s for a pint and a glimpse of the genius himself.

Screaming Wretch

In the mid 90’s I went to New York for the Millbrook Muster. After a lovely day of traditional fife and drum we imbibed a few cocktails and enjoyed each others company as we played tunes around the campsite. As the night covered us in stars our fifing had moved from the traditional jigs, reels and hornpipes into the more exploratory realm of what we called ‘Space’.

Space usually involved a half-dozen fifers playing, without any predefined structure or direction, in an attempt to spontaneously create atonal music. From the outside I suspect it was fairly offensive. But being in the center of it was intriguing. Like an ant colony, it initially appears unorganized, but after a bit of observation, a strange sense of organization emerges. Musicians would react to what the other musicians were doing and the Space would take on a musical dialog of its own. Without a map the participants would begin to gain an intuitive sense of where things were going like ants finding their way to food. Fascinating.

Well, the woman who was trying to sleep with her newborn a few tents over did not find Space to be nearly as interesting as we did and, with a fair amount of energy, she let us know. In an attempt to be considerate we put the fifes away and, instead, decided to continue our musical explorations through group humming. Ironically, this ‘Hum Jam’ attracted quite a crowd and before we knew it we had a dozen or more participants with as many onlookers. It was all very organic and quite exciting. But, once again, our lady-with-a-baby was unable to see the brilliance in the musical and communal phenomena that was unfolding before her. And with more energy than before, she leathered into us with an ear popping, shrill harangue that rivaled any atonal noise we could have possibly produced with fifes. She really killed the mood.

I went home, once the weekend was over, with a spiteful vengeance toward that screaming wretch who ruined our Space, which is ironic since I’m actually a reasonably nice guy. The next day, in a moment of catharsis I wrote this tune.

Screaming Wretch

In a nod to Space, I wanted to write a tune that sounded somewhat random and, originally, left the last note of the tune up for interpretation by the performer. My recording of Screaming Wretch, primarily on bouzouki and tenor banjo, is very incomplete as you will hear instruments drop the second time through. But, I wanted to post it because Plùc is looking for some new material and the best way to learn this tune is to listen to it…repeatedly. Also, you will notice, upon close inspection, that I am playing this slightly differently than how I originally wrote it. This is due to a combination of me softening a few spots, now that the years have soothed my aggravations, along with my fading memory of every accidental that I wrote in.

So, to the lady-with-a-baby: Thanks. This tune would have never been written without all your bitching. Second, I hope you can accept my belated apology for ruining your good nights sleep.
Screaming Wretch by baconworks


I once took a painting class where we were asked to do ten paintings in thirty minutes. The rules were simple.

  • No more than three minutes per painting.
  • The entire painting surface had to be covered at the end of three minutes.

What one quickly discovers is that there is no time for detail. Instead you focus on the bones that define the structure of an image. Bad bones, bad painting, and one that is not really worth details anyhow. What you also discover is that details is not where the energy lies. The good stuff is in the most fundamental elements of the image such as line, balance and color composition.

I painted a lot of ugly three minute sketches. Keep at it long enough, though, and suddenly a good painting pops out. You then realize that the ugly ones were just part of the process of getting to the good one. The ugly ones are where you explore all your good ideas. It is where you separate the wheat from the chaff, as they say.

The image above comes from one of those sketches that, at the time, I was not really all that happy with. Fifteen years later my wife found it, framed it and put it on the wall. I love it. It reminded me that sketches, serving most often as a means to an end, occasionally have the power to stand on their own.

A lot of what I have been musically producing lately is what I would consider audio sketches. I have not focused too much on details such as set arranging, voice leading or instrumental variation. Instead, I have been focusing on melody and tempo, the basics. Going forward I will group these sketches under the internet album title of ‘Sketch‘.

Yesterday, after changing the strings on my borrowed bouzouki, I became mesmerized by its exotic sound. I was noodling around and a melody in minor started to take shape. I envision that it has a second strain but I am not sure what that would sound like yet. Or, maybe it is an intro to a song or even a set of tunes. I don’t really know. For now I have given it a working title of ‘Crosswinds’. That could change too, though I do like it. What I do know is that it has a couple brush strokes that I wish it didn’t but enough good ones where I will continue to push the paint around. It is a sketch.