Tag Archives: Irish-flute

Growing a Tune: Mixing up Josh

Josh spent some time recording two new guitar tracks. One he describes as being a bit more traditional versus the other being a bit more chordal. I liked them both and decided to split the difference and mix the two tracks together. I can also tell you that Luke is working on another wicked pissa track, with a new bass line, that uses both of Josh’s tracks as well. I’m hoping to be able to post that track in the next day or so…Luke???

Also, there has been some interest by a couple of new musicians in recording some additional tracks. So, with any luck, we may soon have a fiddle track and a resophonic tenor guitar.

In the interim, I’ve created an image map of the various iterations below. This gives a nice visual representation of how much activity is happening:
 
Marlin Spike Map

Check it out.
 
The Marlin Spike (Josh mix) by baconworks

Growing a Tune: The Sudbury Session

Guitar
 
This is really a cross-over post. The recording came out of the Sudbury Session and is probably the last I will post from that session. However, the tune, The Marlin Spike, is the one that we have been running a collaborative recording experiment upon. As nice as it is to spend time laying tracks on a new tune, they also have to get road tested. The only way to do that is to try them out at a session. That is where you get your feedback and it is where you really learn what works and doesn’t work on a tune.

In this recording I think you can hear the tentativeness of playing together the first couple of times through the tune. But the third time through it starts to get some bite and someone yelps as if to say ‘Go-on!’. Then after the tune, a bit of good-natured session ribbing. But, the part that makes you want to keep writing is when someone asks if ‘that is one of your own compositions’.

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.

 

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

Franklin’s Harem

Franklin in France
 
Benjamin Franklin, aside from being a founding father of our country, the ‘discoverer of electricity’, a diplomat, an inventor and the guy that first formed public libraries and fire departments, was also quite the ladies man. In the recent HBO series, entitled John Adams, Franklin is portrayed in a less-than-iconic and promiscuous light while performing his diplomatic duties in France. I suppose when you’re a guy that can tame lightning and create counties your gonna have the women fawning over you.

In reference to Franklin’s escapades in France I entitled my most recent tune Franklin’s Harem.

In this recording the tune actually comes behind another tune that I recently posted called The Nobel Train. It has three parts. The first two are in 9/8 and the last part is in 12/8. So, I guess it is a slip jig sort of. You can find the sheet music here.
 
The Nobel Train / Franklin’s Harem by baconworks

The Home Ruler

Bodhran
 
My long time cohort Roger Hunnewell, A.K.A the Beave, was visiting this weekend. Roger and I started the band that we eventually would call Amadán, many years ago. I have not had much of an opportunity to hang out with Rogi lately. Needless to say, we reminisced over a few cigars and couple of frosty brews. At about three in the morning, after being sufficiently over-served, we decided to flip on the recording equipment. After trying out a few tunes and discovering that we should have started recording long before all the ales and cigars, we opted for a tune with an easier pace.

I don’t think this recording will win any awards, but it was fun. It is a tune called The Home Ruler written by Frank McCollum from Ballycastle, county Antrim. Roger played bodhran while I played the flute. I then did a quick overdub of some guitar parts. All complete before the sun came up, well, close anyhow.

Here comes Joshua Dukes

Joshua Dukes
 
One of my most talented and humble friends is about to release his first album. His name is Joshua Dukes and, man, let me tell you, this album is gonna rock. He occasionally sends me tracks as he is working on them and I occasionally quit playing music after listening to them.

Josh tells me the album will be ready in early July but you can email him now if you are interested in getting in line for a copy. I recommend it. His email address is joshuadukes@mac.com. He is also on facebook where you can hear a few of his newest tracks.

Josh had some help on the album from a variety of other talented musicians. Here is the run down:
Josh Dukes – Flute, Guitar, Bouzouki, Bodhran
Sean McComiskey – Accordion
Peter Brice -Accordion
Jim Eagan – Fiddle
Danny Noveck – Fiddle
Brendon Bell – Flute
Patrick Cavanagh – Banjo

Josh was kind enough to send along a finished track prior to the albums release so that I could share with you. This track is a real nice example of his great flute playing. Enjoy.

Leaf in a Stream

Leaf in a Stream
 
In every endeavor there are pivotal moments. These are the moments where we decide to either proceed or halt, push forward or go back. Sometimes it is obvious, as the moment unfolds, that they are important and that there is a decision to be made. Other times those pivotal moments slip by, like a leaf in a stream, quietly and unnoticed. No course correction is made and you quietly slip into the next moment traveling the same path you started on. It is only on future reflection that you can look back and realize the value of that moment.

I was thinking about this as I was recording a great little tune called the Concord Police the other evening.
The Concord Police
 
The tune and words were written by my good friend and former fife instructor Dan Moylan.
Dan Moylan

Dan, the only true music instructor I ever had, is a man of great energy and passion and truly has a love for fife and drum music. Such a passion that, as his grown son once told me, he would play a form of Reveille on his snare drum in the mornings to wake his children for school. Apparently, this was a regular occurrence in the Moylan household.

When I was first learning the fife I would make a weekly trip to Dan’s house in Sudbury, which, incidentally, was walking distance from the Wayside Inn, and hack through the ten tunes I needed to have under my belt before marching with the Sudbury Ancient Fife and Drum Companie. Not long after learning the required ten tunes I had an opportunity to play with an auxiliary group to Sudbury called the 85ème Régiment de Saintonge.
 
Saintonge

The Saintonge was a sharp looking French unit and I was excited to play with them for a parade in Boston on Bastille day. However, when I arrived it quickly became apparent that I was the only fifer and Dan the only drummer. Given my total lack of experience, I was, to say the least, petrified. To make matters worse, as we marched down the street a man and a woman were shouting obscenities and throwing bottles at us. I assumed they didn’t like the French and to get them to stop I wanted to yell out, “No, Bacon…that’s not French!”. It is the first time, in all my fife and drum/reenacting experience, where our militia unit actually had to protect us (there was an incident in Ireland years later but that is a different story). I recall that several of the guys from the unit flanked out with their bayonet-affixed muskets and kept the antagonizers at bay. All awhile, I was bludgeoning the tunes I was supposed to be playing while Dan did his best to follow my cacophonic improvisations. Then, as we turned the corner, the TV cameras showed up. I was mortified into playing worse.

That evening, Dan drove me home. I sat sullenly in the passenger seat gazing out the window hoping he would not bring up my wretched performance. When we reached my driveway, I got out, quietly thanked Dan for the ride, and made my way to the house door where my mother had affixed a note that said “You’re famous! You made the evening news on TV! Hope you had fun! Love Mom.” Now I was certain that I was going to crawl into a dark hovel and never come out. I seriously contemplated quitting this whole fife thing. Why should I continue doing something, where, apparently, I am risking life and limb, I suck, and I get the opportunity to be humiliated on TV?

Now, you might be questioning, “where is the pivotal moment here?” Was it the jackass launching bottles at you? Was it the pitiful performance? Was it your face on the evening news as you were wrecking everything that is good and joyful about fife and drum music? No. Instead, the moment was as the leaf on a stream. It was that long quiet car ride home.

I was embarrassed and figured he thought I was a horrible student. Had he said something as simple as, “well, we have some things to work on”, I am quite sure I would have been too ashamed to show my face at his home for practice that next week. Hang up my britches and call it quits. But he didn’t. And the moment passed. And I moved forward. And I showed up for practice. And now I look back and think about all the wonderful things I would have missed had I naively decided I wasn’t good enough. And, funny enough, that is one of those lessons that I’ve found useful again and again as life keeps rolling. The idea that moving forward, in spite of your fear, is the thing that will pay dividends.

So Dan, thanks for being passionate, for being my instructor, and for driving me home.

Skip Healy Concert Review

Skip Healy
 
Over a few pints in the local establishment Skip, Mark and I watched as the Red Sox failed to deliver the go ahead run in a critical playoff game. As frustrating as that was, the evening of Celtic music that preceded it gave me plenty of positive energy to make the late night drive back from Connecticut where the three of us played together for a very appreciative crowd.

This was our second time playing together and it felt like a reasonable improvement over the last time. Instead of amplifying our show we opted to rely on the natural acoustics of the hall for the Company of Fifers and Drummers, which is in Ivoryton. Skip Healy, a true entertainer, played not only a beautiful variety of traditional and original jigs, reels, marches, aires and hornpipes, but also mixed in his own unique form of humorous storytelling, sprinkled with insightful commentary on the music he plays.

As we were reflecting on our performance over that aforementioned pint, Skip shared with me his thoughts on performing by reminding me of a quote by John Ringling: “The public would rather be entertained than enlightened.” Well I certainly felt, as I was playing next to Skip, that he gives you a bunch of both.

Here is one set from our show. This is a brand new set of tunes that Skip authored. The first tune is called the Gotha Swale and the second is The Taxes are Late and the King is Still Dead. You’ll just have to go to his next show to hear the story behind those names. It will be worth your while.