Diane and I went to church this morning…in Venice! It was the best way to experience the Basilica of San Marco, a gem of Byzantine architecture. I’ve never been in a more grand building, that is, until just shortly after we left church and went to the Doge Palace.
Words, pictures and sounds won’t do the Basilica justice, but I can tell you that the inside glistened as light poured in and reflected of the gold lined domes in the basilica. And when the service started we were treated with a earth moving pipe organ, and a angelic choir, singing in Italian, of course. Now why don’t we do church music like this at home? Very inspiring indeed.
I did my best to discretely record the service and take some pictures, although neither were allowed. But, I did ask for forgiveness while I was there.
You can hear the recording at http://soundcloud.com/baconworks/basilica-san-marco
I recorded this version of Peggy ‘O on my iPhone the other night while practicing for a show in July. It was the first time we tried banjo with it…and I quite liked it. Mark Evans on banjo, Luke Stark on bass, and I on guitar and vocals.
I first heard Peggy ‘O on a recording of the Dead from the seventies. It was one of those moments where I was completely captivated by the combined beauty of the melody, the story, and the way the Grateful Dead wove together the piano, bass and guitars. It was the only song I listened to for at least a week.
Here is a youtube video of a Dead version of Peggy ‘O from the seventies. Not as much piano in this version as the one I fell in love with. But still, you get the sense of what a powerful ballad this was. If you don’t get chills at least once during this performance…well…I’ll get off my Head soapbox now.
The members of Stoneybatter Band can often be found playing tunes at John Stone’s Public House in Ashland, MA. Here is half the band in the pub working out a new set of tunes late one evening. The first tune is one that I wrote called The Marlin Spike. The other two are tunes Jim dug up and I’d tell ya the name of ’em if I could remember ’em.
I’m gonna make a concerted effort to post at least one video a week of something musical. The only rule is that the video will be one that I took. I will not be reposting video’s of my new favorite band, The Avett Brothers, who have a very deep repertoire of some of the best songwriting I’ve heard in years, or versions of Phish’s brilliant Split Open and Melt, which some have called the “best sounding chaos you will ever hear”, or even gems from the Transatlantic Sessions. Nope, none of the above. Instead, I will post just videos of people I know that make great music…and maybe a few from me.
Here is the first from my buddy Mustachio. He is playing a tune that he recently wrote. He didn’t have a name for it…so, in the interest of getting this video posted, I named it for him. The video is from April 12th, 2011 at John Stone’s Public House in Ashland. He played this after everyone had pretty much gone home, which is always the way it works. Musicians know that the best stuff is always played when no one is around to hear it.
Late at night, after the session ends at John Stone’s in Ashland, Mustachio and I usually try to sneak in a bit of practice before they throw us out. One night in February I decided to see if there was enough light in the room to record us running through Farewell to Fiunary. We almost had a near disaster when the waitress came over shortly after recording this to pick up a bunch of empty pint glasses that were sitting on a stool. What she didn’t realize was that pint glasses were sandwiching my iPhone, which was carefully balanced on its edge while recording. This could have been a really expensive video. Fortunately, I was able to leap up in time to catch the phone before it plummeted to the floor…and here is the video that was on it.
On Monday, March 7th, I will be playing a fun selection of shanties and sea ballads at Framingham State College from 1:30pm to 2:15pm. I will be joined with George Arata on bouzouki, Luke Stark on bass and Mark Evans on concertina. In fact you can hear Mark in a recording I posted of him awhile back. Also, you can check out a recording below from one of our practices to get a sense of what we’ll be playing on Monday. We’re really looking forward to it.
Back in the summer of 1990 I jumped on a plane to Switzerland with my good friend Roger. Our first stop was the Lugano Fife & Drum Muster in the beautiful Italian part of Switzerland. After a brief stay in Lugano, which involved meeting my good friend Massimo for the first time and escapades at a youth hostile, Roger an I boarded an overnight train to Basel. The train was full, and Roger’s drum case was too wide to fit into the train car. So, his drum spent the night between cars and we spent the night trying to sleep in the aisle way. Being young and naive, and hearing horror stories of how the train cars often split during the night, leading the unsuspecting traveler to Liechtenstein instead of Basel, we felt fortunate to arrive in Basel in good shape, good spirits, and with all our instruments.
We then made our way to the airport, where we were to meet up with the Ancient Mariners, who were arriving for their visit with the Swiss Mariners. We walked in to find the Swiss Mariners, who we had never met, all standing in the waiting area, looking through a glass wall, where they were expecting to see the Ancient Mariners arrive at any moment. We walked up behind them and said hello, which entirely confused them since there was only one way through that glass wall…and we didn’t come through it. Apparently nobody told them we were coming early by train.
After a brief explanation, a good laugh was had by all. The Ancient Mariners showed up ten or fifteen minutes later, we all had the first of many beers and a week of celebrating had commenced.
Later that week, we performed for a couple thousand people at the Augst Roman Theater. The memories of that concert, until now, had been slowly fading, being replaced by more recent escapades in Switzerland. Today, however, I saw a video that was posted from that concert and the memories came rushing back.
This is a video of the Ancient Mariner Chantey Men singing a goofy, crowd-pleasing song called the German Clockwinder. What the Chantey Men didn’t know was that the rest of the Swiss Mariners and Ancient Mariners had spontaneously lined up behind them and started bopping up and down, and singing along…if you can call ‘boop, boop’ singing. And, in the end, for reasons I never understood, we all decided to fall down. Goofy, corny, odd, but the crowd loved it. I guess sometimes people just want to see the entertainers make clowns of themselves. And we did. But, more importantly for me, it was the first real moment that I understood what a special group of friends I had, both here and abroad.
Incidentally, Roger and I are the baby faced ones hanging out somewhere over in the left side of the line.
A few months back I was asked if I could put together a recording of our national anthem to be used in a theater production. Cool, I can do that. But then came the challenge. They wanted it to be loose…and dark. Hmmm, how do you make the Star Spangled Banner, which is really a tune called To Anacreon in Heaven, dark? And, if it is to be loose, maybe I should imbibe a few frosty ones before laying tracks? After all, To Anacreon in Heaven is often referred to as a drinking song. Anywho, I let this go until the last minute, and was forced to improvise during the recording. But, in the end, it is loose (that part wasn’t hard) and I guess it is a little dark. You be the judge.