Saturday, February 18, 2012

Frustrated, Fed Up, and Feeling Overwhelmed

Life gets busy. No doubt everyone experiences this. Sometimes are busier than others. My busy time is involved trying to put together some free music experiences. Not having time to market myself and my music, I've involved myself in some experiences that are free with the hopes that they will build a culture in my specific geographic locale as there seems to be a lack of that.

I was starting to write about being frustrated and fed up with cable or satellite television as well as the current politics that are going on. Topics worth writing about but I'd rather spend my time playing music and connecting with other musicians to make music that is enjoyable to both the musicians performing and anyone listening. Such an event is less about performing than it is about creating a community of participation. That's another subject I have frustration about. Our society's proclivity to deify performers and consider fame more important than personal relationships.

It's peculiar that where I live, there isn't a community of musicians who get together in a public location to just sit down and make music. In Ireland and Scotland this is called a session, or a hooley. These events take place in various local pubs on at least a weekly basis. In the U.S. folks used to get together on a Friday and/or Saturday night and have a party (hooley). Food would be shared, stories and jokes told, socializing amongst friends occurred, those with musical abilities brought their instruments, and dances were danced. Community, contra or barn dances. This could go on all night in some instances. It was a relief from the work week.

Nowadays, we have television, stereos, the internet, personal dvd players, and smartphones. Curiously enough for me sitting here writing this, there are folks who blog or write digital journals that go out into the ethernet and may be around for eons. All these things make personal, face-to-face connectivity less a reality.

Here is a video clip posted on YouTube by clarebannerman of a session by the band, Providence, in an Irish pub, Cruises Pub in Ennis, County Clare that I enjoyed seeing awhile back. It is a bit produced as the music and musicians are very proficient at this set of tunes they perform but the clip does capture a sense of the session experience.

Below's a video of session in an Irish pub, Billy Andy's, posted by fiddle4u on YouTube. This video shows a truer view of a session, imho.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Al Jaffee, Creator of the Fold In for Mad Magazine

Browsing through Brain Pickings the November 28, 2011 blog about the The 11 Best Art and Design Books of 2011 listed in position number 9, THE MAD FOLD-IN COLLECTION. This book caught my interest immediately. Many Americans, if not all, have perused an issue or two to several hundred of Mad Magazine in our lives. And one of the enjoyable parts of an issue is the fold-in. The video interview below, A Few Minutes With Someone Funnier Than You: A Few Minutes with Al Jaffee, is with the creator of the fold-in, Al Jaffee. In this interview, one of UCB YouTube offerings, he's 89 years old and still working for Mad Magazine!!! We should all be as bright, vital, and creative as he is at 89. The Brain Pickings post has several samples besides the interview below.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Color Poems Art Installation - Josh Nobiling

Josh shared these pics of his Color Poems art show opening at the New Wilmington Art Association this past Friday (February 3).

Josh installing his work.

One wall done and another wall started.

A straight on photo of part of one wall.

This show is interactive in nature. Crayons were provided and attendees were encouraged to color on the art on the wall as well as the smaller prints (screen prints Josh prepared) on the table. I believe attendees may have been able to take the small ones they colored home with them.

Can't forget the treats! Cookies Josh and Brandye baked for the event.

Josh chattin' it up with an attendee.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tyrone Hayes and Atrazine

Photo by Annie Tritt of Tyrone Hayes with one of his research frogs.

The January-February issue of Mother Jones has an interesting article, The Frog of War, by Dashka Slater, about Tyrone Hayes and his fight with Syngenta and their herbicide Atrazine. It strikes close to home as I live in the Midwest. It’s a lengthy read (3 pages) but well worth it. The use of herbicides and pesticides produced with profit in mind is a concern, or should be, as the people who live and work in areas where such herbicides and pesticides are used are effected. The original intent, to eliminate or reduce plants and/or insects that significantly reduce crop yields is worthwhile. But, when it becomes detrimental to the health and the quality of life of residents in and around the area of use, don't such herbicides or pesticides need controls in place?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

24 Pints Wiser

24 Pints Wiser, a musical ensemble of American craic heads performing Celtic songs and tunes performed for the local Scottish American Society's 35th Annual Robert Burns Dinner. Robert Burns is the author of the lyrics. I'm not sure where the melody comes from but I learned the fiddle part from a Dubliner's recording. A fun tune to learn and play. My hat's off to my friend, Shona McMillan for her help in understanding and providing a phonetic pronounciation for some of the lyrics. Visit her blog, Celtic Reflections, and enjoy a slice of Scottish life through her writing and photography. You'll be glad you did!

Blogging and Seth Apter

Currently I am reading a series of posts by Seth Apter about blogging. Currently, I am on post 4 of this series, Your Blog Your Way. Seth is a New York based mixed media artist and instructor who I first heard about in a recent issue of Somerset's Mixed Media magazine. Seth has an interesting art blog entitled The Altered Page and is a proponent of collaborative artwork employing current technology as well as challenging individuals to be creative, critical thinkers not only in their art but the art of blogging.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Goosetown Stringband

Attended the Illowa Folk Dance Series monthly dance at Singing Bird Nature Center last night and got to sit in with the Goosetown Stringband. Big FUN!!! A real treat! I even got to dance a dance! I'm not sure which is more fun?!?!?

The bass player was not available to play last night and I don't believe it is the one pictured. But the fiddler, Dave "Top Shelf" Mehaffey; banjoist, Brian Gotwals; and guitarist, Marc Janssen were there. Got to play a tune I've heard in the past but not played before, Ladies on the Steamboat. One for my "Learn" list. It's such good craic to make music with these solid musicians and gentlemen!

A Day Made of Glass

The video below speaks for itself. Very, very exciting!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Disc Golf

This past summer and fall I and Kathy started playing disc golf. She and I both needing exercise found this to be a wonderful past time. The sport gets us outdoors and the body moving as well challenges our focus and concentration. It's relaxing time that can get anywhere from a 4 to 6 mile walk in with physical body motion bending and throwing the disc down a fairway to the basket. The winter has been so mild around here that Spring can't come 'round soon enough! The disc itch is getting strong. It was so nice around Christmas time that I was able to introduce our son and two of our grandsons to the game. One grandson is seven and it was a bit challenging for him. In time I believe he'll pick up on it. His older brother (who's 14) is very charged up about and ready to play at most any time. The other day a new Disc Golf video upload announcement showed up in my email. It provides 5 tips on taking 5 strokes off your game.

Resolutions So Far

Looked over a past post about Woody Guthrie's resolutions for 1942 where I had listed my resolutions for this year and I'm happy to see that I am making progress. It's a bit of an ambitious list but so far I've got the following six resolutions off to a good start: 1. Continue learning and improving my graphic design skills 2. Improve my fingerstyle guitar skills 6. Improve my fiddling skills 10. Continue reducing credit card debt 11. Increase daily exercise 12. Eat better by cooking at home more. I think the two following resolutions are off to a good start but I don't always seem cognizant of them: 4. Savor every moment 5. Love all family members equally These two are a challenging. Self-esteem issues often find me in difficulty with this one: 3. Continue believing "I can" and I think I'm doing okay with this one but some days I'm not sure: 7. Be respectful of others A month has gone by and I've not gotten either of these started: 8. Complete one drawing or painting a month 9. Compose an original song or fiddle tune once a month Off to a pretty good start all in all. Now to keep it up.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


While perusing the latest issue of Stampington's Artful Blogging at a local Barnes & Noble, I was drawn to several articles and several ideas permeated throughout. One idea is to keep at it if for no other reason than the fact that as individual, each of us has something unique to contribute and say. Another idea is not to let other blogs that one might read interfere with one's blogging. Some artists also call this turning off the inner critic. Also, practice is imperative in improving and growing as an artist. The practice and improvement as a result of practice helps one to find one's voice and focus. The other thoughts that come to my mind that focus, as dreams, change over time. And, that's perfectly fine as change is a characteristic of life. A clever or wise saying I read the other day along these lines comes to mind while writing this. That saying goes "Remember two days from now, tomorrow will be yesterday." Hmmm... Sounds like a good reason to stay, live in, and savor the present. With all the above in mind, I'll try (yet, again) to continue blogging. Striving to blog on a more consistent (daily?) habit. Or, perhaps with daily blogging being the goal. But, most of all blog!

NPR Interview on NPR

A recent interview on NPR with Neil Young revealed an attitude and mindset that, imho, negates all the current controversy over pirated music from the internet. Neil seems to be dead-on about this in so many ways. Not only does he negate the current "music pirating" controversy but proposes an alternative that makes sense and brings back the quality of vinyl recordings. There is another issue and problem to solve with regards to creating a quality digital recording and player capable of playing such recordings.