So it seems as though these posts have become weekly instead of daily, but I suppose I am able to make it happen as time permits. Hopefully I can get back to it on a regular basis. The week has been good, though jam packed with stuff and hopefully the onset of spring will help in spreading out the to do list as I won't have to pack it all into one or two days. The highlight of the week was having the opportunity to see Bruce Molsky play locally at Kellish Farm in Manlius NY. For those of you not familiar, Bruce is an amazing fiddle player not to mention his ability to play banjo and guitar plus an amazing vocal range, and he is world renowned for his musical ability. I always check his tour dates and they usually consist of a lot of tour dates in Europe and the UK and have missed him twice coming near to the area. As I figured, the show was awesome and some of my favorite tunes were played.
I was asked by a good friend who accompanied me to the show, why I was drawn to Old Time music as the type of music I wanted to play. I answered him saying that Old Time is a type of music that can be played in the kitchen, with anywhere from a bunch of people to two people playing tunes that are familiar or not familiar, but it is relaxed and communal and people have a great time. I thought about it a little more as the evening wore on and started to think about some parallels to my pots and some of the references there. I thought about its tradition and history and the connections to a rich and complex oral history. I don't know how to read music and frankly, since quitting the french horn in elementary school the idea of reading music has completely left my mental catalogue. These tunes are tunes that were played by my ancestors either directly or indirectly, and they were carried with them as they immigrated here. They were passed to sons or daughters through playing or singing, not written down or recorded and I am continuing that history by learning and playing the tunes in the way they were meant to be played. They are stories and they are lives, and those stories would be lost if it weren't for people like Bruce Molsky and in a way, myself. I am physically connecting myself through this long string of notes squawked out on an old fiddle or banged out on an old banjo, and I am proud to be a conduit for those things.
To know where we came from is the only way to continue moving forward.
This tune is called "Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie" and as Bruce said at the show, it is the saddest song ever, and I agree. But there is something beautiful about those old sad songs and there is a great tradition of these mournful tunes. They hold a nice spot in my heart right next to the great old murder ballads of the 1800's.
I also had the privilege of getting to play Bruce's banjo which is a beautiful example of one of Kevin Enoch's instruments. Awesome tone and amazing craftsmanship. The evening was such a treat on all levels. Check out Bruce Molsky's website for his dates or for booking and if he's coming near to you, check him out