Writing this now since I haven’t had a chance or the brain to blog about it until this afternoon, but here we go!
There were a couple of extra fiddlers at this past Wednesday’s session at A Terrible Beauty–people who turned out to be stunningly awesome, a couple of professional performers, Andrea Beaton and Glenn Graham. What really sold me on Andrea and Glenn’s playing was its liveliness and the excellent foot-stomping rhythm they had going at the same time–very, very familiar to me from all the listening I’ve been doing to La Volee d’Castors and La Bottine Souriante and Le Vent du Nord. It turned out that the reason their music resonated so strongly with me was because they are in fact Canadian, Cape Breton specifically, so no wonder. 😀
I’d already been pleasantly challenged trying to keep up with Matt and Annie, as I’ve written before–but trying to keep up with Andrea and Glenn? WHOA. WHOA AND DAMN, people. I’m just this fortysomething chick who likes to noodle around on her guitar in her living room, y’know? And there I am in the session trying to provide a decent rhythm line underneath two hardcore fiddle players, who, I might add, proceeded just last night to go perform with Matt at Benaroya Hall for the Mastery of Scottish Arts concert.
I have been in sessions now with people who have performed in Benaroya Hall, people!
Only by focusing with laser-guided intensity on every motion of Glenn and Andrea’s bows was I able to keep up, and more than once, I lost track of their key changes. But I was at least able to come back around when they jumped back to a key I could recognize. A lot of what I’ve been doing at the sessions so far has just been playing the same six or seven chords in different keys and strum patterns, just trying to be decent rhythm backup for all the people who actually know the tunes. But these two took it up a whole extra order of magnitude for me, and I haven’t had so much fun on a guitar in ages.
Afterwards a couple of older gentlemen came over to say hi to Dara and me, and to admire the General! I got asked what kind of Taylor it was, and I was happy to say it was a 210, and I thanked the gents nicely for the kind things they said about my playing. I also went over to Andrea to make a point of telling her how awesome their playing was, and she was very gracious too.
I am so, SO outclassed at these sessions, it’s kind of scary! But in a good and exciting way, one which is making me go OH SHIT I’d better practice. So this afternoon I whipped out the piccolo, worked my way through an octave of scales, and then tried to stumble my way through “Road to Lisdoonvarna”, “Morrison’s Jig”, and “Drowsy Maggie”. I made it through the first two, more or less, before my embouchure fell over and started sending me “you haven’t played piccolo in a long goddamned time, have you?” signals.
I’ve also gone through my songbook and yoinked out the little sheet music bits of the various tunes GBS have used as bridges on their songs, in the hopes that I can then track down fuller versions, and use those for practice fodder. I have “Si Bheag Si Mhor” too, along with “Fisherman’s Frolic”, which those of you who read the TGM Jam Reports may remember as our outro to “Acres of Clams”. I have a LOT of source material to learn from. And it’s awesome to be able to have a reason to use it.
ETA: OO OO OO and I forgot to mention that when called upon to do a song by Matt, I stood up and did GBS’ arrangement of “The Night Pat Murphy Died”. *^_^*;; I cannot roar it like Séan McCann does and I really need to learn to project, but at least I managed to go through the whole thing without falling over. And when I went DARA, Dara whipped into the bridge on cue; she’s been practicing the Bitchin’ Bouzouki Solo.
Another practice assignment I want to do is to see if I can whip up a proper version of “As I Roved Out”; the arrangement I’m most familiar with is the one by the Fables, but I can’t sing it in their key so I’ll need to finagle it some.