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The entire Victoria trip, part 1: Friday

I already went on at considerable length about the general awesomeness of seeing Le Vent du Nord perform at Hermann’s Jazz Club. And of course, y’all also know about my newly christened mammoth!

But I’ve been reminded that I did not in fact give you a proper writeup of the weekend as a whole. And it’s worth talking about that, just because Dara and I never had been to Victoria before, and Victoria in general was absolutely worth the visit.

So behold, my recounting of my and Dara’s Victoria Adventure! This post’s going to focus on what we did on Friday the 5th, with as many pictures as look decent enough to share. I’ll do other posts for the non-Le-Vent portion of Saturday the 6th, and for Sunday the 7th!

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Zouk practice!

As of this weekend I can say that I can reliably more or less play, without PDF assistance, five tunes: Banish Misfortune, Road to Lisdoonvarna, Swallow’s Tail Jig, Morrison’s Jig, and Si Bheag Si Mhor. I’ve spent some time on Shine specifically trying to play through Lisdoonvarna and Swallow’s Tail and Morrison’s, since Matt likes to link those up in a set at session.

But! I’ve also broken out my bouzouki for the first time in a while. For a variety of reasons!

For one thing, this gorgeous fellow over here is enough to make any amateur bouzouki player go YES I’d like to do that, please!

Simon Beaudry

For another, and more importantly, I’ve wanted to actually learn proper fingerwork on the bouzouki and big mand for YEARS NOW, and Session is finally giving me motivation to do so. I look at the musicians who know what they’re actually doing at session, and note how they’re able to switch happily off between this instrument and that. I want to do that. I HAVE THE INSTRUMENTS. So I clearly need to practice these tunes on multiple ones. Because if I have the instruments, I should be PLAYING them.

My friend userinfobrightbeak said something to me on Facebook as well which really resonated with me: i.e., how it seems to her that I have found “the heartbeat that nurtures your soul”. Irish/Celtic trad, especially the branch of it in Atlantic Canada and Quebec, is exactly that. It’s exactly the same reaction I had when I first saw Great Big Sea way back when and something in me said THAT! I WANT TO PLAY THAT!

It nurtures my soul indeed to be reminded of this. \0/

And this, by way, is my bouzouki! Her name is Spring. Say hi, Spring!

Spring Says *TWANG*

Spring Says *TWANG*

So today, in addition to practicing the aforementioned five tunes on Shine, I got out Spring as well and staggered my way through Banish Misfortune. I’ve got a mandolin fakebook with a whole lot of tunes in it, and since Spring and my big mand Autumn are both tuned to GDAE, I can use the fakebook to slowly pluck out the tunes on them both. I’ve already used that fakebook once to try to learn Swallow’s Tail REEL on Spring–and now it’ll be wonderful to start finding more of the tunes we play in session, too. I’m not sure yet whether Spring or Autumn will wind up being my stringed instrument of choice in session, we’ll have to see–another person showed up last time with the same model mand that Autumn is (a Trinity College), so I think I’ll favor Spring for a while. Spring’s got more responsive strings anyway!


Back to the eight-stringed path

This post starts, like many of my days do, with the Handsomest of Marketboys yakkin’ at me the other day on my morning walk through the market. I was, I believe, telling him about my forthcoming furlough, in which I shall be not only taking time off from work but also from the Internet–so it’ll be me, my writing, my userinfosolarbird, and my guitar. He told me by way of reply that if I ever wanted a thousand-dollar Stratocaster, I should let him know.

Now this gave me pause for a couple of reasons. One, I already kinda knew that the HofM seemed to have a bit of musical inclination; I’ve heard him sing a time or two off the top of his head. Two, Jesus Jumping Christ on a pogostick, if you’ve got a thousand-dollar Strat sitting around and you’re not playing it, you are doing it a sore injustice. (Said the owner of a near-thousand-dollar Taylor 210, who is very conscious of the General STERNLY awaiting her return to him.)

So I told him I had no need of another guitar, since I had two, and he should be playing his!

Which of course sent me down the path of remembering I haven’t been playing my guitar much lately–not out of lack of interest, but because of change in focus at session. In the back of my brain, though, I’ve been pondering that I’ve got all these other songbooks and things, and other instruments, and it’d be nice to bring at least one other instrument with me to session that I could pair up with the piccolo to trade off between. Maybe not the General since the General’s too much instrument when I’m really playing him and he’s really more of a I WANT TO COMMAND THE RHYTHM LINE instrument anyway, at least in my hands. Which is not what I want to use the General for when I’m in a session.

Bring in Le Monsieur Beaudry and his bouzouki. As I’m looking through Le Vent du Nord’s site gallery tonight, I’m thinking–y’know what, I’ve got a goddamn bouzouki myself. AND an octave mandolin, neither of which have been played much in the last few years. So I tuned up both Autumn and Spring tonight, and looked in my mandolin fakebook, and lo and behold, there is “Banish Misfortune” waiting for me to start playing with it. It’s a slightly different arrangement than what we’ve been doing in session, but that is entirely okay. This is where my fledgling “pay attention to what my fellow session players are doing” powers can start activating!

Tried playing both Autumn and Spring tonight and realized that right now, Autumn’s fret spacing feels more comfortable to me, possibly because I’ve been more used to the General lately so I’ve been used to a narrower neck. So when Dara and I have our off-weeks for session practice, I’m going to start spending time on Autumn as well as with Shine, who will remain my primary session instrument for the time being.

I feel very good about this plan. \0/