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Notes from the Field

Sometimes my enthusiasm for this little eight string marvel just boils over and I have to tell someone. I figure this is a safer way to do it, than to yet again bore my friends.

  1. Light in the Dark

    We all go through grey and dark times: Being alone when I did not want to be, being with people I’d rather not be. Not having what I want and having a lot I don’t, not being who I want to be by this time, or worse, having to ask myself, as did Peggy Lee: "Is that all there is?"

    Being caught in a lie, or worse, being caught in a truth.

    And darker times.

    Losing friends over ridiculous arguments far less important (or informed) than was the friendship. ...

    Updated Dec-03-2019 at 11:01am by JeffD

  2. Bragging Rights

    There is a syndrome, in my experience much more common among some guitar players, where bragging rights accrue to getting the absolute cheapest most beat up instrument possible. I think it has to do with resolving the cognitive dissonance of playing blues, down and dirty blues, on a guitar costing a couple months pay, or more, at a good job. Authenticity, or something like. But whatever the reason, a fellow carrying a guitar that looks like it was found in the men's room of the New York City Port ...

    Updated Mar-05-2018 at 9:34pm by JeffD

  3. The Mandolin Life

    In various threads about getting better you will hear complaints about how little time is available for mandolin. Working two jobs, keeping three kids fed, negotiating four ex-wives, only five days of vacation… I hear you.

    This is not a “priorities” lecture, I am not going to tell you that you have the same 24 hours in a day that everyone does, this is not going to be a time management tips and tricks discussion.

    My experience is much more gradual and organic. Mandolin ...

    Updated Jan-29-2018 at 12:54pm by JeffD

  4. Getting More Betterer

    Getting More Betterer

    I have been reading “The Inner Game of Music”, which I highly recommend. It’s not a religion or philosophy, though it can be. One or two ideas from that book can really make a difference.

    Anyway, through some of the thinking in that book, and lots of coffee chat afterword, and being tired of struggling with technique for its own sake, I have a useful perspective I can finally put into words. It applies to most of us, but perhaps not all.

    Updated Jul-07-2017 at 9:42pm by JeffD

  5. Acts of Defiance

    Hang on folks this is important.

    Every year I throw a large music party at a local state park pavilion. At times we have had as many as 65 or 70 attendees. Once or twice we had three simultaneous jams, old time and traditional, hard core Irish traditional, and one for old country and western songs.

    Mandolins, yea, but banjos too, fiddles galore, two or three cellos, maybe an accordion and a clarinet, one or two autoharps, and many guitars.

    Been doing this for ...
  6. The Mandolin in America

    I recall, a long time ago in a grade school far, far away, a teacher attempting to take us into the very distant past and get us to imaginatively appreciate ancient history in the first person. As if we were there, in ancient times, living it. This must have been fifth grade, or likely earlier. A class mate raised his hand and offered the observation that, “it was much easier to go to school back then. Kids didn’t have as much history to learn.”

    I think this is a very American observation. ...

    Updated Jan-27-2017 at 9:46am by JeffD

  7. Musical Heroes Take Three

    I have shared my thinking regard super star mandolin performers. Here and here.

    Well let me relate a recent experience and share with you a new thought, or at least a new way of saying it.

    The other night I was sitting around playing with some friends. I was the only mandolin, and I was sitting with two guitars, four or five fiddles, two banjos, and a church bass. Adult drinks were in attendance as well.

    We were collectively and individually having the time ...
  8. An Interactive Story

    I am going to tell you a story, the last lines of which you will please supply in the comments below. It’s a fictional story. Any resemblance between anyone in the story and any flesh and blood person is the result of a heck of a lot of work. Something like this has happened, and other things have happened too. The discrete experiences we collect throughout our lives are like individual notes. With enough of them you can write just about any tune.

    A cold snowy day, a warm inviting ...

    Updated Dec-05-2016 at 4:09pm by JeffD

  9. Its a tonic I recommend.

    I sat down the other afternoon, with my mandolin, just me and myself, and played and played and played. Missed dinner and played until bed time.

    The rip-snorting great time I had took me far away from the issues of the day, national, local, social, political. It transported me way beyond whether Sierra Hull can be considered a bluegrasser, or whether or not one should be admonished for using a capo, whether an octave mandolin is a mandola or a tenor mandola or a tenor mandolin, or whether ...
  10. Electric Mandolin - A New Context

    In this posting I wrote about finding a context in which my messing around with electric mandolin makes some sense.

    The jamming opportunities I naively sought out have been dead ends. It seems that, for the most part, jamming is not what one does on an electric mandolin.

    What I am finding is that as an electric I am an outsider to the mainstream of mandolin and as a mandolin I am an outside the mainstream of electric guitar. I am forced to figure something out on my own. ...

    Updated Oct-16-2016 at 3:21pm by JeffD

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