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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. ...and a plate of ginger snaps

    Its hard enough to describe to you musical folks, and almost impossible to talk about in mixed (musical and non musical) company.

    You watch the postman put it in your mail box... It could be one of those boxes with the smile on it, or maybe just a rough looking well traveled brown paper package. You bring it in all shaky with anticipation, and because Christmas traditions do not limit themselves to December, you tear into that package like it contained the last donut.

    And ...

    Updated Apr-24-2021 at 12:15pm by JeffD

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  2. My First Mandolin was a Banjo

    Sitting with a musical friend after school one day way back there, and he handed me a bowlback mandolin. He said, "put your hands like this and this, and here is how your fingers go" and I was in absolute awe.

    He was a lower brass player in the high school band, I was woodwinds myself. But he was also taking violin lessons and could play some mandolin.

    So I went home full of mandolin dreams and the only thing I had to work with was an old four string banjo my ...

    Updated Dec-11-2016 at 9:17pm by JeffD

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  3. Transcendence

    Like when a brown trout takes the artificial fly you tied this morning.

    Like when you haul up the sail in a breeze and suddenly your boat wakes up and goes to work.

    Like when a stranger returns your smile, in a country not your own.

    Like when you play Wild Rose of the Mountain at your own jam in your own kitchen, and someone keeps the tune going when you thought you might stop.


    This stuff is worse than opium.
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  4. I am not a musician

    In many important ways you could accurately say I am not a musician. I play music, but I do not make music.

    I put in significant time behind my mandolin, my fiddle, and even my tenor banjo. I play lots of different kinds of music, from old timey and bluegrass to fiddle tunes and contra dance music, tunes from Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, to tango and classical. Some of it I do real well, some of it I do passably well, and some of it I really struggle with.

    But here ...
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  5. How much should I spend on a mandolin?

    I have been thinking about the cost of a mandolin.

    Folks go on and on about why an F style costs more than an A style, or why a vintage this costs more than a vintage that. And there are numerous discussion about getting the best mandolin you can for under $300.00.

    I understand, right down to my bones I understand, having serious concerns about money. And I have been through my share of scratchy times. And this is not about how to manage that, or how to get more for what ...

    Updated May-20-2016 at 9:02am by JeffD

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  6. Selection Criteria

    In a recent thread a member posted a complete personal 6 point criteria for the purchase of a new mandolin. I started to comment, and found my comments were more distracting than helpful, and that they really contributed nothing to the original poster's questions. But I had to write something about this, and that is what a blog is for.

    The party line on how to go about buying something new, or any decision really, is to:

    1 list your criteria

    2 divide ...
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  7. My Martian Neighbors

    My new neighbor is from fricken Mars or somewhere. Somewhere entirely different from here.

    To listen to the music that sometimes comes out of his windows you would think he was some toothless old goober from the movie Deliverance. But that ain’t half of it.

    Because its not the goober network they are watching on cable, or some old crank around records from before CDs, no, they are making this music themselves!

    I know because I got to see them close up. ...
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  8. The Next Level

    There has been some discussion about the progression of mandolin ownership. Starting on a beginners mandolin and upgrading to something better, but not too good lest we seem pretentious, and then upgrading from there to “the next level” as soon as we deserve it, and can afford it, and so on. And lots of fascinating discussion occurs regarding what make and model of mandolin is appropriate to each level in the continuum from embryo to awesome.

    Then the question as to whether this continuum ...
    Tags: upgrade
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  9. Getting Old

    When I think about it, a lot of my life has been dedicated to being an effective old guy. Learn to play mandolin, learn to fly fish, learn to smoke cigars, learn to drink bourbon, learn to tell good stories, learn to talk with people and make them feel welcome, learn how much nonsense to tolerate and how to handle things when the limit has been exceeded, all the stuff you expect a person who has been around to know how to do.

    And I started early. I mean do the math. If you want to ...
    Tags: old guy
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  10. Infinite moments, finite minutes

    So this week the jam was at my house. Our normal venue, where we have our jam on stage, and where we don’t charge them a dime, our normal venue every now and then thinks they can do better. So every other month or so they book a rock band to play on our jam night and tell us to git.

    Anyway, on those evenings the jam meets at my house. Tonight we had four fiddles, three mandolins, two guitars, and a flute. Oh and the piano. We played lots of tunes that featured arpeggios in the B part, ...
    Tags: jam, joy
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