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The Fifth Course

A Little Bender on the Fender

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Just dropping a note to say that I gigged last night (Thursday June 17, 2010) as an electric mandolin player for the first time in at least half a year. What a gas! The gig was another of my series of lobby appearances. (Always the bridesmaid/lobby, never the bride/theater.) This one with Seņor of Seņor Circus. He was Seņor I was this Circus last night.

Playing through the tunes, I was flying around moderate tempo rock/pop tunes with the happiest of ease on my 8 string Fender FM-988 (mandocaster). Keys of G, C, B, A, and E. Lots of standard major scales, one blues scale in C. Oh yeah, a tune in G minor too.

The overdrive unit made an appearance on two tunes. What fun to be a lead guitar player on a mandolin! Makin' it growl is such a treat for me. I was raised on Led Zeppelin, Kansas, Heart, Yes, King Crimson, etc. I got to be Roger Fisher (Heart) for those two tunes!

The chorus unit came in handy when I needed to make sure that the clean tone was bright enough to carry the E course in a solo. And it served to vary the tone a bit from song to song.

Flanger stayed more or less silent. Hard to justify that strong an effect in a duo with an acoustic guitar.

I'd love more and more varied gigs like this, but it's hard to get rock/pop musicians to see past 2 guitars, bass, and drums.

One interesting visual development...

Seņor debuted his sitar last night on some solo material, and he left it visible on stage while we played more conventional western material. I discovered that a sitar will certainly steal people's attention away from a "little guitar."

I had a small twinge of jealousy about the fact that people were more interested in the sitar laying mute on the stage than they were about the emando. It made me realize that I like being asked about the mandolin, and I like having the status of "most curious instrument in the band"! Ahh vanity.

[Monthly column installment coming soon. Subject: ruminations on the meaning of the word "play" and its connection to the devaluation of performing arts in American society.]


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