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The Fifth Course

Working Up a Set

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I used to be a singer/songwriter. Time was when I could access my emotional state at the drop of a hat and pour my guts out with a pen, a piece of paper and a guitar.

Things changed as I got older. Music became a hobby rather than a serious endeavor, so I turned from songwriting to more social forms of musical expression.

I found Bluegrass, not because I am deeply enamored with the style of music, but because Bluegrassers welcomed me.

The reason I played music shifted, and because Bluegrass is a simple style of music whose practitioners (amateur and professional alike) value improvisation and virtuosity with the form, I took up the mandolin. I have never connected to the guitar as an improvisational instrument and the mandolin felt right.

Another decade and another serious life change later, I am attempting to combine the old me (the singer/songwriter) with the new me (the mandolin player).

Toward that end, here’s a set I am working up and will probably gig with in the near future.

In no particular order (yet):

Farewell Angelina | Bob Dylan | A
O Suzanna! | Stephen Foster | D
I’m Going to the West | trad., arr, Daniel Nestlerode | Dm
The Bird Song | Victoria Vox | G
Moon Over Bourbon Street | Sting | Fm
Bury Me Beneath the Willow | Carter Family | A
Under African Skies | Paul Simon | D
Annabelle | Gillian Welch | F#m
Just Say Goodbye | Daniel Nestlerode | G
Wish You Were Here | Pink Floyd | G
Speed of the Sound of Loneliness | John Prine | C
I Shall Be Released | Bob Dylan | G
Time to practice…

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  1. CommGuy's Avatar
    As a longtime performer and singer/songwriter, I can identify with just about everything in your post. I wrote extensively, and surrounded myself with talented folks to help bring each song to a new level of life.

    As I've gotten older, I've gotten further from the stage, and begun moving around in front of and behind it. I work in radio, and have talented children, so I still enjoy plenty of live music, but play less of it myself.

    Bluegrass is a true joy. I am routinely thrilled by the level of musicianship, and the warmth of the community. I miss plain old "jamming" - and look forward to the mandolin sparking a musical re-entry with no baggage.

    Best wishes on your endeavors.

  2. Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
    And to you too Dan.
    Happy New Year!