Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Thursday, August 11, 2005

SIGN ON THE CHURCH MARQUEE said, "Unless God makes the people well, the work of the nurses shall be vain."

Oh, sure. Take all the credit when something goes well, but when things go kerplooey --

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Went to a park to hear Foghorn String Band, a 5-piece with fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar, and bass, the traditional instrumentation of bluegrass, not old-time fiddle music, which traditionally featured . . . fiddle! Solo. Guitar came up from South America; banjo got adopted from minstrels who adopted/adapted it from African American slaves; bass occasionally made it onto early white country records but didn't get institutionalized in until the '30s when Western Swing bands and then bluegrass bands borrowed it from jazz. I'm not sure when mandolin became prominent. My northern great-grandfather played mandolin (I have it; it's a beater now, with a beautiful round-back body), so it was popular in the northern "sentimental" pop style 100+ years ago.

When I saw Mike Seeger a few weeks ago, he said, "Yes, this is old-time music. We used to call it 'folk music,' but then in the '60s people started calling all sorts of other things 'folk music,' so we started calling what we do 'old-time music.' Now all sorts of other things are starting to be called 'old-time music' too, so we may have to find another name, but for now this one will do."

It took me a while to figure out what distinguished this non-old-timey bluegrass line-up calling itself "not bluegrass, but old-time music" from actual bluegrass. First, the banjo player doesn't wear finger picks, which bluegrass players do, giving them a brighter, less mellow attack. Then I realized, the instrumental sections with Foghorn were all unison, not spots for virtuoso improvising.

Hot band. Nice 2-part and occasional 3-part harmonies. Their web site bills them as Ass Kickin’ Redneck Stringband Music. I'm sick of rampant redneckism, but I liked the music, and I'm impressed that they drove from Madison to Seattle, leaving Wednesday morning and making it for the 6:30 PM gig.

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"She Came In Through the Bathroom Window" as answer song to Dylan's "Can't You Please Crawl Out Your Window"? Out her window and into Paul's . . .

Unscrew the locks from the doors -- !

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Attention Wagnerians: Seattle's "Classical Choice," KING-FM, will broadcast Seattle Opera's "Rheingold" at 7 PM Pacific Time Saturday night. The link takes you to the webcast.

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There was something I wanted to tell you, but I got distracted. Hopefully, it was a pleasant distraction.
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