Greetings friends and
am back from Galax and getting ready to head to Michigan for my usual fall trip.
I am so grateful to have so many opportunities to play music with a lot of really
good players. Here is this month's index:
set Guiness book record
of country guitar pickers
Mandolins set Guiness book record
One of the many great things that happened at this year's Galax Fiddler's
Convention was an attempt to break the Guiness record for most mandolins being played
at one time. Tara Linhardt came up with the idea several months ahead and made a
facebook invite with a time schedule of Tuesday afternoon at 2pm. Word got spread
and by 1 Tuesday the bleachers had started to fill up with people. Mandolin marshals
were assigned, one per 50 players, to help keep the unwieldy group playing together.
4 tunes were selected (ahead). The old record was set in Germany with 383 players.
When all the mandolins in the entire park were assembled, they were two short, so
a call was made to the local music store in downtown Galax, and those folks brought
eight more instruments over. There were plenty of pickers to play them. The local
news came out to cover the spectacle, and you can read the article about it and
see a short video here.
This gave many of us one more reason to love Galax. There is a photo album on my
music page of swingtown, where I usually camp. Greg Bond engineered
a rig that holds a huge silver tarp, and he and some others host a jamming space
where swing players can gather throughout the week to enjoy some pickin and listening
while being sheltered from the rain and sun. You can also check out my contarption
that keeps my van dry and shady. Just click on photos and look for the album Galax
2012, or look down the posts. I just put it up this week.
Tour of country guitar pickers-
Another cool thing about Galax is the kids and young adults who are really good
players that understand the value of listening to and learning from the masters.
Listening is about 80% of playing music. You have to listen to yourself while you
are playing, listen to the people you are paying with, and spend as much time as
you can listening to others while you are not playing, In order to give it your
full attention. So, I was delighted one afternoon to see a twenty- something guy
with a notebook going around asking people for their recommendations for albums
he should get to help him learn to be a better guitar player. I asked him
what styles of music he was interested in and old country was high on his list.
So here are a few my suggestions. The only actual album I suggested was Country
Soul Guitar by Duke Levine. We first heard Duke's playing on a Peter Wolf recording
called Midnight Souvenirs. Here is a song from that recording- a duo with Shelby
Lynne called Tragedy.
Not particularly country, but great playing. The Country Soul Guitar record is just
what the title says. For some older country and rockabilly, I sent him to youtube.
Speedy West played what he used to call hillbilly jazz. Here he is playing Speedy Plays
The Boogie. Fast and clean. The recording isn't great but the playing
is worth the listen. Here is Speedy playing on a recording with pedal steel player
Jimmy Bryant on their excellent recording Stratosphere
Boogie. Swingin'. Joe Maphis was another legendary guitar player from
the early 50's through the 60's. He was the band leader for the old TV show Ranch
Party. Here is the ranch Party Band playing the showcase tune, Town Hall
Boogie. Note the two hot pickin women in the band- one on fiddle and
the other on pedal steel. Joe Maphis was a mentor to Larry Collins of the Collins
Kids. Here they are playing together on the tune Hurricane.
Buck Owens had a really fine picker and singer in his sideman, Don Rich. Here he
is spankin' his sparkle Tele on the classic Act Naturally.
Buck's TV show of that era can give hours of youtube entertainment by itself, but
just bookmark that one and come back to it. In the meantime, stick with me here.
I could really go on and on with this, but I'm gonna give you just one more. I asked
this young man if he was familiar with Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives
and he got a funny look on his face, like he wasn't sure if they were cool enough
for him. I said "I know, Marty looks like he is still in the 80s, but it is
definitely worth getting past that because Cousin Kenny freakin Vaughn is someone
you gotta hear". Kenny is one of the folks who is bringing that old school
feel and sound into the present and his playing is clean and hot whether on acoustic
or electric. Here he plays on a song written by Hank Williams and Bill Monroe called
I'm Lonesome. And here he is on the acoustic doing Luther Played
the Boogie. Oh yeah. Kenny can also play really well in some different
settings. Calvin came across this earlier this week. He noticed a really good lead
player was in the band of singer/songwriter extraordinaire, Kim Richey, and on closer
inspection, it was Kenny. He does some cool stuff with feedback in this cut. Perfectly
clean, just enough, never over played. The song is Those Words
We Said. I, personally, can't get enough of good listening. I'll have
to pick this back up in another newsletter.
My next show is this week. I'll be joined by Fj Ventre
and John Worthington on the Weaver Street Lawn in Carrboro from 6-8. The weather
forecast is looking really nice. We had perfect weather last time we played there
as well. I hope some of you will join us. You can bring your own picnic or get some
food and a glass of wine or a beer there. I always enjoyed hanging out there when
I lived in the triangle. I will head off on my usual September trip to Michigan
after Labor Day. I am looking forward to playing the Earthwork Harvest Gathering
with some of the best Michigan musicians I know. We will be playing a honkytonk
dance in the barn on Friday night at 9:30. I hope it is the first of many Michigan
gigs. I am looking forward, as well, to our first appearance at Prissy Polly's BBQ
in Kernersville on Oct 11th. The regulars there really love that old country sound,
and they remember folks like Jim Reeves. Scott Williams and Calvin Johnson will
be playing with me there. Then John, Fj and I will be back at the Blue Note on Thursday,
I said my goodbyes to my
96 year old dad last week. He was always a big fan of cowboy movies, especially
the ones where the good guy gets the bad guys and then gets the girl. I decided
it would be fitting to close his service with everyone singing the old Roy Rogers
song Happy Trails.
Give it a listen and sing it once for my dad. Until we meet again.
See you soon-Michelle
I made these up for the funeral, instead of buying cut flowers.
My mom's favorite flowers include mums, asters and geraniums
"Michelle, I love to come hear you play because I can pretend I'm you and it
makes me feel sassy" Tami Reichert, Mystery Hillbillies fan quotes
think of the word "bad-ass" when I think of you. Confident, talented, cool, humorous,
skilled ...bad-ass!" Anastasia Mattox, Mystery Hillbillies fan quotes
Mystery Hillbillies opened the show with a barn burning set of tightly focused,
three-piece high-lighted by Michelle Belanger’s lived-in vocals. Hillbillies
regular Calvin Johnson on the upright came the closest to Americana, easing the
crowd into the evening connecting the mountain pickers to urban hot-rodders in a
tactile way. The addition of a drummer and electric guitar brought on the Memphis
and allowed their set to bridge that gap from the Carter Family Fold in Virginia
to Johnny’s electrified Nashville career. Belanger’s stage presence
and singing are warm, like sitting on a porch and listening to her croon over a
chorus of crickets." Chad Nance, Camel City Dispatch
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