Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tonight two short practice sessions, both about 20~25 minutes. It is a low energy evening. The air is warm and humid, the crickets are gregarious and the beer is tasty. Stayed in DADGAD; all songs, no exercises. This morning 30min on the cardio machine.

Yesterday 80mins, half standard, half DADGAD, weight training and 15 mins cardio. Good practice, good concentration. It is clear something must be done about the guitar situation. The little buzzes, action on the high frets, intonation and whatnot. Whether it is a $500+ fixup of the Bourgeois or a new instrument remains undecided...

Played June 9 set for Shannon on Monday morning. It seems not only is it possible to experience living room relaxation on a stage, but you can get all stage-freaked in the living room, too! Her observation was that Kadourimdou seemed to sap my confidence, and the performance of County Down and Fare Thee Well that followed were uncharacteristically weak. And I went for 30mins (Michael has given me 20 to open the show, maybe one more song if I am hot). So, the obvious decision is to leave Kadourimdou for another time. I have been viewing it as a singular personal challenge to play it at this show. It has indeed gotten much, much better in the time since I resolved to do so, but there are many other challenging aspects to next Friday night, so I feel this is a good decision. Played Fare Thee Well a few times afterward to shake off the post-freaked-out jitters to good effect.

Planning on another light night tomorrow, should stay in standard, Chasin' the Groove a few times and work on Ten Penny and some sort of solo for Zoe. On Friday, it is off to VA to see Shannon's cousin get married. Undecided as to whether the guitar will travel with us. Leaning towards yes, but these long drives can get pretty brutal, so I want to be careful. Still a few days to decide...

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day: It feels extremely good to sleep a bit later and take my sweet time drinking coffee and listening to music before getting in a bit of practice. Tony McManus is on the hi-fi. Brooks lent me "Ceol More" after I made a comment about the idiomatic stutter-step triplets that Celtic fiddle players so often use. It is amazing how well Tony has captured not only this but the whole host of fiddle ornaments in his guitar playing. On his website, a quote by John Renborn proclaims him to be the world's best celtic guitarist. He may well be...

Playing with Brooks on Saturday was a bit tense. I played him Great is Thy Faithfulness to start off. Had to retune partway through on account of new strings. Very positive reaction - he responded strongly to how the arrangement moved from darker tone to more confidence and light towards the climax, in order to mirror the ideas in the words to this great old hymn. I was so glad this comes across! It is very gratifying to have someone immediately perceive the intention behind a piece.

We will play three songs together on June 9th: Zoe, Ten Penny Bit, and Chasing the Groove. Chasin' I am especially looking forward to, though some riffs towards the end need work on my part. One of the hardest things about playing with someone as capable and interesting as Brooks is not getting distracted by the cool stuff they are playing!

We briefly discussed live solo performance and the idea of attaining the "living room" level of comfort before an audience. The good news is, Brooks has confirmed it is indeed possible! I believe that greater frequency is necessary in order for the disruptive elements, the sound system and the presence of an audience, to become "normal." Even when one reaches comfort with these, however, there are still disruptions which encroach some nights. Brooks alluded to ways of foreseeing and mitigating against such circumstances. I will have to find out more about this.

It has also occurred to me that my (ADD) ability to tune out my perception of external activity could be of great utility in this matter. If I can only figure out a way to reliably harness it.

Shannon demands I perform my entire set for her so I can begin working out the kinks. We are now in the "end game" and I am happy to oblidge. Looking forward to seeing UMass friends tonight.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The work day was brought to an unceremonious early end when the fire alarms went off in our building. My ears barely survived the shrieking. Walking out into the rain after a somewhat frustrating day, it was clear that the time had come to depart.

Went to Guitar Center and bought a new metronome. It is a very small BOSS model with a digital display that shows a virtual swinging needle. You can tap in a tempo, and there are a surprising number of settings for time signatures and beat divisions. And it has a volume knob! Overall it is definitely superior to the (now broken) model it replaces. It has assumed a permanent spot clipped onto the new full score music stand that is now sitting in the studio.

Tomorrow travelling out to Amherst to practice with Brooks for the show on June 9. It will be good to play music with Brooks again after so long. I am still conflicted as to the acquision of a second guitar - perhaps he will have some insights to help me process.