Concertina lessons?

I’ve been working mad this summer and recently my manager promised me to take some days off during the autumn. Not sure how it will work out but right now it looks quite good.
I counted the weeks wrong, and planned to go to the Ennis festival, and it seemed like my husband could take some holiday leave too. But last night it turned out that it is actually in October! So soon!

I don’t know if my husband can get time off other than during the weekend, and it won’t be at the time around the Ennis festival (if now there will be a festival this year because I haven’t found any info about it). I got the idea to go on my own for a few days and maybe find a concertina teacher to get some lessons. That would be brilliant! I got lots of inspiration during the concertina event in April, but sadly haven’t played it since then. Life has been busy and I’ve been focusing on the guitar.

I haven’t forgotten the tunes I used to play, but I have forgotten the tunes I just started learning earlier this year. And I still have lots of problems to play in D, but I guess it’s mostly a matter of practice. However, it would be great to get some hints and advice and hopefully some help to get a bit further. I hope to find a teacher in Clare, I could go to Ennis or something.. I posted a question on The Session, we’ll see how it goes.
in whatever case, I’m going to Ireland (if I get those days off, that is). And I’ll bring the concertina. My husband will check if he can take some more day off in that period so that we could go to our usual sessions in the Clonakilty area.

To be continued, I guess.

Tomorrow we’re having a big party to celebrate that we now are officially old, lol… I turned 40 in February and my husband turns 40 today. There are lots of musicians coming, and most of them are from our Irish music session, so there’ll probably be some good jamming. I’m not really looking forward to the big party (too much work, and I’m not that big party with lots of people person) but I’m looking forward to jamming some Irish music.

Time for some diddley-diddley

Now I’ve played strings for months, been flatpicking the guitar and practicing Norman Blake style licks as well as the usual bluegrass runs. But all of a sudden it’s autumn and my husband’s birthday. He invited for a big barbecue & music session at our house, and most of the people who showed interest were the people from the Irish session. So now I’d better start practicing some Irish tunes. I have barely touched my concertina since we came from the concertina event, not because it didn’t inspire me, but because I’ve been doing other things, and then because I’ve wanted to play the guitar instead. I actually started worrying that it might go bad, as it did some year ago when I didn’t play it for a long time. That was in the winter though. All instruments seem to hate the winter.

I can’t even remember what tunes I used to play, and what tunes I was learning. It’s not just to pick up where I left off. Sadly. But the three tunes I can remember, I can play fairly well. Boys of Bluehill, Cronin’s hornpipe and the-something-that-I-can’t-remember assembly, the later one is an English tune I learned at a workshop at Melodeons & more a couple of years ago.

2009 I bought an octave mandolin from a player in California, or better said, we did an exchange, so I sent him my bouzouki and he sent me his octave mandolin. It’s a beauty made by Gypsy’s music, and I’ve played it a lot, but lately it hasn’t been sounding great, like out of tune all the time. I was thinking I should leave it with someone who knows about those things and can give it some service, but it never happened. However, I haven’t played it much at all the last 2 or so years, and probably it’s just sick from being lonely and neglected, in combination with dry air. So I left it in the case with a set of Humidipaks for the summer, and I now took it out. It seems to sound quite ok actually, but needs to be played and tuned up.. I hope it is that easy. It’s a lovely instrument that suits so well in Irish music. Sadly my left wrist hasn’t been great lately and it always gets worse when I play the octave mandolin. But if all else fails, I always have the concertina, which is also the instrument I want to focus on in Irish music.

Mandolin and more picks

Some time ago, after I had written about picks here, a kind gentleman from somewhere in the US sent me a little package loaded with picks for the mandolin. I’ve had a little pick crisis, and recently bought lots of picks, only to realize that I can’t play with the thick ones. They don’t give a good sound, and they do give too much click noise no matter what “everyone” says. I still played with the Fender heavy about 1mm. But I felt like, hmm, what’s wrong with me? All the pros say they use very thick picks, why can’t I play with them? And when I received the package they were all quite thin picks actually, so I was glad to know I’m not the only one, and that I might be normal. And after all, some of the American bluegrass pickers would probably drop dead if they saw the thin picks the mandolin players in Ireland use. :)

Now, I don’t want soft picks. They need to be hard and stiff to give a good sound, but thin enough to give a clear sound. I have some picks that are 1.50 mm and they are the thickest I can manage, I think.

My mandolin-less experience, and playing the Gibson mandolin in Gränna, actually boosted my love for the mandolin. A lot. It was divine to come home and play my own mandolin. It is the best mandolin, really… And I’ve been playing more mandolin after that, although I must say that I haven’t played much of anything because I’ve worked a lot and had other projects after work. But I’m glad to have some inspiration to play the mandolin, because I really felt sad about not wanting to play it. I’m not sure what next step is but probably some Norman Blake tunes.

Wreck of the old 97

Right now I’m learning to sing/play the Norman Blake version of Wreck of the old 97. I didn’t really think of this event being based on a true story until I googled for the Norman Blake lyrics and found this article. I also found this video that tells the story about the event.

I’ve sung this song before but the more common version, but I really like Norman Blake’s version more. It’s slower and more of an observation, plus it’s easier to sing too. I hope I can learn to play the break too. Sadly I didn’t find a recording of him playing and singing it, but here’s the song performed by the Osborne brothers in 1984.