Trying this again…and the concertina event

I’m going to try this again. I liked writing about playing the concertina and all that. And who cares about my macro photos anyway.
It’s almost time for the concertina event in the south of Sweden, only days away!!!!! Isn’t it weird how fast time goes??!!

We had the monthly Irish session on Thursday, it was incredibly nice and inspiring, there was a new girl there, a singer. We decided to meet just the two of us to sing together, so she’s coming over tomorrow (read today, since it’s already 2 am).

We also decided to build a common repertoire in the group, so we have three tunes to learn until next time, I hope I’ll manage. We will try to have some kind of slow session to practice the tunes, before the “real” session. It’s definitely a good thing for me, since I just want to learn tunes but don’t know what to start with.

So these days before the event I’ll practice those reels, and will try to warm up my other tunes too, and sing some. For the event I’ll bring the concertina of course, but also the guitar, and maybe the mandolin. There is a little concert on Sunday, and then maybe Daniel and myself could do one of our bluegrass “numbers”.

I’m sure it will be a good weekend, and I can’t wait to get there!

Attempting Gold Rush

I haven’t played the mandolin for ages and ages, and now that I’m starting to plan tunes for next weekend’s music event, I picked it up and played some. On the Saturday there is a “concert just for ourselves” which means a sort of show-off session where everyone plays something for the others. Now when Daniel is coming too, it would be fun to do some of our old “numbers”.

My mandolin is rather grumpy after all this time when I have only been playing the guitar, so I need to give it some love and play it. Some year ago I actually managed to understand the tune Gold Rush, and have more or less learned to play it, although a simplified version. I’m going to work more on that tune later, but for now I’m mainly just warming up all the old tunes I used to play. I won’t be a perfectionist wanting to sound perfect before I record anything so here is today’s version of Gold Rush.

I’m also preparing some songs to sing with the guitar, and will bring all the lyrics of bluegrass songs I have just in case.
So now I guess it’s time to practice the concertina. It’s a concertina event after all! :)

We finally played some music


Yesterday we, rather spontaneously, decided to go to a music event a bit away from here. A friend called to invite us, and I wasn’t particularly up to it but decided to go to take some pictures, and I brought the guitar and the melodeon just in case.

The first part of the evening was very nice, I played some guitar. In Sweden the best groups to jam with are those with mixed instruments, such as a few fiddles, some nyckelharpa(s), guitars, melodeons. Then there’ll be tunes that are more jam friendly, and in most cases, people who are friendlier. I know many fiddlers who are very friendly and nice, but there is this tradition…. don’t try to join a group of fiddlers unless you went to the same summer class. Oh well. Last night, there was a large groups with fiddles, a guitar, a flute, some melodeons and a nyckelharpa. We had a great time playing with them, and it was nice and relaxed. After the coffee break another fiddler came in who started playing all kinds of tunes that most others couldn’t play. One after the other for a couple of hours. So annoying, and what I call a jam session killer…

However, it was good to play some guitar totally without any expectations, and get away to do something we don’t do every day. I got some renewed inspiration and was reminded that since my guitar is so new it needs to be played a lot to stay happy. Today I’ve been searching for a song a friend gave me years ago. I had a lyric sheet ages ago and now I really want to find it. So I didn’t play much today, mostly just looking through all the hiding places where I may have put old song lyrics.

How I became a music geek, part 2

I started to play the mandolin in 1996, using tutor books and CDs. Later I found some MSN groups where I could get some help and encouragement. I played mainly on my own, but later when I went to Italy as an au-pair, I found a mandolin teacher there. Other than that I’ve been teaching myself, with the help from said CDs, books, websites, and watching others. I went to some jams but without playing, and tried to get the hang of how the pros did it. I don’t know how much it helped, but probably to some degree at least.

In 2004 I found a Yahoo group where they jammed online. It was a chatroom that they used to play music. For the time delay it wasn’t possible to actually play together (even though once we tried to at least take turns to play solos of a specific tune), but we took turns to play a tune or sing a song with an instrument, and the others gave feedback. Before that I had also found a tune project on the Mandolin Cafe that had me going with learning new tunes and recording myself.

The Yahoo group gave me a real boost in self confidence, and there I also realised that maybe I could sing after all. Without those people, I probably wouldn’t be playing music today. In the summer that year, I met the man who is now my husband, he showed up at one of those groups, a fiddler who wanted to learn to play bluegrass. His name sounded very Swedish, and when I asked him, it turned out he lived 1,5 hours from me. :)

Daniel played mainly the fiddle but also the guitar, and had played melodeon and the chromatic accordion in the past. It was through him I got the interest, and courage, to try other instruments than the mandolin. The instruments I have played are mandolin, guitar, tin whistle, melodeon, concertina, bouzouki, and the fiddle. I guess that I’ll continue with mandolins (meaning the usual mandolin as well as the octave mandolin), guitar, melodeon and concertina. I’d love to get back to the fiddle as well but I’ll have to see what happens with my wrists first. Also, my fiddle needs some fixing.

I’m by no means a brilliant player of any of those instruments, but I’m a music lover and a happy amateur. I love to learn new tunes and songs, to play with other people. I’m learning all of them and I love them all, but IRL you don’t have time with all of them all the time, I usually have periods when I play one or the other. Since I bought my guitar I have almost only played the guitar, but now over Christmas I got my mandolin inspiration back, and now I really feel like playing the concertina… so all my instruments will be played sooner or later. I do have a nice octave mandolin but it has a problem with intonation, and needs some TLC and fixing. I’ll see how it goes.

How I became a music geek part 1

In older versions of the diddley-diddley blog I’ve written some about my own history in music, meaning how it happened that I became so interested in music.

I’m not sure why I became this music geek, because nobody else in my nearest family is particularly interested in music. But, my grandpa used to play the fiddle, and his ancestors did too. I’ve heard some stories from an uncle about my grandpa’s grandpa’s brother who was some kind of travelling fiddler in North America, but I haven’t really found any evidence for it when I’ve done some family research. However, I do know that my grandpa was a fiddler, and my aunt plays the fiddle too. My dad’s side of the family comes from a part of Sweden where traditional fiddle music is important and has deep traditions.

I was never interested in playing the fiddle when I was a kid, or really, I think I actually was, but didn’t have the courage, because we didn’t own a fiddle, and also because of those silly attitudes out there that “only very especially gifted people can learn to play the fiddle”. I wonder how many have been scared off from trying by those stupid lies? One of my favourite quotes these days is “LIBERATE THE FIDDLE!” simply because the fiddle should be considered just like any other instrument, it’s fabulous just like any other musical instrument and it isn’t harder to learn to play than any other instrument, and you can do anything if you have the interest in it. Every musical instrument is unique and has its own difficulties and things that make it unique and fabulous. Anyone who is interested in learning to play the fiddle should do that, no matter what limitations, the opportunities to take lessons, or whatever. Especially today with modern technology that allows you to do more or less anything with the help of a computer and internet access.

However, as a kid I actually had an interest in playing an instrument but was too coward and did the recorder. Now today I really despise that instrument… it’s beautiful in its own way but… there is so much more out there.

I played the recorder for 2 or 3 years, then I quit. I didn’t have interest enough, my family didn’t support me, and my teacher made me play boring stuff. After that I didn’t bother about playing music for many years.

When I was a teen or so, I started liking simple country music. I don’t remember how it started but I think it was that my dad had some country music in his car, and I really liked listening to it. The music had a special “feel” that the typical radio music didn’t. A few years later I heard a CD with Buck Owens being played at a street market, and I just knew I loved the music. I bought some CDs, and after the release of  “Absolute Country” in 1993? I got some more, and I was lost. :)

My dad had a guitar, so when he died, the only thing I really wanted was his guitar. I didn’t start to play it until 1995 though, but I loved it, I played some chords and sang some simple country songs. I remember singing “Take me home, country roads”. A friend of mine also started playing the guitar, and she was all about Joan Baez. After a while, and after listening to more country music, I realised that I liked a more traditional, genuine sound, without electrics, drums and pianos. I started looking for CDs with only guitars, basses, fiddles and the likes, and that’s how I ran into Alison Krauss and the Cox family. I had my first encounter with bluegrass music :). This was in the spring of 1995.