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Notes from the Field

Sometimes my enthusiasm for this little eight string marvel just boils over and I have to tell someone. I figure this is a safer way to do it, than to yet again bore my friends.

  1. Unexpectedly Prepared

    I remember discussions about Hemingway’s story “Two Big Hearted River” (one of the best short stories you are likely to read, ever, trust me). The discussions sometimes revolve around all the stuff Nick takes camping, and was he a wuss to need all that stuff just for comfort, and the response being that if you are willing to carry it in, you get to carry it in.

    I always get a special thrill when I end up using something I had questioned whether I should pack or not. I packed a length ...

    Updated Feb-18-2015 at 11:27pm by JeffD

  2. Reasons Why it is Probably Best to Date a Musician

    It is sometimes a mystery to me that anyone can get along with anyone else, considering how hard we all are to understand individually. Dating is a total mystery. Dating a non-musician is an exercise in delaying the first disappointment when she suddenly realizes the truth: you are not a normal good guy who eats and works and sleeps and takes long walks and has an interesting hobby but no other real passion in life than her.

    If you date a musician you will not have that awkward moment ...

    Updated Apr-08-2015 at 6:00pm by JeffD

  3. You Dont Need to Do a Set Up

    Not being one for great drama in writing, let me explain right away. Everyone may need to have their mandolin set up. Not everyone needs to do it themselves.

    Robert Meldrum has done the mandolin community a gigantic service. His ebook on set ups is really fantastic. Lots of folks have taken advantage of the book and proceeded to set up their instruments, in some cases first time mandolinners took up the challenge.

    I have read through (not the same as thoroughly and ...

    Updated Apr-24-2015 at 8:53am by JeffD

  4. Mandolin in Celtic Music

    In the forum there is some discussion of the idea of a Celtic Mandolin with reference to a good article to which it would be impossible for me to add.

    In the past, not being able to add to a discussion has rarely stopped me from contributing. But more and more I am of the mind of a quote from a Burning Man poster: “having something to say is highly overrated”. So I will move my thoughts from the forum to the blogs.

    Updated Sep-13-2014 at 2:04pm by JeffD

  5. Yes we can all get along

    I was at an OT jam a couple of weeks ago. The jam was southern Appalachian at its core.

    And a second mandolin showed up, and he was much more of a bluegrasser.

    So as the jam progressed we traded breaks. I would play the melody, which is what I do, and then do a chorded OT back up while he took these flights of fancy entirely out of character of old time. Then he would hand it back to me and I would play the melody, which is what I do, while he did a chord backup a ...
  6. Most Fun Moments

    I have performed for audiences, more than a few times, and of all my musical experiences, performance is the least fun. The least. I know it’s me. I know I have a less than a good attitude about it. If performing were mandatory, I would have abandoned music altogether.

    It’s the other fun that I go after. Like:

    The moment I find a great tune, long abandoned in a dusty old tune book. In playing it I hear something that has not been heard on the planet in many decades ...
  7. Well duh...

    A Twilight Zone moment, where the wise old seer at the carnival tells me my limitations. “You are never going to be a professional musician. You will never perform on a major stage or large hall, or release a CD that anyone wants. You will never be good enough to catch the attention of even a janitor in the music industry. You will never have fans beyond your friends and family. No never. Listen, no, not ever.”

    “But you will be fun to play music with, and you will ...
  8. Bowlbacks and Dreams

    On assignment on the other side of the country. I brought a mandolin to keep me company after work.

    It’s a turn of the last century American made bowlback mandolin, in a bright green fiberglass case that catches eyes at all the airports.

    Several years ago, on this same assignment, I searched the web and found a local old time jam session in a pub not too far away. And I have been going regularly every time I am on this side of the country. I have been exposed to several ...

    Updated Jul-17-2019 at 10:44pm by JeffD

  9. Thursday

    A cold winter night in January, snow was piling up at an astonishing rate. The snowflakes captured in my headlights looked a lot like an old screen saver. I needed the four wheel drive to make it up the hill to T__’s house, a long unpaved driveway through the woods. I have seen bear up here in years past.

    I opened the door, paid my obeisance to the tiny black dog that guards the house, and proceeded down the hall to take my seat around a low table. Sitting around the table, M__ ...

    Updated Feb-20-2014 at 7:44pm by JeffD

  10. The 12 Best Sessions of 2013 and a Weird Old Trick

    It seems the internet is full of eye catching headlines, just waiting to be linked into Facebook. The 20 dirtiest puppies, the 14 cutest baby animals, 17 ways to prevent aging. Cure eczema, scrofula, or boils with this weird old trick.

    And its only natural, at the end of the year, to come up with lists of the best of this and the best of that. So I offer the 12 best sessions of 2013. They were held in my living room, once a month, all this last year.

    The first Tuesday ...

    Updated Aug-21-2014 at 10:46am by JeffD

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