Tuesday, January 03, 2006

New Year's Day 2006

I decided to skip the usual New Year's Eve revelry, as there was no one obvious thing happening in town that night, and the idea of a quiet night in seemed rather appealing. Instead, I went out to Stef's farmhouse near Iola on New Year's Day for a memorable music session. Stef, Jimers and Gavin from Sloppy Joe, plus Sarah Ludeman (formerly of local bands The Stellectrics and Irene's Garden) and myself engaged in a pretty thrilling bluegrass/country/folk/old-time/psychedelic jam in the kitchen until late at night:

Stef - banjo, fiddle, upright bass, vocals
Jimers - upright bass, jaw harp
Gavin - banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar, vocals
Sarah - percussive box, triangle, vocals
me - saz

I was able to fit in quite effectively with the saz, shifting back and forth between "rhythm" and "lead" approaches. A lot of the old American tunes we jammed around are similar in structures to Irish and Scottish ones (some almost identical) which I've thrashed out for years in pub sessions. Sarah's rhythm box was an amazing anchor for the whole thing - it was a perfect instrumentation for the kind of thing we were doing.

Sloppy Joe - Stef, Jeff, Gavin, Jimers
Sloppy Joe - Stef, Jeff, Gavin, Jimers

Stef gave me a couple of copies of their most recent CD Touched in the Head, one of which I'll send to "Whispering" Bob Harris at BBC Radio 2 (I could imagine him playing some tracks on one of his several programmes). The cover features a picture of a hilarious clothes-peg model of the band she made. She also showed me what appears to be (according to the internal labelling) an 18th century violin made by the noted luthier Mathias Tir(?) which she picked up in a junkshop in rural Austria, and is hoping might be worth a fortune...

I recorded almost everything, although tragically, a wonderful extended version of Tom Waits' "Gun Street Girl" (which Gavin initiated, sang and played banjo on) occured during the one period where the MiniDisc recorder was accidentally switched off. Never mind...
Listen Here

I had kind of lost touch with Stef for the last few years (and she's only really started playing music during that time), so that was a really positive, inspiring start to 2006.


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