Frana? Yes, Italian for landslide. Much of the hilly landscape here consists of stones of various sizes stuck together by sticky clay. And when it rains and rains, the clay can go soft. So I took the dogs out this morning, and we found a funny thing on the way to the cemetery:
Having enjoyed the company of Jeanne the Resonator for a couple of months now (thank you again Sarah for such a beautiful present!), one or two friends have actually said, “Yes, but what about a complete piece?” Well, that kind of puts me on the spot, doesn’t it? So here are a couple. Firstly a version of “How Long” blues (a song of miserable irony). I’m actually thinking of changing the whole “groove” of this one, so I don’t have a huge emotional investment in this recording – feel free to criticise away!
Secondly, a short version of an instrumental I call the “Empty House”, as it’s meant to be mournful and sad and nostalgic and wistful and meaningful and… you get the picture.
I am now proud to own a Fender resonator – an FR55. “What’s that?” you may cry in harmonious, polyphonic chorus. One of the most (metaphorically) rock-and-roll guitars you can get while still being entirely acoustic. My “main” guitar has a beautiful, smooth action, which unfortunately has the side effect of making it very unsuited to playing with a slide, whereas this is ideally suited to the bottleneck. I’m still *very* much in the process of getting used to it, but I’m hoping to have enough repertoire together to use it soon.
So here is a picture together with a clip having short snatches of the introduction to Little Red Rooster, a homage to John Fahey, Louie Louie (yes it’s party time), and a more mournful piece called The Empty House.
I’ll be doing another spot at La Gallina Cubista, the health food and eco shop in Via Garibaldi, Pontremoli (about 50 m up after leaving the Duomo on your right).
I’ll be doing a bit of acoustic guitar (authentically bastardized white urban country blues) there on Saturday (2 Nov), starting at 4:30 or so. This time I plan to perform standing up, so bringing a dynamic, new and vibrant energy to the tired old genre. (Insert ironic smiley.)
I had a battle with my conscience yesterday, but the right side won. So never mind that “don’t let the left hand know what the right hand is doing” stuff – here’s the story.
I broke a guitar string a couple of weeks ago, and realised that it was time to put on a new set. I usually keep a spare set, so no problem, but I thought it might be a good idea to actually have two spare sets, so that even when I had just put one set on, I would already have a potential replacement in that tiny, crowded box in the guitar case. So I ordered two sets of the type that I use these days, from Amazon.
And yesterday, they arrived. The outer wrapping seemed surprisingly large, but there was a fair bit of that scrunched up paper that Amazon sometimes use. There were indeed two boxes inside. One was a set of strings. The other, larger, box contained no less than 12 sets of the same strings.
I had ordered two sets, correctly been charged for two sets, the delivery note said two sets, which is what was signed for. So I knew that the chance of this ever coming to light was very small. I was tempted to say nothing, but came to realise that that future knowledge that I was using essentially stolen strings would always leave a bad taste. So, yesterday afternoon, I sent a message to Amazon, pointing out that this did not fit the normal patterns for returning something I didn’t want. I should explain that I was willing to let them have the strings back, but wasn’t very keen on paying postage and dealing with filling in all the forms and waiting in all the queues at the post office.
Anyway, the message came back yesterday evening that whereas normally they would expect something like this to be returned, since I was a “loyal customer”, and since I had “proactively” informed them of the mistake, I should keep them as a “gesture” from Amazon. At around about £12 a set, 11 free sets is not to be sneezed at. They will keep me going for some time! Thank you, Amazon.
It is only a couple of weeks ago that I followed a Facebook link from a friend and came across “Songs from the Shed“. It’s a revelation. The acoustic, quasi-folk music scene in the UK is not nearly as tired and unoriginal as I had, in my ignorance, assumed. On the contrary.
If you don’t know it, let me explain that Songs from the Shed as about minimalist as you can get. It really is recorded in a shed: one microphone, one lens on one hand-held camera, one take, no postproduction except for trimming it and sticking the site’s cute, four-second signature clip at the front. As the site itself says, “it’s not about studio quality, it’s about a moment in a shed”.
At this stage there are something around 300 artists there, most of whom have two or three songs, adding up to well over 1000 YouTube clips. They vary from amateurs to highly established professionals, and their styles vary too, so you’re not going to like everything. But there are gems there – take a look!
It was nice to prove to myself that I really do have a repertoire of workable size and quality. Lots that I’d like to have done better (of course), but the dancing toddler (unfortunately not captured on film) was very encouraging. Anyway, people listened, clapped, and I passed the acid test: the shop would like me to go back and do it again sometime!
Both me and fresh bread, eh? How good can it get? We don’t know who the woman was, but she stayed leaning against the wall, reading and listening for quite a while.
And a brief vid. There were two, but one of them was taken at one of the (few) bad bits, so I’m not showing that one!
From 6:00 pm for an hour — or maybe two — I shall be entertaining staff and clientele (yes, both of them) with some “aged-white-college-boy-acoustic-urban-country-blues-guitar (of the finest)” music. It will be a low-key event with some numbers even in E. And entirely acoustic. Any and all friends who feel like popping by will be very welcome! Bring your shakey eggs!
This isn’t the interesting, focussed blog you might have been looking for…
"Pica Pica" is, as I'm sure you knew, the name for the common magpie. It's no more than a collection of bits and pieces I wanted to make available for friends and family. I have other blogs for dharma related material (at DangZang), and a small one for translation at my work site.
Any of my friends who are interested in this will doubtless already know that Akong Rinpoche was killed, along with two others, in Chengdu yesterday. Word went out yesterday afternoon that it was an “assassination”, but other stories suggested natural causes. The very few facts that have emerged so far seem rather to suggest […]