Month: January 2011

Wish You Were Shady

My wife is truly adorable.

I’ve been playing a lot of banjo and this morning I was playing Cluck Old Hen and Shady Grove, both in Sawmill Tuning (also known as Mountain Minor, G-Modal, etc.).  The wife said, “What was that song you played before the Plucky Chicken?”  I told her it wasn’t Plucky Chicken but Cluck Old Hen and the one before that was Shady Grove.  She said that Shady Grove sounded a lot like the opening to Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here.

I thought about it and she is right.  They are similar so I started playing around and trying to combine the two into Wish You Were Shady.  When I get a reasonable version up and playable I will post on YouTube and here.

Here is a nice version of Shady Grove played on a Ramsey Bacon by Donald Zepp.

And of course, Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd.

I’m also going to work on a wild variation of Cluck Old Hen and call it Plucky Chicken.

UPDATE:  The wife says that I played Shady Grove a lot slower so it is easier to see the similarities.  Need to get my drop thumb a bit smoother.

Bohemian Rhapsody

I was in the middle of writing a rant about a Teabagger that I met today.  I’m going to give it a day to see if I cool off.  In the meantime here is Jake Shimabukuro playing an incredible version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody on the ukulele.

I was planning on putting some of my ukulele playing here but I think I’m going to wait until I improve a little more.


Banjo Porn

As my skill with the banjo slowly improves I’ve been looking to reward myself with a new banjo.  Originally I had decided to get a Bart Reiter Whyte Ladie but he has stopped making them.  I like the sound of the Whyte Ladie tone ring andalso the look his version.  You can see a picture of one here.  The one you see is in stock but I won’t be able to get one for a while.  Plus there are some things extra that I want, like a frailing scoop and personalized inlays and such.

I played a banjo recently that exceeded my expectations, a Buckeye Banjo.  The ability to customize the banjo what really attracts me to it.  While I save up money for it I can decide what kind of wood, whether I want half-fretless or what kind of frailing scoop.  Take a look at some of his banjos and you will see real works or art.  This is something I have to have.

Take a look at these pictures and also here.

I am saving up my money.  I already have the best guitar money can buy.  Now it is time to get the banjo that I want.

White and Nerdy

Last week a friend of mine had a birthday and one of his obsessions is old comic books.  Specifically comic books from The Silver Age.  It just so happens that I have a shit-load large number of those comics so I  took a few boxes with me and we had a great time going through them.  It was amazing how he knew all of the villains and even more amazing how many heroes and villains I remembered.

I began collecting Marvel Comics when I was eighteen.  They cost $0.15 a piece back then and I finally had a good job.  Every week I’d buy a few and spend a little extra to fill in the missing ones from my collection.  Within a few years the price started to rise.  I stopped buying when they got to $0.40.

I haven’t really looked at the comics in over thirty years.  Last night I started organizing and frankly was a little amazed.  I have the entire series of The Silver Surfer (1968), Iron Man from number 1 to 200, Daredevil, Avengers, Spiderman from 12 up and so on.  It’s an amazing collection.

I’m going to spend this week getting them organized and boxed up properly.  I have no idea what I’m going to do with them.  They are no longer a passion.  We will see.

I was going through them and realized what a stereotypical nerd I was.  Captain of the chess team, sang in a choir and collected comic books.  Let’s face it, I am white and nerdy.

Jeopardy and the Banjo

I love the tv quiz show Jeopardy even though I know I would do poorly on it.  I know nothing of sports and little about European rivers.

I found this post about Tony Fox winning big money on the show.  I love the last line in the newspaper article.

Fox won’t receive his prize money for several months, but this much he knows: he plans to buy a banjo and wife wants to install a new patio in their backyard.

At least he has his priorities in order.

Raleigh and Spencer

I’ve been spending a lot of time playing banjo on this vacation.  In the breaks between practice I often search for musicians playing in the clawhammer (frailing) style on YouTube.  Today I found Hunter Robertson.

I love his clawhammer style and his vocals are very primitive.  I love the banjo he’s playing!  It’s a half-fretless banjo, giving that fretless sound but giving you the frets in the upper neck where you need them.  I’ve been wanting one of these for a long time and this is only sparking that desire.

Check out his playing and let me know what you think.

The King’s Speech

My friend Susan saw The King’s Speech and raved about it.  She liked it so much she went and saw it again.  This is in spite of the fact that it is rated ‘R’.

We decided to see it at Oberlin’s Apollo Theater.  It’s an old-fashioned theater recently purchased and renovated by Oberlin College.  It has a nice big screen, low prices and every Wednesday there is no extra charge to see the latest 3-D movies.

Colin Firth gives an incredible performance as a someone who stammers but must speak in public.  I hesitated seeing the movie at first as I grew up with a speech impediment.  No worries as the movie was wonderful.   The relationship between the king and speech therapist seems real and grows in a realistic way.

The backdrop of the beginnings of World War II gave the movies a sense of urgency and made me want to read more about the times.

On the ‘R’ rating;  I thought this was absolutely stupid.  The only reason for the rating was a string of obscenities strung together in one scene in the movie.  I have seen the same thing or worse on some high school kids’ facebook walls.  Don’t let the rating stop you from seeing it.  This is without a doubt one of the best movies I have seen in years.

Correcting Embiggen

Yesterday  I put a couple pictures of standing stones on my site and above them I put, ‘click on the pictures to embiggen‘.   I found the pictures interesting so I got the wife to look at them (she never reads my blog).  She found embiggen hilarious.  She called me a poser and called the daughter in who likened me to a hipster.   To make matters worse when she clicked on the top photo it didn’t enlarge.  I had made a mistake with the coding.

Embiggen is not actually a word, it is a neologism  It was first used in an episode of The Simpsons.   The town motto of Springfield is “A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.”  I’ve seen it used on many websites meaning to enlarge a picture.

I have been sufficiently chastised and have changed the wording to ‘Click on the pictures to enlarge’.  Plus, now the picture actually gets bigger when you click on it.  Everything is now cromulent.