Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cole and Old MacDonald

This is another video that has been "lost" on my computer for a while. Cole is just 2 years old in this video and watch how he keeps rhythm on the guitar! Cole had never held a guitar before, and I handed him the guitar to play with Mike and this is what he did. I had to get the camera out and take this video.

Fred & Chelsea Play Amazing Grace

This is Chelsea and Fred playing Amazing Grace as a duet. I would have posted this sooner, but I thought I had accidentally deleted it. I found it today and decided I'd better do something with it before I lose it again! Chelsea teaches here at The Bluegrass Shack, and Fred is one of her students. Fred has only played fiddle a little more than a year and he is playing the harmony by ear. What a beautiful job the two of them do on this song! (Mike does a nice job on guitar, too, doesn't he?)

Liz Playing Her Grandfather's Fiddle

This is Liz playing her grandfather's fiddle. It needed quite a few repairs and I just finished the work on it yesterday. Liz's nephew, Max, will be playing the fiddle, but the whole family came to hear it. Since Max doesn't know how to play yet, Liz got the honors! Thanks to Max for taking this video. Liz -- great job!!!

Nuts Doesn't Begin to Describe It!

What a day we've had here at The Bluegrass Shack! We had breakfast at the local Gary's Restaurant, and at 9:55 a.m. when we pulled into the parking lot, there were already people waiting for us! Please know that I am not complaining at all -- it was a fantastic day!

I was finally able to get some of the fiddles that I have been repairing finished and "out the door." It is not a fast process when there is glue work and finish work to do. The glue has to set 8-12 hours each time something is done, and the finish has to wait 3-7 days between lacquer coats for touch-ups. I generally work on 5-6 instruments at the same time.

Some of the people visiting us today included Dr. McCready & his daughter Gretchen from Hillsboro, MO. I haven't seen Gretchen since she was a litte baby. Gretchen is now in college. What a nice young lady she is! Her birthday was today and she was wearing one of the neatest shirts I've ever seen. It looked like a picture of a radio tower on it with waves coming out from it. It detects wireless signals and will light up some of the waves coming out from the tower depending upon how strong the wireless signal is. Anyway, Dr. McCready was picking up a fiddle that I repaired for him that was his father's. I really enjoyed talking with him because he was one of my former (and favorite) college professors.

It wasn't long before Carie came. Then Brian and Rebekah. Then Liz and her sister, Max, Matthew and his Dad. Max and his family came all the way from Springfield. Stan and Abby drove in from McLeansboro. John came by and so did another gentleman looking for some strings. I met a new woman today (too bad I can't remember her name). She will be coming back because her and her 10-year old son would like to learn banjo. Denny came by, saw how crowded it was, and left...

In the workshop, I also finished Bayle's fiddle. She has a really nice 3/4 German fiddle that was handmade. She had dropped it and I had to remove the top to repair two large saddle cracks.

I'm currently working on several other fiddles and a banjo. The banjo is an older "Prairie" banjo. It looks like the older Kay or Sears & Roebuck banjos. (I learned to play on one like it!) It has a larger size head than normal, and I am at a standstill with it until the new head comes in. Mike helped me out yesterday by cleaning all the parts. Its new owner found it in Grandma's attic -- and it looked like it had been there for a while!

Liz is trying out a new fiddle and bow. Brian also tried out some fiddles, but is waiting to hear the one he left us to repair. It belonged to his grandfather.

I really enjoyed my day! Lots of good folks, good coffee, good music, and fun! Dolce (my cat) is glad that everyone is gone because she is sitting on my lap as I type this. :o)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rodney Demonstrates the Banjo

This is one of my students, Rodney. He was kind enough to do this demonstration of the song "Bile Them Cabbage Down" for me. He is using several of the major banjo rolls to perform several different versions of the song. It is a great practice tool for banjo players because it is a little bit more exciting than just practicing rolls, and it also helps you to be able to go from one roll to the next roll without stopping.

On this video, I also made note of the fact that Rodney has very large fingers. So many times I hear people say they can't play a stringed instrument because their fingers are too large. That's just not true. It takes some effort and careful placement, but Rodney is living proof that it can be done. Great job, Rodney, and thank you!

And Here's Nick!

This is Nick singing and playing the banjo on the song "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." Nick has been participating in our Monday night instructional jam sessions and is doing such a great job. He had never sung before, and now he is one of my strongest singers! He's been taking lessons from me for about 3 years. Great job, Nick!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Chris Talley Trio - Nice Letter!

The Chris Talley Trio played for a private party recently and received this nice letter from the organization. Many thanks to Gale for a wonderful event and for taking the time to send us this thank you. (Click on picture to enlarge.) By the way, the "endurance" of the Virginia Reel means I played fiddle for the dancers for 20 minutes without stopping...twice!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Fireball Mail for Larry

This is just for Larry. He told me that he wanted to learn this song, so I decided to make a video out of it so that he and others could learn it. Good luck and enjoy!

Whose Idea Was This????

I think I've seen it all now. Ron brought this in to me for repair. What do you think?

I'm sure that Ron would like for me to mention that this was certainly not his idea. I will be restoring this instrument back to a normal fiddle. It will get a "new" vintage neck/scroll. By the way, you wouldn't believe how heavy this thing is with the mandolin headstock on it!

Snow, snow and more snow!

For those of you who don't live in the area, we had a lot of snow last week. In fact, we had so much snow that we had to hire someone to plow the parking lot for the first time in three years. We had a total of around 10". I spent most of the week in the shop filling orders, ordering instruments and supplies, and working on instruments in the workshop. This was due to the fact that most of my students were unable to make it to lessons. Although we had a lot of snow here, many of the surrounding areas had ice. We are lucky that we did not have any ice damage or power outages.

Here are a few pictures of our snow (including a few of me!):

Tuesday's Jam

We have rung in the New Year with some really great Tuesday night jams! We had another packed house this week, complete with homemade oatmeal cookies thanks to Jerry. In fact, last time we had homemade brownies from Lorraine. This is a trend I could sure enjoy!

It was good to see Doc back. He had hip replacement surgery and hasn't been here for the past several months. Also present were Ron & wife Lorraine, John & wife Irene, John B., Jason, Nikki, Mallory, Earl, Verlan, Larry R., Ben, Roger, Jim, Jerry, Diane, and Brad. I hope I didn't forget to mention anyone!