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Second Quarter Report: Turkeys and Possums

These past three months have been a bit of a roller coaster when it comes to my world of fiddle, banjo and blogging. Work and family duties, as well as a general sense of ennui, led me to get way behind my goal progress. However, I managed to catch up at the last possible moment. As for blogging, this is only my fourth post since my First Quarter 2019 report.

As has become customary, here is a review of my old-time music activities for the Second Quarter 2019, warts and all. My blogger version of a corporate earnings report shows I logged 52.5 hours on fiddle, 11.5 hours on banjo and attended two old-times sessions. I did not attend any festivals this quarter. However, I did turn 40.

One of my main goals for the year was to try to get out and play more with others. In that respect, I did OK by attending two local jams, one in May and the other in June.

At the most recent session, I attempted to lead "Leather Britches" on fiddle, which I learned from the playing of Ward Jarvi…
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Mike Seeger Final Project Release Expected in August

Last year, I wrote about a final project of Mike Seeger that Smithsonian Folkways was preparing for release this year. In that post, I reported that Just Around The Bend: Survival and Revival in Southern Banjo Styles. Mike Seeger’s Final Documentary was to be released this spring. However, with the vernal season nearly over and no such release in sight, I decided to follow up with my contact, Mary Monseur, production manager at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

In an April 24 email, Monseur reported that she had been working on the Mike Seeger project that day. "I just sent corrections to the printer and the DVD is about to be authored," she wrote. "Because it’s an oversized, special package, it’s printing in China which takes longer than printing in the U.S. But the good news is … it’s coming."

Monseur added that she would have more solid information in a month and suggested I follow up then.

I followed up a month later, on May 31, and Monseur wrote: "The good…

Review: Anna & Elizabeth, “Hop High” / “Here in the Vineyard”

When I pre-ordered my copy of the Allison De Groot and Tatiana Hargreaves self-titled debut album from Free Dirt Records, I also ordered the seven-inch single from Anna & Elizabeth featuring their take on the traditional songs “Hop High” and “Here in the Vineyard.” 
The two tracks were released in 2017 and serve as a kind of proving ground for the experimental approach to traditional music the duo would present on the their 2018 full-length, The Invisible Comes to Us, released on Smithsonian Folkways. GBB reviewed that album in May last year
With the help of producers Alec Spiegelman and Benjamin Lazar Davis (who are members of avant-pop outfit Cuddle Magic), Anna & Elizabeth re-imagine “Hop High” and “Here in the Vineyard” employing their ethereal aesthetics, with haunting and delicate harmonies surrounded by unexpected instruments like pump organ, woodwinds, strings and electronics, as well as banjo tunings that were reportedly inspired by the Indonesian gamelan.
On “Hop H…

Review: Allison De Groot and Tatiana Hargreaves

The debut self-titled album by Allison De Groot and Tatiana Hargreaves is the most exciting new old-time album I’ve heard in years. The duo represents the modern generation of tradition bearers, but they don’t shy away from making the the music their own.

In keeping with a modern outlook, they also overtly declare their aims to be more inclusive and recognize the contributions from minority populations to the old-time music community.

In the liner notes, they include a mission statement of sorts: “As two musicians who have come from outside of the cultural and geographic communities this music originated in, we are so appreciative of those who have welcomed us and shared their musical and cultural knowledge. We would like to thank all of the musicians who came before us, especially those who never received the credit they deserved: the Indigenous, Black, Queer and female musicians who weren’t always visible but kept, and still keep the music moving forward.”

As such, almost half of th…

First Quarter Report: Arkansas Traveled

First of all, all apologies for the monthlong gap between this post and the last one. Things got a bit heavy with my professional workload and general seasonal affectation demotivation. But I'm back, and I have some ideas for my next couple posts. But first, let's get this one out of the way. 
As I'm wont to do, here's my review of my old-time music activities for the First Quarter 2019. My navalgazing blogger version of a corporate earnings report shows that I logged 47.5 hours on fiddle and 12.5 hours on banjo, attended two jams and one festival.

My fiddle tune for this quarter was "Arkansas Traveler." I learned a very basic version that I figured I could eventually work into something more interesting later on. The main thing was to use the tune as a means to improve my basic rhythm, and I think I've achieved that. 
On the banjo, I successfully learned to sing (that's a relative term) and play "Mole in the Ground." That went so well that I…