Porch Sessions, Installment No. 1

Since it’s summer, we thought we would record our practice session on my front porch for the first installment of Porch Sessions. Keep an eye out for more porch sessions throughout the rest of the summer and upcoming fall. Reach out if you want to come play in one.

And don’t forget there’s a session tonight at the Jericho Cafe in Jericho and one on Saturday at Bagitos in Montpelier. Play on!

Find more Irish sessions in Vermont.

 

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The Magic of Music

irish music

John Doyle, Irish guitarist and folk singer

I remember the first time I met John Doyle. He was scheduled to play with Liz Carroll at a festival in Vermont. I was working at a booth selling instruments, CDs, strings, etc. He came to the booth and started looking at the CDs. I quickly ran over to him, pulled out one of his and Liz Carroll’s CDs and said “I hear the guitar playing on this one is pretty good.” He giggled gracefully at my stupid joke and we started chatting.

Later that evening there was a late night session in one of the festival tents. And because I had taken a week long fiddle workshop with Liz Carroll prior to this festival, she recognized me and called me into the inner circle to play a tune. There I was in my glory sitting with Liz Carroll on one side and John Doyle on the other. Then they asked me to start a tune.

Wouldn’t you know I couldn’t remember one, not one tune. In fact I think I completely forgot how to play the fiddle in that moment. Then all of a sudden one came to me by the grace of God (Felix the Wrestler) and everyone started playing. It was a moment I’ll never forget. Here I was, such an amateur who barely knew any tunes (this was about 10 years ago), scared to death to play in public and two of my musical heroes sitting by my side encouraging me to start a tune.

Thinking of this story reminds me just how special this music is, not only because it’s beautiful music but because the people who carry it on are beautiful people. I mean I grew up listening to the Rolling Stones, but never in my lifetime will I get to sit side by side with them to play a tune. Irish music is truly special in so many ways.

This month is your chance to meet and listen to some of these wonderful musicians. Here are a few concerts you won’t want to miss:

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What is in a name anyway?

What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” This famous line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet implies that the names of things do not affect what they really are. Maybe that’s true. After all, love is love, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Montague or Capulet you can’t help who you fall in love with.

But, when it comes to music, I beg to differ with good ole, Mr. Shakespeare.

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11th Annual Carolan Festival

Carolan Festival Vermont

Photo credit: Artistic Approach Photography, Cynthia Lubas & Family ​

It’s that time of year again to celebrate the music of Turlough Carolan, a blind Irish harper, singer and composer who is famous for his beautifully melodic tunes, many with a Baroque influence. Some of the most famous ones include Planxty Fanny PowerSí Beag, Sí Mór, and Blind Mary to name a few.

On Saturday, June 17, musicians and music lovers from all over will gather to play, listen, sing, and dance to the music of Carolan. Below are the details:

Date: Saturday, June 17, 2017

Time: 10am-9pm

Location: Mallery Farm, 108 Norton Rd., Worcester, VT

Suggested Donation: $10/person, $20/family of four (pay what you can)

Details: Open sessions, Workshops, music & dance (English Country, Irish Ceili, Morris, waltzing) performances & concerts including Young Tradition Vermont Fiddleheads & Harp students with Dominique Dodge; Benedict Koehler & Hilari Farrington.

Meals: purchase on site from Back Road BBQ.

Please note: the event will take place rain or shine. Also, please leave your furry friends at home, for people only.

For more information

For more information, including a detailed schedule of events, visit carolanfestvt.com, email carolanfestvt@gmail.com or call 802-229-9468.

Three Cs: Practicing without annoying the neighbors

The following post was written by Sally Writes.

When my daughter got her first guitar a little over two years ago, she could not have been more enthusiastic. At the risk of sounding like the typical mother living vicariously through her daughter, I was certain that she would progress beyond the “just about able to play something as long as there are only three chords” level that I had reached, and go on to be the next Chrissie Hynde.

She certainly seemed to pick it up quicker and better than I ever did, too. However, our shared joy of her burgeoning skills soon became a stomach-turning dread. Our condo in the university area of Burlington, VT was built in the 1960s, and the internal walls are not the thickest. Within minutes of my daughter picking up her guitar, the neighbor’s television would be cranked up to a tooth-rattling volume. All the pleasure was at that moment sucked out of her guitar playing for both of us.

I was determined that she would get the chance to continue – it felt like there was too much riding on this for both of us – so I set about investigating how I could create a guitar practice setup that would allow her to develop her skills without causing a war with the neighbors. Here are my top three tips which can be used for any music practice.

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Slow down, you move too fast

Fingers on the fiddleThere are a lot of great players out there who can play the crap out of a fast tune and make it sound really good. They play with rhythmic perfection, alluring ornamentation, and notes that are beautifully in tune.

The rest of us however, need to slow it down a little and learn how to really play the tune before we fire it off at lightning speed.

In my tune-learning experience, I find that in almost every tune, there is always that one little part that is either a challenge to bow, or there is an odd string-crossing, or the melody just doesn’t go naturally where you think it’s going to.

For some reason it’s our tendency to play these harder parts faster. Maybe we speed them up because we just want to get them over with. Kind of like pulling off that band-aid quickly so you don’t feel the pain for as long.

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Event Alert – Young Tradition Weekend

From Mark Sustic:

Young Traditions VermontThis weekend, May 5-7, is Young Tradition Weekend, a series of events celebrating the talents of young musicians and dancers as well as the traditions that they perpetuate, and the connection they have with their teachers and mentors.

Each event during the weekend to cultivates and features young performers and intergenerational sharing, from concerts to a contradance showcasing young folks playing with their mentors and teachers. Continue reading