What are y'all up to? # 3 (Current NEW thread)

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I have closed the previous thread because it was nearing the 30 page mark ;  which is a little long for a thread.  So feel free to continue sharing your activities here in this new thread, as I'm sure we all love to hear what our BGD friends are up to.


  • I hope everyone is keeping well and safe.

    I am still traveling.  The China virus is pretty much under control here ;  but has begun a second wave on the mainland with 200 cases of infection being reported daily.  So I guess where I am at present is one of the safest places on planet Earth. Here, it is just so quiet and a bit like a ghost town.  There never was a lot of people here, which is good.

    My computer was infected with some malware and hacked a few months ago, without my realizing it at the time.  Passwords and other documents and files went missing. Some corrupted.  I only discovered this shortly after I posted my last video in the Composer's Corner forum, when I experienced difficulty logging into my Vimeo account as well as several other accounts.  My computer was slowed right down (despite already being a problematic computer with a mind of it's own that caused me so much grief) as a result of the malware and hacking.  Going with Bitdefender anti-virus / malware etc. for my internet security.

    So, now I am contemplating building a desktop computer with all up-to-date specs and security.  I will most likely make it a LINUX system because I detest MS and the duopoly that they engage in.  That said, I will need to use MS Win 7 to run my numerous programs that rely on MS.

    So, still having miles to travel to find WiFi, I will be looking at getting most of the parts locally while they are still available.  Most orders from the US are taking well over 5 weeks to get here -- that's IF they do end up getting here, at all.
  • Good luck Scott , the old windows are not supported much , You will probably have better luck with Linux , If you wont things to arrive you will have to use FedEx or UPS as the USPS is not doing well !
  • Hey Scott.  Sorry to hear about all the computer difficulties.  If I could afford it, I'd have a big ol' Mac of some sort.  I think it would run the Presonus better and I think they don't have the slowness and get the viruses and stuff like windows...at least from what I hear.  Of course, I'd really love to go back to the old computerless, phoneless, simple small town society that I used to know...but...don't think we could have it back again unless it was the end result of some great societal tragedy...lol...don't want that.

    I've been puffing along with my usual stuff.  Haven't been playing music because my daughter has me working on some tracks for a video project she is doing, just to keep herself from going crazy...lol...sometimes you just have to get something going that takes up all your efforts to keep you from losing your mind, ya know?  So I've been getting her some tracks going although having a difficult time, even though the music she wants isn't hard...lol...just hard for me.  I'll get it eventually, though. Persistance always pays.  Well, mostly.

    Other than that just fiddling around with the garden.  Got some heat loving tropical leafy greens going...put some into the ground finally only to see that apparently we are having a cool August for the first time since we've lived here...lol...of course...that's how my luck runs sometimes.  I hope they will do ok anyway...I think anything under 65 or so can hurt them...and we're getting into the 50s at night...which just never happens in August here...so...we'll see what happens.  Fortunately I kept some in a hydroponic, mobile kinda situation so I can put them inside overnight and have them on standby to get enough cuttings so that we get them through the wintertime and ready for lots of good eatin' next year.  We like our greens around here.

    Hope everybody's finding time for music and staying safe from storms and viruses and all of that.

  • Hey Scott, Joe, Peggy, Steve and others, Thanks for the kind words on my recent losses. I just lost another adopted brother two days ago. He didn't even reach 70.

    In my music world, I finally got to play "Old Country" last night at the weekly Monday night jam session held here in Arkansas at a friend's garage. It's been at least three months (actually, now that I think about it, 5 months) since I've seen all the guys and picked with them. It sure was fun. Hope to get back there next Monday, too.

    Hope everyone is doing well. :)
  • I'm so sorry to hear that, Fred. I'm glad to see you back on the forum! John
  • Thank You, John. It's nice to be back. I've missed this place. :)
  • So much 2020 stuff going on everywhere...hope everybody is doing ok here.
  • Had a great band practice today (using social distancing in a large hall where we often gather to practice). We all played for 3 hours before tiring and giving up for the heat of the day....too hot 94 degrees.

    Also played last Thursday evening with my Old Country music buddies. We played outdoors in a park and it was a blast. :)
  • Sounds like good times Fred.

    I was invited to go jam this weekend but declined going.

    I've been playing alone so long now, and have been turned down so many times by people I know well when looking for a unit to play in regularly, that I seem to have become very self conscious and don't feel comfortable playing with/around others anymore.
  • Fred...sounds like fun!

    Dave...I sure hear ya.  I'm getting to feel the same way.  I think I like playing alone now better than with others...I don't like it that I like it, but, well, I do like it.  I like to hear your playing too...you can always give us some homespun concerts of your playing here.  i look forward to it.
  • I think I've gotten pickier on what I want to do with others. I used to pay at the drop of a hat...now I prefer to work things out and have things organised. I care more about being intimately familiar with what i'm attempting to play...this seems to lead toward a more solitary existence music wise...I also wish I didn't feel that way, but it is what it is, and I am living the amount of stuff I'm learning and am still quite excited about playing fiddle.

    On another note, I have read up to the little girl getting run over by a train in "The Dollmaker". I loved the beginning, but wasn't thrilled it took the turn it did with the big move...it does continue to be an interesting read though...I just want <strong>someone</strong> to be happy in this story before it ends...
  • Sometimes when I feel like playing the fiddle, the fiddle just doesn't sound right to my ears and I grow agitated and switch back to my banjo during practice sessions. I think I have it tracked down to the bow I'm using at the time. I have an awful habit on running many, many hours on the rosin I put on a bow when I finally rosin it. That may be the problem or it could be something else, but it just seems like I'm getting more finicky lately on enjoying playing the fiddle.

    Also, when I get into a public setting and have to play "Old Country" instead of Bluegrass, I don't feel as sure of myself and use the mute too much and folks can't hear me and complain that I'm playing too softly.

  • For me, music is a life-long journey.  Each time I pick up an instrument, I learn something.  I am new to the fiddle, but even at this early stage of learning, I can see that it offers me lessons and knowledge that are different from what I bring to, and take from the guitar, banjo and mandolin.

    A long time ago, it became clear to me that this process is seriously inhibited by the 'condemning mind'.  It is useful to evaluate my playing, and make adjustments based on an honest and accurate catalogue of skills and understandings that need to be changed.  But, to beat myself up because I have not lived up to a deluded, imaginary ideal is not skillful or useful.

    Right now, on the fiddle, simply playing in tune is a major undertaking.  But, the difficulties of finding notes accurately on a 'fretless' instrument is opening me up to a new intimacy with scales, arpeggios and chords that I had lost playing a fretted instrument.  The complexity of bowing and making bowing choices are forcing me to revisit rhythm and time.

    There is a Buddhist saying: Before beginning to study, mountains are just mountains and rivers are just rivers.  After studying diligently for a while, mountains are no longer mountains and rivers and no longer rivers.  When deep and thorough understanding has been achieved, mountains are just mountains and rivers are just rivers.

    Every time I pick up and instrument, whether it is to play a complex, fully articulated jazz or blues composition on the guitar, or stumble through a scale on the fiddle, my tongue clenched tightly between my teeth, trying simply to play a two octave 'G' scale in tune, I am making music.  That is enough for me.

  • Slowly getting back into playing music with others.  Our Irish group is now back to playing at a Senior's home, although out in the courtyard and spaced apart.  Also, starting to have friends come over and playing outside in the yard.  The only problem is that the first frost is only a few weeks away, so it's time to find a large space inside. Since I've been playing alone for most of the last few months, I've spent more time on the mandolin then the fiddle, and it shows.  Like Fred mentioned, I'll get frustrated with how I'm playing the fiddle, and switch to the mandolin.  I just need to spend more time on the fiddle and get back to where I was.  Regardless, it's nice to be playing with others again and I enjoy all the visiting (and a few beers).  Joe
  • Dave, I'm sorry to tell you that the Dollmaker is basically a tragedy...lol...not a lot of happiness in there but a lot to think about.  You're in the region, I mean I don't know how close, but the part where their tragic lives ended up...I was in the area where their tragic lives began...so there oughta be something very familiar in there...but, yes, it is tragic.  If you read the two that came before that...it's kinda interesting, historically, about rural America and especially Appalachia...how things changed with development.  The first one, Mountain Path, and the second one, Hunter's Horn...I believe Arnow's writing skills were improved quite a bit, though, when she got to the Dollmaker.  Still, some lit profs consider the three a sort of unintended trilogy of rural America back through history.

    Fred...I don't know what it could be...sometimes when I pick up a fiddle it just sings out...then, sometimes it just screeches ugly and i don't know why.  I don't know if it's my rosin, my bow tightness or looseness, rosin build up on the strings, the humidity, or my ears...lol.  I just wish the fiddle would be my friend EVERY day, not just when it wants to.

    Bill...back in college...hate to figure up how long that's been...since I studied philosophy and that kinda stuff...I remember a similar little Buddist expression...Before Zen, a man is a man and a mountain is a mountain.  During Zen there is some confusion.  After Zen, a man is a man and a mountain is a mountain.  And of course, the student asks the difference between before and after.  The answer if I'm remembering it right, is after Zen the man's feet are on the ground...something to that effect...lol.  I have thought about that many times when it comes to dealing with music and musical instruments!
  • Here's one for y'all: I have driven myself crazy learning to play Windy City Rag. I'm serious when I say I must have played it 4 or 5-hundred times. The other day during a practice session, after having played it successfully several times through, I flubbed it up on another pass and subsequently couldn't remember how it went through the 2nd part. So bad, my memory loss, that I had to get out my notes on the piece and re-learn the part that stumped me.

    I worked way too hard on that tune for a memory lapse but it came anyways. Now I've got it again but I'm like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs every time I approach the part that got me in the first place. My goodness....does it get better???????? :)
  • Does it get better? - "now that's a question!"

    When I first began to study music, I spent a lot of time working through exercises and drills from books and structured learning protocols.  After years of this, it occurred to me that most of this stuff had been developed to, in the least useful cases, solve problems specific to the author of the published learning material, or in more useful instances, to solve problems encountered by a variety of  his or her students.  The question for me became, "how useful is this stuff to my own needs as a musician?"  In most cases, I was forced to admit that it was of minimal value.  I am sure all of us have had the experience of spending hours, days, or weeks slaving over some arcane musical pedagogy, only to find it of no particular value, or completely unable to find a pragmatic application for it in our 'actual' playing.

    One of the alternatives is to pay close attention to our own process.  To begin to understand 'how' we, as individuals, learn - what our process tells us about what we 'need' to learn - and how to 'recognize', what our own playing is trying to tell us.  I think that much of what we do as musicians is like the individual who begins to lose his balance running down a hill and has to run faster and faster to keep from a horrible, bone breaking fall.  Eventually, he is going to crash.

    I have found that when I make mistakes, am faced with what appears to be an insurmountable difficulty, feel frustration, disappointment or distress, I am experiencing a clear, pointed message about where I need to focus my effort and direct my study.

    At the present, there are so many distractions to learning - systems to learn jazz in one week, master musical theory in an afternoon, play like (fill in a name here) by simply learning this 'secret insight' known only to the guy selling this week's musical snake oil - that, often, we can't tell up from down.  Even when the learning system is legitimate, it can become impossible to differentiate it from all of the inflated, two-for-one, once-in-a-lifetime, one-time-only musical 'slicers and dicers' out there.

    One of my teachers told me, "pay attention to the small motion."  When we boil away all of our expectations, preconceptions, and external frames of reference and identify what, precisely, we are having problems with - I think, then, we can begin to order our efforts in a way that optimizes our results and helps us to effectively direct our practice.  As well, that kind of focus changes the nature of frustration and disappointment.  It alchemically translates them from stumbling blocks and sources of distress into an enthusiasm for, and expectation of, new learning.


  • Thanks, "Jazz". Good stuff there. :)
  • I find that the more different tunes I learn the easier it gets , When first learning each new tune from BGD I just try to be a twin fiddle along side Dr. John performance video or mp3 , and copy him , till I can , My Dad always told me to keep going and if you make a mistake , don't stop and next time through , try to get it right and eventually you will get it right  , Then like magic , after I am a carbon copy of the tune I start picking up on embellishments here and there in some of the tunes , So getting comfortable with a tune , you become it , then it becomes you !

    I don't know if this makes scents , but works for me !
  • Lot of thought provoking posts here! Scott, sorry for your computer difficulties. Like Cricket, I'd aim for a Mac if I could afford one. For now, I just use a Chromebook. I can't justify purchasing a Mac or any other computer since anything I basically do is online. No need for a Desktop or hard drive per sae..

    Fred... Cricket... I sympathize. Some days the fiddle sounds phenomenal and other days it sounds horrible! Those days I just grab the guitar because I don't have the mental energy to put towards troubleshooting the fiddle. The guitar makes sense to me.

    Dave, I'm somewhere in between. I WISH we had some of our locals that were willing to get together "somewhere" on a Saturday and just jam. Before the shut down, I was able to join an already-established bluegrass jam session at our Senior Center. Maybe 5 months worth. To my knowledge, it's not opened back up yet.  The other musicians are posting on FB their jam sessions that they've traveled several hours to get to. Maybe a weekend camping trip. I just don't have the wherewithall to make those trips. They're retired; I'm not lol. As a public school teacher in NE FL, I just don't have a lot of free time for my hobbies. Weekends are devoted to house cleaning, laundry and such.

    2020 will be over soon. Hang in there!
  • I can relate...I work 7 mornings/week all Summer at a golf course...so no overnighters.

    I've been invited to a couple things to play, but ended up staying home & working at learning. I've just gotten to where I don't feel comfortable out playing around people...weird for someone who performed or played out most every weekend for over 35 years.
  • This is why I like youtube.  It's not the same as playing with friends, but it just feels to me like it's getting me out of the house, or off the porch, so to speak.  If just a couple of people watch, I'm happy. But if they comment, and especially if they say they played along or somehow interacted, I get really happy.  It's not the same, but it's what I've got and it does feel like it gets me out with people.  I started focusing more on youtube before covid, so...I already got used to it.  I've tried the jams around here and I just don't like them enough to bother with it...I'm sure they're all shut down now, but I didn't have fun there anyway.

    I'm very happy with my chromebook...pretty cheap and pretty good.  Whenever I make youtubes of myself instead of just with my recorded music...which really hurts because I am so camera shy...lol...I use the chromebook to make the video.

    One thing bad though...I've tried to play along with other tracks...like something I had playing on a speaker, while recording, and the chromebook does tend to try to cancel out one sound for another...so it doesn't work out too well for making a video with tracks...at least it didn't for me.
  • I had a great time at the Old Country jam session last night. Instead of playing my usual fiddle numbers, I decided to throw a few different tunes at the fellas each time it came around to my turn. I played "Maple Sugar" (an old Ward Allen tune), "Golden Slippers (this time in the key of D instead of G), "Big John McNeil" and "Bill Cheatum". The guys loved it. I had a great time playing along with so many of the old country songs the folks sang.
  • Sounds like a really good time, Fred!  Hope you thoroughly enjoyed it yourself, and then some for the rest of us...lol!
  • Thanks, Peggy.

    I've been having a lot of fun on and off fiddling some great tunes. Windy City Rag, April's Reel, Pass Me Not, Daley's Reel, Cheyenne, New Camptown Races, Maple Sugar, Beautiful Dreamer, Blue Violet Waltz, Angel's Waltz, Gardenia Waltz, Big John McNeil, Blue Mountain Waltz, and quite a few others, too. I love it when everything comes together.....although it's not as frequent as it used to be. Fun to slowly be getting back into the swing of things. :)
  • I've only heard of a few of those tunes...I guess you'll have to play them for us...lol.  I tried Gardenia Waltz and ...wow...that's a very tough one to play!  I learned it from the lesson here, but boy is it tough!  Beautiful though.
  • I'm working on a waltz called "Redeemed" in Eb tonight. Not as hard to play there as one might think...
  • Hi everyone! I just scanned through this "new" thread. I'm glad to see all of you are still hanging around, in spite of life's setbacks, hills, and valleys. I have been very busy with life in general, and unfortunately, fiddling and all things music have taken a temporary (hopefully!!) back seat for a while. Sometimes we are reminded in a not so subtle way that "life" is what happens while we are making plans.....
  • Dave, I'm of the opinion that Eb is one of the most beautiful keys on the fiddle. That's wonderful to hear you're still playing when you get a chance. ( I had to play "Fulsom Prison Blues" in F# the other night when the singer capoed up two frets on his guitar and played in the E chord shape.)

    Beardog, it's great to hear from you again. I figured you were way too busy. Hope you get some time to fiddle.
  • I've never tried anything in Eb and sorry...I probably never will...lol.  But Dave and Fred, I trust you guys really know your fiddling and if Eb makes the tune sing...that's where you go.  Hope to hear it soon, Dave.

    Beardog, I don't remember what you do or why you're busy...but yes, hope that's just a temporary hold on fiddling for you.  I think so many fiddlers and musicians in general have to put things on hold here and there...supposedly it made the great old timers play even better after they had to take a few years off...lol...ok...that would be good if it'll work out that way when the rest of us have to put it on the back burner.

    Fred...tell that singer to learn to sing in another key...lol.   That's why capos are such a popular item...too bad for the fiddlers.  I'm sure you handled it well, knowing how you can play.

    Seems early in the season for it, but we took out some of our plants this morning...for lots of reasons, but a big part of it was the doggies' yard was getting to be a narrow corridor for them...lol.  We left some of the greens and the okra, mainly because the okra is just now having its hayday...er...okra day. The bean vines are looking pretty ragged by now, seems early for that too...I din't know...can't remember when it usually happens...but we'll probably be taking them down in a day or two.  I've got my hydronponic winter garden started inside already...I should make us a fall garden outside but not sure I have the spaces I could use for that.  Still have squash running all over the place plus the sweet taters doing the same...so ... that's the only places I would wanna put more stuff.  Looks like we'll have a lot of winter squash and sweet taters this year if nothing terrible happens before then.  I'm just growing some greens and lettuces indoors...that way bright shop lights are all we need.  Grow lights freak me out...burn out your eyeballs.

    Not much going on with music.  I might try to play some today but doubtful I'll have time...this is Granny Day...grandson will be over soon and it's nonstop action from that point on.  Laser tag, nerf battles, baseball, frisbee, chess, uno, whatever else...
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