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Well, since 2010, Facebook has pretty much taken over the blog responsibilities.  I've been posting a video to YouTube every week and you can view those on my Music Videos page all organized by nationality and genre.

Festival going continues, along with teaching, performing and meeting and playing with wonderful musicians, both new and old.  Check in every once in a while to see if I've released any new CD's or books, or possibly even gotten back to blogging on my web page!  Feel free to send me an email if you'd like to be added to my occasional publicity mailings.




I've seen quite a number of humorous musical "observations" enacted by cartoon bears, so I thought I'd try my hand at it.  I sometime get quite frustrated at the seemingly omnipresent misimpression that the Scots have a monopoly on bagpipes, so here is my humorous attempt at education on the matter:


My new CD, Grandad's Favorite, is out now and is getting great comments from those who have listened to it.  Trying to fund it via is proving to be an interesting albeit frustrating experience. 


Many folks have been asking me if I have a Christmas album, so it has become clear to me that I should make a Christmas CD.  I also want to do a CD of Celtic (Irish, Northumbrian and Scottish) music.  And there are so many wonderful Swedish tunes that I have recorded but not released, that a new Swedish CD seems inevitable as well.


I am currently working on a book of dulcimer TAB of old-time music.  The big question with books of this sort is how much to include (the potential material is endless).  I also have to give a lot of thought to how simple or complex to make the tab.  When I play, I am often adding variations to my arrangements, particularly with old-time tunes.  In addition, I often play the tunes up or down an octave which requires totally different fingering on a dulcimer.  Adding a few variations to the TAB is instructive, but too much and it becomes daunting both for me as a writer, and for the beginning players.




I am so often astounded at how some folks think because something is quoted that it has value.  So many quotes are thoughtless and hurtful.  "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," for example.  I assure you people with chronic pain, debilitating diseases,  permanent discomfort,  failing musculature, osteoporosis, etc. are not made stronger by these conditions.  They simply learn to live with them. 


In this politically correct environment, when people are vilified for expressing honest opinions, perhaps it's time to think about what you're really saying before spouting what someone else said, particularly when you don't know the context in which it was said in the first place. 




Ever since I was a little kid, I've been surrounded by instruments.  My parents always had a significant collection of stringed instruments hanging on the wall, and I grew up listening to my mother playing piano and my sister playing harp, so music has always been a big part of my life.  My grandparents traveled around the world and usually brought back some of the local instruments from wherever they went.  As I grew up and began to travel, I also started acquiring instruments from the places I visited, and when my grandparents died, I inherited their collection as well.  As an adult, my instrument collecting became more focused, and more extensive, so by now, I have acquired several hundred different instruments from all over the world.  Visitors really seem to enjoy viewing the collection, so I thought it would be a good thing to share some of it on YouTube.  At some point, my plan is to post a photo gallery as well.




March 17, 2010


New YouTube Videos for St. Patrick's Day

Maid at the Spinning Wheel



March 12, 2010


New YouTube Videos

Turkey in the Straw on mountain dulcimer  and Leksands Brudmarsch on English concertina



March 5, 2010    LOST IN TRANSLATION


Do you remember the old game "Telephone" where one person whispers a phrase to the next person who whispers it to the next and so on down a line until it reaches the end.  The last person then speaks the phrase out loud, and then the first person announces the original phrase and everyone laughs at the remarkable change it has made.  This game is even more funny if it is done with a language translation chain.  I know of one case where it was played with a joke which went through about 7 languages and managed to pick up an extraneous goat by the time it got to the final translation.  Travels With Dulcimers was picked up by a Polish website and the final track, Trip to Durro/ Boy in the Gap ended up renamed as Trip this Sorghum/ Page in the Gaping Spectator.

Aren't computers wonderful?!


New YouTube Videos

Holmes Fancy on mountain dulcimer  and  Västgöta Sväng on English concertina



February 26, 2010


New YouTube Videos

Old Hen She Cackled on mountain dulcimer  and  The Mermaid on English concertina


Today's Addled Adage:

"A Rising Tide Runs Deep"



February 19, 2010


New YouTube Videos

Båtsman Däck on mountain dulcimer  and  Eklunda Polska on English concertina



February 14, 2010     LEARNING A NEW TUNE


One of my friends asked me how I learn a tune.  That got me to thinking...  Usually I learn a tune from someone by listening to it enough times so that it sticks in my head.  If I'm playing with someone, or in a jam session, that usually means about ten times through the tune.  That's generally enough for me to know it reasonably well.  If I really like a tune, I'll make a note of the name, and then I'll ask to play it again at some later date.  This next time it generally comes back quickly (maybe one or two times through).  After that, if I like it enough to go home and play it by myself, I can recall it at will, or maybe it will just pop into my head while I'm doing something else.  At that point, I consider that I know the tune.  Some tunes I'll learn from an old record or a CD.  Those I've usually heard enough so that they're already in my head, and I could easily play them in a jam session, but I have to sit down and work out an arrangement to see if I really want to work it up to solo performance level.  I almost never learn tunes from a book (although I will occasionally learn a song from a book if I think there's something particularly interesting about the text).  I will, however, use books to look up a tune I played with someone else and decided I like enough to learn.


New YouTube Videos

Cluck Old Hen on mountain dulcimer  and  Barkbrödlåten on English concertina



February 6, 2010     SIGN LANGUAGE


There are those times and places where you just hope you have a camera to capture an image or a memory.  I have a pad of notes of funny signs and juxtapositions that I've run across over the years like the truck in Florida which advertised "Fresh Salt Water (call 876-FISH)", or the sign on the "Bon Voyage Travel Agency" which announced "we've moved", or the Ichiban Chinese Restaurant which existed briefly in Fort Lauderdale.  Today I was fortunate enough to have my camera when I passed this gem at the local school for the blind:



February 4, 2010     ACRONYMS


The advent of texting and internet messaging (IMing) seems to have created a plethora of new acronyms which are totally baffling when taken out of context.  This has spilled over into regular speech and every field seems to be flooded with its own set of acronyms.  On Facebook, I wrote about my latest belt promotion in BJJ (Brazilian jiu-jitsu), and one of my dulcimer friends was speculating as to what BJJ stood for.  After I told him, he remarked about the problem with acronyms and gave the example DWFT.  Having no clue what he referred to, I dutifully looked it up on Google, and came up with Discrete Wavelet Frame Transform which wasn't much help at all.  He found that amusing and ended his message with "Done work for today". 


About a month ago I put this message on the Dulcimer list in response to someone's baffling reference to what seemed like 3 random letters:

"Pardon the NDR (non-dulcimer related) message, but anyone else here a member of SAT?  SAT (Society Against TLAs)  wants to put an end to widespread use of TLA (Three letter acronyms).  They're totally incomprehensible unless you are ITL (in the loop) and lead to EMC (endless mass confusion).  They seem to have been around for a VLT (very long time), but since the rise of the internet, they've become IYF (in your face) wherever you look.  So please join me and PAE (put an end) to this UMN (ubiquitous modern nuisance).
Of course this is just IMHO (in my humble opinion) and sent with TFIC (tongue firmly in cheek)... Thank goodness I have nothing against four letter acronyms.  ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing)."

Today's Addled Adage:

"You never miss the water in mid stream"


BTW (by the way), for those who are interested, I'm a third degree black belt in judo, and I'm now a purple belt in BJJ.


A picture taken in London in 2000.  Thai Square is a Thai restaurant.  I loved that it was located in Norway House.



February 1, 2010     RETURNING TO BLOGGING


First MySpace and then Facebook pretty much took over my blog time allowance, but I'm going to make an effort to get back to blogging.  (We'll see how long it lasts this time.)  I recently saw the movie, 'Julie and Julia' which I thoroughly enjoyed, and it has sort of inspired me try blogging once more. 


I have really enjoy giving dulcimer workshops recently in Cincinnati and Oklahoma City.  It feels extremely rewarding to travel to a city where a bunch of folks want to be immersed in an intense learning situation for a day and then giving a concert to a small appreciative audience.  I enjoy giving festival workshops too, but being the only teacher for the day allows me to get to know the participants and help them learn in a more focused way than at large festival workshops where there are other distractions.


After about two years of work, Playing A Round with Dulcimers is finally out!  HOORAY!  At first it was just going to be a book of tablature with an accompanying CD, but the CD really took on a life of its own.  The amount of effort trying to work out truly great musical arrangements for the rounds ended up being much more challenging than I expected. And recording from 3 to 7 parts for each round introduced me to multi-tracking issues I hadn't given much thought to in my previous CD's.  As I recorded more and more of the rounds, they became tighter and more rhythmically precise and my sound engineer finally got a handle on efficient editing.  I'm sure it was as much of a learning experience for him as it was for me.


Here's a new Addled Adage for those who have patiently waited :-)

"A penny saved is soon parted"


Hey!, did you know that Batman lives in Austin?




"A bird in hand makes waste."

"A fool and his money is a friend indeed."

"A penny saved is soon parted"

"A rising tide runs deep"

"Visitors and dead fish make strange bedfellows."

"Where there's a will, there's death and taxes."

"You never miss the water in mid stream"