Sunday, October 21, 2007

Playing in Sessions - an update

In my post of January 28, 2007, I set myself a goal of attending a session each week. I can't say I've consistently met that goal, but I've probably averaged two sessions a month. In that same January post I decided to "claim" Dempsey's as my session pub, and I've been there often enough to become acquainted with many of the regular players. When the session temporarily moved to a different bar last summer while Dempsey's was being remodeled, I started attending the Monday night Landmark Tavern session run by Don Meade. Friends from the NYU Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra play there every Monday, so that's an added draw for me. Although I'm still not comfortable starting tunes, I'm making progress in other areas. I know a lot more tunes than I used to, and I find the quicker tempos less daunting now. Currently I'm focusing on practicing tunes in pairs, as that's how tunes are played in sessions - and once you start a tune, you need to be able to successfully navigate into the second tune.

Photo courtesy of John Nevin

The picture above is what inspired me to reflect on my progress in the area of session playing. It was taken last Tuesday at Dempsey's. There I am, on the far left, trying to figure out if I'm going to start the next tune. To the right looking a little tired (it was after 11 pm) is Tyler Leinhardt, fiddler from my Sorcha Dorcha group. The woman in the white sweater is Mary Coogan from Cherish the Ladies. She was a surprise guest! She wasn't getting paid or anything like that. She just came to play tunes with us and enjoy the craic. Well, I can't actually remember if I started the next tune or not, but either way, one might conclude that my session playing must be improving if I'm playing with the likes of Mary Coogan. It was a fantastic night!!! Couldn't resist sharing...

P.S. The picture above belongs to John Nevin, banjo player on the far right who runs the Dempsey's session. Many thanks to John for all his hard work in keeping that session a vital part of the NYC Irish music scene.

© 2007, Linda Mason Hood
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Saving Mortimer Mouse

Last week Sorcha Dorcha rehearsed in Tompkins Square Park. As we were unpacking our instruments, Tyler noticed a small white mouse near the fiddle case at his feet. Having spent a fair amount of time on Lorcan Otway's Flikr site, I immediately recognized the little fellow as none other than Mortimer Mouse. Having owned an assortment of rodent pets, I didn't hesitate to scoop him up and introduce myself.

Photo by Lorcan Otway, used with permission.

Lorcan confirmed that, indeed, this was the one and only Mortimer who belonged to one of the "crusties" - a group of rather grungy young people who more or less live in the park. Since none of them were in the immediate vicinity, Lorcan left to have a look around. Mortimer stayed with me. Accustomed to being handled, he didn't mind a bit.

After about 10 minutes Lorcan returned with someone who took one look at Mortimer and said said, "yep, that's Mike's mouse." He gladly agreed to take over the temporary guardianship of little Mortimer and set off into the center of the park, presumably to find Mike.

Like I always say, you never know when you will need to save the life of a homeless person's mouse when you go off to rehearse Irish music in an East Village park.

© 2007, Linda Mason Hood
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement

Friday, October 05, 2007

Alternative to Baseball

Ok - here's what some people who are NOT baseball fans do while their TV is occupied with World Series playoff games: they watch YouTube! ... sad, I know, but what can I say?

Anyway, after checking out a Japanese tin whistle player employing circular breathing, I started viewing what YouTube designated as "Related" videos. Soon I stumbled onto the only flute quartet I've ever heard that didn't sound like a calliope. Listen to the whole thing - it's quite beautiful (despite the fact that it's not Irish). While you're listening, read the comments to learn a bit about the circumstances surrounding the composition of this piece. Nice, right?

© 2007, Linda Mason Hood
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement