Friday, October 21, 2005

Last night was practice. It went pretty well and I did remember a lot more of the eclectic tunes but there are still issues. Still, all in all it was good. My main complaint with MSCB is that they play a lot of songs too fast. What they don't seem to realize is that the listener has no point of reference as to speed. The listener cannot tell if a song is being played at 120 beats per minute or 100 beats per minute; it sounds fast either way. If the song is played so rapidly that the banjo player (for example) has to leave notes out in order to keep up, the overall quality of the song is compromised. If the song is played at a slower but still fast speed, the notes can stay in and the overall quality of the song is better. I once coined a phrase (with apologies to R. Crumb),"Tone will get you through times of no speed better than speed will get you through times of no tone". So true.

One of the principle reasons I agreed to join MSCB is that they have a couple of brothers in the band who are serious musicians. Chuck, the bassist, teaches symphony bass in the public school system. Bluegrass is just for fun with Chuck. His brother Mark is a full time musician, and plays with several bands and combos. Mark speaks several languages, fluently, and has taught some of them at the college level. These are guys with musical muscle. They both play several instruments. Mark quadruples on fiddle, mandolin, mandola, and guitar. Before I joined the group he also played banjo. I am a "better" banjoist than Mark. I have a fluid style and arguably know more phrasing and licks than he does. Still, he basically knows anything he needs to know. I manage to maintain my dignity by being a Black Belt to his Brown. Anyway, Chuck and Mark make up the majority of my reasons to be in MSCB. I like Alan and Bruce a lot and the money is good, but the Bros bring a steady beat and an upgrade that I like a lot. I played with MSCB from 1979-1981. It was a much tougher band to be in at that time. I was a much tougher person to have in a band at that time. I subsequently quit playing music from 1981 until 2002, and raised a family and did the career thing and all. I started again when I needed a non-chemical and non-addictive escape when my company and marriage went South. So, here I am. I am grateful for the doors God opened for me, even though many of them looked like chasms at the time.


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