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Sunday afternoon with Fintan

This is another one I had to fetch with my time machine.  I did spend a lovely Sunday afternoon today playing music with my new friend Bryan, but unfortunately, all the tunes I’d recorded came out as duds, because silly me, I haven’t learned how to use the recording function on my iPod yet.  Grrrr.

Anyway, feeling like it’s way past time to post something on the blog, I decided to dig into the magic box o’ minidiscs and pull out something from an equally lovely Sunday afternoon.  As I recall, this was a day when Fintan Lucy and I were hell-bent to play music in public.  We set off from my house at the Red Abbey and headed to—Fintan, what was the name of that place that slammed the door in our faces when we showed them the instrument cases?  Jeepers, I’ve never been less wanted in my life.  Well we ended up at the Phoenix, next to the former musical landmark and all around groovy place, the Lobby.  Man, I had it real good then.  A whole host of pubs within walking distance from my house, days and days full of music, and more than my fair share of friends to share it all with.

I’m glad I happened to bring the minidisc recorder along on this little jaunt.  Fintan is one of the most amazing singers I know; even a casual recording like this, with all the pub background noise, gives me the chills.  The song is “John Barleycorn,” an example of Fintan taking a song that isn’t his own, but owning it like nobody’s business.  I love this image of the two musicians creating their own little atmosphere in the corner of a pub, while the rest of the drinkers and socializers do their thing.  I’ve purposely included the before and after chatter on this track.  Fintan and I were cracking ourselves up, and enjoying every bit of the afternoon we stole for the sake of music.

Me and Fintan Lucy, improvising a few songs at the Phoenix pub, Cork City, Ireland, April 2004:


Jellico Jam

Well it sounded to me like they were all singin’ the blues tonight in Jellico.  These sweet, slow songs (or maybe they just seemed slow because I was expecting bluegrass)… All these guys and a couple o’ gals sitting around in their circle in this medium-sized cream-colored cinderblock room with stacks of folding chairs for decoration.  I’m here trying to discover, and exhibit, Campbell County’s roots music, so I figured I should check out this Monday night pickin’ in Jellico.  It’s the hometown of Grace Moore, the opera singer who mentored Dorothy Kirsten, the opera singer my grandmother continues to work for even beyond Dorothy’s passing.

Carousel in Coolidge Park.

Today was another perfect Sunday.  Silvia is visiting from Slovakia, so we got to take her out on the town.  First, brunch and bloody marys at the Northshore, and then a ride on the Coolidge Park carousel.  What simple joys in life!  I’ve been on the carousel many times now, but this was the first time I’ve been on it with the calliope working.  I don’t know who in Chattanooga cares enough about these things to see to it that the calliope gets fixed… I can see how they’d be content to just play a cd of carousel music.  But no, today we got the real thing.  I was riding on a real flying horse, and the music was coming directly out of those stalks of pipes and mechanical drums.  Now one of Chattanooga’s special treats (the carousel) is officially one of Chattanooga’s special musical treats.  So totally worth the buck for a ride.

Victrola party

It’s something I’ve only heard about in oral history interviews about the 1930s. But golly, with luck like mine, I landed myself at my very own Victrola party tonight, where I got to pick out all the records and listen to them on an authentic RCA Victrola. I spent an hour or more going through stacks and stacks of 78s, looking at song titles, recognizing a few of the recording artists, but mostly just feeling like I’d encountered music from another planet. And really, it basically is music from another planet. A completely different time and place from where we currently live… This machine with no plug and no lights, you wind it up, set the record in motion, place the needle down in the outer groove, and then you get to hear one song. One. And it’s louder than a bomb. That is, if the cabinet doors are open. Want less volume? Close the cabinet doors. Wild.

It’s kinda similar to how I listen to music in my own house, with the iTunes going from the laptop in the bedroom, and if it’s too loud, I shut the door a little. Only, instead of having to get up and change the record after each song, I can listen to 2019 songs, and wouldn’t have to get up off my chair for approximately 5.4 days.

Anyway, I chose this record tonight because I recognized the title from a funny song my friend Tom has been known to sing. “Huggin’ and A’Chalkin,” written by Clancy Hayes and Kermit Goell, performed by Herbie Fields and his orchestra, 1946.

Valentine’s Day, Southside.

Tonight was pretty cool. It wasn’t the ultimate best party I’ve ever been to at Terry Cannon’s place, but I do have to admit that it’s mighty cool to be able to walk approximately 56 yards to the hippest most happenin’ place in my neighborhood. I really really dig that there’s live music within earshot (if it weren’t for the walls and all the other noise out there) of my house… Tonight’s band impressed me for its sense of tradition, but also its grip on the under-28 age group. And then I also got to wondering if maybe this band had a certain “in” with the Covenant College crowd, which might explain the enthusiasm all around. Nobody ever gets this excited about Valentine’s Day. Do they?

Not like the marching band from my hometown.

I love marching bands. Even small ones. Even in the dark, which is the only way you get them around here. We had a Lundi Gras parade in our neighborhood yesterday, a wonderful excuse to stand out on the sidewalk with the neighbors and take in the sights and sounds of the Howard High School marching band. These kids ROCK! I was especially impressed by the chicks leading the pack. They marched like horses, and their feet even sounded like horses too. But my favorite part of it is the sound of the bass drum echoing off of every building around us. I walked alongside them for a few minutes to capture this audio, and thought to myself, “This is way cool. Our neighborhood has its very own marching band.” I hope they never stop doing what they do, and never stop showing up for these community events. This is seriously fun music!


Consider this another work in progress. Got out of the bath one day, but didn’t drain the water out right away because Eleanor, the cat, likes to stand on the edge of the tub and lick the water. From the other room, I could hear this dripping sound, like I must have turned the water almost completely off, but not quite. By the time I returned to the bathroom with my microphone, Eleanor had long since lost her interest in the water… but she noticed my interest, and joined me while I recorded the drip. I’d like to compose a piece of music around this. Wouldn’t you?