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Going back to Belgium, bigger and better (with John and Lon) this time!

I’m thrilled to be invited back to teach hammered dulcimer at MuziekMozaiek’s music camp in Gooik this August. It’ll be my fourth time in Belgium, and every time I go back, I do a little bit more, connect with more musicians, see more of the country, (try a few more beers) etc. Last summer, there were several young musicians walking around in Gooik with this funny glow all around them, and these were people who had recently participated in “Flanders Ethno”– a music week for people ages 16-30 where musicians from all over the world bring one traditional tune to teach to the whole group, and they all form this international folk orchestra, performing the music from the countries represented by all the participants. Apparently last year’s Flanders Ethno was a transcendent experience for these musicians, and so this year I’m heading over to Belgium early in August to check it out. And I’m bringing two of the best musicians I know, John Boulware and Lon Eldridge. These two fellas are also instructors at the Folk School of Chattanooga, so I’m pleased to consider this trip something of a “Folk School Teacher Training” excursion. There’s no telling how our musical worlds are going to be opened up by this experience, and what tremendous value this will have as we continue to teach our students here in Tennessee. We’ve set up this Kickstarter page to try to raise some funds that will help us as we travel. We already have our plane tickets sorted out, so now we’re just looking to raise some cash so we can afford to see and do a few cool things while we’re in Belgium, such as the Musical Instrument Museum in Brussels.

If this is something you think you could get behind, please let me assure you that no amount of support is too small.

See our Kickstarter page here.

This isn’t the Tomo Yamaguchi I was looking for.

But it’s a good one!!



I have to take a break from this Christmas program to show off this clip I found today!  Thanks to my friend David, who mentioned the famous Youtube “piano playing cat” to me, right after his daughter drew a picture of a cat playing the piano (which now lives on top of my piano!).  As if it wasn’t crazy enough that this cat named Nora–from Cherry Hill, NJ, no less!–truly plays the piano, and is an internet star for it, then this Lithuanian composer comes along and features Nora as his soloist in a concerto written around her music.  You people have got to be thinking I’m just crazy obsessed with cats by now, but seriously, this is really special!  I applaud the composer, Mindaugas Piecaitis, for recognizing the potential of those homemade video clips, and hats off to Nora’s family for appreciating her music as they do.  And ladies and gentlemen, let’s give a big hand to the internet for putting all of these pieces of the puzzle into a common pot, from which we can all find inspiration!  This composition is like the product of a worldwide Art X-Tractor, just like the one we had on Main Street during MainX24.

Wild times in Blue Mountain Lake

There is a gathering of musicians that takes place every summer in the Adirondacks– every summer for the past 28 years.  So it was quite an honor for me to be invited as the hammered dulcimer instructor for the Northeast Dulcimer Symposium this year.  I had wonderful class, very opened minded willing-to-try-anything students!  Two unusual instruments made an appearance at the week: Laurie McCarriar’s hammered mbira and Ken Lovelett’s orthagonal lap drum.  Here they are, one clip from the sound check (with Tom White walking in and out of the frame as he set up the stage), and one clip from the performance, which was done in complete darkness while Laurie played with her light-up hammers.  Oh man, that was cool!

Ken Lovelett and Laurie McCarriar at the Northeast Dulcimer Symposium, June 2009:

Walkin’ in the Parlor

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a good old fashioned recorded-it-in-my-living-room kind of post.  Partly, that’s because I haven’t been in my living room lately for long enough to record a tune.  But the other evening, Matt came by for some tunes (as well as folk school plotting and scheming), and this is what we made.  Exploring the quiet, the slow, the simple, the serene side of old time music… We’re inching towards the place where old time music meets African music, or at least the kind of African music I love to listen to.  [I reference this mbira post.]  Actually, now that I think about it, most of the traditional mbira music from Zimbabwe I’ve heard is fast and busy… And maybe I’m just really into what Forward Kwenda does when he takes those traditional melodies to a mellower place.  Well certainly I appreciate knowing how to reach that mellower place in old time music.  Matt Evans is the conductor on the express train to old time mellowland…the slowest, quietest, most peaceful train you could ever imagine.  Here’s my first official wish to the universe in 2009: I wish for Matt and myself to someday collaborate with Forward Kwenda.  🙂  Crazier things have been wished for on blogs, haven’t they?

Walkin’ in the Parlor, recorded by Matt and Christie on 18th St., Chattanooga, Jan 11, 2009.

Blue Skies

I was too busy making mojitos to fuss with the camera (or a fiddle, or a dulcimer) while the big part of the party went on. But when it all died down, I found myself in a fairly odd–but totally fun–jam session with Ken Doyle on Irish flute and Ken Harrison on saw. This is our rendition of Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies”. A rather soulful ensemble, don’t you think?

18th Street “surprise” party for Rick Davis, July 5th, 2008: