Saturday. It’s that time of year, and the trees are turning spectacular colors around here. When they hit their peak it is our tradition (well, we did it last year and this) to take a drive to Asheville in North Carolina. Asheville is a nice town, but the reason we visit is because the drive there goes through hills that are just spectacular when the leaves turn. It wasn’t a sunny day, unfortunately, but the sporadic fog provided a different sort of charm.
We arrived in Asheville for dinner, then went afterwards to the Barnes and Noble, more from habit than anything else. But Maggie was astonished and delighted to find three Freddy the Dectective books that we didn’t have. Later we headed to Babies R Us to make our one planned purchase, an exersaucer for Elizabeth, who is at just the right stage to get some enjoyment from one. And then home for supper.
Friday. Jonathan Daugherty’s dad was in town visiting, so we had the clan over for dinner—bratwurst and onions from the grill, macaroni and cheese, large helpings of Katie’s excellent rice pudding. Afterwards there was a bit of a jam session in the living room, with Jonathan on fiddle, his dad on clawhammer banjo, Chris on guitar, me clicking some sticks together, and Maggie clogging up a storm. Big fun.
Metronome. Chris is working pretty diligently on the clawhammer banjo strums that Jonathan taught him. And we have him using the metronome with both banjo and guitar.
I spent an hour or so playing my autoharp to the metronome last Sunday. It helped me understand a bit better this matter of keeping time vs. playing on the beat. I usually found myself anticipating the beat and therefore coming in just a bit too early; but if I concentrated on strumming exactly as the metronome struck, I found the groove and everything sounded a lot more musical. I expect to be working with the metronome a lot for awhile.
Catalog. Well, it went to the printer on Tuesday, but at least it went. Next up: finish preparing R.C.’s Biblical Economics for printing.
High tech. Here’s a lengthy article explaining how India has taken a lot of high-tech jobs off the hands of Americans. A friend sent it to me, saying that it proved his contention that software developers were likely to be the steelworkers of the 21st century.
While I was a developer, there was always talk about this possibility, and the company I worked for—which was already 50% Indian nationals, although all of them worked in Dallas—experimented with transferring some of its operations to Bangalore. We had lots of reasons why we were positive it would never work, and we comforted ourselves with them often. We were apparently wrong.
Catalog. Is done! Well, almost. It needs a careful proofreading, and I want to do a bit more tweaking on the catalog entry I wrote this afternoon. But otherwise it should be ready to go to the printer on Monday.
Jamming. Chris and I spent an hour this evening playing along with the Pete Wernick bluegrass jam vide, him on guitar and me on autoharp. Songs were Lonesome Molly, Take Me Back to Tulsa, New River Train, In the Pines, Long Journey Home (Two Dollar Bill), and Sittin’ On Top of the World. I didn’t try to do anything more than play along with the two simple strums that I know.
One thing I discovered is that it is easier to play in time than on the beat, if that makes any sense. I could be playing along and never get ahead or behind the video tape, and yet my strumming didn’t sound musical—what I figure is that I was coming in either slightly ahead of or slightly behind the beat, by the same amount each time. And when I concentrated and tried to adjust, sometimes it would fall into place and I could feel the ‘bounce’ of the rhythm, i.e. rather than the strum feeling mechanical it felt like I was pushing the song along, together with the rest of the players.
I suspect we’ll be doing this pretty often before next Merlefest.