Derek Warfield called my buddies Kevin and Nick up on stage to finish their set at St Margeret’s Church in Selden where he was playing as Derek Warfield and The Young Wolfetones. They even pimped our gig the next day at the Hauppauge FD to the crowd (Thanks!). Damaris Woods was absolutely awe inspiring on banjo. Excellent playing by all and great historical stories with tie-ins from Derek to the American struggle for Independence from England.
I was shocked to find its been almost four years since I last wrote about seeing Buddy Merriam play. When Tim was more active in Bardic Circle we’d try to squeeze in a “field trip”, as we called it, every so often to see some live music both to just have a good time and to try to learn how other bands went about presenting themselves. Buddy (and his supporting cast called Backroads) were consummate showfolk. Not only was he able to strum up a storm, but he could keep you entertained with a story or two, and could usually be found for a chat between sets. Probably the main thing I learned from Buddy was how important it is to keep up a dialogue with the audience during the show – folks like to know about the songs you’re playing, why they were written, why you like playing them, the story behind the songs. The fact that Buddy has been doing the bluegrass show Bluegrass Time (click for playlists from previous shows) on WUSB (90.1 FM Stony Brook, NY) for so many years may explain his easy ability in this area – I’ve always found it more difficult to remember to talk a bit about the songs. I still seem to end up launching into the next one too quick.
What is the Book of Song?
In late 2008 I was getting tired of lugging around the thick three ring binder that held all the songs my little troupe of folk musicians had learned up to that point. Over time the lyrics to the songs we did, complete with chords and sometimes with some of the history behind the tunes had been stuck into a binder. The separate sheets had ended up in plastic sheet protectors, and I’d gone so far as to create a table of contents page just so I could actually find a specific song in what had become a huge tome of tunes. This meant I had to pencil in page numbers on each page and keep the pages in order in the binder. The book had grown to several hundreds of pages thick and was ornamented here and there with artwork I (and others) had drawn, it included some sheet music for melody lines to the less well known songs or instrumental pieces which were included in haphazard fashion but the thing was growing too darn heavy, and keeping up with the Table of Contents was a pain. We each had our own books that had grown in similar fashion so we wouldn’t have to look on with each other when we got together. The different books might have notes specific to the part we played, sometimes things were crossed out or alternate keys were scribbled in. It was hard to mark up the sheets since they were in sheet protectors – if something changed you had to take them out first which was a pain. I decided that I’d compile and lay out a complete “Book of Song” with all our notes which we could print using an online print service (I’m a fan of lulu.com) so we could each have a nice professional looking bound copy. This would also serve as a sort of “yearbook” marking all the tunes we knew to that point. Its now many years later and the time has come to make a new Book with tunes learned since the last volume was created and this time I wanted to do it all with free software if I could. This is the story of how I created these two song books. Warning: this is a LONG post.
I have boxes of audio cassettes that I can no longer play because all of my cassette players are broken. A lot of these old cassette tapes were just recordings of LPs (those were big black discs that look like oversized CDs, kids) which I’ve since replaced with wonderfully re-mastered digital versions. If that was all these cassettes contained I wouldn’t mind just tossing the lot of them, but many of the tapes hold the product of years of home recordings. Playing guitar and composing songs is a long time hobby of mine and you’re not going to find my stuff on Amazon or in the iTunes store (well, actually you will find a podcast there). I can’t just download new mp3s of my old stuff since it only exists on these tapes.