I apologize to you non-pickers about the mandocentric posts here lately. I just happen to be having a renewed love affair with the 8-string, and I'm liking it!!! And, before I say anything else, I have to say this: Mike Compton played my mandolin, and he liked it!!! I may never change strings again! :)
The kids got to spend the whole time in their idea of perfect bliss, that is, video games and hot baths and McDonalds and new clothes from Target, all from their half-brother (I hate that term, he's way more than half I say!) and maybe someday to be sister-in-law at their college town residence. They did not want to leave and come back to their boring parents. I can't say as I blame them, after all, indoor plumbing is SO endearing!
So The Hermit and I, after dropping offspring off, went to a wonderful concert at the Audubon Center near Sandstone, MN, featuring the Whistlepigs (Fred's band) and Mike Compton and David Long. If you don't know who they are, check out the links to the right under Music. The 'pigs are a band to be reckoned with; great instrumentals, tight harmony vocals, and some real songwriting talent in the band. If you saw the movie "O Brother Where Art Thou" or heard the soundtrack, you have heard the mandolin playing of Mike Compton. I hadn't heard of David Long before, but together they did some sweet duets and made me realize the power that just a couple of instruments can have.
The venue for the concert was big enough but still intimate, and the local "greens" came out, meaning that I knew at least ten people in the audience, including my neighbors down the road! I also met up with a woman I had worked with briefly a couple of years ago, and the first thing she said was, "Deb, I love your blog!" She had gotten the address from a mutual friend. Amazing how the blogosphere interacts with the "real world". :)
After the concert we were invited to a party at Fred's house, where Mike and David were staying. The Hermit and I are not ones to stay up past, say, 9:30, but we could not pass up the invitation. There was good food and beer and we got to meet Mike and David as well as the rest of the Whistlepigs. We left some time after midnight, but I'm glad we left before the music began; I hear tell it went on into the wee hours, and it would have been hard to drag myself away once it started!
Sunday was the mandolin workshop. I have never been to anything like this before, so I didn't know what to expect. I ended up learning more than I thought I would. I was a bit intimidated; after all, I've been playing for about twelve years but I don't sound like it. It didn't help to learn that David Long has been playing for a shorter time than I have, and done more with it; but then he doesn't have three kids and a cabin in the woods!
Mike Compton is a great teacher; I felt like I was sitting in on one of the better college classes I have taken. The workshop was not about learning a few chords and licks and how to use them; it was about understanding where Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass, was coming from, and what that means as far as musical interpretation. Compton compared Monroe to Vincent Van Gogh; in music, and in painting, they both had an approach that implied the subject, not necessarily spelled it out in notes or brush strokes. And I had a revelation: That is why I've always had a hard time listening to the recordings of Bill Monroe. I've always approached it from a viewpoint of study, trying to analyze the music note by note. But that's like trying to analyze a Seurat painting dot by dot. The dots, or the notes, come together and make this whole big picture; there's no breaking it down. So now I will try to hear the whole sound, and emulate it, not just the individual notes.
There's a lot more I could say. I know a two hour workshop is not enough to turn me into a great player, but it certainly was worth it. Now I just need to practice. Thanks, Fred, for pulling this whole thing together, and to Missy for the hospitality and catering! :)