Thursday, January 05, 2006

Irish flute

I have been playing the flute since just before I turned twelve; that is, more years than I care to count. It wasn't my first instrument, piano, guitar, and violin (surprisingly) take those honors, but it is the one that I got to know the best, and at which I became most proficient. I have public school music programs, which favor "band" instruments, and college "band", now known as "wind orchestra", to thank for some of that. After college, I played in church, for community theater, and in a community orchestra, trying to keep my music alive.

But at the same time, I was discovering folk music. The 1992 Telluride Bluegrass Festival was a major turning point for me; I fell in love with bluegrass and roots music. I was inspired to learn the mandolin, and rediscover the guitar. But my flute, which I knew so well, was somehow foreign to all of that. It was not welcome at "bluegrass" jams. I had to find a way to work it in to the music that was now a part of me. It was then that I happened to purchase a copy of "The Fiddler's Fake Book".

It's not a fake book, it's a real book filled with really good roots music, intended to give primarily fiddle players a resource for learning the rich tradition of tunes that can be described as "fiddle music". I, having abandoned my violin/fiddle long ago to pursue the flute, used it as a resource for mandolin tunes. Then, I happened to discover something. There were some Irish tunes in there, and they were really fun to play on my flute. I became proficient at a few of them, just playing by myself. I thought it would be really fun to play this stuff with others some day. I listened to Altan, The Bothy Band, Matt Molloy, The Chieftains, and The Gaels, thinking "wow. this is FUN!"

Today I finally bared my Irish soul to another and shared the sound that had previously just served to annoy my cats. I played some Irish tunes on my flute, with Fred on mandolin, and it sounded really good. Incredibly fun as a matter of fact, so fun that we are playing some of them tomorrow at our now-somewhat-regular gig at the Hanging Horn. We have gotten to be rather eclectic; we do everything from Bill Monroe to Greg Brown to Townes Van Zandt to Kate Wolf to John Prine to old fiddle and Irish tunes. With a little practice we are ten times better than our original recording of "Early" that I shared. And I'm having a heck of a good time doing it.

5 comments:

Rexroth's Daughter said...

That's so cool, Deb. I'd love to know which greg brown songs you are doing. We're big fans.

Deb said...

Somehow I just knew you were! I mean, "Rexroth's Daugher"...that gives it away. Right now it's "Early", "The Train Carrying Jimmie Rodgers Home", and "Lord, I Have Made You A Place", although I also play "Who Woulda Thunk It", "Spring Wind" (absolutely LOVE that one), "Poet Game", "Driftless", "Your Town Now", "Canned Goods",...and the list goes on. I absolutely adore Greg Brown.

Cindy said...

glad to hear you're out there playing the music you love so well.. I laid my flute down and eventually went to a clarinet, but still play an indian flute now and then... (and I always loved Jethro Tull- Ian is a genius on that flute).
If you ever put a cd together, I would love to buy one, (I have a wee bit of Irish blood meself lass) ;)

Rexroth's Daughter said...

Deb-- Spring Wind and Dream Cafe were the two songs that completely made us Greg Brown fans. We really love the Anniversary Song, if that's the one that begins: When I look at you I think of bed.
He really is a fanastic songwriter. Do you write any of your own songs?

Deb said...

No, I haven't yet. In fact, I was just thinking of writing a post about songwriting, or how I want to write songs but for some reason haven't gotten around to it yet. Maybe it's because I'm too much of a perfectionist; I want to sound as good as Greg Brown or don't write anything at all. I gotta get over that...