It’s been a crazy week of music. I’ve had sessions and rehearsals that have run the gamut from Handel’s Messiah to 80’s New Wave. I could have gone to even more sessions, if I’d wanted.
We’ve started rehearsing for our Christmas concert with the Greenville Chorale. It’s been ten years since we last did Handel’s Messiah so it was good to get back to it. The first time I did this work I was sixteen years old. Since then I’ve sung it probably ten times and have conducted it at least twice. That doesn’t count the number of times I’ve done the Hallelujah Chorus by itself.
I know almost all of the choruses from memory. The trick is to keep it fresh and not to coast. For awhile I burned out on Messiah. The solution was to sing in Messiah Sing-Alongs.
Even so, it’s good to get back to the music. Of course, I entertain myself with new lyrics – “Surely, He Hath Worn Our Briefs.”
Tuesday Mountain Music
During the day Monday and Tuesday I practiced classical guitar, working on Alf Houkom’s “The Rune of Hospitality.” I will be playing it at the February Chamber Ensemble concert and time is slipping away.
Tuesday evening I headed over to The Stomping Grounds in Greer for our every-other-week Mountain Music session. The usual crowd was there. I thought I did fine, the music was good, and I had fun, but…
I’m starting to pick up a vibe from this group that I don’t like. These folks are starting to get about as snobbish about their music as the Irish folks in Washington were about theirs. At one of the earlier sessions in September one of the players felt compelled to tell me about her PhD in Folk Music. This evening we had another new player who was interested in doing some Celtic tunes. He was roundly derided. I’ll keep playing with them, but I get the feeling that this group takes themselves far too seriously.
One bright spot was that I had a chat with Grey, the owner of The Stomping Grounds. Turns out that we have quite a bit in common. Grey plays Scottish music with the Piedmont Pipe and Drum Corp and is also an avid kayaker.
Wednesday Pickens Flea Market
You know you’ve arrived when you have a nickname at the flea market.
When I arrived at the Musicians’ Circle at the Pickens Flea Market early Wednesday morning some of the regulars said, “There’s Banjoman.” Ooohkaayyy. I seem to have a nickname. This, despite the fact that there are several other much better players that attend and that I play instruments other than banjo. So be it.
In fact, on this particular Wednesday I was absolutely loaded with instruments. I had the banjo, my Martin guitar, the melodica, several tin whistles, and my Roland amp. I almost needed a roadie to get it all hauled over. I even had my bass guitar in case I wanted to play it, but I left it in the car.
I had almost as much fun today as I did last Wednesday. Once again the songs were simple and the chords predictable. I played the melodica on a few songs but stuck mostly with banjo. Annette sat to my left and she also had a banjo and guitar. She played at about the same level as me. I decided that if she played banjo, I’d switch to guitar, and vice versa.
I’m getting to know these guys. In addition to Annette and Jack Ellenburg there’s Ivan the harmonica player, Lonny and Bob play guitars, and I don’t remember the other names. Some were quite skilled musicians and some, like me, just enjoyed playing. They can be characters, however, I seem to fit in. These photos are by Jack Ellenburg from his Facebook page.
Even Robert Perry was there in spirit.
Later that afternoon Houston arrived and and we started jamming on our back deck. We played through several Celtic tunes.
We popped by The Irish Pub for a pint of Guinness for courage, then headed to The Stomping Grounds for the Wednesday Celtic Session. Houston was amazed at all the activity in downtown Greer.
We had dinner at The Stomping Grounds before the session started, then watched for the arrival of the other players. Had a good turnout for this evening. There were an even dozen of us. It was a relaxed evening and we played through lots of tunes. I’d left my tin whistle at home, so I stuck with guitar.
It was another great session.
Thursday with the B-52s
Houston had to head back to Athens. We had breakfast at Greenfield’s, then Houston headed home while I settled in for more classical guitar practice.
Fast forward to the evening. We had tickets to see the B-52s at the Peace Center. The B-52s is one of our favorite bands, but we’ve never seen them live. However, they have been part of our adult soundtrack and we still listen to them regularly. On summer evenings we used to take the Audi convertible up to Saluda, NC, then complete the loop back through Tryon, then down to Greer while listening to the B-52s.
As we waited to get into the auditorium we noticed that the crowd was about our age. There weren’t very many young people there. I guess this music appeals to a certain age.
The Peace Center isn’t a great venue for a band like this. I felt like we needed to be able to dance and move around. It didn’t stop us. When the band came out everyone hit their feet and never sat back down.
We weren’t the only ones that had aged. This is the promo image that the Peace Center used…
It must have been taken 20 years or so ago, because they looked MUCH older on stage. Kate Pierson is the oldest at 70, Fred Schneider is 67 and Cindy Wilson is 61. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the band, so it makes sense that they would have aged.
Yet, that didn’t seem to have slowed them down one bit. The energy in the place was out of this world. They started with Planet Claire and ended with Rock Lobster as an encore, with all of their favorite hits played in between. It wasn’t a long concert, but then again, perhaps it was enough for us old people. Regardless, it was a blast and I’m glad that we went.
So that wraps up a rather unusual week of music – Messiah, mountain music, Country AND Western plus a bit of gospel, Celtic music, and the B-52s. If I’d had the energy I could have also played Bluegrass Friday night at Oolenoy Community Center and Saturday afternoon at Table Rock State Park. As I write this Saturday night I’m thinking I could even play more Celtic music Sunday afternoon, but I think I’ll just wait for more Messiah at Monday’s rehearsal.