Sunday, November 17, 2013

Rhythm & Repertoire #2

Having now held a couple of "rhythm and repertoire" weekend workshops,  Jenny and I find ourselves having more discussions on the whole concept of rhythm, its importance in playing, it's subtleties, and the difficulty in breaking it down to demonstrate to others.  Well worth  the efforts, but challenging!

Our last workshop weekend for 2013 began on Thursday Oct 31 with the arrival of our guests who were to be staying with us in the house, too.  After a fine meal we had a small jam in the workshop/classroom space and began the process of getting to know each other.  The rhythm & repertoire weekends we offer are for all the basic string band instruments plus harmonica.  Originally we had planned to do more singing as we had a couple of guitar players signed up.  Unfortunately
they both had to cancel  so we decided to make the emphasis more about rhythmic dance tunes for fiddles and banjos and less about cool old songs since we didn't have the guitar as an instrument in the mix of the students.  So this weekend would  be for the two banjos and one fiddle that were still on board.

Friday  began with Jenny and me breaking up the group into banjo and fiddle sessions.   Jenny worked on the basics of rhythm (in conjunction with beat) with the banjo players, while the fiddle student and I worked on employing the basic shuffle.

Late Friday afternoon allowed some free time for our guests to go to Floyd and explore.  Some of their stops included the world famous County Sales, which is tucked away down an alley, the Floyd Friday Night Farmer's Market, and local art galleries.  

We met up at the Floyd Country Store, and as it was a beautiful, mild evening, we jammed outside before playing inside on stage for the dancers.  The Jug Busters, a local favorite band scheduled to play that evening, was very kind to have us play with them during a part of their time slot.  As we are keen on having our students understand the dynamics between band and flat-foot dancers, we were especially grateful for the opportunity and for the great dancers present that evening.

Saturday morning we had classes focusing on learning tunes from our local repertoire.  Just before lunch our friend Rhoda Kemp arrived with her special friend Gene, to give a talk and demonstration of her rhythmic style of banjo playing.  Rhoda, just short of her 84th birthday, was engaging, supportive of the students efforts, and full of rhythm -  patting both feet while playing!!  After lunch, we all played tunes with Rhoda, who backed up the students on guitar.

Late Saturday afternoon involved a short hike up on the Buffalo Mountain, supper, and then another trip to the Floyd Country Store for an evening of entertainment.  Anna Roberts and Elizabeth LaPrelle have been putting together very creative, old-time radio shows, live on streaming radio through the Floyd Country Store  website.  The shows, held the first Saturday evening of the month, are a lot of fun and everyone enjoyed the show.

Sunday morning, another round of class time, more tunes taught and techniques discussed until brunch time.  After one more meal together, our students headed out on their ways home.  One fellow actually
planned to stop by the Floyd Country Store once again for the old-time jam held there every other Sunday afternoon.

It was a very full weekend with lots of music being played and listened to, lots of eating, lots of entertainment, and lots of good times with our student guests.

We continue to be impressed by and appreciative of the individuals who travel here to participate in these workshops.  They each bring  talent, perspective, and life experiences which enriches Jenny and me as we get to know each one.