Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Video Overdose

One thing I neglected to mention about Sunday's jam--I happened to catch a wee bit of another jam that was happening over on the porch, and it was, without exaggeration, one of the most amazing things I have ever heard. The group was quite small; it consisted of a fiddler, a rhythm guitarist/singer, and a third fellow who was strictly rhythm guitar. I had the luck to be passing by at the moment when they decided to play "Wayfaring Stranger." Oh, man. The singer had a very deep, clear baritone, which would have stood out extraordinarily, to begin with, but one note from the fiddler to top it off, and you were absolutley paralyzed. The man turned the tune inside-out, and upside-down, and coaxed sad, low notes off of the C (on top of being a man of wonderful taste in improvisation, he was playing a 5-string) or drew thin, wailing, heartbroken notes off of the E. Just when I thought it couldn't possibly get any better, a second fiddler came wandering out the door, and pretty soon the two of them were winding phrases one over another, warp and weft of musical weaving, while the the baritone, his rich voice as much an instrument as the violins, laid in the solid anchoring threads of song. It was one of those moments, like the perfect sunset, that was all the more beautiful because there was no way to capture it. Also, it made one feel rather humble: "What did I ever do to deserve to be here and be one of only three spectators who is hearing this at all?"

I had no hopes of finding a video that would even begin to convey exactly what I heard on Sunday, and I was right in that. You did have to be there. But for those of you who don't know the tune already, here is a very nice introduction by the Byron Berline Band.

And here's somthing else neat--another take of the same tune with both fiddle and vocals by a very young Allison Krauss, ca. 1987.

Though we really didn't play that much bluegrass at the jam, the other folks talked about it enough to where I had a rekindled interest in the subject. It was mainly that delicious minor-to-major flavour of "Wayfaring Stranger," however, that inspired me to try to find a video of the bluegrass classic "Cheyenne." I think this might have been written by Bobby Hicks, (anyway, I know he made it famous), but who should I find playing it but Aubrey Haynie (of the Time Jumpers)!

Which led me to find this video, which has absolutely nothing to do with any of the preceding (except that it is Aubrey Haynie again), being a good deal more Texas style than bluegrass, but it's another fine rendition of a classic. Eee, I do like those double stops.

That is enough rambling for one day.

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