Saturday, October 07, 2006

Folk Music: Players & Pickers a'Plenty

Today was a perfect autumn day: slightly cool but sunny, with a slight breeze. I ventured out too late for the protest down on the Square, tho I certainly sympathize with the cause. To wit, keeping the county courts (and the weekday business they bring) in our very alive downtown area! Without that daily population influx, merchants and restaurant operators fear that the heart of Prescott could hollow out; it's happened in far too many small cities.

However, instead of that civic duty, I wandered over to the Sharlot Hall grounds for the music.

First taking the edge off my appetite with a H*U*G*E barbecue sandwich. Much better than the usual carnie fare.

What was the most impressive about this year's Folk Music Festival was not only the number of musicians (150+), but also the extent of casual guitar picking all about the grounds, in addition to the scheduled events. Music was literally everywhere.

Two booths (aside from the barbecue stand). One for KJAZ (the other NPR station up here in the mountains) plus a second promoting Irish music.

I'm sure the Irish connection is the reason that Sargon the illusionist was circulating among the various audiences.

Here's just one of the performing bands. What was surprising: the number of bass players lugging their huge instruments around.

At another venue, the band was assembled for a folk dance session.

Back in my younger folk music days, the instruments of choice were pretty limited: guitar and banjo (i.e., Woodie Guthrie and Pete Seeger and their many followers.) In my later years here in Prescott, the fiddle has taken its rightful place in the folk music ensemble.

Tho I have a special place in my heart for the 5-string banjo -- my late husband played a mean banjo (and was a loner, like this guy.) When one of the groups played a version of Pretty Polly, I'm afraid I did tear up.

I'd guess that the zydeco craze (long after my time) led to acceptance of the concertina into the folk music fold, although it had a long history in Central Europe and among the Gypsies.

The single most intriguing instrument that appeared today was a genuine hurdy-gurdy, whose new owner was still learning how to become a proper organ-grinder.


Anonymous said...

Nice to see pickin' flourishing. /wife and I attended a party at a friends place with a three piece italianish group, replete with a hurdy gurdy. First time I'd see a live one.


Kate said...

Mamasan, those are some awesome pics! I think I'd have teared up at Pretty Polly, too. Did anyone do Shady Grove? Makes me wonder whatever happened to Ray W.; I've searched on the name a few times, and there's one who does music production.

Granny J said...

Jean talked about seeing Raymond once or twice & that he was retired and living in Rogers Park somewhere. I've tried The Google & got the same results. Don't think it's the same person...
Shady Grove would have been too much for me.

Lane said...

NOW I'm envious! What a fabulous looking day! The sounds almost drifted out of the computer...and I have my volume on mute! I think stand up bass players just MUST do it out of pure passion. Why else would you.....

Granny J said...

Now I would suspect that taking up the double bass is a career choice made by someone who's a 'cellist at heart, but wants to be sure that he/she always gets a gig.

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