Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Headed West & Nerves

Last night's supper. Wherein I seriously had to make myself shut the hell up about how excited I was about it. We grew that broccoli, but in ever greater excitement, those are our fingerling potatoes, roasted with our garlic and rosemary. The potatoes are amazing. Rich, nutty, buttery, the perfect amount of waxy, and not one bit mealy. I'll admit that was kind of afraid to tip over the first potato pot. I would not have been one bit surprised if we found about three potatoes in there because really: we are just figuring this stuff out. But I was so happy with the harvest, especially considering that we pulled these on the early side. There are two more pots to pilfer, but this time I am not afraid.

Headed west later today, for Seattle, for family, for fine eats, for Portland, and for a really special wedding. These two are such good eggs. They played twin fiddles for our wedding, and we are playing with a guitar player for their wedding. I am a little bit eeps about it. Performing is not my thing. The best music I play is usually in my own kitchen or with people I know really, really well. Audiences jam my circuits. Learning to play music is the hardest thing I have ever done, absolutely no doubt. I started late, I am bad at being a beginner, and it took me a few years of playing to realize that I was going to have to work at being a musician - it wasn't just going to magically happen no matter the wishing I might do. I am surrounded by so many talented musicians, and I still work so hard to refrain from comparing what I do to what they do, and likewise to refrain from worrying about what they are thinking of my playing. There is a lot of ego wrangling that I have had to do, and at times that has surprised me. I have done more crying than I'd like to admit, and I am ashamed to say that I have threatened to sell my instruments more than once in fits of completely immature rage and frustration. But this desire to play this music runs so deep for me. There is absolutely nothing more beautiful, more wild and freeing, more dance making to me than the sound of a fiddle and a banjo. It moves me, it always has and it always will. I wanted to learn to play music for literally almost twenty years before I bought an instrument, dug in my heels, and vowed that I would not stop. And that guy down there. He's taught me so much - countless tunes, a framework of music theory, harmony singing, and how to play the guitar. But mostly what he teaches me is how to be kind to myself. How to silence my inner critic, and god that voice is deafening sometimes. How to appreciate the journey, see the distance between where I am now and where I was then. So on Saturday, as our favorite friends clear a path through their loved ones to marry one another, I will play with nothing but love in my heart and a mind cleared just for the making of music.

Jeez. That is about as confessional as you'll probably ever get here, thank goodness. How about a link to clear the air? Melvin Wine is one of my favorite West Virginia fiddlers. He's not alive any more, but his tunes sure are, and Twin Sisters is a favorite of mine. What a dapper fellow. Also. Don't laugh, it was 1984. We play a lot of what this guy plays just because he plays it so flippin' good. Also. Shitty recording, but these guys play seriously happy music.


Anna Allen said...

i think partly the reason i hesitate to learn the banjo is because i know how hard i'll have to work in order to play it. but every time i hear this type of music my heart starts racing and i want to get up and dance. i wish i lived closer to music like this. my friend lars is a fiddle player from west virginia (lives in knoxville at the moment) and he and his buddy brent (banjo player) have just started playing around the area. he also got me into old-time music. here's their myspace: http://www.myspace.com/larsandbrent

cake said...

nothing so satisfying as a meal from the garden! i can't wait to dig up our potatoes. i too am scared. hope i have as gooda luck as you guys.

i really appreciate your thoughts on making music. its really inspiring. i don't play any instruments, but i have similar voices in my head about other creative endeavors, so i can relate. and, i wish i had the guts to take up the banjo at a late age. i always say that if i could play any instrument, it would be the banjo, hands down. thanks for sharing all that.

i'd love to be a fly on the wall when you and your sweetie, and other dear ones, play music in your home. i bet it's pure magic. enjoy your trip!

queenbeehoney said...

OK, I'm crying now.

Safe journey.

dig this chick said...

Awe your friends are so lucky you'll be there to carry them down that aisle with your love tunes. You'll do fabulously. It's good to be reflective about ego, no? Yes. I am officiating my dear friend's wedding in a few weeks. eek. Anywho, I love how you talk about music and it makes me know you are really good at it. xo

dietlind said...

confessional heats! i love it! it was like reading one of my own blog entries. you are such a beautiful human being. i love you so much! and i love that picture of your husband. it's one of the best pictures i've seen of ben and really captures such feeling with the moment of the fiddle? banjo? see--i don't even know the difference. call when you have time! miss you...big hug from sf. oh--and i finally met with my artist friend to do trade. a belated one year anniversary present is on the way!!! should arrive sometime next week.

Heather said...

Hey Anna, where do you live? I bet I can find you a banjo teacher within driving distance! Do it, do it! It will make your heart so happy, and the sooner you do, well, the sooner you will. Thanks for the link to your friends; that first track is a favorite of mine!

Kayte, did you dig up those potates yet??? We must know how it goes.

Nici, hope the wedding goes great, I know it will. Playing for this one was hilarious and chaotic but also fabulous and fun as hell.

And Dietlind. We have absolutely got to have a "this is a fiddle" and "this is a banjo" lesson next time you come. You nut.

Anna Allen said...

well, i live in iowa! and i'm without a car at the moment, though i can borrow my parents' car depending on who needs it. that's always fun. :) i have a friend in kansas city who plays banjo and he keeps telling me he will teach me, but he plays more of the "minstrel" style, if you have any idea what that is. it's not exactly the style i like, though. ahh...but you are right. i just need to do it!

Heather said...

Hmm, ok where in Iowa? As long as your friend is playing a five-string banjo whatever he might show you would be helpful in terms of beginning to understand the relationship between the strings, but I know what you mean: the first person to ever give me a banjo lesson was a bluegrass musician who dabbled in old-time and it was frustrating to learn from someone whose sound wasn't my thing. One thing you can do: once someone shows you the basic mechanical rhythm (the famous bum-ditty) you could take a small recorder and ask people to play their easiest tunes REALLY slow and then work on them at home. It's definitely not as fun as playing with someone but it's actually great ear training, and since playing the banjo means playing tunes you've never heard before you can't get enough practice listening. Also, I am amazed at what you can find on youtube these days. Dang. Go Anna go! ; )

Anna Allen said...

thank you, heather! that's great advice! i don't see my friend TOO often, but i've sewn things for him, so he owes me a lesson or two. another draw back is i don't have a banjo and i'm not sure a good one to start with or how much they cost. i can always save up for one, though. oh, and btw, i live in cedar rapids, which is on the eastern side. i'm betting there isn't a lot in the way of banjo players around here, but you never know. and yes! i had forgotten about youtube! and thank you so much for the encouragement!