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Monday, June 30, 2008
If the humidity doesn't kill you, the Kudzu will

If you cruise long enough, ignoring the newer interstates in favor of highways that branch off into dirt roads, you'll eventually find Como, MS. Trees, houses, dirt, fields and kudzu. Kudzu that'll swallow trees hundreds of years old, and make what I used to think were leafy tree monsters (I read about Ents one too many times as a kid). Closer to the interstate among properties dotted with hydrangeas and majestic old trees with tire swings hanging from them are huge southern houses and shiny SUVs, at least two per house. Kids play in the yards.....all white.

Drive further down the road. To Main street. Most of the buildings closed and run down, with paint chipping off brick. City Hall, the police station, and the volunteer fire department sit on one side of the road. The buildings are small, maybe two offices inside each building. On the other side of the road, the only building that has any life coming from it at all is the barbershop. Doors swung wide open, fans going full blast. You can hear the laughter clear across the street.

Take a left on Church St. and you start to see the other residential part of Como. Kids on bikes. Houses of a more normal size. Ms. B's Cafe, closed either permanently or after the lunch crowd, run out of buildings and bits pieced together and fading. These neighborhoods are a mass of twisting roads that eventually dead end into a school with one rusty basketball hoop in the middle of an overgrown field. In almost every yard, entire families sit on plastic lawn chairs underneath small trees and talk.

Como has a population around 1,600, with an average income less than half that of the national average, and appears to be completely segregated along economic and racial lines.


On another note.....I'm ready to go back to FPU. It's one of those moments where you're tired and frustrated, and all you really want is decent cell phone/wifi reception, the ability to stay somewhere that has those things past 10pm, a decent reasonably priced cup of coffee, a hunk of tofu, and friends you can play tunes with.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 9:51 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Back in MS
Yup......back in the backwaters of MS. Out to deal with the archives this morning and drive to one of a couple of cities where Blues F & D happens. Hopefully will see some cool stuff. Also set up to visit some the church leaders in the area (tomorrow), and see if they know if any of their congregation has stories about Blues F & D. Will blog more later today.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 9:09 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Shifting the Model
Planning on making a quick trip home to see Dad and rehearse with former teacher for a conference performance in August. Quick as in, spend tomorrow morning/early afternoon doing more research, scoping towns out (more about that later), and then driving home. Spend Friday with Dad......wake up on Saturday and rehearse, and then drive back so that I can do more scoping on Sunday.

I spent the majority of last night and this morning thinking about the fieldwork situation. I AM actually getting a lot of good information from the Archives, specifically about and from people I can't talk to anymore. I'm still REALLY anxious about getting to actually talk to the people in the tradition as of now.......but I will definitely get a chance to during the NMS Hill Country picnic July 4-5. What I am planning to do in the meantime is to drive to certain really small towns that I know the music happens in, and see what I can find.....either by asking around or just listening out for the F & D (you can hear it for a good 5/6 miles). I've also identified a few other early semester picnics that I can sneak away from FPU for. It just proves that you shouldn't enter a fieldwork situation with any idea of how you think it should go.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,
posted by Mac Tíre at 6:14 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
It's a 12 step process......
Getting over yourself that is......

Well not really.

Attachment is a bitch. Attachment to things, to people, to the way you think things should go. I had a concrete view in my head of how my fieldwork was/is supposed to go. It's obviously not going the way I imagined it, and yes it's frustrating and disheartening, but it just means I need to modify my methods. Take a breath, step back, and get some freaking perspective.

Anyway, at the wifi coffee shop.......coffee is expensive (although really good), so I'm opting for the free water.

Back to grind.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 6:48 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
You Can't Plan Fieldwork
See header. Oh....you can try. But sure enough if everything you planned doesn't go right out of the window. Feeling really frustrated right now about the inability to actually connect with my informants other than brief phone conversations. Unfortunately they're in and out of town gigging during the summer, and as my main (target) informant just graduated from high school, I'm guessing she's also getting ready for college. So basically I'm archiving and youtubing it (a lot of their recent performances are on youtube), and feeling really freaking useless/dumb sitting in the midst of rural MS.

The good news.....I will get some fieldwork in because of the North MS Hill Country picnic July 4-5. I'm also planning to stay several days after that to hopefully cram as much into this trip as possible.

The bad news......I probably could have stayed in Lubbock and gotten a job and come out for two weeks or so and get the same amount of contact I'll end up getting.....although the archives have tons of stuff that does take time to go through. But I'll probably have to end up coming back out here on breaks and stuff during the fall semester to get a decent amount of fieldwork in so that I'll be able to have something to actually say in the damn thesis.

Right now I'm going to drink more coffee and attempt to think around the problem and see if there's a solution.....other than beating my head against a wall repeatedly.....

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 1:16 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Taken from Coyotebanjo
Top 107/108 ish artists according to playcount on my iTunes:

1776 Revival Recording, Alison Krauss, Altan, Altramar, Andy Irvine, Andy Irvine & Dick Gaughan, Andy Irvine & Paul Brady, Angie Mariani & Chris Smith, Annie Get Your Gun - 1999 Broadway Cast, Antigone Rising, Ashley Hutchings, Avenue Q OBC, Betsy McGovern, Beethoven, Bothy Band, Caoimhin O Raghallaigh, Camelot OBC, Carole King, Cathal McConnell, Craobh Rua, A Chorus Line OBC, Chris Smith With Roger Landes And Randal Bays, Christy Moore, Chulrua, Comas, David Wilcox, Dervish, Dolores Keane, Dufay Collective, The Duhks, Ella Fitzgerald, Fine Friday, Flook, Franz Ferdinand, Garry Shannon, George Strait, Green Day, Green Fields of America, Grey Larsen & Andre Marchand, Goo Goo Dolls, Idinal Menzel, Indigo Girls, Into the Woods Original Broadway Cast Recording, James Taylor, Jekyll & Hyde OBC, Jeannie Robertson, Joanie Madden, John Doyle, John Mayer, John Skelton & Kieran O'Hare, Joni Mitchell, Joss Stone and Melissa Etheridge (Live from the Grammy’s tribute to Janis Joplin….best live TV moment EVER), Judy Collins, June Ní Chormaic - w/Micheál O'Ruanaigh (harp), June Tabor, Kevin Crawford, The Kinks, Kornog, Len Graham, Linda Thompson & Richard Thompson, Little Big Town, Live at Mona’s, Lunasa, Martin Carthy, Matt Molloy, Melissa Etheridge, Mick O’Brien, Mick O'Brien & Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, Mozaik, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Music at Matt Molloy’s, Newberry Consort, Niall and Cillian Vallely, Nic Jones, Nickel Creek, Patrick Street, Patsy Cline, Patty Griffin, Planxty, Pierre Bensusan, Pink Featuring the Indigo Girls (Dear Mr. President), Radney Foster, Rent Original Broadway Cast Recording, Ricky Skaggs, Robin Williamson And His Merry Band, Rose Cousins, Sam Phillips, Scarlet Pimpernel OBC, See What I Wanna See OBC, Sheryl Crow, Solas, Spring Awakening Original Broadway Cast Recording, Stan Rogers, Stravinsky, Sugarland, Sweeney’s Men, Sylvain Barou - w/Philip Masure (guitar), Erwan Volant (acoustic bass), Tara Diamond, Three Dog Night, Tommy Carew (Behind the Mist), Victor/Victoria, The Voice Squad, The Whites, The White Stripes, Wicked Original Broadway Cast Recording, Willie Clancy, You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown 1999 Revival

posted by Mac Tíre at 12:56 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Hurry Up and Wait
I got kicked out of the only local coffee shop/free wifi place at 10pm last night. Welcome back to the Deep South. It is nice, however, to not have your hands crack and bleed.....or feel so thirsty you're going to die. Ended up buying an extremely cheap coffee maker yesterday on my sojourn to Walmart, because lets face it.....I can spend a small fortune on coffee in a month if I don't have the ability to make it for myself......figure I'll leave it for my friend as partial thanks for letting me crash in her apartment for free.

Managed to find one of the local "Celtic" bands in town, and have asked about a session (because I'm going crazy here with no tunes), and they have graciously agreed to see if they can get one together. No matter how awesome I think the music is, the community it creates and the boundaries it crosses are the most amazing thing in the world to me.

Contacted my major informant again today, she was very nice and told me that she would call me back about actually getting together to talk/play. I'm hoping (frantically) that she doesn't just never call me back. I know how that goes sometimes. My head calmly tells me that I'll cross that bridge if I come to it, the rest of me is going......"Oh please God don't screw up." That, so I've been told, is the nature of field work. Planning on hitting the archives tomorrow (and every other day after that) in order to go through all of the data they have left over from Alan Lomax. I'm also rereading a lot of the background info I've read over the past year. Probably my favorite historical ethnography: Roll, Jordan, Roll.

Currently I'm also trying to write (part of) an estampie based on the Dum Pater Familias from the Codex Calixtinus, so that myself and roomie can play it at the Medieval Music Workshop in a month. Also.....I'm trying to find a decent place to run while I'm here. Otherwise the stress from hoping everything works out is going to eat me alive. Anyway, off to work some more.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 4:35 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
A Real Update
Made it back to MS yesterday afternoon. Oxford feels like the absolute ends of the earth after Zoukfest. I know maybe two people in town, which is both nice and disconcerting. I feel away from everything, which seriously encourages work and productivity, if not sanity.

Zoukfest.....what to say about Zoukfest. Holy freaking crap? It's yet another affirmation.......THAT......I want to do THAT. The Irish trad....the songwriting....the ability to multi-task WELL.......the level of scholarship. I've only ever been to two other traditional music workshops, and they were all flute oriented. I guess flute people are the same no matter what music they play.....they tend to be really narrowly focused. And while my lens is a bit too wide for my own good, I like a variety of different things. It's awesome to see all of those people doing all of those things at an incredibly high level. It's incredibly heartening and disheartening at the same time.....on the one hand you say, "See....it's possible. That's awesome." On the other hand you say, "See....it's possible. Oh crap." Got to play the flute at the Friday night concert with my dear roomie on fiddle and voice, which rocked. Also got the opportunity to play two of my original songs, and it seemed like they had positive responses.

The Andy Irvine concert was remarkable. I realized about halfway through one spiel that he was going to play "My Heart's Tonight in Ireland," and I couldn't stop from crying. I never thought I would actually get a chance to see Andy Irvine play live....more than that....to sit two feet away from him while he was playing.

Now away from all of that music, and a deep feeling of belonging, I'm trying to do good work on this thesis and get ready for the mind-blowing experience of Ben Bagby and Norbert Rodenkirchen.

Practicing, writing (scholarly and song), and throwing myself into the fieldwork sure to dominate my life for the next three/four weeks......and hoping that eventually I'll get to the level of teaching at some place like Zoukfest one day.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 2:15 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, June 16, 2008
On the Road Again......
Back to MS......hopefully will make it in one hit, but not really likely as I'm still pretty tired from Zoukfest. More to come about everything tonight.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 10:33 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Back in FPU for a day or so to decompress after Zoukfest. Won't blog about it completely until I'm a little more coherent. A little depressed because this wonderful experience is over, but I guess that's what makes it so great. It's only a moment in time.....like Ireland, like recitals, like the best and worst times in your life....only a passing, changing patch in your life. More later....heading back to MS here in a day or so.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 2:15 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, June 13, 2008
Zoukfest Pt. 3

Tonight Andy Irvine played. I was probably two feet away from him the entire time. Coyotebanjo talked about gratitude. I feel grateful that I belong to a tradition that allows me the opportunity to meet my heroes and try and carry on in their footsteps.

Beyond that....there are no words.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 12:48 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Zoukfest Pt. 2
Great stuff going on at this place. It took until today for me to finally feel decent again.....too little vitamins (Iron and B12) + a wrecked back = an unhappy Mac. However, cramming supplements down my throat seems to have helped the lethargy, and a massive amount of Advil and Tiger Balm seem to have fixed the back.

It's amazing to me that there are still opportunities for one to feel completely and utterly nervous (as in I might vomit) when performing. One of the workshops I'm taking is on songwriting, not something I've done a lot of, or something I've exposed the results of to daylight. Well, part of the workshop is bringing in songs and letting the main instructor and the day's guest instructor critique said song (Don Richmond and today's, Chipper Thompson). Can I just say, scariest thing ever?

Anyway, I have an early lesson with Eliot Grasso tomorrow at 8:30am, so I probably need to head off a little early.

Peace, Love, and TUNES!

posted by Mac Tíre at 12:47 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, June 09, 2008
At Zoukfest having a blast. Opted out of most of session last night, as one tends to get fewer hours of sleep as the week progresses. Hopefully more to come later.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 8:50 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
I think it just sank in that I'm going to Zoukfest with Andy Irvine and the Early Music Vancouver workshop with Ben Bagby and Norbert Rodenkirchen.......holy freaking crap.
posted by Mac Tíre at 7:01 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Mapquest is stupid, and talking to primary informants is kinda scary
More fieldwork today. I have found one coffee shop in Oxford that has free wifi, and most importantly will leave you alone even if you haven't bought anything. I am eternally grateful to my friend from undergrad who lent me her apartment for the month.....I'm not sure I could survive this summer if I had to deal with paying two rents. The only problem is that I have absolutely no reliable cell phone reception in the hills of MS....which makes talking to people.....interesting.

Before I drove out here, of course I mapquested the route. The bad thing? For some reason the damn thing took me through my current state of residence on two lanes. Death.....slow and painful. Specifically since it was Sunday, and the drivers on the road were all about slow Sunday driving. I have mapped out my own route now, which will basically stay to Interstates and 4-lanes......thank God.

Anyway, spent the morning to talking to Primary Informant (PI), being one of the last blues fife players left. Speaking to people for the first time over the phone is sort of freaky for me. I really like non-verbal cues, and I tend to ramble on an answering machine....so when I'm on the phone talking to people that I don't know that I need to not sound like a moron to (specifically academics and informants in the field) I tend to script my words....usually in case I get an answering machine. Does that make me sound like a socially inept geek? Yup....thought so. ;)

The good news is, that I'm setting up interviews for when I get bak from Zoukfest, and the Fifer is agreeable to lessons, and I'm getting a blues fife as soon as I get back. I'm incredibly relieved that my fieldwork doesn't appear to be going up in flames.

Interestingly enough, my Southern accent comes through loud and clear when I'm surrounded by people who also have that accent. It's always weird to me to hear the word "one" come out sounding like "wuuyn" from my own mouth.

More reading, having dinner with a friend and then probably thinking about when I'm going to drive back to Lubbock. I'd like to have two days or so for the instruments to climatize to FPU before going to Zoukfest.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 1:16 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Monday, June 02, 2008
Here We Go
So here goes....actual post with actual content.

This summer is going to be insane. I'm in Oxford, MS right now, knee deep in fieldwork setting up things so that interviews can start and go well. I'll drive back for Zoukfest next week to get to see Andy Irvine up close and personal (holy freaking crap). Then back to MS, for more fieldwork through the beginning of July. Then my roomie and I are driving up to Early Music Vancouver's Medieval Workshop with Ben Bagby and Norbert Rodenkirchen (and again holy freaking crap). Medieval music bootcamp for two weeks. Then we drive back, I crash for a day, and then I drive to Kansas City for the NFA.....present and play. Luckily they're on different days. And then I drive back to Flat Place U, and crash for a good week or so. Just thinking about all this makes me really tired.....coffee would probably be a good thing at some point....or food.

Speaking of food....allow me to offer you a culinary guide to Oxford, MS-->

The only chain breakfast place is Huddle House, skip that and either go for Bottletree Bakery (everything is remarkable) or the Beacon (standard southern breakfast fare, except for the T-shirts that say, "We ain't got no sweet tea." The rebel flags used almost as wallpaper are rather scary, though).
Go for Abner's--a chicken joint that has amazing grilled chicken and an addictive sauce, or Ajax for the best southern cooking I've had in a good long time.

Anyway, off to work.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 3:51 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments