Wow....I really was planning to blog a little this first week of classes, but that obviously didn't get done. The part of the picnic I saw was absolutely fabulous. The music makes so much more sense now that I've seen it in its original context. Unfortunately, they didn't allow pictures or recordings, which means that the intensity and "authenticity" of the performance remained undisturbed.....but it also means I've only got one or two pictures that I managed to take before they politely asked me to put the camera away. The energy of the place changed dramatically when the fife and drum band came out. People flooded out to surround them in a giant moving circle and yelled, "Bang that drum." And the only thing that I could really think, standing there, was how visceral this music was, and while it had changed for the more commercial picnics, here at the Turner family picnic it remained unchanged. Complete with dancing Alan Lomax wished he could have captured on film. There's something important there, about the instant change in the energy of the performance space that I've been trying to articulate for about a week, but I still haven't gotten there yet.
So I drove back to FPU after the picnic, and it rained the entire way back. That was fun. Anyway, came back completely exhausted, but excited about the year. This summer was completely exhausting. I've driven all over North America by myself and with a great friend/roomie who put up with me, when about 4 hours from home I said, "We have to stop and get a hotel room cause I'm about to die from sleep depravation." But everywhere I went, I sang and played either traditional music or early music, and I was completely happy with both. I went to the NFA convention and heard jazzers (holy crap Holly Hoffman!!!) and some great Venezuelan players, and for once I didn't think, "I should learn that." I thought, "That's really cool, but I'm happy with where I'm living musically." I finally feel like I know exactly what I want to do, and that feels completely satisfying but completely terrifying at the same time. This summer has also done quite a bit for my confidence. I went to Zoukfest and played guitar (holy crap) and flute in front of a room full of incredibly talented and diverse musicians, and I got compliments. I sang originals for people like Chipper Thompson and Moira Smiley, and they liked them (can I just say how absolutely impossible that seems to me?). I went to Medieval Music boot camp and hung out with some of the coolest, most talented people I've had the good fortune to play with (we'll call them, "The Future of Early Music"). These guys are gigging at BEMF and with the Concord Ensemble, and really all over the world, and after a fashion, I could hang with them musically (not leading the pack, but in the good solid middle). I played flute for Norbert Rodenkirchen, and he couldn't get over my traditional playing (yeah I know....ever-present threat of Irish music.....) or the fact that I could make up parts with very little direction (thanks go to Coyotebanjo and Dharmonia for teaching me that skill). Ben Bagby, Mr. Beowulf himself, even complimented me on my playing. I got to present and play at NFA, and I think I might have actually gotten a gig out of it.....we're seeing if they'll pay for travel expenses.
So what is all that, besides a list of things to stroke my ego? I have confidence problems. I love to play, but I'm usually not sure if the product that comes out is really worth listening to. This summer, a lot of different people who don't really have anything emotionally invested in me, told me really great things about my music (playing, singing, writing). I'm not really sure how long the confidence will last, but I feel capable, even if there are goals that I feel like I still need to meet (recording, actually playing in a professional band/ensemble, etc.). I feel like those aren't things that I'll wish for and never have.
Anyway, I'm hoping to blog fairly regularly, but this semester is looking to be pretty intense, so if I go off the radar for awhile, you'll know I'm waist deep in grad school.
Peace, Love, and Tunes,