April 2009



Bluegrass in the basement

Bluegrass in the basement

About two years ago while at a friends New Years party, I had the chance to play some bluegrass with them. The two on the left are Father and Son, Pete and Ian McLelland, the guy in the middle on the guitar was a friend of theirs. I play the fiddle off and on, nothing to brag about for sure. I know a few little tunes here and there; Cripple Creek, Angelina Baker, Amazing Grace, Shortnin’ Bread… but never really practice like I ought. Every time it is asked of me to bring the fiddle along when going to their house and I always manage to forget to bring it. It’s mostly because I feel intimidated by their ability. They are so well rehearsed and know the music so well. I was brought up on reading notes…which can be a good thing, but for me it tethers me to sheet music. In bluegrass, as in Jazz, a lot of the music is done from memory, or just by ear. So these guys just hear a few measures and off they go with it. It really blows me away.

The McLellands have a bluegrass band called Grass Stained Genes and they play quite a few gigs around here and elsewhere. Ian is a self taught Banjo player and since going to college, has started playing with another band from there as well. His father, Pete, plays the Bass. There is another son, also named Pete, he is the oldest of the sons and plays the mandolin. Then to finsh out the band, there are two friends who are cousins of eachother who play the guitar and fiddle…hence the play on words “Grass Stained Genes”.

All in all I had a great time. It is a good thing to play with a group of other folks. It frees up the fingers and is very enjoyable. I need to do more of this. I want to thank the McLellands for playing with me and making me at least feel like I know what I’m doing.


Stonewall

Stonewall

It really is inspiring to stop for a while and just look at a well built stone wall. I came across this one at a local state park  when on a hike with family. The bridge is just nestled on top and the stone looks as if it has been in that construct for ages. Whoever built this truly had an eye for aesthetics. I don’t know how many hours it took to build this, or how many stones were rejected…if any. Probably none were rejected, just better suited for another place, or chiseled to fit.

The longer wall seems to cradle the tree above it, and the lower level, like a partially buried finger of the  wall above it, just melts right into the naturally placed stone dipping into the stream. No mortar needed.

I crossed the bridge and when I saw the wall, I just had to stop and stare at it.

stonewall

stonewall


Round bail on fire

Round bail on fire

I had always heard stories of barns burning down because of hay and what not. But it never really sunk in till I saw this out in a field one day on my way to work. This is from hay being bailed too early, or too wet I believe. Though I wonder why just this bail is burning and not the others. Regardless, I am sure that this farmer is glad that he hadnt collected these round bails yet! I guess also its a good thing that round bails are usually kept outside anyway, as opposed to the smaller square bails.

The term “Barn Burner” was actually derived from the idea of someone setting fire to his own barn to root out a rat infestation. Also it became used to describe ways of  taking down governments, banks and corporations to shake out corruption.

As far as hay bales spontaneously catching fire, it is from heat loving bacteria in the curing process of bailed hay. Many bacteria grow and die in the curing of hay, but if heat loving bacteria are present, and the bales stay warm…look out! This link has more information about how hay fires start and how to prevent them. It is a very interesting read.