The picture here shows my main instruments – a Taylor acoustic guitar, a Stratocaster electric, a tenor ukulele, my diatonic harmonica case, and my new compact chord harmonica.
As winter arrives, I plan to hunker down in my studio and play a lot of music. Surprise! I do that in the spring and summer, too, if you’re keeping track.
Lately I’ve been getting better at playing rack harmonica on jazz tunes while playing guitar simultaneously. Likewise with fiddle tunes. Never thought that’d be possible, since there’s so many notes, but apparently with practice, anything is possible!
My most recent full-length solo gig was the Milford Farmers Market, where I did some looping on English country dance tunes, jazz, and contra dance tunes. Also did some singing, since I have multiple boxes of my four original CDs burning a hole in my closet. The singing I tend to forget about and accidentally downplay when I describe my musical life, but strumming and singing has kinda been my main thing for um, decades now?
I do a lot of singing with students. I’m super casual about it. “Oh yeah, hey, let’s sing.” As if it’s no big thing. But I know almost everyone’s self-conscious about it, so I hope my workmanlike attitude provides a model for folks to emulate; singing loudly in tune, singing through the nerves.
This month I played my first real contra dance gig – it’s been a few years that I’ve sat in with the Monday Night band in Nelson, and the regulars, led by Perin Ellsworth-Heller, got hired for the Peterborough First Saturday Contra Dance. We had a three-piece rhythm section, myself on guitar, Matt Garland on piano, and Max Nunnemaker on bass, plus Perin on fiddle and Samuel Foucher on accordion. Worked up some modern-ish contra sets, plus a ragtime-gypsy jazz set, and we received reports later that it was mighty on the dancefloor. The soundman Peter recorded most of it, and I look forward to hearing the highlights.
Went for a long walk today, with a hat and gloves, playing my harmonica. It was sunny. It felt good to be out. Dark as the photo above is, that’s just the inside of my little beaver dam. Outside, it’s crisp and lovely. I enjoy bright winter days, and plan to embrace the season in my New England home of four years.