Monday, January 26, 2009

A Musical Weekend

Saturday nite The Circle gathered at Guitar and Pic-E's place for a pizza dinner before heading to Swallow Hill for a concert. The main attraction was Chuck Pyle. Swallow Hill puts on basic concerts in an old church building. Nothing fancy at all and we were surprised to find that there was an "opening act" before Chuck performed. An unexpected twofer. Bill Hearne was the opening act and as we learned he is a star in his own right.

In the last year we've attended a number of concerts featuring regional artists and I'm beginning to see something I was totally unaware of. Regional around here includes Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and sometimes Texas and Arizona. The music style can best be described as country/western. This is not the "country" you hear on the radio. This is much more basic and acoustic. The artists are a lot less Hollywood....and actually a lot more interesting. The western part of the music includes a lot of influence from 1940's swing music which is my favorite part of the whole thing.

Anyway, there appears to be a group of regional artists that perform all over the area and are like a musical family. They all are artists by themselves but they also perform with others of the group from time to time. Their talent is equal to or surpasses many of the nationally known artists but they have remained local out of choice or circumstance. Check out this link and see how the likes of Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett and Jerry Jeff Walker considered Bill Hearn to be an inspiration.

I enjoyed the "opening" act immensely and at intermission bought one of Bill's CDs. He sat at the table autographing the CD covers during intermission.When was the last time you went to any type of concert where the artist mingled with the audience during the intermission?

Chuck Pyle struggled for the night. It seems he was in the midst of a full blown chest cold but he cowboyed through. He even joked about it. He said he had had the cold long enough to really get to know it and he named it in honor of a cold woman he once knew...Francine. Even with the handicap of a cold it's evident that he is a very talented guy and he provided an entertaining evening.

To continue the musical theme...if you follow this blog you'll remember that I bought a Native American flute a while ago and have taken one lesson so far in my effort to be able to play it. I've also searched the internet and found numerous sites that have provided me with useful information on the flutes themselves and how to play them.

One of the things I discovered on the internet is that there are groups called "flute circles" all over the country. A flute circle is just a group of people that have an interest in playing the Native American flute and who get together on a periodic basis to play and learn from one another. It just so happens that there is one in the Denver area and last night I attended a monthly meeting of the group. I had no expectations whatsoever. I just wanted to learn a little more about flutes, playing flutes and the resources that were available. I certainly got all that and more.

I brought my little internet purchased beginners model with me but had already determined that there was no way in hell that I would try to play it in public at this point. When I walked through the door of the house the gathering was held at it was clear that I was way over my head in terms of proficiency and quickly hid my flute under my jacket.

It was a great experience. There were between 12-15 people there. Everyone had at least three or four different flutes and if nothing else I got to see some serious flutes of all different designs, woods and keys. The participants were most gracious towards me and helped me understand a lot more about flutes and how to play them. Several members of the group also teach lessons so now I have several more instructors that I can choose from.

I listened in awe to a number of them as they took turns playing and it really reinforced in me the idea that I can and want to continue to learn to play this relatively simple instrument. I also became convinced that if I want to continue I need to get a more "serious" flute and this group can help me do that.

In addition to getting together to talk and play, members bring flutes to sell and/or trade. The flutes they sell or trade are very nice flutes, it's just that they are constantly trying new flutes and most people only feel comfortable owning a certain number at one time. Good for me because I'll know if I buy one that it's from someone in this group that it's good flute by a good maker....which brings up another point.

This type of flute is not mass produced. This is a cottage industry with a maker or artisan that makes these things one at a time by hand. There are a lot of people who profess to be flute makers but there is a relatively small group of quality artisans. I have now tapped into a knowledge base that will allow me to be sure that whatever I buy is something that's worth the price.

A musical weekend to be's high is going to be around 15 degrees so I believe I'll practice my flute a bit..........

Thanks for visiting.

1 comment:

Gene Bach said...

Music is awesome to be around. Don't be afrid to get that flute out and play either. You can only get better by running some air through won't happen under your coat. We love getting together with folks and picking tunes.


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