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July 6th, 2005

10:42 am

My slow conquerering of the musical spectrum has led to a new annexation : I bought a banjo. http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=7334669596
This is partly inspired by the wonders of Hayseed Dixie and The Gourds (especially the latter's bluegrass cover of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice". Nothing like a mandolin backed song about hos and chronic) and also by something I saw on boingboing the other day - podcasted banjo lessons...with a difference.

It started when Patrick Costello released his two best selling "old-time" banjo instruction books under a creative commons license. He then followed this up with a podcast/mp3 lesson put out by him and his dad (which I've had a listen to - it's a pretty good lesson, and any class that ends with the tip of "don't step in anything soft" gets a vote of approval from me). The catch is that they have stated that they will not publish the next lesson until they receive recordings of the homework that they set at the end of the first from at least 5 people. A slightly different level of interaction compared to most podcasts I've seen, and a nice way of a) ensuring that your podcasts are being listened to and b) are actually being used to learn the banjo. So I intend to set up my ropey recording gear (my little mp3 player with its dictaphone mic propped up against a guitar amp in front of my chair that I sit and play in) and help out with getting more lessons from these guys. I just checked the site and it seem the first homework came in and lesson 2 is available, which is a good thing.

This banjo will bring my stringed instrument total to too many and reminds me yet again that I need to learn to play this mandolin I bought last year after I became obsessed with Nickel Creek and the harmonica I bought a couple of years back after becoming obsessed with Little Walter...hey, I spy a pattern. That said, I can strum and pick away happily on the mandolin, just not to bluegrass mandolin god Chris Thile's standard. The harmonica is a different story though - I missed the Richmond Adult Education Centre's "Beginning Blues Harmonica course" for this summer, but they'll hopefully have another class soon...

I still reckon the mighty power of METAL! needs more banjo and mandolin. Maybe Master of Puppets can be spiced up with a few banjo rolls in the background and a high pitched jangly mandolin solo over the end...

01:09 pm

The Red Arrows just did a flypast, and I managed to get a photo.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cowfish/24027928/

I am teh quick draw photografer.

01:54 pm
7 Years Ago

In July 1997:

The hit singles were:
Billie - Because We Want To
Another Level - Freak Me
Jamiroquai - Deeper Underground
Spice Girls - Viva Forever

And the Corrs were top of the album charts.

The Labour Goverment had been in power for 2 months and people thought Tony Blair had a nice smile.
Bill Clinton was starting months into his second term after a fairly convincing win over Bob "Bob Dole hates you" Dole.

See how things change in 7 years?

Also in 1997:
Sovereignty of Hong Kong was handed to China.
A sheep called Dolly was cloned.
Deep Blue beats Kasparov at chess - the first victory of a computer over a human world champion at the game.
Princess Diana dies.
Jorn Barger coins them term "weblog".

Doesn't all that seem a long time ago?

(There were also issues in Iraq over their disarmament and problems with avian flu in Asia...so not everything changes)