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Pretend Picnic #1 [Aug. 13th, 2006|04:53 pm]
A community based around the liking of good music


[Current Music |pete coe- kings and queens of england]

A little over a week ago, I played (guitar, Jew's harp, and harmonica) in an impromptu folk jam session, in a traditional Mongolian yurt, in Scotland. I'm almost completely convinced that there is something to be said about that experience, but I am not entirely sure how to say it. The yurt was packed with around 15 folk musicians with guitars, banjos, bouzoukis, harmonicas, accordians, fiddles, etc. It was around 4AM and consequently our song repertoire was quite random-- we played Carter Family songs, then Johnny Cash and Woody Guthrie, followed by Bob Dylan, and a bunch of traditional ballads. There was so much incense burning and the atmosphere inside the yurt was so thick with smoke that you could hardly see the chords that you needed to play, but the acoustics were suprisingly good. There was a ~12 year old boy there who could play 'Johnny B. Good' in B and he sounded just like Chuck Berry except he had a Scottish accent.

I hope I haven't set some sort of horrible precedent for these pretend picnics that we were promised upon joining this community. I'm sorry.


From: sirianmorgan
2006-08-13 09:19 pm (UTC)
I want to know which songs!

That sounds pretty amazing. I have a fear of jamming though. I have a fear of lots of things.

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[User Picture]From: call_me_doctor_
2006-08-13 09:46 pm (UTC)
I have a horribly unbearable fear of jam sessions too, especially all the ones that week because I was playing with guys like Pete Coe and Eddie Walker who have been playing for 40 years and are really, actually Gods. When the songs got too difficult for me to play, I took out my Jew's Harp and starting twanging away at the melody because thankfully there wasn't anyone there who could play it better than me. Frasier Speirs (the absolute best harmonica player in the UK, according to everyone that matters) was there, too, so I was even nervous about playing the harmonica parts to Dylan's songs, even though they are undeniably easy.

But it was so amazing! We played 'Victory Rag' (Carter Family) and I played rhythm on that because the lead part is difficult (and impossible at the speed we were playing), but Eddie Walker taught me a great finger-picking style for it. We also played 'Can The Circle Be Unbroken' (Carter Family) and that was a lot of fun because Pete Coe let me borrow his Appalachian lap dulcimer and I was able to remember the few chords that the song required. We played 'Walk the Line' by Johnny Cash, of course, and I played the melody on that one because it is easy. I told them the chords for 'Cripple Creek' (Buffy Sainte Marie) and they played it for me while I played the melody on my Jew's Harp and a woman from Iceland sang the lyrics. We played a bunch of Guthrie songs because they're easy (So Long, It's Been Good to Know You and Mean Talkin' Blues). I made them teach me how to play Dylan's 'Song to Woody', which basically completed my life. We also were very cliche hippies and played 'Blowin' In the Wind'. Oh, and also we played 'Ballad of Hollis Brown' and 'Talkin' WW3 Blues' which are my two favorite Dylan songs. I can't really remember which traditional songs we played, but I knew the words to all of them because Joan Baez played them all at one point (like Butcher Boy and Donna Donna).

Basically it was the best night of my life, even if I spent the first half of the session being horrified and awe-struck and the second half I cannot remember for various reasons.
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[User Picture]From: echo_helstrom
2006-08-14 04:25 am (UTC)
I love to cover Talking WWIII Blues, among about 15 other Dylan tunesfrom the 64-66 era. This yurt experience sounds great. I cross country skied into a yurt in the middle of snow once, and brought a backpacker guitar, nothing like the jam you had from the sounds of it. Rock on!
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[User Picture]From: call_me_doctor_
2006-08-14 12:56 pm (UTC)
I think it is really strange that most of the people that I've told about this experience have had their own yurt experience. ("Yeah, I stayed in a yurt for a few weeks when I was working in Siberia.") I'd never even seen one before that. But, I do think that any jam in a yurt (music, writing, strawberry) is automatically a good one.

I cannot decide which song is better, between Ballad of Hollis Brown and Talkin' WWIII Blues. What do you think?
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