Sunday, 24 July, 2011
Someone here has suggested that I need to get out more. Last night, I got out. My friend Whitey urged me to attend a contra dance put on by Tucson Friends of Traditional Music. It wasn't a date (although we did go out for pizza and beer). He wanted me to play in the "open band" with him.
So I went, and it was very fun. You never know how many musicians will show up, and how many dancers will pay to dance. Last night, I was playing on stage with about 15 others -- most of whom were real musicians (but no bass!). They even put a mic in front of my banjo. We were entertaining about 30-40 dancers, led by JP (who I met a few weeks ago).
Here's a photo of a random open band from their web site.
It was very different from the old time jams that I normally play at. The main thing is that it's not banjo friendly. In an old time jam, they stay in the same key for a long time, because banjo players (and sometimes fiddlers) need to retune for every key. I heard about this, so I brought two banjos. I was able to play in four keys with minimal tuning.
But the the problem is, a single contra dance lasts a long time and the band often plays a medley of tunes for a single dance. So last night, I had my first experience of: (a) quickly retuning from A Sawmill to A Standard in the middle of a medley, and (b) actually switching banjos in the middle of a medley.
It was fun. But hotter than hell. They had a few fans in the room, but I was sweating like a pig. Probably just stage fright.