jukebox sampler

Every thousandth track from my library:

Track Title Artist Album
1000 How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us R.E.M. New Adventures in Hi-Fi
2000 Lesson 8 / Ex 3 David Hamburger The Acoustic Guitar Method, Book 2
3000 Way of Woe Peter Stampfel The Jig Is Up
4000 Exercise: Changing Chords Jack Hatfield First Lessons Banjo
5000 The Edison Museum They Might Be Giants No!
6000 Got The Jake Leg Too Ray Brothers
7000 Light Is Returning Rise Up Singing: The Teaching Disc O
8000 Birmingham Sunday Rise Up Singing: The Teaching Disc J
9000 Bring Me A Leaf From The Sea Carolina Tar Heels Mountain Frolic (Rare Old Timey Classics 1924-37) – Disc D (1925-30)
10000 Window to Mars Elf Power In a Cave
11000 The Book Of Doves Alasdair Roberts Spoils
12000 Grounded Pavement Wowee Zowee
13000 O Holy Night Classic Carols Classic Carols (Piano-Vocal Harmonies)
14000 Track 23 Peter Gelling Teach Yourself Harmonica
15000 Priscilla The Soft Machine The Soft Machine
16000 Colours Gorp Shapes And Colours Game
17000 The Mayor Of Simpleton XTC Upsy Daisy Assortment
18000 Jóga Björk Homogenic
19000 Everything Merges With the Night Brian Eno Another Green World
20000 Great Races – The Marathon Ivor Cutler, et al King Cutler, Part 6
21000 Coal Creek March Dock Boggs His Folkways Years (1963-1968) Disc 1
22000 The Ghost You Draw On My Back Múm Summer Make Good
23000 Tidy (Previously Unreleased Demo) Dressy Bessy Little Music: Singles 1997-2002
24000 Careless Soul Daniel Johnston 1990
25000 Introduction Joyce Ochs First Lessons: Dulcimer
26000 On A Monday Morning Rachel Unthank and the Winterset Cruel Sister

best of 2009 (top 10 for hexadactyls)

Again, to my own rules; what I discovered this year, and not necessarily ten:

  • Spoils — Alasdair Roberts. Alasdair’s transformed from a good (if somewhat doleful) Scottish folkie to a full-on demented psych-folker with this record. The Wyrd Meme EP is nifty too.
  • Banjo — Billy Faier. I know this album was recorded in the 1970s, but it’s as far away from tedious lick-based picking that most people link to the banjo. The fact that Billy’s giving it away free now doesn’t hurt, either. It’s kinda prog banjo, if you must.
  • Old Dog — Chris Coole. Chris has been recording for more than a decade, but this is his first solo album. Fabulous songwriting (Old Dog, and The Bottle Got the Best of Me is sounds like something that Porter and Dolly should’ve sung), brilliant playing, and all this from a man who can smack himself inadvertantly on the nose with his own coffee grinder.
  • Signal Morning — Circulatory System. Only five years late. Worth every minute.
  • Clifton Hicks — Clifton Hicks. Zero production; just a guy singing along with his banjo. But both so well.
  • Hypersomnia — entertainment for the braindead. Julia Kotowski makes achingly beautiful lo-fi noises.
  • Sing the Greys — Frightened Rabbit. Visiting Scotland, and having a crappy job over the summer, made this my singalong-driving album of the year. The Midnight Organ Fight has a high nift-factor too.
  • Yours Truly, The Commuter — Jason Lytle. Probably better than anything he did with Grandaddy. His free christmas album of piano music is pretty spiffy too.
  • Lord Cut-Glass — Lord Cut-Glass. I didn’t get into the Delgados when they were around (silly me; there was some fine fine music in Scotland while I still lived there), but Alun Woodward belted out a classic this year. Bought on a whim (a small Scottish coin, or unicycle) at Monorail in Glasgow, it’s a favourite when stuck in traffic on the 401.
  • Waxing Gibbous — Malcolm Middleton. Who knew that miserabilism was so much fun? Actually, it was Devil and the Angel from his first album that got me back into his work.
  • Love It Love It — Nana Grizol. And I do love it; noisy punk from the friends of Elephant Six. Technically the new album Ruth comes out next year, but it’s out already if you’re not hung up on physical media.
  • These Four Walls — We Were Promised Jetpacks. Scottish – yeah!

Quite a bit of Scottish content in there, I know.

Some late arrivals and miscellaneous:

  • I was probably supposed to like Goodnight Oslo by Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 more than I do, but there was so much music this year it kind of got buried.
  • My sister  (Wendy Arrowsmith) has a new album out, Seeds of Fools.
  • Dunno what Friendly Rich was thinking releasing Pictures at an Exhibition so late in the year. It’s a twisted jazz take on Mussorgsky, and nothing to be modest about.

2009 contenders

This year, I can revert to my own slightly unusual system of the music that found me during the year. I listened to a lot in 2009:

  • Délivrance — A Hawk And A Hacksaw
  • Reservoir — Ah Holly Faml’y
  • How To Get To Heaven From Scotland — Aidan Moffat + The Best Ofs
  • Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free — Akron/Family
  • Spoils — Alasdair Roberts
  • The Wyrd Meme — Alasdair Roberts
  • Alela & Alina — Alela Diane featuring Alina Hardin
  • The Pirate’s Gospel — Alela Diane
  • To Be Still — Alela Diane
  • Old Crows / Young Cardinals — Alexisonfire
  • Danse Manatee — Animal Collective
  • Merriweather Post Pavilion — Animal Collective
  • Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’re Vanished — Animal Collective
  • Monday At The Hug And Pint — Arab Strap
  • Calling Out of Context — Arthur Russell
  • Springfield — Arthur Russell
  • Litany — Arvo Pärt
  • March of the Zapotec & Realpeople: Holland — Beirut
  • Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant — Belle and Sebastian
  • The Life Pursuit — Belle and Sebastian
  • Both Sides Of The Gun — Ben Harper
  • let’s do something… — Bill Evans & Megan Lynch
  • Banjo — Billy Faier
  • Banjos, Birdsong, and Mother Earth — Billy Faier
  • Live at the Cafe Lena — Billy Faier
  • The Art of the Five String Banjo — Billy Faier
  • The Beast of Billy Faier — Billy Faier
  • Travelin’ Man — Billy Faier
  • In The Future — Black Mountain
  • Together Through Life — Bob Dylan
  • Blood Bank — Bon Iver
  • For Emma, Forever Ago — Bon Iver
  • The Very Best Of Booker T. & The MG’s — Booker T. & The MG’s
  • Words of Wisdom — Brian Dewan
  • Another Green World — Brian Eno
  • I Just Wasn’t Meant For These Times — Brian Wilson
  • Gold — Buddy Holly
  • My Maudlin Career — Camera Obscura
  • Underachievers Please Try Harder — Camera Obscura
  • Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) — Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band
  • Modern Silence — Casper & The Cookies
  • Jukebox — Cat Power
  • Bird and Diz — Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie
  • Old Dog — Chris Coole
  • Inside Views — Circulatory System
  • Signal Morning — Circulatory System
  • Bring Me Your Love — City And Colour
  • Clifton Hicks — Clifton Hicks
  • Outer South — Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band
  • Superfly — Curtis Mayfield
  • Hey Everyone — Dananananaykroyd
  • 1990 — Daniel Johnston
  • Dirt of the Angel — Danny Barnes
  • The Folkways Years 1959-61 — Dave Van Ronk
  • Curse Your Branches — David Bazan
  • David Henman Band — David Henman Band
  • …For The Whole World To See — Death
  • Venus on Earth — Dengue Fever
  • Pioneers Who Got Scalped: The Anthology — Devo
  • Fly — Dixie Chicks
  • Home — Dixie Chicks
  • At Newport — Dizzy Gillespie
  • Heavy Ghost — DM Stith
  • Hombre Lobo — Eels
  • Mountain Meadows — Elliott Brood
  • Elvis Perkins In Dearland — Elvis Perkins In Dearland
  • What Is Free To A Good Home? — Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton
  • Watch The Fireworks — Emma Pollock
  • Dead Relatives — Emm Gryner
  • The Summer Of High Hopes — Emm Gryner
  • hydrophobia — entertainment for the braindead
  • Hypersomnia — entertainment for the braindead
  • Raw Timber EP — entertainment for the braindead
  • seven (+1) [aaahh.005] — entertainment for the braindead
  • Distillation — Erin McKeown
  • Sing You Sinners — Erin McKeown
  • We Will Become Like Birds — Erin McKeown
  • Liege & Lief — Fairport Convention
  • Reservoir — Fanfarlo
  • Fleet Foxes — Fleet Foxes
  • Flight Of The Conchords — Flight Of The Conchords
  • Lungs — Florence and The Machine
  • Folk Uke — Folk Uke
  • Roughin’ It — Fred Spek’s Camp Combo
  • Quietly Now! — Frightened Rabbit
  • Sing the Greys — Frightened Rabbit
  • Swim Until You Can’t See Land — Frightened Rabbit
  • The Midnight Organ Fight — Frightened Rabbit
  • St. Elsewhere — Gnarls Barkley
  • Felt Mountain — Goldfrapp
  • Seventh Tree — Goldfrapp
  • Supernature — Goldfrapp
  • Veckatimest — Grizzly Bear
  • Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill — Grouper
  • Ellipse — Imogen Heap
  • Speak for Yourself — Imogen Heap
  • The Creek Drank the Cradle — Iron & Wine
  • Keep Me In Mind Sweetheart EP — Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan
  • Privilege — Ivor Cutler
  • The Inspiration Of William Blake — Jah Wobble
  • The Glass Bead Game — James Blackshaw
  • Yours Truly, The Commuter — Jason Lytle
  • The Utmost — Jayme Stone
  • Riceboy Sleeps — Jónsi & Alex
  • Ramblin’ Son — Julian Fauth
  • Autobahn — Kraftwerk
  • Tour De France — Kraftwerk
  • World of Goo Soundtrack — Kyle Gabler
  • Of Whales and Woe — Les Claypool
  • Alright, Still — Lily Allen
  • It’s Not Me, It’s You — Lily Allen
  • Lord Cut-Glass — Lord Cut-Glass
  • The Liberty of Norton Folgate — Madness
  • Snakebite — Magic Slim & The Teardrops
  • Kiss Me Quick — Makita Hack And The Log Rollers
  • 5:14 Fluoxytine Seagull Alcohol John Nicotine — Malcolm Middleton
  • A Brighter Beat — Malcolm Middleton
  • Sleight Of Heart — Malcolm Middleton
  • Waxing Gibbous — Malcolm Middleton
  • Dibango: Rough Guide to Manu Dibango — Manu Dibango
  • Little Hells — Marissa Nadler
  • Youth — Matisyahu
  • Big Meal Time! — Max & Frank Evans with the Family Supper Stringband
  • Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? — Metric
  • Oracular Spectacular — MGMT
  • Armchair Boogie — Michael Hurley
  • Ida Con Snock — Michael Hurley
  • Singing Insects of Missouri — Missouri Department of Conservation
  • Toads and Frogs in Missouri — Missouri Department of Conservation
  • The Hawk Is Howling — Mogwai
  • Hold Time — M. Ward
  • Love It Love It — Nana Grizol
  • “Ruth” — Nana Grizol
  • Middle Cyclone — Neko Case
  • Obligatory Villagers — Nellie McKay
  • Lipstick Killers — New York Dolls
  • At My Age — Nick Lowe
  • Chelsea Girl — Nico
  • Hymns and Hers — Oliver Schroer
  • Achilles’ Heel — Pedro The Lion
  • At 89 — Pete Seeger
  • Wonderland — Pogo
  • Like Hearts Swelling — Polmo Polpo
  • Porn Sword Tobacco — Porn Sword Tobacco
  • The Rubber Room — Porter Wagoner
  • Tales From The Punchbowl — Primus
  • Different Class — Pulp
  • The Essential Ramblin’ Jack Elliot — Ramblin’ Jack Elliott
  • Raising Sand — Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
  • Goodnight Oslo — Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3
  • Exit Strategy Of The Soul — Ron Sexsmith
  • Time Being — Ron Sexsmith
  • Sam Hinton Sings the Song of Men — Sam Hinton
  • Whoever Shall Have Some Good Peanuts — Sam Hinton
  • Smokin’ and Drinkin’ — Scotty Campbell and His Wardenaires
  • Secret Machines — Secret Machines
  • Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols — Sex Pistols
  • The Remix Album…Diamonds Are Forever — Shirley Bassey
  • Color Voice — Sinkane
  • Stand! — Sly and the Family Stone
  • Love.Life.Ukulele — Sophie Madeleine
  • African Spirit — Soweto Gospel Choir
  • Tres Tres Fort — Staff Benda Bilili
  • Telescope — Steve Dawson
  • Let’s Get Small — Steve Martin
  • The Crow — Steve Martin
  • Never Gonna Touch the Ground — Still Flyin’
  • Barn Yard Banjo Pickin’ — Stringbean
  • The BQE — Sufjan Stevens
  • 25 O’Clock (Remastered) — The Dukes of Stratosphear
  • Psonic Psunspot (Remastered) — The Dukes of Stratosphear
  • Buddha Electrostorm — Thee American Revolution
  • I Thought You Knew — The Ebony Hillbillies
  • Sabrina’s Holiday — The Ebony Hillbillies
  • Hex Enduction Hour — The Fall
  • Are You Sleepy? — The Gerbils
  • Shout Monah — The Haints Old Time Stringband
  • The Smell Of Our Own — The Hidden Cameras
  • Tyrannosaurus Hives — The Hives
  • 21 Singles — The Jesus & Mary Chain
  • At Large — The Kingston Trio
  • Something Else by The Kinks — The Kinks
  • Monk’s Music — Thelonious Monk
  • Bootleg Six-Pack — The Mammals
  • Evolver — The Mammals
  • Mount Eerie — The Microphones
  • Thieves — The Organ
  • The Phonemes — The Phonemes
  • There’s Something We’ve Been Meaning to Do — The Phonemes
  • The End of the World — The Real Tuesday Weld
  • England’s Newest Hit Makers — The Rolling Stones
  • New Seasons — The Sadies
  • Fourteen Autumns, Fifteen Winters — The Twilight Sad
  • The Flat Earth (Collector’s Edition) — Thomas Dolby
  • The Golden Age Of Wireless (Collector’s Edition) — Thomas Dolby
  • The Singular Thomas Dolby — Thomas Dolby
  • FeelingPulledApartByHorses — Thom Yorke
  • O — Tilly and the Wall
  • Music for Spaceships and Forests — twi the humble feather
  • Introducing Vakoka — Vakoka
  • Tight Knit — Vetiver
  • At the Cut — Vic Chesnutt
  • Unmap — Volcano Choir
  • How Can I Keep From Singing — Wendi Hunter
  • Seeds of Fools — Wendy Arrowsmith
  • These Four Walls — We Were Promised Jetpacks
  • Let’s Talk About It — White Denim
  • Dos — Wooden Shjips
  • Fever To Tell — Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • It’s Blitz! — Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Show Your Bones — Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Crusp Srexstling — Zumm Zumm

Stuck at the Border / Unexpected Spector

So I was at The Dakota Tavern last night, expecting to see nana grizol with Colleen and Paul. I got there far too early, and notice that there was no sign of Theo Hilton or the rest of the band. I learned from Colleen (whom I’d met before) that they’d been stopped at the border, so Colleen and Paul were playing a longer set, and Colleen’s partner Ron Sexsmith would play later.

Immigration for musicians annoys me. The costs of visas, and the processing time required, basically means that most bands I’d want to see risk getting turned away at the border. Since touring is how these bands make their living, everybody loses.

Still, Colleen and Paul – assisted by a couple of Colleen’s friends – ended their set with a lovely version of Jeff Mangum’s arrangement of I Love How You Love Me [mp3, lo-fi phone recording].

hartford, arr. coole

wish_we_had_our_ptarmiganI keep mishearing Chris Coole‘s version of John Hartford‘s Wish We Had Our Time Again as Wish We Had Our Ptarmigan

Despite this mondegreen, Chris’s new solo album is a stormer. The title track Old Dog has already been covered by Bill Evans and Megan Lynch, but I think it’s the one that will get Chris the widespread recognition he deserves. The Bottle Got the Best of Me is a good old country drinkin’ and cryin’ duet that really should have had Porter and Dolly sing it. Six Days on the Road is the way the Dave Dudley truckin’ hit should have been – on fretless banjo.

(image File:Lagopus mutus.jpg by Wojsyl)

dulcimer reunion

Took my dulcimer back off consignment from Jeff Menzies, and you know what? I’m going to keep it. It’s really well made, and plays nicely. Why did I ever want to consign it in the first place?
(Gave me an excuse to drive up to Jeff’s place in Churchill, ON – which isn’t really near anywhere, but not that far away, either.)

I have to donate a spare ukulele

I recently bought a basic ukulele from MusicGuyMic’s Ukulele in Hawaii. It’s a Kala concert uke. MusicGuyMic ships things really quickly, and unfortunately, he sent me a cheaper Makala one by mistake.

I really hate querying sales on eBay, but Michael was exceptionally reasonable: he sent me the proper Kala uke, and told me to keep the other one to play with a friend. I think I need to do better than that, so I’m wondering who really needs a uke, and I’ll give it to them. It’s not the greatest instrument in the world, but it’s a good starter one.

I’ve heard of The Ukulele Project, but it sounds like they have all the instruments they need. I wonder if my uke friends Cathy & Skizz near Baltimore know? Closer to home, anyone at the Corktown Uke Jam?

(One other thing I’ll say about MusicGuyMic – he does an unbelievable setup job on his instruments, even the cheap ones. The fretboards are oiled, frets filed and polished, bridge adjusted for intonation, and really good Nylgut strings fitted as standard. That’s the sort of thing that makes an instrument so much easier to play.)

a hand with the circle of fifths

(originally posted on Banjo Hangout)

I’ll give you a hand with this …
a hand, with numbers

Yeah, that’s my right hand. Spare me the tree-frog comments, but note how I’ve carefully numbered the fingers.

You play banjo, so you know stuff in the key of G. So you know three chords: G, C and D7. Musicians are fiddly bunch, with all their sharps and flats and all, but notes go A B C D E F G, then back to A as they go up. If you start with G = 1, you’ll see that C = 4 and D = 5. Let’s not worry about the fact that you (probably) play a D7 chord, but look at the key of G hand:
a hand, in the key of G

For some reason (look up chord theory, or chord progressions) the 1, 4 and 5 chords sound good together. Some people write ’em as I, IV and V if they’re feeling all fancy and classical like.

I hate to break it to you, but not all tunes are in the key of G. I know, it’s hard to take. What if it’s in A? Well, use the hand, with A as the first (or root) chord:
a hand, in the key of A

So to play those nice sounding 1-4-5 chords in A, you need to know A, D and E (or E7, if you’re feeling folky). In this case, the D pretty much has to be the real finger-stretching D chord (hard for us tree-frogs) or it’ll sound naff.

If you’re singing along to your old Pete Seeger 78s, yer traditional folk/gospel/church songs are in C. Hand to the rescue!
a hand, in the key of C

So, for the key of C, you need the chords C, F and G (or G7). F is a nightmare on a guitar, easier on a banjo, easiest of all on an autoharp.

Just in case you ever need a song in D, here’s that hand again:
a hand, in the key of D

You guessed it – D, G and A (or A7).

That’s how Chris Coole taught me it. It’s a bit of a simplification, but it works for me.