This week I traveled to New Hampshire to attend, and play banjo for, a family members' wedding. Thankfully, I was joined on fiddle and guitar by my "Clifftop cousin" John (his term that I've now officially added to my vocab) who lives in the area. We played fiddle tunes before the wedding while the crowd was being seated and after the wedding as the cocktail hour entertainment. During the ceremony, we played "Atlantic" by "Sleeping at last," which is a bit outside the Old-Time canon - if you read this blog regularly you'll remember that I worked out an arrangement of that tune a couple weeks back (details here).
While its always a bit nerve-wracking to play during a wedding ceremony, everything went perfectly! John had done his homework and worked out a great finger-style guitar accompaniment for "Atlantic," based on the recording I did a few weeks back, that sounded just fantastic. After the rehearsal it seemed best to play the tune across all of the big entrances during the ceremony; namely: the bridal party, the ring bearers (yup, there were two), and the bride herself. We had a goal of hitting the high C note (really high D since I ended up tuning up to double D) just when the bride entered. To get this move just right, I had to stretch out the preceding parts just a bit with John following my lead - luckily he's a pro and it sounded seamless to my ears! We played my favorite tune, "Coleman's March," during the recessional - yes, I know the "hanging" story associated with that tune may make it inappropriate for a wedding in the eyes of many...but I don't know if I buy that story anyhow, and the tune is just gorgeous (I was honored to have Emily, the fiddler from "Happy Hollow String Band" play "Coleman's March" in my wedding BTW).
Overall, I had a blast and I think John did too. As I mentioned last week (here), I just love fiddle/banjo duets and, alongside some top-40 tunes (e.g. "Angeline the Baker" and "Over the Waterfall"), we delved in to a few deep cuts during the cocktail hour (Marcus Martin's "Boatsman" and "Wimbush rag" come to mind). My brother-in-law cooked up a couple of 26-lb beef roasts on his buddy's amazing smoker/rotisserie while the ceremony was going; he paid John back for his services with several pounds of meat to take home - not too shabby : )
On top of all that, John also posted a video of me jamming out on "Big Scioty" at Clifftop this year, which I thought I'd share:
Me, and some other "Clifftop cousins" (Mike, Chuck, and Bruce) jamming out on "Big Scioty" with representatives of our neighborhood's new Canadian contingent - hopefully they'll be back next year!
I'm playing the Buckeye tuned to Old G (gDGDE).
Cam, who taught me "La Rotta," (aka "Cam's Medieval tune" - here) is playing fiddle in the above video. Dude can play, huh??
I've actually got a gig with "Sigogglin' Stringband" (the band that I played the square-dance with - here) coming up when I get back to MI next week. I'll may give a rundown in next week's post - see you then!
About this blog
I have lots of ideas about banjo playing and music in general - this blog allows me to get them all out of my head and see what you think.