In last week's post (here) I gave some tips on playing fiddle tunes in the low octave on banjo. For that post I purposefully picked a section of a tune (the A part of "Barlow Knife") for which the low octave falls entirely within the banjo's range. However, the banjo doesn't have the range to play full low octave parts of most tunes in standard tunings; this week I'll give some tips for playing the low octave on tunes like this.
My tune of choice for this exercise is "Soldier's Joy," which is probably one of the first tunes most clawhammer players learn. While many people groan when "Soldier's Joy" is called at a jam, I still greet this one with excitement because I just love playing my low octave B part; its this part of the tune that I'll focus on today.
Lets get started by hearing a simple fiddle (OK...mando) version of the B part:
Example 1 - Me playing the B part of "Soldier's Joy" on my still-new-to-me Bacon mando (here).
I'm guessing that sounds pretty familiar to most anyone reading this. You may notice that many fiddlers take a few more "melodic liberties" with their versions; I've purposefully kept my version here a bit closer to the streamlined consensus version I hear out of clawhammer players. Speaking of which, let's check out a banjo tab for the standard "high octave" part:
Figure 1 - A standard "high octave" B part for "Soldier's Joy" on clawhammer banjo.
The tab in Figure 1, along with every other tab below, is meant to be played in double D tuning (aDADE), which is the tuning clawhammer players tend to use for most D tunes. I also suggest using the following left hand position (click here if you don't know what I'm talking about) for playing Figure 1, and every other tab below as well:
Hand Position for Figures 1-5:
2nd fret - index finger
3rd fret - middle finger
4th fret - ring finger
5th fret - pinky finger
Finally, to avoid harmonic clutter, I've replaced brushes with ghost notes (if you're not familiar with ghost notes, I've got an explanation about halfway down this post). So let's hear what Figure 1 sounds like (once again, played alongside a mando for context):
Example 2 - Me playing the tab shown in Figure 1 on my Buckeye in aDADE tuning.
(Mando from Example 1 included as well)
Not too bad...but let's make things a bit more interesting by trying to find a low banjo part to contrast the mando. As I hinted at above, if you stick to double D tuning and try to find the melody in the low octave you'll end up out of range for a few notes. Here's a "low octave" tab of the B part for "Soldier's Joy;" you'll notice that four notes are marked "too low" and omitted:
Figure 2 - A "low octave" B part for "Soldier's Joy" on clawhammer banjo with 4 notes that fall outside the range of the banjo in aDADE tuning omitted (these notes are marked "too low").
So, the good news is, we can play most of the B part to "Soldier's Joy" in the low octave. But how do we deal with the notes that we can't play? I've got 3 approaches that I'll outline below
Approach 1 - jump to the high octave
That's right, when I run out of notes in the low octave, I frequently just jump up to get them in the high octave. When you're the only solo instrument, this approach can sound a little strange, but when you're playing with a fiddler it really doesn't stick out that much. While you could jump to the high octave for single out of range notes, I think the "aesthetics" of this work a little better if you jump up an octave for a whole melodic phrase instead. If you look back at Figure 2, you'll notice that I've drawn dotted lines around 2 phrases that go out of range (note - apparently I favored roman numerals when labelling phrases...not sure where that came from). In the following tab, I'll replace phrases I and II with their "high octave" counterparts from Figure 1.
Figure 3 - A "low octave" B part for "Soldier's Joy" on clawhammer banjo with two phrases replaced with "high octave" playing.
Here's a sound clip of Figure 3 played alongside the mando:
Example 3 - Me playing the tab shown in Figure 3 on my Buckeye in aDADE tuning.
(Mando from Example 1 included as well)
Approach 2 - "Fill in the blanks" with chords
Probably no need to over-explain this one : ) In the following tab, I replaced phrases I and II (as labelled in Figure 2) with simple "bum ditty's." In this case, both phrases happened to occur over A chords:
Figure 4 - A "low octave" B part for "Soldier's Joy" on clawhammer banjo with two phrases replaced with chords. Note - these chords force you to break left hand position; I finger them using my index finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th string and my middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 2nd string.
Let's hear this one too:
Example 4 - Me playing the tab shown in Figure 4 on my Buckeye in aDADE tuning.
(Mando from Example 1 included as well)
Approach 3 - Replace the out of range phrase with something else in the low octave
This one's a bit of a grab bag. The idea is to play a melodic phrase in the low octave that rhythmically-mirrors what's going on in the fiddle's melody without clashing.
As an example: if you look at the "out of range" phrases in Figure 2 that we're trying to replace, you'll notice that phrase I is five uninterrupted notes in succession (i.e. no rests in between notes), while phrase II is three uninterrupted notes in succession. In the following tab, I've replaced these phrases with five-note and three-note phrases in the low octave that differ from the fiddle's melody, but don't sound too bad alongside it:
Figure 5 - A "low octave" B part for "Soldier's Joy" on clawhammer banjo with two phrases replaced with....something else in the low octave : )
Its probably a stretch to call these "harmonies" or "counter melodies"....I just picked them out by ear and they kind of work with what's going on. In fact, I'm not sure I'm too happy with what I chose for phrase I (could clash with chords?), but you get the idea : )
For good measure, lets hear this one too:
Example 5 - Me playing the tab shown in Figure 5 on my Buckeye in aDADE tuning.
(Mando from Example 1 included as well)
Anyways, I don't have a real favorite approach for "filling in the blanks" of an out of range low octave melody; really, I just kind of mix and match these approaches throughout a tune for variety. If you add in potential "high octave" variants for the B part, one need never be bored with "Soldier's Joy" again!
Hope this post inspires you to find "low octave" variants of your favorite fiddle tune....even if you run out of notes : )
If you've spent much time playing with a fiddler, you've probably notice this oft-used trick in fiddle playing: often after 3 or 4 turns through a fiddle tune, they'll jump down to the low strings for a turn or two. To my ears, the bark of the bass notes in this maneuver really kicks a tune into high gear! Today I'm here to give you the tools (and permission!) to steal this move - let's talk "low octave banjo playing."
Before I get into the nitty-gritty, a bit more on motivation for low octave playing: If you've seen my posts on my banjos (here and here), you'll notice they have a couple things in common: both are 3.5" deep 12" pots; these things were designed to pump out bass! However, most tunes don't spend enough time on the 4th string for my taste. So in recent years, I've gravitated towards trying to find familiar melodies on the low strings. This trick is also great for playing with other banjo players - while banjos in unison can clash a bit, two banjos an octave apart really sing! Amazingly, I never really hear other banjo players "go low" on most tunes; so If you find yourself in a jam with other banjos, this territory is likely available for the taking!
Let's get started!
Playing the Low Octave in "Barlow Knife"
For today's post, I've chosen to focus on the 3 part G tune "Barlow Knife." As with just about all of my G tunes, I play this one in Old G tuning (gDGDE) rather than the more commonly-used Open G tuning (gDGBD); reasons behind this decision can be found here. I've included high and low octave recordings of the A part of "Barlow Knife" below. I decided to play them on my new mandolin (here) to spare you from my squeaky fiddling. It should be noted that standard tuning for fiddles and mandolins is identical; you can think of a mandolin as a "fiddle you play with a pick."
Example 1 - the A part of "Barlow Knife" played twice in the high octave on my Bacon Mando.
Example 2 - the A part of "Barlow Knife" played twice in the low octave on my Bacon Mando.
A note on terminology - I'll talk about "high octave" and "low octave" melodies on banjo and mandolin. These terms refer to different octaves of the same melody that can largely be reached below the 5th fret on the respective instruments. While you may be able to find even higher octave melodies by going up the neck on both instruments, this is not something I do much in my playing and I'll ignore it here. For the most part the "high octave" melody on each instrument is the standard range of melody favored by most players; once again, while mandolins/fiddles may jump down to the low octave during a tune for variety, they don't typically start the tune there.
Here's some tab for the high octave A part melody on banjo:
Figure 1 - Tab for the A part of "Barlow Knife" in the high octave on banjo.
To be played in Old G tuning (gDGDE).
A couple notes here. First off, the above tab employs "ghost notes" to remove brushes; there's an explanation of ghost notes about halfway down this post for the unfamiliar. Second, Figure 1 is meant to be played in a single left hand position (click here if you don't know what I'm talking about) which can be described as follows:
Hand Position A (for Figure 1 and Figure 2):
index - 2nd fret
middle - 3rd fret
ring - 4th fret
pinky - 5th fret
So, lets take a listen to Figure 1 played alongside the mandolin:
Example 3 - the A part of "Barlow Knife" played twice in the high octave on my Bacon Mando accompanied by high octave banjo (the Buckeye in Old G tuning following the tab in Figure 1).
If your ears are sharp, you'll notice the following: "high octave" banjo is already an octave below "high octave" mandolin (and fiddle); this just results from the range of these instruments in standard tunings. Therefore, if you stay in the "high octave" on banjo when a fiddler goes low, you actually get a cool unison effect (demonstrated in Example 4 below):
Example 4 - the A part of "Barlow Knife" played twice in the low octave on my Bacon Mando accompanied by high octave banjo (the Buckeye in Old G tuning following the tab in Figure 1).
That unison sound is pretty crazy with the mandolin....it almost sounds like a single instrument with a really complex, and perhaps a bit abrasive, tone; thanks to the bow, the fiddle provides a bit more contrast with the banjo in this case : ) Anways, I'm here to show you that the banjo too can jump down an octave, so lets get to it! Tab for a low octave A part of "Barlow Knife" is shown in Figure 2:
Figure 2 - Tab for the A part of "Barlow Knife" in the low octave on banjo.
To be played in Old G tuning (gDGDE).
You'll notice that I decided to do the whole run on the 4th string, which required a jump in hand position. The "low octave" melody could be played in hand position A, but it requires some slightly crowded drop thumb, and I'd rather jump up the neck. Hand position B, which starts the phrase, is as follows:
Hand Position B (for Figure 2):
index - 4th fret
middle - 5th fret
ring - 6th fret
pinky - 7th fret
When might you use a low octave melody like this? Really....anytime you want to. You could try to jump down simultaneously with a fiddler, or you jump down while they stay high for contrast. Remember that the banjo's "low octave" will actually be two octaves down from the fiddle/mandolin's "high octave" playing, and you'll be a single octave down from their "low octave" playing. I've got recordings of both contrasts below:
Example 5 - the A part of "Barlow Knife" played twice in the high octave on my Bacon Mando accompanied by low octave banjo (the Buckeye in Old G tuning following the tab in Figure 1).
Example 6 - the A part of "Barlow Knife" played twice in the low octave on my Bacon Mando accompanied by low octave banjo (the Buckeye in Old G tuning following the tab in Figure 1).
Pretty cool right??
While I encourage you to figure out some "low octave versions" of your favorite fiddle tunes, it should be noted that 5 string banjos in standard tunings (i.e. the tunings I use: gDGDE, aDADE, aEADE, and aEAC#E) quickly run out of range to play in the low octave for most tunes. With "Barlow Knife" you'll notice that I focus on the A part; barring alternate tunings or 6 string banjos (i.e. 5 string banjos with an extra bass string rather than guitar-banjos) you run out of notes to play low octave B or C parts for this tune. Usually, I simply jump back up to the "high octaves" for these parts. However, I have come up with a few techniques for "filling in the blanks" in low octave arrangements when you run out of notes; I'll talk about those in a future post : )
To finish out - I didn't want to leave you hanging with just the A parts of "Barlow Knife" in Old G so I've included a tab of the whole tune (with both "high octave" and "low octave" A parts written out) below. Enjoy:
One final note on this website: I added an index of blogposts to the bottom of my homepage (link in the sidebar) to make finding old posts just a bit easier. Hope you find it helpful - see you next week!
At the bottom of last week's post (here), I mentioned that I'd recently lost my friend Cory to a tragic accident. The day after I found out he was gone, I sat down and wrote a fiddle tune that channels some of my favorite memories of Cory. In remembrance of him, I thought I'd share it here.
A fiddle tune I wrote last week called "Pig Roast with Cory." (solo banjo)
Cory was the bass player for my band down in VA. Several years back the band made the collective decision to turn our profits from gigs into Pig Roasts for all of our friends (i.e. parties we threw at which, you guessed it...we roasted a pig). Rather than writing a mournful tune after hearing he'd passed on, I decided to try to capture those weekends with Cory, which are memories I'll always cherish. I made a lot of decisions while writing the melody that were intended to tie the tune directly to Cory; I'll outline the writing process below so that when you hear (or play) the tune, you can hear him in it.
The first phrase of the A part (which ends ~ 8 sec into the above recording) was rattling around in my head while I was making coffee and thinking about Cory the morning after he passed away. In my mind this phrase is the musical representation of our first effort at roasting a whole pig, which was a bit primitive in comparison to where our pig roasts ended up with Cory's help. Though the sight of a whole cooked pig was quite the spectacle for our friends, it was clear to those involved in the first pig roast that the process could stand some improvement the next go round. Cory, an Engineer, was of course up for the task; soon he took the reins as pit master....which is an impressive title for a Midwesterner at a Southern BBQ! As Pig Roasts continued, Cory's extended family even started making a pilgrimage to join in the fun - the rest of us got to sit back and drank his fantastic home-brew : ) To capture Cory's quest for Pig Roast perfection, the rest of the A part is spent repeating that first phrase with an interesting tweak (a slightly-unexpected D major chord) and a cool tag added on the end....both of which definitely improve the basic theme to my ears.
Like many fiddle tunes, "Pig Roast with Cory" has an AABB structure and the B part mirrors the A part with just a few deviations. First, there is a quick succession of 1/8th notes (i.e. "A, G, A, G, A, G, A, G, A, G") that begins the B part (~29 sec into the above recording) and occurs again in the middle (~36 sec). These phrases were intended to represent Cory's natural inclination to tinker (in fact I silently sing "tin-ker, tin-ker, tin-ker, tin-ker tinker" along to these notes)....in this case, Cory was tinkering with the fire. Cory didn't sit still for long during the Pig Roasts (or in general). He would frequently open the door to the pit and use his infrared thermometer (that guy was full of gadgets) to take the temperature of the walls of the roaster then adjust the fire accordingly. Secondly, I decided to end the first phrase in the B part on an E chord (~33 sec into the above recording; I play a "power chord" but I think an E major would work there), which sticks out a bit. Here I was imagining Cory playing bass on this tune with me - I just think he would have enjoyed getting to take a few beats on his lowest note. A couple of times, I talked with Cory about installing a C extension on his bass which would have allowed him to go even lower (and would have saved him a bit of right-hand effort on C tunes); given a couple more years, I have to guess that he would have built his own from parts he found sitting beside a dumpster : )
As I said last week, to see Cory at a pig roast was to see a guy in his element. I'd encourage anyone reading to pick out "Pig Roast with Cory," pass the tune around to your friends, and think of Cory while you play it.
This week's post is the 3rd installment of a series of blogposts on playing Waltzes on Clawhammer banjo. In the 1st post (here), I talked about "straight rhythm" waltzes. In the 2nd post (here), I talked about the more-common-to-Old-Time "swing rhythm" waltzes, in which the beats are subdivided into groups of three rather than two. In both of those posts, I leaned pretty heavily on the Christmas tune "The First Noel" as an acessible example of a Waltz which could be played either way (i.e. either with "straight" or "swing" rhythm). If you haven't read these posts yet, I'd encourage you to go back and glance through them first to give this wee's post some context.
In this week's post, I'm doing a 3rd installment on playing waltzes on clawhammer banjo, in which I'll talk a bit about "breaking right hand stride" (post on right hand stride here) in waltz playing. As an example tune, I'll veer away from the holidays and back towards a relatively recent addition to the Old Time canon, "Swannanoah Waltz," which was written by the fiddler Rayna Gellert, and which I learned for a recent squaredance (here). For those unfamiliar with Rayna Gellert's playing, she is (in my opinion) the unquestioned master of putting "groove" into Old Time fiddling...
I guess I'll start by providing a tab of "Swannanoah Waltz," give a bit of an overview on my approach to playing it, then spend some time picking apart a particularly nasty section that shows up in the B part:
Note on the above tab - if you look closely at the B part you'll see evidence of me digitally correcting a mistake (...poorly...) at the end of the second line. Sadly, trying to get ther resulting corrected file down to a reasonable size prior to uploading it turned out to be so taxing on my computer skills that if I make a mistake in the future, I'll likely just rewrite and rescan a new tab : )
Overview of playing "Swannanoah Waltz":
First, this is a D major tune and, as indicated on the tab, I play it in double D tuning (aDADE)....no surprises there. It is also a swing rhythm waltz, meaning that notes, such 5th string as thumb pulls, are delayed a bit to give a "swingy" feel. As I explained in last week's post (once again, here) this is accomplished first by subdividing beats into groups of 3 rather than groups of 2, thereby creating a "one, and, and, two, and, and, three, and, and" (rather than a "one, and, two, and, three, and") pattern to each measure; notes are only played on beats or on the second "and" beat; the first "and" beat after each beat is generally left empty. Real quick, lets look at a couple tab examples of "straight rhythm" and "swing rhythm" waltzes to hit home what I'm talking about:
Figure 1 (last weeks Figure 2) - A "bum-ditty-ditty" rhythm for straight ryhthm waltz playing.
Figure 2 (last weeks Figure 4) - A "bum-diiiiitty-diiiiitty" rhythm for swing ryhthm waltz playing.
If you're still a bit confused about the difference between Figures 1 and 2, check out the audio examples of "The First Noel" in last week's post (again, here). So, all of that was to say that, because "Swannanoah Waltz" is a swing rhythm waltz, the beats are divided into threes. Becuase I always explicitly indicate beat above each tab I write, you'll see the "1 + + 2 + + 3 + +" rhythmic indications similar to FIgure 2 above the tab for "Swannanoah Waltz" (rather than the "1 + 2 + 3 +" rhythmic indications).
As discussed last week, swing rhythm waltzes may include notes on both "and" beats following a single beat, which can be difficult to negotiate without breaking stride. "Swannanoah waltz" (as I've written it) only includes one instance where both "and" beats are occupied. This occurs in the 7th measure of the A part:
FIgure 3 - The 7th measure of the A part of "Swannanoah Waltz."
(from the tab at the top of the page).
While both "and" beats following beat 3 are filled with notes, we can get them all with a series of pulloffs from a single pluck with the striking finger - no "stride breaking" necessary in this instance . However, I did promise that we'd break stride somewhere in the tune....lets dig in!
Breaking Right Hand Stride in "Swannanoah Waltz"
I've covered right hand stride in several posts (here and here) and even re-introduced my rules governing right hand stride in a waltz context (here and here). I guess it behooves me to put them up one more time for reference:
Rule 1 for maintaining right hand stride: The striking finger of the right hand moves towards the strings on every beat; the thumb never plays notes on the beat.
Rule 2 for maintaining right hand stride: The striking finger is never used to play notes between beats; these notes should be played with the thumb of the right hand, with a left hand pluck, or by hammer-ons/pull-offs from notes played on preceding beats.
Rule 2a) if the note on an "and" beat is on a lower string than the preceding note (or if the preceding beat contains a brush, cluck, or ghost note) this note should be played with the thumb of the right hand, or by plucking the string with the left hand.
Rule 2b) if the note on an "and" beat is at a higher fret of the same string of the preceding note, this note should be played with a hammer on.
Rule 2c) if the note on an "and" beat is at a lower fret of the same string of the preceding note, this note should be played with a pull off.
Rule 2d) if the note on an "and" beat is on a higher string than the preceding note, this note should be played by plucking the string with the left hand.
Though I developed these rules in the context of playing 4/4 tunes, straight rhythm waltz playing can easily be accomplished by following these rules as well; swing rhythm waltzes need not break rules either, as long as only one "and" beat following each beat is occupied with a note. As we've seen in Figure 3, right hand stride can even be maintained in the face of notes on both "and" beats in a swing rhythm waltz with some careful tricks (like two consecutive pulloffs from one pluck with the striking finger). As I've mentioned before (here), there are times when right hand stride must be broken out of necessity. In the tab for "Swannanoah Waltz," I've actually chosen to break stride in the 7th measure of the B part as a stylistic choice. Let's take a look at the offending phrase without any markups to indicate right hand maneuvering:
Figure 4 - A phrase from the B part of "Swannanoah Waltz" without any indications of how to play it.
As written, this phrase would be a bit difficult to play without breaking right hand stride. This is mostly due to the note on the second "and" beat following the first beat of the measure (which I'll refer to as the "1 + +" beat). Since this note occurs on a higher string than the note prodceeding it on beat 1, we could follow rule 2d above and play it with a left hand pluck thereby maintaining right hand stride. Here's what I'm talking about, (with the rest of the phrase filled in "in stride" for good measure):
Figure 5 - Using a left hand pluck to play a phrase from "Swannanoah Waltz" while maintaining right hand stride.
However, left had plucks are much more easily accomplished on open strings; in the case of what's shown in Figure 5, you'd have to simultaneously hold down the 3rd fret with your middle finger (assuming you're using the left hand position indicated in the tab - click here if you dont know what I'm talking about) and pluck the string with the ring or pinky finger of your left hand. These are acrobatics I'd prefer to avoid : ). We could move the two notes on the 1st string over to the 2nd string and get everything with hammer-ons and pull-offs, while maintaining right hand stride:
Figure 6 - Shifting notes onto the 2nd string to maintain right hand stide.
As you can see, the approach shown in Figure 6 allows you to match the fiddle on every note without the inconvenient left hand pluck shown in Figure 5, and because you can cover the 5th fret with your pinky, you dont even have to shift left hand position to get there! So why don't I play it this way? To look at the answer, let's go back to the initial phrase, and point out a couple notes:
Figure 7 - A phrase from "Swannanoah Waltz" with "strong notes" circled.
When you listen to Rayna Gellert play this tune, you'll notice that the notes I've circled above are given just a bit more "umph" than the other notes in the phrase. To my ear, Rayna Gellert's aforementioned "groove" is at least partly ascribable to her emphasis of off beat notes (i.e. syncopation). If we play what's written in Figure 6, the "strong" notes circled above are played as a hammer-on and a pull-off respectively....when played this way, these notes sound weaker than those that proceed them in my hands. In other words, by playing this way, we are in danger of losing the "groove."
So how to fix this? To me, the "strongest" sounding notes made by a clawhammer player are those played with the striking finger (though left hand plucks can be pretty strong as well). Therefore, I choose to break right hand stride and use the striking finger to play the notes circled in FIgure 7 as follows:
Figure 8 - Breaking stride to play a phrase from "Swannanoah Waltz." The notes with asterices above them are meant to be played with the striking finger even though they occur on "and" beats.
Below I explicitly break down whats going on here. I'll just stick to the notes within the offending measure (once again, measure 7 of the B part in the tab at the top of the page) since the "lead in" notes and the notes in the following measure are actually played in stride.
Description of what's going on in Figure 8 (bold lines indicate stride breaking moves):
Beat 1: Striking Finger (Rule 1)
Beat 1+: (empty)
Beat 1 + +: Striking Finger (violation of Rule 1)
Beat 2: Pull off (violation of Rule 1 in that striking finger should play on beat notes)
Beat 2 +: (empty)
Beat 2 + +: Striking Finger (violation of Rule 1)
Beat 3: drop thumb (violation of Rule 1)
Beat 3 +: (empty)
Beat 3 + +: Hammer-on
As you can see, Figure 8 does involve playing two notes in a row with the striking finger (those on beat 1 and beat 1 + +)...though you do get a bit of a "grace beat" in between them due to the extra "and" beats associated with swing rhythm playing. As a review: two quick consecutive notes can be played with the striking finger in a single motion as long as the second note is on the next higher string up from the first. You simply have to aim your strike of the first string so that you end up resting on the next string, then lift your hand up while continuing forward motion to get the next note as follows:
Figure 9 - A poorly drawn explanation of how to play two notes with the index finger on adjacent strings in quick succession (this originally appeared as Figure 8 in my second post on right hand stride here). For the figure on the left, pretend you're looking down your banjo neck from the nut to the bridge...and that every part of the banjo other than the strings and bridge has disappeared for some reason. For the figure on the right, the circled numbers represent cross-sections of strings 1-5 and the line at the bottom represents the fingerboard.
I'd encourage you to try both FIgure 6 and Figure 8 and see if you can hear the difference. In my opinion, while you may not naturally accentuate the desired strong notes (i.e. those circled in Figure 7) by playing what's written in Figure 8, breaking stride in the ways indicated by FIgure 8 makes it easier to alter your playing to accentuate those notes.
After all that, I think its time to hear this thing!
Me playing the tab of "Swannanoah Waltz" that you can find at the top of this page on my Buckeye in aDADE tuning. To be perfectly honest, I think I could have played this better (...gets kinda laggy in the B part...) but I had already put away the microphone before noticing....so I left it as is : )
Hope that this third Waltz installment brought it all together for you - feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments!
A sad note to end this post: This past week we lost Cory, the bass player from my former band, in a tragic accident. Cory was far from just a bandmate and musical partner - I really feel like I've lost a family member.
A couple years back (when I was still living in VA and gigging with the band), we decided that we'd start putting any profits from gigs towards hosting pig roasts to which all of our friends were invited. Cory (an Engineer by trade) couldn't help but take the reins in the cooking department and while watching him manage (and iterativly improve upon) the primitive cinder block contraption we built for roasting a whole pig, I knew I was to truly seeing a guy "in his element." Those pig roasts were some of the happiest memories I have of Cory - over time attendance swelled as most of his extended family started making the trek down to VA from the Midwest every time we had one.
To all of Cory's family and friends: know that I'm grieving with you from my spot in Michigan.