Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Back on track

It looks like the Devil's Tailors is back on track here. I secured the National Tartan Day gig, and managed to put together a band for it.

Anders will be available again starting in May, but even with the distance small gigs might be out of his reach. So I've brought on board Jim Stimson, the lute player in my in-the-works Scottish early music ensemble. Jim will be positioned to fill in for either Anders or Chris, and we'll see if we can't expand his role should both be available. And it's looking like I might have Lauren Brenzo as the other fiddler for this gig.

So here's the lineup for this gig:

Pete Walker: Fiddle, Great Highland Bagpipe, Scottish smallpipes, lead and backing vocals, and possibly some whistles/flute
Chris Lindsay: Rhythm guitar (on songs & pipe sets), lead and backing vocals, bodhran, and hand percussion
Jim Stimson: Rhythm 12-string guitar (on fiddle sets), Baroque cittern
Lauren Brenzo: Fiddle, viola

Should be a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to it. The lineup of two fiddlers is something I'm interested in seeing work out - I imagine it'll be a little like Halali on the fiddle sets and Clandestine on the pipe sets, and you can't go wrong either way.

And my 2x1200W power amp arrived yesterday. And fell on my foot at one point. Ouch! But we should be positioned well to get a boatload of sound out of the system this time around.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Yes, I'm Still Here

Well, where to start?

My personal schedule has screwed with my practice in a terrible way, but I'm hoping to get back into it soon. So I'll break it down by topic:

The Devil's Tailors has a new repertoire. Now I just need to track down its guitarists! Chris appears to be out of pocket, probably doing research in upstate NY, and Anders and I finally tagged up - it looks like he's going to be available after May for rehearsals. The early music ensemble has only had a couple rehearsals, but we're zeroing in on a repertoire. I expect us to start looking for gigs in a few months. And City of Alexandria is City of Alexandria. I got promoted to Lance Corporal Piper, and we're always short on drummers.

I feel like I'm in a plateau here again. I guess I need to hunker down and do my scales and exercises. Elke and I have mostly worked on airs from Simon Fraser and bass lines from Robert Mackintosh recently, which have yielded a wealth of wonderful new tunes, though. Elke's taking the semester off, and I will likely do so as well, mainly for financial reasons. 'Tis the season to pay off debts. I'm also going to start prepping my competition sets soon for this year.

I'm getting excited over piobaireachd again. John's got me working on His Father's Lament for Donald MacKenzie, a lovely (and late) tune that appears to actually be in A major (as opposed to A mixolydian or G lydian, as most piobaireachds are). Once this tune is in hand, I'll have my competition sets for the year. I am getting frustrated with my smallpipes, mainly because I don't play them enough. The symptom is that I keep missing holes and jumping into the 2nd octave - not cool on this instrument. I have a bunch of wedding gigs lined up too. And I've been pricing a boxwood 1-drone gaita grileira, which will stand in for a 17th century lowland great pipe (in D!), and a new 440 Hz chanter from EJ Jones, to be made of Brazilian kingwood, which, if it isn't the wood my period pipes are made of, sure looks an awful lot like it.

Cittern & Flute:
Yep, cittern. I've been playing it a lot. I found that on capo 7 it makes a great octave mandolin with a high b-string and a smaller stretch than without a capo. And on capo 8 I can play a very credible version of Oswald's Divertimento V, a very lovely late baroque/early classical guittar piece (yes, two t's in that) in the same key Rob MacKillop plays in on his wonderful recording. No work on the guitarra portuguesa to convert it into a period instrument yet. I've been playing flute some as well, and have a pair of airs I'm pretty happy with on the baroque flute.

Not much new here. I need to make some new hose and get started on my new jacket at some point soon (so I can give Gerry back his). After the jacket, I plan to redo the front of my waistcoat - and may try to do it in such a way as I can finish the new front before I have to unstitch the old one. I'm also going to try to finish up the leine soon, so I can get started on the ionar. The Mad Piper has billed me an installment for my broadsword and sporran, so at least my kit will improve in that area, and I can give Gerry back his sporran.

I just completed my first 10-week course of Gaelic! The other students in the class had been through all the material before, so I was playing catch-up, but it was a lot of fun. I'm getting better fast. I think I'm going to be singing Flower of Scotland in Gaelic soon.

So there we have it. Time to bear down and get into competition form for this year, and get the bands finally going.

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