Tuesday, November 24, 2015

For the Love of Bluegrass

This past Saturday my brother and I went to the Harvest Jam that is put on annually be the Minnesota Bluegrass Old-Time Music Association (MNBOTMA). I've been listening to Bluegrass Saturday Morning for the past few years and really enjoying it, even though my go to music has always been Celtic Folk Music if I were to choose a favorite. I brought my Ukulele so I could join in on the Ukulele jam. I spent a good amount of time wandering around and being my normal introverted self until my brother showed up around noon.

This was a fantastic event, and I'm beginning to think it was a life-changer for me. My favorite way to experience music is sitting around and playing with others. Although I don't know my Uke well enough to sit in on the Jams, I did find out what it will take for me to get there, and there are resources available locally, most notably BUG - the Bluegrass Ukulele Group that meets twice a month. Looks like I'm finally going to be learning a bunch of Bluegrass standards, this time on my Ukulele!

I have also decided that I need to get out and see live music of some kind on a weekly basis. It feeds my spirit to such a great amount, I can hardly believe that I go so long between such outings. With winter coming in, it may not be as often as I would like, but hopefully as often as I need. I will continue practice my instruments on the long, cold dark nights, going to the monthly open mic in Chaska and hopefully writing more songs as well as increasing my Uke Bluegrass skills.

One thing I found rather strange over the day at the Harvest Jam, I did not see a single Mountain Dulcimer or Autoharp at any of the jams or performances. In my own experience, they are hard for others to jam with, but I thought at least one person would show up with them. As I get to know the jammers, hopefully that mystery will be solved. In the meantime, I know I will be going to more events, jams, and shows featuring bluegrass music.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Why? Because I Can

Last night was my second time performing at the Original Works Open Mic at the Dunn Brothers in Chaska. This time I brought my autoharp, and utilized the pick-up for the first time ever. Rosie sounded great plugged in, I was nervous and fumbled on the chord bars a few times, but my vocals were strong and it was really fun.
Kent Hansen playing Original Music at Open Mic night
 My brother Kent leads this and provides the amp and the mic, he has a huge collection of songs he has written, so he was able to both start out the night and bring it on home after I'd had my turn. I had such a good time listening and playing, and was complimented on my singing so that makes me feel very happy. A friend of my brother's said I should record an album and he will sell my CD's for me at the coffee shop while I'm singing!

Since I first took up the Autoharp six years ago, making music has been my happy place. The fall of 2009 was my first Fall Music Party, and I could only kind of play two songs and I was incredibly nervous to play them even to my friends and family in my own living room. Fear is the mind killer, and I have been chipping away at my stage fright a little bit at a time ever since. My favorite way to experience music is in a circle with other players, so we can all play together. While I really appreciate those who are devoted to performing their music, and I love listening to great performers, I'm coming to it reluctantly myself. But now that I'm writing songs, I really want to share them, and I love love love singing so much that I'll sing the songs that I love the most for others.

It's a busy music month for me, which began with my Fall Music Party on Saturday the 7th which was a ton of fun. We started the night earlier than usual, because if I had my way, everyone would stay and play all night. Alas, it was not to be, as my players all drove quite a distance for the party, the last of the music ended just before midnight. Still, a good time was had by all, and we had a photographer in our midst, who caught me doing what I love to do.

This morning while I was drinking my coffee, I started contemplating why I do this. After all, I have no desire to have a career at this, no ambitions to be a performer at all. I just love music so much, and I love telling story with song. What came to me was that I make music because I can. Life is too short, and I intend to fill mine with music. At some point I might want to throw my creative juices toward recording an album, because it sounds like a fun and rewarding project to me. For now I am in my happy place, and just last night I got another melody for a new song while I drove home from Chaska. My muse is taking me places I never thought I'd go, and it's a very good thing.