I have three completely unrelated things to tell you about today. The first is absolutely non-bluegrass and non-banjo related. You must watch Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. It is the creation of Joss Whedon (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) and his brothers. It is brilliant. You can get it on for $3.99, and I promise, it will be the best four bucks you spend today. Possibly the best four bucks you spend this month.
Next, The Murphy Method and FiddleStar are teaming up to sponsor a camp in Nashville on September 25-28, 2008 (just before the IBMA convention). All instruments will be offered---Casey is teaching banjo. This is the first ever Murphy-Method-sponsored camp event. More details will be forthcoming, but you might want to seriously consider coming. It will be more fun that you can even imagine, and there will probably be some clogging...
And lastly, my report from the weekend picking party that Murphy told you about Monday, and that Red will tell you more about tomorrow. At said party I was playing mostly fiddle, my worst instrument, by far (well, actually, followed pretty closely by the mandolin). Murphy and I were playing some fiddle tunes at a slowish pace, accompanied on guitar by her sister Argen, and then Tuck Tucker (Dobro player who used to play with Red and Murphy and Company). Gradually we attracted more people to our little session until we got to a point where the jam clearly out-stripped my fiddle abilities, but I just kept on holding it and playing what I could and chopping the rest of the time.
Now, apparently when I'm holding a fiddle I LOOK like I know what I'm doing (so I've been told). At the party was a great bluegrass fiddler named Randall Collins. He was checking out our little session, taking a break from his own high-powered jam at the other end of the pavilion. He was observing us from the edge of the circle and said to me, "Fiddle one," or something to that effect. We'd already played all the tunes I knew, so I chose to repeat "Arkansas Traveler," one of my best (if I do say so myself). Part way through the tune he leans over and says, "Keep playing, I'll get my fiddle," or something to that effect. I thought, "Oh, no," because I could see exactly where this was headed. I was fairly sure it had more to do with the fact that I was wearing shorts and a snug t-shirt than with my fiddling.
He came back and asked what tune we could play together. Desperately, I called "Turkey in the Straw," and kicked it off. About half-way through the first A-part I could see Randall register the fact that I am not a very good fiddle player. It went around the circle once. When it ended he asked in a bit of a shell-shocked manner, "Is there another one you want to do?" I answered, "I've played all I know," and he quickly extricated himself from the situation. I thought the scenario was a fine demonstration of why we call our little jam group "At Least We're Hot." Clearly being hot can fool a lot of people, and it makes up for a multitude of things, including lack of skill on your particular instrument.