Wednesday, June 27, 2007


To move a barrow or two
of earth is no great deal;
shovel it in here,
dump it over there,
wipe the grit from your brow.

The sun will be high soon –
a barrow or two of dirt,
that’s all, and then the cool
satisfaction of lemons
and ice and kitchen chairs.

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Seen the Paul McCartney video, the one where he's strumming the mandolin? It caught my attention because I've been playing around with mando myself in recent months. I'll never be a mandolin virtuoso by any stretch, but it's an interesting different sound for me, so I'll probably keep on strumming it myself.

And maybe attempt some simple lead, even. However, it won't be traditional mando because I decided I didn't need to learn to work with a completely different tuning -- not that I didn't try the standard (G-D-A-E). No, I've chosen to settle on what I would call ukulele tuning, G-C-E-A; essentially, like the four high strings on a guitar, taken up a good bit. Lets me take my guitar licks, such as they are, right over to the smaller instrument. With smallish hands, it's not a problem. I could see guys with big fingers having trouble fitting those patterns to the smaller fretboard.

Since I chose to use that tuning on the mandolin, I figured I might as well use the same for my mini-banjo (a Nechville 'Banjovie'). I had been playing it in open C, so it's really only a matter of raising the highest string from G to A. I can switch back and forth between the tunings on either instrument (and play slide mandolin, a la Bettina Makley?), if I feel the need for something different, but I suspect I will stick with the uke sound.

Yeah, I like that Vaudville vibe. I guess that's something I've in common with Sir Paul, eh? I might purchase a true banjolele one of these days and do a George Formby imitation. Or maybe see how uke strings would work on the Banjovie. In the mean time, I'm practicing 'Winchester Cathedral' on it. Need to work on the kazoo solo....

Now for something completely different: James and James news. Mary and Frank may be the Fla Folk Fest in November after all, as their other gig for that date has been canceled. Phone calls to the organizers have been positive(though they missed the official cut off point by a day) but we'll wait for the paper work to go through before making any 'for sure' announcements. If they are there, I'll probably be camping with them. If they end up not playing, I'll still try to be there!

Friday, June 08, 2007


It's been well over a month since MSN 'improved' their Live Spaces so that folks with alternative browsers can't see them, much less work on their own pages. What good is a Space when 10% or so of the people who follow a link there can't even access the page?

Therefore, I have deleted my Paint Spattered art blog there. I don't need this. I'll find another place and put up links. One that likes SeaMonkey!
I've thought that the Insolent Lads (which of course is only me at the moment) should have a theme song, so here are some lyrics in that direction. Think pseudo-Irish. There are very likely to be revisions and/or additions to the verses and they would not be run straight through as written here; this is the sort of thing that is intended to have plenty of instrumental breaks, repeated verses and choruses and so on.


Here we are now, all together,
Our raucous flock, birds of a feather!
A band of insolent lads are we –
Ourselves is all that we could be!

We raise our voices, raise our glasses,
Flirt with all the pretty lasses,
Charm like drunken diplomats,
Sing like love-sick alley cats!

Break out the fiddles and pour the beer,
Tell everyone the lads are here!
A drink for me and my comrades,
For we are the insolent lads!

Some dangle a line for fish a-swimmin’,
Some have a line to catch the women!
We hold their hands, gaze in their eyes,
But never, ever tell them lies! (Oh, no!)

We’ll never back down from a fight,
But we prefer to dance all night!
Either way, just bring it on –
We’ve hours yet until the dawn!

Break out the fiddles and pour the beer,
Tell everyone the lads are here!
A drink for me and my comrades,
For we are the insolent lads!

Stephen Brooke ©2007

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Today, the hole in me
is a slow leak.

I await the hour
when nothing is left.

Cup your hands for me
as I seep out.

Stephen Brooke ©2007