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!

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