Summer Wages

I could listen to David Bromberg sing  Summer Wages 100 times in a row and never get bored. Once in a while I like to have a look on the YouTube machine to see if there’s a version I’ve missed.

Let’s not forget it was written by Ian Tyson. Here he is with Sylvia and Emmylou Harris…

I recall being at that show back in the day. It was an “Ian and Sylvia Reunion” show. I think it was filmed at Canada’s Wonderland. The show was set up for TV, complete with big cue cards. I came to know Ian Tyson’s music in the early 80s and not from the Ian and Sylvia days. I finished university back in 83 and I was restless. I had a car that ran pretty well and a little bit of cash (back in those days, getting a university education wasn’t the expensive proposition it is today), and I took off for the west for a few months before facing the prospect of balancing making paintings and making ends meet. Radio stations in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and Alberta were playing tunes from an album of cowboy tunes by Ian Tyson called Old Corrals and Sagebrush. I suppose it was his re-emergence into the music scene singing cowboy songs. For me it was just what the doctor ordered and I cranked the volume and listened to cowboy music across the prairies.

Chanterelle Omelet

IMG_1724First go to a forest and forage around until you gather a basket of primo chanterelles. If you find a few hedgehog and lobster mushrooms and an bolete or two, no problem. It’s all good.

Clean your mushrooms then saute them in a little vegetable oil. The mushrooms will release fluid and then take it up again. At that point they’ll start to colour up nicely.

Crack 3 eggs, add a splash of milk, and beat them for a minute with a fork. Add the eggs to the mushrooms. While the omelet cooks, grate a little hard cheese. I carefully chose the only hard cheese in the fridge. Use what you like. IMG_1725Sprinkle on a few hot chiles and grind some fresh pepper and add a pinch of salt.

IMG_1728Meanwhile, put some bread in the toaster. You’ll want some toast. Open a cool beer. Fold the omelet and slide it onto a plate. Serve with toast. You could chop up some chives or a little parsley and sprinkle it on top. If you squeeze a little ketchup on top, I won’t tell anyone.

Salad Bowl Banjos

My friend Jamie and I are working together on two salad bowl banjos, one for each of us. Jamie started by turning the first bowl.

IMG_1718It’s going to be a pretty big pot – about 12 inches. He’s also fashioned a nice tailpiece from antler. Jamie dropped those elements over here the other day. I’m starting the neck this week. It’s going to be ash with an ebony fingerboard. I also have the piece of wood to the left in the photo. I’m not sure what it is. It comes from the offcuts bin at Exotic Woods in Burlington Ontario. I bought it because I thought it would be good for making banjo bridges. Now I’m thinking I might also face the peg-head with this too.

The construction will be similar to a gourd banjo. The neck will have a “dowel stick” that will extend through the salad bowl. Shaping the neck is a good deal of work but but fairly straightforward as it is not highly intricate. The challenge I think will be getting the holes in the salad bowl just right so the neck fits in at exactly the correct angle. The nut will be bone (I have some for the purpose) and the pegs will be ebony violin pegs. I have a bunch of those on hand.

The head of the banjo will be goat skin. It will be stretched over the bowl in a similar manner to gourd banjos, using upholstery nails. I sourced the ones we want today and will pick them up this week.

We don’t know if the bowl will need sound holes or not. I suspect the answer is likely yes, but we don’t have to commit to them just yet. First there is lots of work to do on the neck. We also have to decide on a peg-head shape. That decision will have to happen soon.

I’ll post progress reports as this project comes together.


Since becoming somewhat obsessed with clawhammer banjo, I’ve been posting mostly what we call “Old Time” music on this blog. Some readers will remember it wasn’t always that way around this joint.

I’d like to feature some Basque music tonight, and in particular music made on the Alboka. It’s a very unique instrument….check it out:

Here’s another Alboka piece, this time with tambourine.

Two-row diatonic button accordion was added to the tradition later on, and I think that instrument and the tambourine became the more dominant instrumentation.



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