It’s Drying Time Again

That was no typo in the title of this post. I did not mean It’s Cryin’ Time Again…

I’ve completed all the paintings for my April exhibition at Yumart and now it’s dryin’ time. Those of you who know my paintings know I use plenty of paint so I gave myself a deadline of the end of February to finish painting. Now the last of them has over a month for the oil paint to dry. That should be plenty of time to dry the surface, although in some of the thicker impasto areas, it will take a lot longer for them to thoroughly dry right through.

No Regrets 2015
No Regrets 2015

Some painters have no patience for the slow drying time of oil paints and either take measures to speed the drying or work with quick-drying media like acrylics. There have been times when I’ve worked with acrylics but these days I’ve been painting exclusively with oils.

I try to take advantage of the drying time. I work in sessions and during each session I work wet in wet but I usually take several days between bouts of painting so at the beginning of each session I’m working on a more or less dry surface. I also let paint dry on my palette because at different stages in the drying process that paint acts differently when I paint with it. I pay a lot of attention to surface quality, character and texture in my paintings.

Howard Hodgkin Powerhouse exhibition at the Aga Khan Museum

Howard Hodgkin

Looking for something to do this weekend – or next?  Take a few hours and explore the Aga Khan Museum which includes this stunning show.Aga Khan Feb 1

8 blistering works by Hodgkin +Visions Of Mughal India: The Collection of Howard Hodgkin

“In Indian painting I have found much that for me could be found nowhere else, but I cannot tell you what – I can only metaphorically wave my arms at the pictures – and say look!” – Howard HodgkinAga Khan Feb 2(directly above/below other works to discover while visiting the museum including – tile relief displays and a work from an Iranian 1550-1559 Folio ‘a Fal Nameh’ .  The ground floor of the museum showcases treasures from the permanent collection of the Aga Khan Museum. )   Aga Khan Feb3Aga Khan Feb 5The outdoor grounds of the museum also look promising when the plantings are unveiled and begin to bloom.

Stop by the cafe for fresh, delicate baklava before you leave this slice of paradise.

Iris DeMent

Iris DeMenta piano, a guitar, go ahead and go home, fluevog shoes, russian poetry in song, opening with mornin’ glory, chats about the weather, waitresses, clinking of plates, gospel and funeral songs. All seamlessly needle and threaded together by Iris DeMent last night.

Happy Birthday Memphis

Our lovely Landseer Memphis turns 6 today.

Memphis 2015
Memphis 2015
The mischievous pup
The mischievous pup
She's always loved the water
She’s always loved the water
with her pal Jacques
with her pal Jacques
Goofing around with Max
Goofing around with Max

Iris DeMent Tonight!

Iris DeMent is playing Hugh’s Room tonight! We’re meeting my sister Susan and her husband Peter there for dinner and the show. Can’t wait! In case there is anybody out there who doesn’t know Ms. DeMent’s music, here’s a taste…

Tuffy P has a blog…

Sheila Gregory, who many 27th Street visitors know as the fantastic Tuffy P, has a blog. Initially it was a place she could send people who wanted to look at images of her paintings. Recently though, she has started a series of photo posts she calls The Left Overs.

Please take a few minutes to pop over for a visit and say hi!

Forked Deer

A fiddle tune is like a cool drink of ice water – always welcome here at 27th Street. Here’s Spencer Branch playing the Forky Deer. Check out the way Kelley Breiding attacks the tune on clawhammer. Wow!

Spencer Branch do songs too, not just tunes. Here’s Black Widow Lady

Martha Spencer appears in this trio as well as in the Whitetop Mountaineers and in The Whitetop Mountain Band. Picking is a family business for the Spencers.

Good Morning Long Branch from Anchovy World Headquarters this morning 7:39 am

George Feb 25 Bruce Feb 25Georgie and Bruce listening to Mister Anchovy playing the banjo this morning on 27th Street.

Books I never got around to reading

I enjoy reading and while I’m not as voracious a reader as some people I know, most years I read several novels  sprinkled with a healthy dose of non-fiction. Still there are a lot of great books out there I’ve meant to read along the way, but just haven’t got around to. Then of course new books come along to catch my interest.

Sometimes I read slowly, especially if it is a long and complex novel. I like to savour the tone, hear the cadence, relish every second of my experience in that world. And yet there are times I’ll gallop through books, hardly putting them down until I reach the final page.

Sometimes it seems there is a “right time” for me to read certain books. I can think of a number of novels I’ve had in front of me that I couldn’t settle into, only to gobble them down a few years later.  My reading choices are eclectic and I bounce in all directions from book to book. .

Until a year or two ago, I had never read anything by Mordecai Richler. How could that be? I rectified that by digging into the fantastic Solomon Gursky was Here. What a great book that was! And now I just read The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. Oh that Duddy – I admired his drive and his ingenuity but he was so caught up in his quest for land it blinded him, rendering him incapable of caring for the important people in his life.  What a setting too, Montreal in the 40s, a city divided along wealth and ethnic lines, and Sainte-Agathe where young Duddy the waiter dreams of being a landowner, remembering the words of his grandfather – a man without land is nobody.

Now I’ll go back to my list of books I plan to read, and books others have suggested I read and maybe I’ll tackle one of those next, or perhaps I’ll stumble into the work of an author I’ve never even heard of before.


Tuning Tangle

Old Time banjo players use a number of different tunings as a matter of course, compared to bluegrass pickers who typically use one standard tuning and do all their work within that.

First you have your basic G tuning, and if you capo up to the 2nd fret and tune or spike your 5th string up to A from G, you have A tuning.

There is Double C tuning, which is handy for quite a lot of fiddle tunes. If you capo up in that tuning, you get to Double C capo 2 or Double D tuning.

Then there is Sawmill tuning, used for modal tunes. It is also called G modal or with the capo on 2, A modal. Sometimes it’s called mountain modal, just because.

Most clawhammer players familiarize themselves with the tunings I mentioned above and so they learn three sets of fingering (if you use a capo, the fingering stays the same).

Last year at banjo camp I learned a couple tunes in Standard C tuning. That looks like G tuning except you tune the 4th string down a full step.  Again with the capo, you have Standard D tuning. I’ve been learning Arkansas Traveler in Standard D.

Beyond this it starts getting both confusing and interesting because there are in fact dozens of old time banjo tunings that have been used in this musical tradition. Some of them are named after certain tunes such as Sandy River Belle tuning and Cumberland Gap tuning. Of course there are multiple tunings that go by the same names just to be confusing. One player’s Cumberland Gap tuning is another player’s Sandy River Belle tuning.

Here is what is likely a partial list of old time banjo tunings. This is from the Zepp website. There are a staggering number of possibilities. I wonder if there is anyone out there who can play something in all of them?