Concerts in a Small Town

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Pete and I have been to a few concerts in and around our small town lately.  We like getting out when we can, and live music is always enjoyable.  Pete doesn’t like going to movies, I think because he loves popcorn, can smell the popcorn, but refuses to pay $7 for said popcorn.  So live music it is.

We saw Joel Plaskett in Collingwood, Ontario (where we live) and again in Meaford, which is an even smaller town half an hour west of us.  I love Joel Plaskett, and he put on a great show, but he seemed a bit off.  His usual banter was muted, and he seemed a bit awkward.  He also seemed completely baffled that he was in Meaford, Ontario.

Photo via joelplaskett.com

We didn’t think much of it at the time, because, again, Joel Plaskett’s music is incredible and he put on a great show.  But then we saw another East Coast act, Sloan, and they explained it all.

The lead singer also seemed weirded out to be in Meaford, and asked questions about it.  How is Meaford pronounced?  What do you do here?  Do you know who we are?

Photo via sloanmusic.com

Then he explained that, usually, when they play small towns, about 25% of the audience are fans of the band.  Another 25% recognize some of their songs from the radio (thanks to CanCon) and enjoy some of the big hits.  And the other 50% have no idea who they are and are just there because that was the only thing going on in town that night.  And those people often sit with arms crossed, staring at the band, making said band feel very uncomfortable.

That explained so much!  Thanks, informative members of Sloan.

Pete and I have since seen 54-40 in concert in Meaford, and they also asked how the town’s name is pronounced (it’s Mee-ford, very straightforward).  They completely acknowledged the weirdness of the situation and had fun with it.  Maybe it’s that laid-back British Columbia attitude.  Or the fact that they’ve been playing together since 1981.  Who knows?

Photo via 5440.com

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This is Not a Banjo

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Pete and I went to a concert on Friday night and something happened that I feel compelled to post about.  Partway through the show, the lead guitarist pulled out a banjo-guitar (or banjitar) and people lost their minds.  I heard a lot of gasps of joy.  I heard people all around saying “oooh, a banjo!” and applauding.

I felt the need to tell Pete “that is not a banjo.”

Photo via Folk of the Wood

A banjitar looks a lot like banjo, with its round head.  It also sounds similar to a five-string banjo in some ways.  But it has the neck of a guitar and is strung like a guitar.  Anyone who plays the guitar can play the banjitar.

Pete could tell I was a little huffy about all this applause over a banjitar, and told me that people just like the sound of the banjo, even if it’s not quite the real thing.

5-String Banjo; photo via Deering Banjos

Point taken.  And the guitarist, who was amazing throughout the concert, was using the banjitar to enhance a song that, in the words of the lead singer was “fasty-folky.”  Fasty-folky music is all the rage right now.

If I seem a little defensive, it’s because I haven’t been playing much lately.  I’ve been trying to prioritize, and banjo-practice has fallen by the wayside.  My poor banjo has been neglected, and I almost feel as though I can’t properly call myself a banjo-player, since I haven’t played in months.

So I’ve decided that to combat this, I’m going to learn a new song once a month and post about it.  I’m hoping that someday I’ll even become technologically adept enough to record myself playing them.

In the meantime, here is a video of Steve Martin and the late, great Earl Scruggs playing one of my favourites:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrlqQ1_vZVE