Tuesday, October 18, 2005


This past weekend was a gig-free weekend, which is nice every once in a while. My wife and I had a great time celebrating our anniversary. Last Wednesday I played at the Milwaukee Farmer's Market. It was an enjoyable way to spend a weekday morning, even though it was a grey, drizzly day.

So, I've recently been revisiting a tune that I started learning back in the Spring on the dulcimer. It's a musette composed by jazz accordianist, Richard Galliano, entitled "Beritwaltz". For those who aren't familiar, a musette is a sort of French cafe melody, usually in waltz time, usually with three parts. I think (feel free to correct me) that the first and second parts are typically minor, and then the third part jumps gleefully into a major key. Anyway, this tune in particular is exciting because it slips in and out of 6/8 and 3/4 time signatures rather effortlessly creating a cool poly-rhythmic illusion. Those who know I grew up playing drums can imagine why this appeals to me. I've always been a big fan of odd time signatures and creative ways to play with time. This also explains my love for Les Aires Tordus Quebecois.

In other news, I'll be guest hosting a Celtic music radio show with Jonathan Whitall on WHPK radio, Sunday 10/23 at 9PM. It's 88.5 FM if you happen to be within blocks of the Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago (not much in the wattage dept. from what I understand). Should be a good time, spinning some rare stuff from Quebec and more.

I will be sending out a show update on my email list soon. Hope to see you all soon!!

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Sunday, October 09, 2005


We (Donnybrook) just played at Fado Irish Pub in Chicago last night. It was, as usual, a really fun, rowdy crowd. It seems that every time we play there, the night gets crazy toward the end. Last night was no exception, thanks in part to our pal Declan from Galway and many others.

The last hour of the night, which ended around 1:30AM, we played two sets of tunes, one about 20 minutes and the other at least a half hour, maybe longer. There were more people dancing than I've ever seen at a Donnybrook show. Harkened me sentimentally back to my ole punk rock days, to be honest with you. There is absolutely nothing more enjoyable for a musician than to play music to a crowd of people dancing there patooties off. It's a very surreal experience.

So, in those last, long couple of sets, Jonathan and I traded off on the piano quite a bit. He'd play fiddle while I played piano, then we'd switch tunes and he'd play piano with me on whistle, all without stopping. I doubt the crowd even noticed all the switching, as they were pretty engrossed in their boogie.

At some point my hands had pretty much become a pair of useless clubs with which I was banging the piano. Now, mind you, I'm not much of a piano player. So, at some point we switched to a tune in E minor, and I realized I don't really know the key of e minor on the piano. So I took to simply banging out a rhythm on a single 'E' note.

I write all this to say that as I type, my thumb hurts!!

Last nights fun, to be sure.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Pumpkin Pancakes

I've just finished a stretch of several weekends playing gigs out of town. The last two weekends were with Donnybrook and the McNulty School of Irish Dance. These have been wonderful concerts, playing to audiences of 400-500 people.

Actually, the theme of this past weekend seemed to be 'the falling instruments'. Early in the concert, while singing (not playing an instrument), out of the corner of my eye I noticed my dulcimer sliding off the riser we were standing on. The leg of the stand must have slowly crept to the edge due to the vibrations of the music. I'm proud to say I caught it before it completely collapsed and didn't miss a single lyric in the song.

Before all that (during sound-check), Jonathan had a 'fiddle incident' when his fiddle fell off of the piano landing on the strings, thus, breaking all the strings in a dramatic display (sound included). Fortunately one of the stage guys had a violin at home to assist in string replacement.

While out-of-town gigs are always fun, I am looking forward to some 'home' time. In fact, it being autumn and all, I'm hoping to pick up some pumpkins and start cooking.

Here's my secret recipe for pumpkin pancakes. You've got to use fresh pumpkin, none of that canned (oompah-loompah colored) stuff. You have to cook the fresh pumpkin first, but well worth this extra step. This recipe yields a pretty moist flapjack, which is a matter of taste. You might want to use less pumpkin if you don't like it so wet, but I advise against it. It reduces the scrumptous factor significantly. Let me know if you try the recipe. Enjoy:

1C Flour
1/4 C Whole Wheat flour
3T Brown Sugar
1.5 t Baking Powder
1/4 t salt
Lots of ground cloves
A little nutmeg & Cinnamon

1/2 C Milk
1T Oil
1/2 t Vanilla
1 Egg
1 C Pumpkin

Mix dry ingredients well. fold in wet ingredients. Should be lumpy don't mix too much. Let it sit in the bowl for about ten minutes (I'm not sure why, but this helps...I think it gives the baking powder time to act). Get 'em on the griddle.

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