Over the weekend between lessons and shows, I added to my growing instrument brood. It’s mostly a 1938 Bacon & Day Silver Bell – Serenader tenor banjo. Something this old can’t be expected to have all of it’s original parts. Heck, I have friends younger than this that have a few upgrades in them. Nonetheless, it sounds and plays great thanks to George Youngblood and Brian Wolfe at Acoustic Music in Guilford, CT. I’ll be playing ‘Good News’ at Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam next month and I’m sure they’ll love the fact that I’m playing on a period instrument.
My other banjo is 5-string Gold Tone and I had the pleasure of playing it in Westport at Green’s Farms Church on Sunday. Together with some local pros in the area we played selections from Carol Barnett’s The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass. Nice piece and a great, welcoming place to play. Beat out the fact that needed to be up before dawn after playing the night before on Daylight Savings weekend. No, that’s not complaining, but merely stating the facts. A little Starbucks dark roast and some great musicians can chase away the cobwebs.
Last but not least, Spirit of Broadway’s Convenience opened this week. It’s nice to work with ‘the band’ again. Once we get a sense of the book, it doesn’t take long to tighten it all up. Though once again, I got another book with impossibilities of the guitar. Couple that with ludicrous page turns and I feel like someone out there really wants to make sure I earn my money. ‘Print parts’ does not mean it will be good, people. You’ve got to proof this stuff!
and I find myself playing almost all of the instruments on my wall. The end of January found me in Bridgeport playing acoustic and electric guitars for Bridgeport Theater Co. in ‘Next to Normal’. Loved doing that show. The cast and crew were great. I thought I was playing with a professional company based on the caliber of production. Community theater? not for long BTC. We got snowed out the last weekend but got to make it up a week later. And I’ll admit, I get a little choked up during that show. Powerful stuff.
Then it was onto tenor banjo and the jazz box for Goodspeed’s 50th anniversary concert with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. Do you know what it’s like to play on the same stage as so many luminaries have throughout the last several decades? Truly a special occasion to play with a magnificent group of musicians. Well, there’s that and the fact that I played at Goodspeed in ’99 for ‘Man of La Mancha’ (also on the program). Talk about coming full circle.
Here’s where things start overlapping. Same weekend started rehearsals for ‘Legally Blonde’ in Old Lyme. Acoustic & electric guitars with mandolin on this one. To my surprise, it was orchestrated by a college buddy of mine. He maintains that he didn’t do the final guitar book. There’s stuff in there that is IMPOSSIBLE to play on guitar. I tend to believe someone else got to it after he did. Stuff easily played on guitar doesn’t always work on keyboard, and vice versa. With the quality of guitar patches and ease of synthesizer, it’s no wonder they hand these books off to a keyboard player. Yeah but just try getting a strummed sound. See? You still need us.
As that show wrapped up, it’s off to Norwich for Spirit of Broadway’s next show: “Convenience”. Playing acoustic and electric guitars on this one. Always a pleasure to play here. Another house of great cast, crew and orchestra. On Sunday, I’ll sneak in another gig before the matinee in Norwich. I’ll be playing 5-string banjo in Westport for some excerpts from ‘The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass”. All these tunings are a challenge to keep straight, to be sure.
My arrangement for solo guitar.
My arrangement for solo guitar.
My arrangement, with Celeste Cumming on cello.