Sunday, October 12, 2008


Sigur Rós banjo jam session. My dream was not like this.

(I think the desire to blog my dreams is allowing me to remember them, which is both fortuitous and rather pathetic.)

I was at a bluegrass/folk music jam session where everyone was supposed to bring a song to share with the others. Whenever it got to someone's turn, They would invariably go on "Oh, I am so terrible! This song is so out of my league! Please excuse my clumsy fingers! OK, this is in F-sharp minor Phrygian, waltz time." and then would flawlessly execute an eight-minute impossibly intricate banjo or mandolin tornado, coyly apologizing for "totally butchering" the song afterwards.

(This is a rather accurate portrait of how these kinds of jam sessions go.)

I had not brought a song and like the others, was not kidding about how lousy a player I was. My turn was approaching and I flipped through a newspaper sitting there and found a song for beginners in it called "A Reggi Notti." I asked leaned into the guy next to me ans quietly asked "Is this an easy one?" and he loudly replied "Oh yeah, but you can't play that on a greenhorn banjo! You'll snap the neck! You'll have to soak the banjo in turpentine for about six weeks, changing the strings every four days, then work on just that first part for at least a month while the banjo dries out....." (I don't remember if I actually had a banjo, or any instrument at this thing.) Another piped in, "Oh yeah, but make sure you control the moisture in the room the banjo is kept. I'd soak it for nine weeks just to be sure...." and this went on and on with the ridiculous lengths that these musicians would proclaim one must go through before playing this beginner's piece.

(This is only a slightly exaggerated account of one of these sessions.)

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