What I can do with a guitar

As I have previously squeed about, O Internets, I just had a delightful time scampering up to BC again to see De Temps Antan! This time though there were specific opportunities to make musical noises myself in a house that happened to contain three of my favorite musicians–even aside from André’s workshop, there was also the after-concert session, and I did in fact wind up making noises on both my flutes and my guitar.
Trust me when I tell you that the prospect of making musical noises of my own in any room that contains these boys is simultaneously deeply exciting and nerve-wracking! I’m comfier on my flutes since those are my native instrument–so that did help. And so did the knowledge that I had the General with me. Because you better believe that if I was going to show up in Éric Beaudry’s proximity with a guitar, I was going to bring the good guitar.
Not that I actually played in the same room as Éric, and I don’t really have enough play-by-ear fu yet to be the backup guitar for a full roaring session. But I did wind up hanging out in one of the other rooms while I was chatting with Aussie Ian, and noodled around a lot on various songs I know. Because as will surprise none of you, I get the General in my hands, I start playing Great Big Sea.
And if you want to have an idea of what else I’m likely to do with a guitar in my hands, here now though is a roundup of Stuff I Can Do With the Guitar.
Continue reading “What I can do with a guitar”

Une histoire de canards

Et maintenant, une p’tite histoire, pour pratiquer mon français. Plusieurs de mes amis peuvent reconnaître cette histoire, parce que j’ai raconté cette histoire avant en anglais. Comme toujours, je vous invite tous à me dire où je fais des erreurs dans ma grammaire!

Mon père a dit toujours à moi que pendant mon enfance, parmi mes premières mots ont été, “Jouez plus d’Elvis, Papa!” C’est plausible, ça. J’ai beaucoup de mémoires d’écoutant des disques de Elvis Presley avec lui, et j’ai vraiment adoré.

D’autre part, ceci était le même père que dit à moi que je fis des sons comme un canard devant j’ai appris à parler.

Duck-Obsessed Little Blonde Kid
Duck-Obsessed Little Blonde Kid

Il a dit qu’il et ses frères ont aimé dire à moi, “Les chasseurs de canards viennent!” Ils faisaient semblant de viser fusils sur moi et faire des bruits BANG. Et moi, j’ai ri beaucoup et s’enfuis à travers la chambre.

Entre-temp, ma mère a été là, et elle insistait très fortement, “MA FILLE NE FAIT DES BRUITS DE CANARD.”

Et moi, j’ai dit, “Coin-coin!”

En 2001 mon père a décedé, et j’ai pris l’avion au Kentucky pour les funérailles. Ma famille s’est réunie à la maison de mon frère. J’étais là dans la cuisine de mon frère, et mon oncle Larry, je n’avais pas vu depuis quinze ans, entra.

Le premiere chose qu’il a me dit a été, “Sais-tu que tu ressembles exactement ta mère?”

Et le deuxiemes chose qu’il a me dit? “Sais-tu que tu as fait des bruits de canard quand tu as été un enfant?”

Aux funérailles, mon autre oncle Marion est venu sur moi. Il a dit aussi à moi, “Sais-tu que tu as fait des bruits de canard quand tu as été un enfant?” Et chaque fois que j’ai pleuré durant les funérailles, il se pencha vers moi et a dit, “Coin-coin!”

Ceci, mes amis d’Internet, est ma histoire de canards!

For the record, I have indeed seen this

A couple of people have asked me already if I’ve seen this video of 16-year-old David Thibault in Quebec, covering Elvis’ “Blue Christmas”. So before anybody else does, yep, seen it!
To my ear, the kid sounds like he’s trying just a little too hard to mimic Elvis’ accent and vocal mannerisms, which isn’t exactly his fault–I make that objection about most Elvis impersonators I hear. In his particular case, he’s crossing a language barrier here too. So I cut a lot of slack for that.
And he does have great resonance to his voice, and the overall quality of it is definitely Elvis-like. I’d love to hear him try something backing off just a tad on the accent, then he’d be spot on. Alternately, I’d love to hear him sing something in his natural accent, just to spook me right out and make me wonder when the hell Elvis got resurrected in Quebec. ;)
And if he REALLY wants to combine more of my musical interests, he should play the bouzouki!
+10 as well for the reaction of the lady at the mike. I’m pretty sure I actually understood her crying “t’es incroyable!”–i.e., “you’re incredible”. \0/

Yeah, I’ve seen this plot before

My alarm clock has a long and glorious history of jolting me out of dreams before they get to the really good part. This morning, it interrupted my subconscious just as it was trying to, of all things, act out an Elvis movie!

Now as you know, Bob Internets, I have seen many an Elvis movie in my time. I know how these plots work. And this one was set up perfectly: it had poor-and-broody-and-honest Elvis competing with slightly-skeevy-rich-boy, played in this particular movie by Brendan Fraser, competing for my affections. When the alarm clock went off I distinctly remember that Rich Boy had just given me a Kindle Fire and was trying to get me to agree to watch a bunch of anime with him. I was in the middle of protesting that not only did I have two ereaders already, but he’d also set up the Kindle with my actual Amazon account. Which I had not given him access to. (C.f. the ‘skeevy’ part of the character archetype here!)

I also remember a scene just before that bit, where I was out on a dock with Elvis’ character, and we were having the obligatory initial Bonding With Each Other Over Shared Background scene. I was making rueful commentary about my background with my father. But since this was indeed early in the plot, Elvis’ character got cranky at me, thinking I was making commentary about his father. (Boy howdy, do I know how these plots work. >:D)

I am somewhat disgruntled that we never got to the part where Elvis wins the day (and by day I mean girl, and by girl I mean me) when I get to overhear him belting out a suitably mournful love song. In fact, Elvis didn’t get to sing anything in this dream before I woke up. Which I suppose was my brain trying to follow the Murkworks Law of Elvis Movie Quality, i.e., that the quality of any given Elvis movie is inversely proportional to the number of songs in it (unless that movie is King Creole).

Well played, brain. Next time, though, if you really want to up the ante, make the rival another musician, and make him Quebecois. And have Elvis whip out a bouzouki.

Alan Doyle kills me DED FROM SWOON, 5/22/2012

Those Francophone boys I’ve fallen in love with these past many months may have been heavily distracting me, but I’m tellin’ ya, people, when it comes to downright ability to take me right out at the knees, The Doyle Himself is still unparalleled. I still prefer him in the company of Great Big Sea, just because the classic style of GBS music–i.e., the irrepressible, roar-at-the-top-of-your-lungs trad–is more my thing than his solo style.
But that said, Alan Doyle by himself is still pretty damned swoonable, and we did have great fun at the Tractor last night. Dara and I got up by the stage, right in front of Alan’s mike, along with fellow fangirls Jaime and Sara. I’d never been to a show at the Tractor Tavern before, and it was an amazing switch from what I’m used to these days, with Great Big Sea playing the Moore.
Alan’s opening act was this young man named Dustin Bentall, and he was good, but I was more actively impressed by Kendall Carson, the fiddle player who first played with him and then with Alan’s full band. She was GREAT.
Then of course Alan came out and we all went nuts. I’m still getting to know the material on his new album, so except when he jumped over to do a few Great Big Sea songs, I was mostly singing along on what choruses I could pick up. Until he got to the part of the show when he was taking Twitter requests. Of which there were three.
I, being, well, me, asked him for “Trois Navires de Ble” (because yeah, spot the girl in this audience who’s been passionately absorbing French Canadian music the last many months, wut?) or “alternately, anything by Elvis” (because I’ve been dying for years to hear Alan sing something by him). Dara, being Dara, promptly decided to ALSO ask for “anything by Elvis”, and got Jaime and Sara to do so too, just so we could twitterbomb Alan in the hopes of getting him to make a joke about it.
We didn’t expect him to actually take us up on it. He made a wry crack about how “there was some collusion” in the audience, at which point the four of us all shrieked happily.
And then this happened. And I died DED OF SWOON. This is Lynda Elstad’s video of the full song.

And THIS is Dara’s version, which is much grainier and isn’t the full song, but DOES have cuts to me for reaction shots of OMG OMG OMG OMG. Note how I keep biting my hand. This is because I’m trying desperately not to squeal at the top of my lungs, or maybe trying to keep from dropping dead RIGHT THERE ON THE SPOT, because O. M. G., Internets, Alan Doyle sang “Can’t Help Falling in Love” because we asked him to.

Sara and Jaime shoved me right up in front of them–I’d been standing behind them up until this point–and kept holding my arms to make sure I wasn’t about to keel over. They and Dara told me after that my eyes were HUGE.
The rest of the show, it was great and all (and I DID quite like Alan’s cover of Russell Crowe’s song “Testify”, which was rockin’), but none of it topped this: being right in front of Alan’s mike as he crooned an Elvis song. And not just any Elvis song–the seminal, most swoonable, most iconic Elvis song ever. And I sang harmony back at him, because good gods how could I not? And my eyes were full of stars.
ETA: And I had to add in a couple other comments about the show as I remembered them, just because for reasons I can’t get into yet aside from this show, THIS WEEK HAS BEEN AWESOME and my brain is quite scattered!
Awesome thing #1: Alan kept having trouble tuning his mandolin, and made a joke about how ‘I LOVE WATCHING PEOPLE TUNE THEIR INSTRUMENTS!’ Dara yelled back at him, “We tune because we care!” And he heard her and agreed, “We tune because we care!”
Awesome thing #2: Alan also kept making charmingly self-deprecating jokes about how as we were the very first show of the very first tour of the Alan Doyle Band, we got to see all the screwups and “the terror in our eyes”, and how in four or five more shows they’d get everything right, but we were getting all the good stuff. Also he kept repeating how “there’s only one first night!” When he joked about wondering “oh God what have I done?”, a guy in the audience yelled back, “Something awesome!” And Alan was all “I feel the love in the room!”
Awesome thing #3: Being that close to Alan meant I got a good look at the guitar strap he was using, a leather one, with his name embroidered on it in green down near where it connected with the neck of his guitar! And it was pretty cool seeing him play mandolin, even if I lamented the lack of his usual bouzouki.
Awesome thing #4: At the end of the show, Alan looked out at us all and said he saw several familiar faces, all of us who’ve loyally come to Great Big Sea shows. (heart) (heart)

Let me sing for you the songs of my people

I’ve mentioned before that something I ardently respond to in both Quebecois and Newfoundland trad music is how many of the bands and singers I’m following have learned their music from their parents, who learned it from their parents, etc. I.e., they grew up with this music, and it was woven into their lives so deeply that it made them who they are. Their love for it shines through brilliantly in their performances.
Devon Léger quite correctly pointed out to me that Americans are not without such traditions–you just need to know where to look for them. Certainly many American Celtic or folk or country performers are fortunate enough to have that same sort of background, too, and classical performers as well. Those of us in the science fiction folk music community, filk, have some small rumblings of this too. Filk hasn’t really quite been around long enough to have songs handed down from one generation to the next, but I have met people who are doing it, and it’s really cool of them. (I am thinking specifically of you, !)
In the bigger picture of American society, though, people getting together and making music just for the joy of making music is not so much of a thing. This is why I’m so very delighted to have discovered both Irish and Quebecois sessions, and it’s why I linger on the edges of filk circles as well; it’s all part of the same idea.
I had a delightful little epiphany last night, too: all that Elvis Presley music my dad played for me on the stereo when I was a kid is absolutely generational handing down of music. And I’ve actually done it too–playing Great Big Sea songs for and ‘s kid Lillian!
So the next time you hear me say “Let me sing for you the song of my people”, I’ll be about to belt out “Hound Dog”. Or “Ordinary Day”. Or maybe now also “Dans le ville de Paris”, or “Re: Your Brains”.
Because no matter where you’re from, Quebec or Newfoundland or Kentucky or any filk circle in any science fiction convention in the world, if you love music, and you get up and you share it with those around you, you are my people. And I will sing your songs.

Song prequel giggles

Those of you on Twitter may have seen the #songprequel trending topic, wherein the idea was to post titles of songs that came before actual songs. Much hilarity ensued!

With a hat tip to userinfotechnoshaman, userinfospazzkat, userinfosolarbird, and userinfofredpdx, here are the Great Big Sea ones we all came up with so far:

  • Young Brown’s Mother
  • Acting Third Lieutenant Taylor
  • The Day Pat Murphy Got Sick
  • Nagging Girlfriend
  • Showing Up At the Kitchen Party With Mrs. White

Dara and Paul and I also came up with these:

  • Alice Cooper’s “Welcome to My Bedtime” and “School is Just Starting”
  • Simon and Garfunkel’s “Construction Crew Arriving at Bank of Troubled Water”
  • Elvis Presley’s “(You Ain’t Nothin’ But a) OMG PUPPY” and “I’ll Do Anything to Get Into Some Blue Suede Shoes”
  • Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the Colonies, I Was”
  • The Day the Music Bought a Cheap Ticket on a Small Plane in Bad Weather
  • Slightly Darker than Usual Day of the Heart
  • Radio Killed the Vaudeville Star
  • From O Brother, Where Art Thou?, “Boy of Periodic Sadness”
  • Kenny Rogers’ “You Picked a Fine Time for Our First Date, Lucille”
  • Duran Duran’s “Peckish Like the Wolf Cub”
  • Kiss Him Hello (may be more obvious if you sing “na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, HELLO”)
  • And last but definitely not least, from Dr. Horrible, “Misbehaving Pony Solo”

Got more? Drop ’em in the comments!