Sunday, April 09, 2006

Trad In The House

How do you tell the difference between a fiddle and a violin?

You don't spill beer on a violin, silly.

For those of you unfortunate enough to have missed the Tim O'Brien show last night at The Kent Stage, I figure it's my job to make you feel as included as possible, right down to Tim's O-jokes. What I can't convey as accurately was the best part of the evening which was, for me, spending it with almost my entire family, including my dear friends Lynne and Shannon. Unfortunately we were again minus my sister, who was giving thanks in Nashville that her new roof is still intact.

We took up an entire row except for about three seats on the end. My daughter excitedly made the rounds back and forth down the row of her uncles and aunts, while my son and I waited eagerly for the show to begin. Traveling with Tim for this show was the stellar Dennis Crouch on upright bass, and extraordinary Casey Driessen on fiddle, who really gave the crowd a run. There are few performers I enjoy watching as much as I enjoy Casey, who gives himself over pretty much entirely to the music. We enjoyed more than two hours of superior musicianship, self-effacing humor, music history lessons, and the kind of cameraderie, community, that helps me keep the inner flame burning.

What really was a very special treat, however, was being able to share this very meaningful experience with my brothers, who had at the center of their young lives music as well. The youngest has picked it up again, and while we were waiting for the others to arrive, the second oldest and I plucked out a few notes on guitar and mandolin. As I've said many times before on this blog, the work that Tim O'Brien does both as a songwriter and as a collector and presenter of older songs somehow connects with us in a way that makes the experience more rich somehow. His good-natured humor and quick wit cannot disguise the critical mass of intellect and musicality that make him both a worthy steward of the old stuff and the perfect spokesperson for roots material whether it is new, adapted, or restrung for the 300th time.

There is in his dedication to what he does the seedof my own inspiration. I don't really give a rat's ass one way or another what people think of me or the music, because it's what I love, and I have seen that other people love it, which helps me to feel a lot less crazy. Yes it's a relatively spare, pretty goshdarned specialized module of the music industry, but, despite all, it's what works for me. Thanks to Tim's example, a lot of us are able to accept that and live with the nerdiness that goes along with being trad fans. Moreover, we're willing to look silly getting all caught up in our enormously contagious enthusiasm to convince you to give a listen.

What's the difference between a banjo and an onion?

Nobody cries when you cut up a banjo.

(Post script #1: My son took some terrific pictures which, for some reason unknown to me, refuse to upload to Blogger. All I can say is, get off your ass and go see Tim, Casey, Dennis, and if you get the chance, Danny Barnes in person so I don't have to work my kid to death taking photos that you'll never see!)

(Post script #2: APRIL FOOLS! ALL of you can join in the fun when the show from last night is rebroadcast on, the brainchild of my favorite NPR station, WKSU. Host Jim Blum announced that it will be in about two weeks but I will get the skinny and share it with you here. Or, visit, stream great music, and you're bound to get firsthand info along with all that FolkAlley has to offer.)


At April 10, 2006 9:25 AM, Blogger Darkneuro said...

Great jokes, Mando. Sounds like a fun time too :)

At April 10, 2006 8:56 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hey Neuro, welcome back! Glad you are safely landed.

I always feel like banjo jokes (banjokes?) are kind of mean, because I do adore the banjo. But like me, I guess, banjos are easy to make fun of.

Oh. Before I forget:
Buford Bucksnort called wondering when you were coming back through.


At April 10, 2006 9:03 PM, Anonymous Earl from Ohio said...

Why can't you do a TV spin-off of "CSI-West Virginia?"

Because there are no dental records and all of the DNA is the same....

At April 11, 2006 11:13 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...


Did you know the tooth brush was invented in West Virginia? Anywhere else, it would have been called a "teeth brush."

You're part of the reason this whole thing got off the ground. Come back and comment more often!



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