What to Take to the Gig?

I’m always amazed by the violinists who break a string at a rehearsal or concert and they don’t have an extra one in their case. What were they thinking? You never broke a string before? Just came across this article which is more geared toward folks playing electric instruments but it’s a good starting place for thinking about what you should have handy. Essential Items for the Gigging Bassist: A Gig Survival Checklist.

Adding to the list:

  • Hole punch
  • Tape
  • Binders
  • Pencils
  • Dark Chocolate

“French” or “German” Bow – What’s in a Name?

Unlike other modern bowed string players, bassists have to decide between two different bow types (or use both). I grew up hearing them referred to as French or German (also called Butler). I never learned the origin of these names but use them to describe the differences between the natural sounds of the two bows. The French bow makes it easiest to play and articulate like the sound of the French language, and the German most easily plays like the sound of the German language. Of course both bows are multi-lingual in the hands of a good player – but they both have their strong points that are very different from each other.

Today John Rutledge sent me this interesting bit about the names we use, though:

German and French as designations seem to be based on English-speaking conventions:
 
… die Franzosen sagen “sur la baguette”. Die Deutschen sagen “Oberbogengriff”.  ….[die] Hand hält den Bogen von unten, also “sous la baguette”. Auf deutsch “Unterbogengriff”.

 
The French say “sur la baguette” (upon, above the baguette), the Germans say Oberbogengriff, grip from above the bow, or (humorously) “beneath or below the baguette”, in 

German, Unterbogengriff, grip from beneath. 

As always – musicians are thinking of food!

Purcell in a Pub

I have been thinking about this very idea for the last month or so. Not that it’s an original idea. Classical musicians have taken to the bars (for music making!) all along. Cellist Matt Haimovitz made headlines for taking Bach into bars a few years ago. I heard him in Greensboro playing solo cello under a disco ball in a packed bar. I’ve been thinking lately about making the rounds (pun alert) with Baroque instruments. I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, check out this Guardian article about the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s “Pub Crawl”.

PS – Matt Haimovitz’s website has a nice streaming music player – you can listen to his recordings non-stop!

Tempeh Girl

I like supporting local business and products and especially when it comes to food. I think “eating locally” makes sound environmental sense. So I was happy to read in the Independent (our local weekly) about Tempeh Girl tempeh – made in Hillsborough just up the road from me. I’m not a vegetarian but I do love some good tempeh from time to time. I’ve had wonderful barbecue tempeh at The Pig (great eating there!) and it turns out they use Tempeh Girl tempeh, too! 

She’s not got it going retail yet in stores – mostly to businesses but she’ll sell you 5 pounds fresh or frozen if you drop her a note on her website. She’s got recipes there, too. I’ve been buying the (pasteurized) tempeh they sell at Whole Foods and Weaver Street Market but I can say that the Tempeh Girl’s tempeh is much better. It’s very light with a delicate flavor and absorbs marinades and seasonings well. She also started making tempeh “bacon” which I got to sample and it’s delicious. Holds together well in the pan, too, unlike some I’ve tried in the past.

So here’s wishing Beth great success in her new business. Support local artists, local farmers and food artisans!

Transparent Government – Not.

The words politician and criminal have been long been synonymous but since the days of Tricky Dick many Americans have fought hard for open records laws and more transparent government. Great progress has been made and the Freedom of Information Act was a huge milestone. But politicians are constantly fighting back so keep their actions secret and ground is being lost again. He’s certainly not the only guilty one but Mitt Romney, who aspires to lead the country, is a frightening example of those who are trying to hide their actions from the public. This Reuters article has the basic facts. This one from the bloated MSNBC site puts a little more spin on the story.

About Tech

I have been a closet geek ever since getting in trouble for taking apart the family lawn mower and, uh, well, not exactly fixing it so it would run again. But I DID get the broken washing machine running again not too long after that. I remember getting my first copy of “How to Fix Damn Near Everything” by Franklynn Peterson back in 1978 and there were some other do-it-yourself books before that.

My mom gave all her kids – well, just the boys! – Commodore C=64 computers when they first came out. My sister brings this up regularly and I’m afraid that because she did not get one of these marvelous inventions to play with she has been way behind the tech curve ever since. (Update: The Commodore 64 turns 30!)

Early years on Compuserve taught me enough to know that friends don’t let friends do AOL. Through a friend I got early access to Duke University machines that were linked up to what was the beginnings of the Internet. Hacking into UNC machines soon followed, BBS‘s, the obligatory stabs at DARPA, etc. In the 80’s I was a big fan of 2600 (I know better than to link to their website here). When it became affordable to rent server space I started my own websites and provide hosting for friends and family. When Windows XP reached the end of it’s life I refused to continue down the MS road and moved to Linux which allows me to keep running old machines with great, free software (and yes, I did the Mac route, too, so hold your tongue, fanboys). I love the Open Source community and do what I can to support it – sometimes donating to developers, helping with beta testing and participating in forums and support groups. I’ve spent many hours on the phone helping friends with computer and internet issues.

I don’t write code but I know enough to be dangerous (remembering the lawn mower incident). I enjoy tinkering with software to get it to do what I want and fixing it when it breaks. Time sink. Beats watching TV, though.

Anyway – I’ll try to post useful tidbits under the tech tag along my way in hopes that they will be useful to someone. Did I tell you about the time I took my bass apart?