Happy New Year!
"We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day. "
- Edith Lovejoy Pierce
First off, a deeply heartfelt wish for all of you who read this; have a very Happy New Year full of the blessings of life.
Last night was different and, God knows, I like it like that. Spent most of the evening working on the poster for the Key West Dulcimer Fest and grilling steaks for Jae and I. At some point, we began watching the first episode of "Hetty Wainthropp Investigates" starring Patricia Rutledge from "Keeping Up Appearances." I got the entire four seasons on DVD for Jae and we were both curious how this newer show would compare to the comedy that we both enjoyed so much (it was quite good.)
Somewhere towards the end of the episode, the cracking and banging and booming outside the windows escalated and we surmised that midnight had arrived, so I popped the cork, poured us two stiff quaffs, we kissed and toasted the new year quietly, then finished watching the episode. When it was through, we did switch over to see how old Dick Clark was getting along (remarkably well for a man of his age and condition, in fact, it appears he's getting better) but the music ended up chasing both of us into bed an hour later. As we don't watch t.v. or listen to radio, the new shows and music often end up surprising us as we turn around odd corners from time to time. I try to stay abreast of current creative events and so it was no surprise to hear names like Colbie Caillat and Selena Gomez headlining events. What did surprise me was the sheer proliferation of auto-tune songs, lip-syncing and the overall sameness of the material. Seriously, The Go-Go's did bubble-gum pop much better in the 80's!
While sitting there watching the current state of mainstream music, I began getting itchy about the new year and my own career. Plans have already been laid for some new directions and I'm anxious to get hoppin'. One of my self-prescribed Christmas gifts just arrived last week; a Yamaha RBX 250 bass guitar. I began my professional musician life as a bassist back in 1984 and haven't owned one since falling in love with the mountain dulcimer. It'll come in handy when working in the studio, since I've really not enjoyed working with synth-bass for most of the releases over the past couple of years. Sounds so....synthy.
On the way also are a set of Piedmont Blues harmonicas. With Mohave I've wanted to spice up the musical mix a bit with a fifth member who would be a multi-instrumentalist. Until that perfect person shows up, I've decided to add a few more instruments to my own bag of tricks including the aforementioned bass and harmonica. Down the road, as I continue developing on the chromatic dulcimer, I'm looking at getting into ukulele and fireside bagpipes.
This doesn't mean that the dulcimer is getting pushed aside, by any means. Like a painter who favors a certain palette, I'm simply expanding the range of colors with which I use to paint. There are always primary colors involved in the mixing of paints, and I consider the mountain dulcimer to be one of the most important shades I use. There are developments this year that will even expand how those particular hues are perceived and it's going to be a very interesting year for recording, that's for sure.
Watch this space for more music theory and, of course, the fourth season of "Dulcimerica" for resources pertaining strictly to the mountain dulcimer. A new year has begun, in some ways a new song for us all to sing. I hope you sing yours loudly, proudly and without fear. It's your song after all and no-one can sing it but you.