Attended the twenty fourth Harrietville Bluegrass and Traditional Country Music Convention and had a most enjoyable time.
For the first time there was a Thursday night concert. Good to see the organising committee building the brand.
Mark ? was the audio engineer, manning the only allowed electronic devices at the convention, apart from guitar tuners and the ubiquitous mobile telephone. Full time job. The show set lists are organised so that each act has twenty five minutes to perform. This gives Mark five minutes to organise the microphones for the next act. Mark seemed to have a complicated procedure where he would strip all the microphones down and then reassemble a new configuration. He would then race down to the mixing desk and set volume levels. Some performers/announcers didn't take this into account and wouldn't wait for Mark to reach the desk before starting to talk, then realise that the mic wasn't functional and become annoyed. Patience folks.
The sound was good.
Electric Instrument violation
The only person I spotted that 'plugged-in' was Jesse Brock, the mandolin player from Redline. Every performance he'd plug in, and, not a word was said by the Bluegrass Police. It was obvious at one point where he un-plugged and the fader hadn't been lowered resulting in a big 'Bang' from the PA.
There were five instrument makers set up at the convention in tents. Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin and Resonator. Good to catch up with Laurie Grundy and catch up.
On Friday and sat down at John Copleys stand and tried out each of his two resonators. Very nice. Hamish Davidson plays these instruments. Just out of interest I tried one of the two mandolins and was most impressed at how easy it was to play. John explained that the model I had had a wider neck. Well that was it, after some procrastination I bought it. the action was a little low on the treble side, so I had John adjust it.
The daily routine is as follows. Mornings are usually filled with either jams or workshops and sometimes, a sleep-in. For the first time I didn't attend any of the workshops. Afternoons I usually attend the Marquee and listen to the afternoon concerts. Break for dinner and then back to the evening concert. Late evening usually found my up at the pub jamming away.
There were three acts from the USA, namely:
Really impressed with Peter Denahy, great performer.
Given the short set times, there were lots of opportunities to fit a lot of bands at the shows. They quality of the acts varied quite considerably from very good to beginner bands. We all all have to start somewhere and being given the opportunity to perform at the convention is just they way to learn your craft. The beginner acts just weren't slick or rehearsed. They wasted a lot of time between songs and there seemed to be a lot of head nodding and glances to organise the solos. Just came across awkward. This was most obvious on the final Sunday evening concert, the first half of the show was a chore to sit through, the second half just flew.
Some of the acts had limited soloing capabilities and some didn't have a bass. The Dears came to the rescue, with fiddle and bass. This certainly filled the sound which was a good thing. I did have to wonder at what Nick was thinking of when he did his fiddle solos. A song might have had a certain rhythm and feel until Nick came in with a fiddle solo, all guns ablazing, to have the sound fall back when he pulled back from the microphone. Felt like he was trying to propel them forward but came across as overplaying.
I didn't take a guitar or resonator but opted to take the cello. I ended up taking home a John Copley mandolin.
The cello got a work out Thursday night and half of Friday until the mandolin took my attention for the rest of the weekend.
A lady approached me Sunday evening and asked about the cello. She has issues with her hands and can't play small or big instruments, but felt she could handle a cello and play bass parts as I do. I took the cello out of the car and let her try it out. She's just the right height to be able to play it standing up with the end pin extended. I think she's converted.
Gerald Pink has been busy and has designed/produced his own brand of stainless steel finger picks. I bought a set and they sounded good on John Copleys resonator.
Friday night a bit after midnight I'm playing along with 'Old South' on the deck outside the Pub. The temperature is below freezing, but who cares? Well I'll tell you who cares, the tuning pegs on my cello. Two of them decide they've had enough and just gave up resulting in severe floppy strings. I thought something was amiss, and sure enough when the song stopped I found out why. Funny moment.
A really good long weekend away.