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October 17, 2022

Present tense. The 4th track of the album, Frogs of Cypress Point, is newly remixed on Bandcamp. I have a new plan for this track, but it has decent groove to it now, the official “dance number”. Speaking of new, Patrick Smith’s new CD is here, and I need to make it a point to listen on a decent audio system–I have not given it a proper listen even, but it is inspirational to have new work from a guitar brother.

October is a window of opportunity for me. The holidays have not taken over the landscape, so there is still a possibility of presenting music to the unsuspecting public. In an effort to get some experience with performing my set, I am now one of those nuisance public performers, busking here and there. I do this in different places, and it can be hit or miss. Yesterday, I situate myself on a bench around the corner of the Trader Joe’s entrance. Light foot traffic and parking lot noises are the background. I have my portable Vox amp on battery power, running my Boss loop pedal into it, and intersperse my songs with looping harmonics and chords. As I arrive, there is a man sitting on an adjacent bench eating his lunch. I am careful to be more of a background to lunch player, as I have clearly encroached–he won’t even acknowledge me, super weird. As I leave, I notice another player in the median of the parking lot. He is on a mission.

The next location is much better, outside of a Mr. Tokyo restaurant where people wait for their food orders. There is a stream of folks, nearly constant, a brother and sister sparring with each other in line, now with a guitar soundtrack, coincidentally. The amp is situated to pipe sound along the corridor of the strip mall. I focus on the parking lot in front of me and work through my set. I am able to hold the sense of hearing the music as if someone else plays it. I see the mistakes in the context of the music as it may be heard. There is a feeling of performance taking place, and it sounds good.

It feels like time to move into the next phase, as the memories of the past get a little fuzzier.

But first, some final thoughts about the Guitar Circle course in August. I have not yet mentioned Mariola and Ray. These two seemed to be the glue that held things together, and specifically they stepped up to manage the logistics of the Thursday evening performance. There was a blocking/programming meeting with representatives of all of the 16 groups, and I was careful to stay far away from this, but the rumor was that it was like herding 100 cats with guitars. Somehow we managed to pull off something amazing.

Another recurring theme is the importance of the audience in support of music. A few people in particular have been especially supportive, and I won’t mention names because I would leave someone out, but for me it means a lot to know that our work has reached people. More things will be released in the coming year, but be sure to check the Bandcamp site. (see below..)

One regret about the courses is that I don’t have enough opportunity to interact with everyone. I have learned that I hate milling around in large crowds. On the other hand, it was terrific spending after-course lunchtime with a small crew of diehards, including (name test here..): Bob, Tom, Ferni, Luciano, and Catherine. After a week of vegetarian dining, which for the record I could do pretty much always if I had a chef like that, our after course lunch included some excellent sushi and assorted Asian dishes. Bob knows his restaurants in Glen Cove and literally grew up in the area.

The aim of this portion of the blog has been to maintain the musical current and recount for others and myself, the experience of attending Robert Fripp’s Guitar Circle in Glen Cove, NY, 2022.

It is “Roctober” now, and we are busy. I have been remixing Frogs of Cypress Point and it is nearly ready to send to my bass playing friend for some mad bass. You can hear the album we initially launched in 2021 on Bandcamp at Depending on how things move forward, we will be ready for final (finally final!) mastering around early next year. The great thing about Bandcamp is that we can revise a release at any time, so that is what we are doing to get to our final release of the “Firstly” album by Stranger Than Fiction. The other thing on tap for 2023 is the release of the accompanying phone app for liner notes. You can see a snapshot of the DMLN app in a previous post. And oh yeah, guitar practice is still a thing. I am still working with Tony G. and we have plans to refine the Bach arrangement for NST. Too many fires, but everything creeps along.

Happy Halloween, almost.

Updated: Oct 8, 2022

Recap 9/12/2022 and 10/4/2022 from August course

The C-Section Band

Almost all guitar circle courses contain a group performance challenge. The excellent change this year is that the organizers only tell us at lunch that there will be a Thursday evening performance. In the past, we are given the assignment the evening before, so many of us end up losing sleep. Being an old fart, I am useless after around 11PM, so I am very happy that we only have 8 hours or so to prepare.

17 groups (well, 15 + 2 soloists) are selected from the hat. Actually, it’s a little worse than that. Originally, there are 16 groups with 1 soloist and then RF says that he is thinking of adding another solo performer, but that would be cruel. Brief pause. There will be 17 groups with 2 soloists. One of the soloists declines to be solo, and my roomie Mike is the one reluctant remaining soloist, an assignment he takes seriously and ably.

Our band is 10 people: 8 guitarists and 2 alleged non-musicians. Our 2 “innocents”, Mirella and Christine arrive at our first meeting probably expecting an easy listening and spectating experience. Ha, no. I set them on their mission to find percussion instruments, anything they can find. Spoons, I suggest. There is a sense of urgency, because OMG 8 hours! Inclusion of “non-musicians” into the bands is a huge and welcome change to the performances. We are forced to go beyond the crafty plinka-plinka-plinka guitars and find a broader means of expression. Dance. Kalimba. Singing. The addition of audients to Guitar Circle courses is a new feature since 2021. My observation is that both this year and last have gone well beyond what I recall from our performances in the past. Simply put, with an all-guitarist ensemble, the palette is generally limited to what we have come to expect from an all-guitar ensemble. Adding non-musicians launches us into another dimension. In our case, we also have Hilary, dance professional and guitarist, so she naturally takes on responsibility for choreography, which is a procession as we play our opening riffs. The piece is titled “Walking While Chewing Gum” because of this.

Our percussion section returns with their chosen weapons: a dish tub and wooden spoon, actually a couple of different spoons, and an ice bucket. A kitchen worker observing us on the way to the hall finds our percussion section hilarious, and I find myself laughing thinking about him during the show.

Christine and Mirella are the anchors on either side of our 10-person orchestra. We quickly establish a basic 4/4 pulse. In Guitar Craft tuning C major is a good beginning place. I am nominally composing the piece with contributions from everyone working together. It is the smoothest working band experience I have ever had. I feel I have been working on difficult things all week, so I advocate keeping it simple in the beginning. Brent and I establish the 4/4 pulse.. ||: C C rest rest :|| and our arpeggiating guitarists doing their thing over the top. Under the direction of dancer Hilary, we plan our procession. Left, rest, right, rest, left, rest, right, rest. My friend in front of me is usually not in step. It’s all good. We arrive at our appointed places, groove commences. ||: Boom boom chicka chicka :|| full guitars, percussionists, everyone dancing as much as they can, Chris moves to center and faces the team, 1 2 3 4 (trying not to bob his head excessively in rhythm, lol) AAAAAAHH! The choral a capella bridge. Then the groove changes to 6/8 in Am (relative minor to C major, all the same notes as C major), and the fancy choreography part.. This is the “C Section”, also the band name. Hilary walks out, David walks out, in 6/8 meter (it is originally going to be in 5/8, but during practice I keep playing in 6/8, so it evolves to that), Hilary is shooting scary looks, David steps back, audience laughs, we fall back into line, Hilary kicks to cue us back to C major, Chris steps forward again, choral finale 1 2 3 4: AAAAAAHH! We are the last of the 16 bands. It feels like a celebration, easy and light. One thing I love about this piece is that we mainly rely on visual cues for each section transition. We don’t need to think very hard.

C-Section - the Happiest Band in the World - this is one of our stated aims before the performance.

I look over at Mirella just before we perform. It is her first musical performance. She is just beaming! For a few moments we are the happiest band in the world. I exchange glances with the audience on our way off stage. It feels perfect.

One aim is to remove the barriers between the performers/musicians and the audience.

To see Robert Fripp dancing in the audience to one of the other bands is worth the price of admission. Jaxie says that she has only been to two concerts that she didn’t want to end: Leonard Cohen and this performance.

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