Friday, January 28, 2011


In the excitement of the new short story and song and all, I forgot to mention something that happened at the most recent jam session of the DFUs.

We were still setting up, adjusting chairs, tuning instruments, like that. Normally, once everybody is ready, we pick a song with which to start. The group has been playing for a while, long before I showed up, and they have a pretty good repertoire. If it's a song we mostly know, somebody counts it down, usually Ian, and we crank. If it's a new one, we pass out copies of the lyrics and chord progressions, decide on a key, and generally, whoever brought it sings the lead and we give it a go.

As we were finishing tuning, I started noodling with the chords for the old folk blues, "House of the Risin' Sun." Been around forever, that one, and it got to the top forty in the mid-sixties, with the version done by The Animals. It was one of the first songs I learned on the guitar, and the first using arpeggios, which is a sequential fingerpicking of the notes in the chords, usually a bass line, and trebles played both ascending and descending. Listen to the guitar player in the video.

So I'm just fooling around with this, warming up my fingers, when Ian comes in with his mandolin, picking out a lead. Sounded pretty good. 

After a couple chords, Lou and Jesse added their guitars, strumming rhythm.

Nancy and Casey, both on keyboards, jumped in, and of a moment, I started singing. We did a pretty decent rendition of it, and even managed to end it in unison. It wasn't in our shared repertoire, nor had we played it since I've been going. 

Good musicians do this all the time, of course, that's what a jam is, but I found this bit of spontaneous collaboration, no intent or direction, just cranking one up to be worth a big smile and a little amazement. Huh. Listen to that!

Way cool. 


William Adams said...

Way, way cool, and of course, a wonderfully flexible melody --- have you heard The Blind Boys of Alabama sing ``Amazing Grace'' to it?

Steve Perry said...

Oh, yeah, the Blind Boys and House of Grace.

I've actually recorded a version of it that way myself, about three years ago, stuck it up on SoundClick, and had a woman do a video, using it as b.g. music.

Steve Perry said...

Link to my original post, wherein I credit the Blind Boys