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Different picking circles

Posted by Enviroguy on Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I can't believe it's been over a year - almost a year and a half since my last entry. Time flies. I've been to a hundred or so jams since then (with my much-loved new prewar conversion by Gary Price). I could make a couple of observations about the different groups I jam with.

There is a tendency in some groups to just hit the wall as to progressing. Some pickers just want to play the same tunes over and over again and get downright cantankerous if anybody tries suggesting a new tune or a new direction, tempo, etc. It's too bad (for them) really.  Other, sort of higher level groups really push you and I've been in jams where I'm lucky to know half the tunes. When you're in these situations and it's your turn to solo, it's often surprising what can happen. The energy, enthusiasm and virtuosity of the others seems to be able to push you into occasionally brilliant new licks and all sorts of stuff.

Another type of group I've jammed with consists of a bunch of reasonably good pickers together with a pro-tour fiddler or picker of some sort who everyone focuses their attention upon. As a result, most pickers in that circle don't get a chance to pick tunes they're more comfortable with. The pro should really take the high ground and try not to dominate things. But human nature being human nature, sometimes that just doesn't happen.

I've been privileged to also pick with what I call "aliens" who are so darn good they must have come from another planet. Whenever this happens, I get the dreaded wooden fingers syndrome, at least till I relax a bit. It is an outstanding experience and really develops new insights into performance speed, virtuosity etc. Of course I can't keep up, but I just try not to screw up too bad and not interfere with the stars.  You realize (at least I do) that you will NEVER get up to the level these people are at, some of them, but listen to other, more accessible pros and be assured that you can get purdy close to the sound you seek. It's interesting that when you listen to old Ralph Stanley, Bill Emerson, Earl and others of the early days of BG,  you can hear stuff that is not that far out of reach.  But a lot of modern players are right out of sight over the hill and down past the horizon!  Great to listen to but don't even think about picking at their level.

That's all for now except to say that I'm thankful to have survived another, really cold, Canadian winter and looking forward to outdoor pickin' real soon!


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