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Banjo versus TV week 90: Las Vegas

Posted by jrjenks on Saturday, November 21, 2009

A check-in on the Banjo versus TV project — J.R.'s ongoing plan to spend more time on his banjo than on TV. This post covers 11/15/2009 through 11/21/2009.
Banjo 570 hrs, TV 500 hours

It didn't all go exactly like this...

...but I had a pretty musical week while attending G2E at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

When planning my trip I'd searched the web for a jam and found Mrs. Hyatt's Legendary Old-Time and Bluegrass Jam, Tuesday nights at the Lorna J. Kesterson Valley View Recreation Center in Henderson NV. It was about an hour away from the Las Vegas strip by bus. (I got a lot of use out of my three-day bus and monorail passes.)

The jamming was wonderful. There were about 20 people in a traditional song circle playing guitars (~9), fiddles (2), banjos (~5), mandolin, spoons, harmonica and Dobro for two hours.

That night's set list (or about 80% of it; I missed writing down a few) was:

  • Cry Baby Cry in G
  • Maryanne in A
  • One Day at a Time in D
  • Eagle's Already Gone
  • She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain in G
  • Viva Las Vegas in G
  • This Old House in G
  • Redwing
  • Will the Circle Be Unbroken in G
  • Rocky Top in G
  • Take Me in a Lifeboat
  • Where the Soul of Man Never Dies
  • Mama Tried
  • No Place Like Home in D
  • Kentucky Waltz in G
  • Bonaparte's Retreat
  • I Don't Want Her in G
  • Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
  • Folsom Prison Blues in E
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain in G
  • Good Old Mountain Dew in G
  • Let It Be Lord
  • Hey Good Lookin' in G
  • Goodnight, Irene in G
  • Just Because
  • Who's Gonna Miss Me
  • Tennessee Stud

Viva Las Vegas and Good Old Mountain Dew were mine. My Viva Las Vegas was a little weak, but it was my jamming debut for the song. I got big praise for my Good Old Mountain Dew. I sang an opening verse and a closing verse and called out people to sing the all the one's in between. Passing the singing duties around worked well for the song and gave it a lot of energy. One of the banjo players (who sang the "Roosevelt" verse) said he thought it was the best Good Old Mountain Dew that the group had done.

If you're ever in the neighborhood of Henderson, NV on a Tuesday night, look this group up!

Other places I played my banjo:

  • I played the Hyatt! Okay, I practiced in my room at the Hyatt.
  • I played the Rio! Okay, I practiced in the parking lot of the Rio for about an hour while waiting for the Penn & Teller show. As it turns out, I should have gone into the theater instead of waiting outside. For about an hour before the show begins there's a piano concert and they give audience members a chance to go onstage and check out some props.
  • I played (a little) at the Las Vegas McKarran International Airport in front of the magic money sign.

Also in the last week:

  • Added Viva Las Vegas to my Learning Songs list.
  • I decided to travel with my second-best banjo and followed the please-don't-bag-check-my-banjo-it's-only-got-this-gig-bag-to-protect-it philosophy of air travel. I think I prefer this to the bring-the-banjo-in-my-hard-case-because-it-might-get-bag-checked approach. It's certainly easier to walk and bus around town with the gig bag.
  • I got mocked by a ventriloquist's dummy.

    Romeo, Taylor Mason and Paco the Pig

    I was carrying my banjo in its gig bag and sitting down for a bite to eat at the G2E Variety Entertainment Showcase Stage while Taylor Mason was on. He picked me out and his dummy, Romeo, decided to mess with me.

    "Hey, it's Jerry Garcia! The Grateful Dead! They're aliiiiiiiive!!!"

    According to his Wikipedia bio, Taylor had an upbringing similar to mine: a Congregationalist son of an entertainer in the Chicago suburbs.

    His book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Ventriloquism will be out in May. I've preordered a copy. Next time Romeo starts something, I want to be ready.
  • Ordered a Banjo Hero decal off of eBay. Not sure what I'm going to do with it, but had to have it.

    Ain't it the truth?
  • Ordered a few new, not-very-expensive fingerpick options from Elderly just to try them out:

    Ernie Ball finger pick John Pearse Hi Rider finger pick Propick Sharp Ang finger pick

Cross-posted at J.R. Jenks' blog
Cross-posted at J.R.'s Banjo Hangout blog

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