Posted by frianm on Monday, December 21, 2009
I have been back in Peru for five weeks and we are just about onto Christmas. This also means that I have been retired for nearly a year.
We have moved a lot! We left Wisconsin for Vermont. My last "liturgical" act was to lead the congregation is a rousing setting of I'll fly away. My friend and colleague Mike Hackbar and I were on banjo. We were accompanied by bass, two guitars and keyboard. The move - in the snow - to Vermont was easy and we settled in easily. Not that we stayed lons as by the end of the month we were off to Texas for a long road trip to publicise our ministry in Peru. We spent March, April and May in Peru learning the language (Español) and getting to know my new community. I had brought my favorite knock about banjo. It is a Vega necked openback with a Dan Pennington rim and no hole heavy tone ring. How I regretted the weight! It was not simply climbing hillsides but also toting it thru airports. That convinced me of the need to go woody.
This summer Dan set me up with one of his woody tone rings - grenadilla wood. I played it all summer and I love it. It has a mellow tone and is not hugely loud which is important when playing in small hut type churches. I liked it so much I got rid of some of my heavy and classic instruments, getting a 73 OME Double X on the way to being good to my back. That one is not coming to Peru but it gets played often at home and at Church in VT.
Meanwhile I have had a sort of success! One of my Peruvian clergy colleagues wants a five string. I am planning to refit an archtop plectrum (another Pennington rim) with a modest five string neck - suggestions anyone? I will try to get this done when I return briefly in April for a conference.
Peru is not really familiar with the banjo - indeed a friend and I played together this last weekend and he thought the banjo very exotic. The national instrument really is the guitar and then the charango. I nearly bought a charango a couple of weeks ago but then ended up with an amazing mariachi guitar - see my photo album as it is an amazing instrument.
Meanwhile church ministry goes well. There is a special delight in being retired and so outside of all "career" issues. I just am able to come alongside the clergy and folk in the congregations. My Spanish is halting but the love goes both ways. Those who are praying for our ministry - THANKS - it is working. To all have a blessed Christmas.
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