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Back to Contra

Posted by dbrooks on Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I finally made it back to the weekly contra dance last night to play in the all-volunteer string band.  I have missed the last 4 months or so while I taught a night class.  But my class is now over, and the next semester's class will be on a different night, so I'll be able to go for the foreseeable future.

I thought I might have trouble with some of the tunes and tempo since I have been away and might have lost some playing fitness.  There was a little of that, but not bad at all. I had my "new" Bart Reiter Regent that cut through the other instruments a little better than my 1890's Bay State banjos.  The Reiter definitely has a different feel so I will need to adapt my playing.  I also had a little more trouble with retuning than I expected.  I'm not sure if the tuners might be slipping or if it's a capo problem.  I'm using a new Shubb capo, and it seems to bend the strings a bit more than my Kyser capo did on my Bay State.  That's not what is supposed to happen, so I'll need to experiment some more.

It was great being "back in the saddle," riding the quick dance tempos.  We started with "Pretty Little Dog," and it felt great.  There's is definitely a lot less pressure playing in this large (@13 people) group rather than solo.  I remembered nearly all of the tunes, though I do need to rework some jigs.  We play some of them so seldom that I forget them easily.  "Kesh Jig" is a staple, but it's been a year or mroe since I played "Coleraine." 

The Reiter belnds in differently with the other instruments than the Bay Stat banjos did, and I need to figure out the voice it needs to belnd best.  I was also sensitive to the tuning problems and felt that I was not on pitch occasionally,  More stuff to learn and adjust to -- what fun!

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