Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Oisin McAuley

Just got off the phone with Oisin, interviewing him for an article that will appear in Strings magazine, though I'm not sure when exactly. A very interesting guy. His background and wide-ranging interests remind me of a lot of young American fiddlers--classical and traditional music training, Scottish influence from growing up in Donegal, interested in jazz, spent a year in Brittany playing and learning tunes, can play kickass traditional fiddle but is also very into improvising (a rarety for Irish musicians, mainly, I think, because their brains are filled with the thousands of tunes they have to be able to pull up at any given seisun). He's now living in Boston, where he'll undoubtedly soak up even more music. Watch out!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Back in the Saddle

Joey raced for the first time in over a month this weekend at the ColaVita Sutter Home Corporate Crit in Santa Rosa and did great--he placed second in the Junior 12-14 race and rode with the group for about 5 laps in the Cat 4 race.

His attack right after the prime sprint (just like we'd talked about on the way to the race) split the junior field, with only one other racer able to follow. Joey and the other kid (a teammate, Brentley, who, at 6'3" barely qualifies as a kid, yet is only 13) worked together and easily outdistanced the rest of the field, then Brentley attacked on the penultimate lap and Joey couldn't match his strength. (Joey had planned to attack on the last lap, right after Brentley's pull, hoping to catch him out enough to get a gap he might be able to maintain to the finish line, but alas . . .)

It was his first Cat 4 race and he hung in (at speeds of 27-30 mph) for 5 laps. After he was dropped he lost touch pretty quick and was pulled as the field (75-80 racers?) was getting close to lapping him.

He really enjoyed both races, which is great because he usually doesn't get too excited about flat crits. But as he's getting stronger, he doesn't have to rely on hills to drop other racers. And Cat 4 races are a good way for him to get some speed training in. I certainly can't get him going that fast on our own.

There are some good photos here. That's Joey leading the pack on the second page, photo #0012. Joey's riding next to Brentley in #0011.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Best Online Record Store

If I won the lottery, one of the first things I'd do is send a big pile of money to CD Roots and tell resident world-music guru Cliff Furnald to send me one copy of everything he gets in. It's about the only place to get contemporary Nordic music in the US and there's just piles of great stuff from every corner of the world you'd care to dip your ears into. I'm too broke to partake of much these days, but I go by often and drool.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Cool New Music

I haven't been writing about music here much lately, most likely because I've been busy writing about it for print publications. But there are a few new CDs that have caught my ear, some of which I hope to soon be writing about for trad media.

Nathan, Key Principles

This band's 2004 CD Jimson Weed was one of my favorite recordings that year. And if this one doesn't knock me out quite so much, it's probably because I know what to expect (or hope for). Primary singer and songwriter Keri Latimer (previously McTige) is one of my favorite lyricists. I noticed many reviews of Jimson Weed described the music as "creepy" but unless that word has come to mean "inventive, funny, and poignant" I'd have to disagree.

Oisin McAuley, Far from the Hills of Donegal
There are a lot of great Irish fiddlers around, but how many of them can improvise? OK there are also a bunch of young hotshots in the US who can do anything, but how many Irish fiddlers can improvise and make it sound totally traditional while groovin' like a mofo? As far as I can tell, just one--Oisin McAuley. He also manages to imitate the Irish pipes' sliding and wailing to a greater degree than anyone I've heard.

Devon Sproule, Keep Your Silver Shined
Another great young songwriter and guitarist (and singer). What I like most about Devon is how she's internalized the jazz and swing music that color her songs. Instead of trying to write a "jazz standard" or simply imitate swing music, she uses jazz's harmonic and rhythmic signatures as part of the music she draws on to construct her songs.

Adam Rogers, Time and the Infinite
I don't have much use for anything approaching mainstream jazz guitar these days. The music has become so cliched, and the harmonic approach (ii-V-I's till the cows come home) bores me. Adam Rogers' first trio record is a little more mainstream than his last few, which featured Chris Potter's saxophone and Edward Simon's piano. While he plays a few standards here, he also explores some modern semi-classical harmonic ideas, and his single-note soloing continues to be some of the most inventive and fluid around.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Well, it wasn't the longest or hardest ride I've done, but the Solvang half Century Joey and I (and my brother Dane) did this weekend was definitely my fastest long ride. Spurred on by Joey, who cannot ride slowly, I averaged 16.7 mph for the 50 miles. Joey averaged 17.2, and would have been faster if he hadn't spent a few miles dawdling along waiting for us.

The Solvang 50 is an interesting ride. It attracts thousands of people, many of whom look like they don't know what they've gotten into, presumably having been talked into the ride by bike-crazy family members. There were people walking up slopes that barely qualify as a hill to us northern CA hill-crazy types. But it was cool to see so many people trying it--people who wouldn't have made it to the 20-mile rest stop on the Marin Century.

Most of the hardcore cyclists seem to have opted for the 100, but we thought that was a bit much for Joey, who'd only ridden a couple of fast 40-milers before (and I hadn't ridden farther than 50 since the Marin metric century a couple years ago). Considering Joey finished off the last 3 miles of the ride by hammering at about 23 mph (and dropping absolutely everyone in sight--including a couple of tri-geeks who'd passed us earlier on a long downhill), I think he probably could have gone a bit farther, but not 100. Next year.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Shovels and Other Tools

Here's Anne's latest Soundslide, this time some gorgeous photos of shovels (didn't know that was possible, did you?) accompanied by me and Chris Webster.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Hans Groiner: The Music of Thelonius Monk

OK, I promise this blog will not turn into a pile of YouTube videos, but this is hilarious. And is somewhat related to the videos I posted below.