Monday, February 01, 2010

How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall?

I always knew that if I stayed in one place long enough, coolness would eventually catch up with me. I wonder if it's too late to actually learn to play the thing.

The instrument in the picture is called a banjolin (or a mandolin-banjo--why "manjo" didn't fly, I have no idea), and it was featured (okay, "present") at last night's Grammy awards.* It's evidently got your regular mandolin tuning and string set, as it has eight pegs and I recognized the chords. With the drum head and resonator, it's got to sound twice as obnoxious as your normal mando. The guy playing it is Butch Walker, an eclectic musical dude about whom I'll clearly have to learn more. Butch was just chopping along here, threw in a nice fill or two, made it easy to keep up.

Butch's manjo could have lots of meanings
[UPDATE: I found the photo with a google search, which ended up here. Will be happy to credit it properly if anyone happens to know.]


*For the record, the show was just background noise. My daughter was trying to stay up late enough to see AC/DC awarded. I only got up and looked for the spectacle of Stevie Nicks playing a duet with whatsername phenom Taylor Swift.

17 comments:

Schmutzie said...

I caught Jeff Beck mid-song. Couldn't figure out why he was playing a Les Paul,(not entirely unusual, but the Strat is his normal choice) why Imelda May was with him, and why the classic "How High the Moon"

Then they panned back and there it was on the wall behind him.

Les Paul 1915-2009.

Oh yeah, I'd forgotten that we lost Les since the last Grammys.

Keifus said...

It's a shame to lose Les Paul, but what a life. Recall in some of the rado pieces that he was still playing till the end.

Here's more on Mr. Walker's cover. Has the manjo (as raucous as expected--sounds like the piano in Monducmo's bar) and another track with a regular mando. Can you guess which version of the song I like better?

You know, I'm not talented enough to play even one instrument, but at some point I'm going to have to get a ukelele. They look so fun, and everyone only ever seems to strum those things anyway...how big a leap could it be?

Schmutzie said...

Well I prefer the peeing and horse trotting into the studio effects myself, so who am I to judge?

That's a catchy sound. Talented guy, and not just on manjo and mando. Keys, drums, singing. I'd never heard of him until I read your blog.

Ukelele. It was said George Harrison used to travel with two so that anyone who felt like strumming along could easily join him.

Keifus said...

Since you don't live with pre-teen girls, I'll go out on a limb and guess you never heard Taylor Swift's original. I'd also never heard of this guy before I happened to spot his instrument yesterday, but I'm definitely intrigued.

And George Harrison just made me feel all validated.

Schmutzie said...

No, Taylor's work has escaped my observation to date....other than her run-in with Kanye.

Do it. Pull the trigger, Buy a uke.

twif said...

for reasons mysterious, most of my attempts to play an instrument have been on woodwinds. considering the only musical talent i seem to actually have is my voice, well, it's an odd choice i guess. never was able to get a hang of the fingering for stringed instruments, though admittedly, i never gave it much of a go.

artandsoul said...

Tomorrow I'm going to find, scan and post a picture of my then-in-college-at-Lehigh husband playing The Bell Tree at Carnegie Hall.

Yes sir you heard it hear. The Chinese Bell Tree. Or something like that.

More details to come.

(at the time of his debut I was enjoying the finger paints in kindergarten)

artandsoul said...

here ... not hear. Sheesh.

Keifus said...

Did he practice, practice, practice?

Twif: I like the strings, a lot more than I thought I ever would. There's a certain intuition that you get in seeing how the notes and chords build up. (I never got that when I failed at the trumpet as a kid.) With the strings, you can look at the physics almost. Also, tablature is really easy to read.

I wonder if there's something there with visual/auditory learning types.

Ben There said...

Keif -

I wholeheartedly recommend taking up a stringed instrument. I do a little guitarin' and was able to pick up quite a bit just from tab and stuff I found on the net. Finally got in to taking lessons about a year ago but that was just because I stumbled across a teacher who impressed the hell out of me with his playing. Lotsa fun.

PS: I took down the blog you had linked. (Various reason, wasn't all that great anyway.) I did keep my original blog though. (Currently displaying my very amateurish stringwork.)

Schmutzie said...

You do more than a little guitarin' Ben. I did the mental work and figured out that you're the same guy as that other guy from that place. I think the last one I watched was...the Comfortably Numb lead. Nice strat. If I've mistaken you for someone else, never mind etc.

Schmutzie said...

Nevev mind...just checked your blog. That's where I saw it before. Nice strat. Legs...not that nice.

Keifus said...

Hi Ben, will do. For better or worse, I'm pretty damn lazy about up-keeping things like that.

Yeah, I remember the comft. numb clip too. Nice job. It's only a hypothesis that learning patterns I can observe myself still hold for talented people. Thanks for validating a little.

Ben There said...

Schmutzie -

I think I'm the only guy from that place; assuming that place is the same place I think it is. If it's that other place where there are in fact other people, it's entirely possible - indeed probable - that I am the guy from that place also.

(See what happens late on Friday afternoons?)

I'm going to pretend I didn't see the leg comment. I'm very sensitive about my legs.

Keif -

Thanks for the compliments on the Comfortably Numb solo. That one was tougher than it sounds. I played it until I was actually sick of hearing it. I don't feel too bad though. David Gilmour did like 20 something takes and spliced together his favorite parts to form the recorded version of that solo. One of the reasons it's so damn hard to replicate.

Schmutzie said...

Was you named was? I thought I saw was post a link to that same vid, and I recall thinking, hey this guy's good, and that's a nice strat, and too bad about his legs.

Ben There said...

I was Was. Still am occasionally when time permits or the mood strikes. (Both pretty rare.)

Try not to feel too threatened by my legs. I realize they are preternaturally magnificent and (I've been told) a little intimidating, but I put my pants on one leg at a time just like everybody else. So relax.

Schmutzie said...

Yeah, I guess they're nice legs. I take it back.

Pants are over-rated.