Friday, October 07, 2005

The fiddle and drum

It was a great music week! Last Sunday my husband and I went to separate events. He couldn't bear to miss the free Sheryl Crow/Lance Armstrong bash down at Auditorium Shores, and I can't say that I blame him but I couldn't bear to miss Del Castillo in San Marcos. They were road-weary and sleep-deprived but put on a fantastic show! They've never once held back, slacked off or done anything mediocre in all the shows I've seen. They also love to see their regular fans show up and they tell us so, I even get the feeling that they'd miss seeing our faces if we didn't show up locally. Sure wish I could learn Spanish, and my apologies to all in shouting distance of me at the show for some of the nonsense I'm singing! la la la la la la....!!!

Thursday night we went to see Alasdair Fraser at the Cactus Café. I had heard the name before but was really not familiar with him. His website displays these quotes:
". . . the expressive gamut from deep Celtic melancholy to joyful jig, his fiddle imitations of the bagpipe almost unbelievable, the whole rendered with a humble sincerity, flawless virtuosity and just about the sweetest sound since Fritz Kreisler." -L.A. TIMES

"Alasdair Fraser is recognized throughout the world as one of the finest fiddle players Scotland has ever produced. [His] name is synonymous with the vibrant cultural renaissance which is transforming the Scottish musical scene." -SCOTS Magazine

"One of Scotland's most valued tradition-bearers." - BBC Radio Scotland really... how could I resist? He is touring with a wonderful cello player named Natalie Haas (who sat at our table while she was giving him the stage, but that is one of the benefits of sitting close in a living room like the Cactus), so it was just the two of them. They played beautifully, and demonstrated many various regional styles of fiddling that I am too novice to able to distinguish. To me it's like telling the difference between regional southern accents, it takes familiarity. So many of the old folks songs have been passed around from country to country, called a hundred different names and have many sets of different lyrics, but still have the same tales to tell: they are songs about pretty maidens who fall in love with handsome young men who usually end up as a sailor or in the infantry... usually being killed in some bloody awful hand-to-hand war over god, king and country... swords, knives, muskets, rifles, pipes, drums. Fundamentally nothing changes.

I was raised in the military. Fighter jets flying over the house and the sonic boom were normal events. Armed Forces Day was one of my favorite holidays. We'd get to see the Thunderbirds fly, get to touch and explore the military planes, the cockpits and cargo bays. There were parades, fireworks, swords, knives, muskets, rifles, pipes, and drums. My Dad was always in a uniform. Always. All of that stuff is part of me. I am patriotic. I love America, and the military part of it is just part of my background and makeup. But... the part of me that thinks, the part that grew into an adult, that reasons and makes moral decisions HATES war, hates all weapons, especially guns, hates the killing of people or animals. We hang a flag on the house every day and take it in every evening. We also have an anti-war sign in the window. The flag ritual is a way of assuring ourselves that being patriotic and loving the good things about this country does not mean that we are right-wing fascist, imperialist, corporate-loving, bigoted, one-dimensional, intolerant lock-stepping bastards. There has always been war as long as there have been humans. War should be avoided at all costs, but will still happen. War is something worse than all the hells you can imagine and should not be started without a damned good reason.

Listening to "The Civil War" Soundtrack and getting teary over Sullivan Ballou (and the love letter he wrote knowing that he was unlikely to survive the coming battle, and didn't) and Lorena. Alasdair also played that one but his version had something to do with sailors and wives.

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