Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Wednesday News

Hi folks! A bit of a chatty post this morning, as I keep you up-to-date on things around Robert Frost’s Banjo central.

Music life has been very busy of late around these parts. I played the Cambridge, Idaho Fall Festival last weekend—one set with Heather Uebelhoer in our still-unnamed incarnation of eclectic cover band: everything from the Carter Family to the Cure! Heather is a fantastic singer who also accompanies herself with fingerstyle guitar, while I fill in on dobro, tricone & banjo (see pic below)—& one set of old blues, both solo & with Eberle (see top pic.) During that set, Eberle debuted her blues yayli tambur playing—we don’t have a pic of her accompanying me with that instrument, but there’s a pic below showing the yayli tambur along with Buffy the musical
buffalo, our mascot & good luck charm. For those who don’t know, the yayli tambur is a Turkish instrument that looks a bit like a banjo on steroids. The instrument is either plucked or bowed—Eberle bows hers. The yayli tambur is traditionally tuned D-A-D (actually, there are paired string courses), so the instrument is actually kind of perfect for playing the blues in D, especially on the more “modal” delta blues. The yayli tambur is also notable for the fact that its frets (which are tied on) are set up in microtones—in other words, you can play the tones “in between” the notes of a Western scale. Eberle joined in on the yayli tambur on “Banty Rooster Blues,” “Levee Camp Moan,” & “Hobo Blues.” I’m constantly amazed by her ability to fit unusual instruments into the blues—a big part of this is her ability to think rhythmically & percussively.

Eberle & I will be playing essentially the same show on Friday evening in McCall, Idaho at the
Alpine Playhouse—hope to see you local readers there! Admission is $5.00—a bargain, I say—& the Alpine will be receiving 50% of the proceeds to benefit the Playhouse. Will this be my last show of the season? I don’t know; I don’t have any other shows booked, but I’d like to keep things rolling at least while the nice weather lasts. We shall see.

On the poetry front: as you probably know, I’ve “re-launched” The Spring Ghazals, my book of poems written 2008-2010. It’s available for purchase here, & you can also read about the book & the publishing process on my new blog, The Spring Ghazals. There have been some really good discussions from the commenters that will be of particular interests to any authors out there who are thinking about self-publishing. Also, today on The Spring Ghazals blog, you’ll get to hear recordings of yours truly reading a couple of poems from the book.

& be sure to stay tuned, because we’ll have a very special guest tomorrow on Writers Talk!


  1. I've got the five bucks; it's the air fare that's proving a bit more elusive! Great pics, John. I hope someone got video footage - or at least some audio of the yayli tambur.

    I'm persevering with Lulu but she keeps slinging out my credit card.

  2. Hi Dick: Sorry to hear Lulu is being problemmatic--thanks for your persistance. No, there was no vid or audio from last Saturday, & I don't plan on any at the Alpine Playhouse. However, perhaps I can get Eberle to agree to a recording session this winter!

  3. Heh, heh! If "idle hands are the devil's playground", then you've been particularly virtuous of late. Busy, busy, busy!

  4. Hi Roy: Yes, that's true! I did hear that saying a lot growing up in Vermont. It was--& still is--one of my mother's favorites.


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