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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Celtic Music Night Project #2

Irish Jam November 5th, 2008
Here we are again trying our best to sound Irish. Liam got his bodhran in from Musicians Friend this week, and we decided to design a logo for our band. Liam came up with the name 400 Celtic People, kind of his way of tipping his hat to 10,000 (or as he called it 1,000) Maniacs.
The other night we took the kids out to eat at pizza hut because they won awards for a program called Book-it, where they get a free pizza if they read a certain amount each month. So as we’re eating Liam begins telling me what the logo for 400 Celtic People should look like: a leprechaun with a fiddle, dancing on a pot of gold. So I draw out a quick sketch on a napkin.
The next day at school, Liam and I (he’s in the 4th grade class that I teach) start working on the logo in earnest. We do a web search to find several examples of leprechauns. After a long search we find a few that we like. So we combined all the things that we like about the various leprechauns and I drew up a rough draft of the little mascot.  After a few tweaks, we had a decent logo. In Photoshop I designed a Celtic knot background and touched up the original hand drawing of the leprechaun. And suddenly Kiernan O’Patrick was born.
We decided to name him Kiernan after Liam’s buddy Kieran from his old school in New York. Kieran’s mom, direct from Ireland, was a lovely woman who when mad at Kieran seemed to Liam to call him “Kiernan.” So in honor of his friend we named our mascot “Kiernan O’Patrick.”
After school, we went down to Office Max and had some stickers made up of our logo. We put Kiernan O’Patrick on Liam’s Irish drums, and gave Dana a sticker as well. Now we just need some green T-shirts with the wee little fiddling leprechaun and we’ll be set. Well, that and we need to get some songs down for our repertoire.
Dana’s violin is sounding great. She’s a really good violinist. Apparently when a violin sits around for several years tuning it becomes very difficult. But after you use it for a while, it starts to become easier to tune. So where we spent a great deal of time tuning last week, this week everything seemed to stay in tune a lot longer.
I’m not so sure about my guitar playing. Something tells me that I’m not playing the rhythm right. It seems to me like I’m playing everything to sound like “Raw Hide” instead of sounding Irish. Perhaps, there’s a connection between the stereotypical cowboy music from the movies and Irish music? Anyway, I’m thinking about switching to piano.
For some reason, last week I was very successful at looping, and was able to loop the guitar, banjo and mandolin. But this week, when I tried it I was just off. I guess everyone is entitled to an off night.  
Dana and I had the same teacher. She studied under Bill Tortelono at Earlham College when she was in High School, and at the same time I was taking Music Theory off of him while I was a student at the college. She learned well, because she makes it so much easier to play the songs. Though I’ve been playing pretty much constantly for the last 10 years, some of these tunes are giving me quite a workout in sight reading. I haven’t had to read in a while, relying mainly on chord charts and fake book sheets. But it’s been fun.
I need to figure out what we are going to play. My wife Trevor suggested that we add some Waterboys songs to our jam. I know he’s not Irish, but I’ve been yearning to try some Sting. I’m thinking “I Hung My Head,” or “It’s Probably Me,” might be a couple good songs to try out. I miss singing, and Dana can sing. It would probably be fun.
I was watching the first video of Liam on the djimbe, and he was doing really well. I think we might need to switch back to that for a while, because the bodhran is really a fairly difficult drum to make sound good. It’s also incredibly loud. Liam was sitting on my right in between Dana and I banging away, and the concussive force off the back of the drum was drilling into my ear like a nail. Maybe if we tape a piece of foam to the back it might deaden it a bit.
I picked up a set of bagpipes from my dad, and am trying to figure out how we can incorporate them into the jam. We’ll see. Also, hopefully soon, a few of my friends I invited will show up to jam with us. It will be fun to have a few more instruments.
Until the next jam, I hope you all have a wonderful week, and may all your days be green!

God bless,



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