[Aaron Jonah Lewis] New Videos Series Tunes from the Bag! Plus, Upcoming Show, Bandcamp Friday, and MORE
It’s Wednesday and the snow is almost all gone. Has winter gone so fast? I love the winter because it makes me strong. As I told a friend earlier today, we don’t get strong sitting in a hot tub drinking lemonade. But if we’re also lifting weights at the same time then maybe we do get strong while sitting in a hot tub drinking lemonade…
No matter. Next week I will try downhill skiing for the first time since I was 16. I had a blast then and didn’t hurt myself, but I’m older now… I never really learned how to stop back then. I would just go straight and aim for something soft to run into. I’m looking forward to having some fun on the slope/s this time, and once again not getting hurt.
In this newsletter we have
– Bandcamp Friday is THIS FRIDAY
– Upcoming Show
– One Recent Show
– New Fiddle Tune Series: Tunes From The Bag
– Book Report
– Recommended Listening
Bandcamp Friday is THIS FRIDAY
It’s happening again! Bandcamp is ever-so-gracously leaving the crumbs on their plate for us lowly artists to scrape up for ourselves in their monthly display of generosity. This means that if you buy music from any of my bandcamp sites this Friday (and this Friday only) then 100% of what you donate goes straight to me, without anyone else taking a cut.
In the past I’ve shared all of my bandcamp links but this time I’m only going to share two, so you can pick one or the other, or both. If you want to see them all they are right here. This month’s featured bandcamp releases are two very different duo albums, both featuring banjo and fiddle, and both very fun:
LIVE, Mostly – Ben Belcher and I played the opening set each night of Thomas Dolby’s month-long tour of North America in 2012 and these are some of the recordings from that tour. In addition to the live recordings, I included a few classic banjo duets recorded at Ben’s home in Alabama in 2017
You Bring Out The Hamster In Me – The week after Galax 2016, Joe Troop and I decided to spend a few hours in a studio playing unrehearsed music and this is what happened.
I’m very proud of both of these, they are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face, and yet they haven’t been downloaded very much, either because people have listened and didn’t like them or they just didn’t know they’re available. If it’s the former, too bad for me, if it’s the latter, we are fixing that now.
I am appearing as part of the British BMG Federation On-Line Zoom Festival Day, which includes many fine performers as well as online workshops. Check the BMG Federation website for more info. Here are links to their lineup of concert artists and workshops, you can buy your tickets here. NOTE: All times listed are in GMT.
One Recent Show
The weekend before last I played my first show in a while, and it was an absolute pleasure. I played a program entirely of pieces by Joe Morley (You know, the British composer I like to call “The Mozart of the Banjo“…?) with wonderful piano accompaniment from my pal Cameron Celestia.
The concert is still up on Facebook at this link but I don’t know how much longer it will be up there. I haven’t watched it yet so if you do, please tell me which parts you liked the best!
New Fiddle Tune Series on YouTube
I started a new series on YouTube called Tunes From The Bag — Basically, I took about three hundred of these little wooden discs and wrote the name of a fiddle tune on each one. Then I pull a tune out at random and play it, usually sharing some amount of story beforehand. Check out the intro video here — I only have the intro plus two episodes up so far, but there are a bunch more in the bag already, ready to go, ho ho ho…
I should also mention that this series has special bonus content available only on Patreon, so if you haven’t signed up on there yet, it’s never too late. Plus, it’s only $3/month… Cheaper than a lot of things that don’t last nearly as long!
Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer, was recommended to me by a friend as we discussed Sand Talk, by Tyson Yunkaporta, which continues to resonate with me. Braiding Sweetgrass has some similarities to Sand Talk in that it’s mainly about indigenous perspectives on the current world situation. In addition to her own indigenous experience and those of people she has lived with and interviewed, Kimmerer also brings a scientist’s perspective to the table, having trained in plant science and published extensively. The writing in this book is anything but academic, though. I’m tempted to use the word “delicious,” because I savored every phrase.
Personally, my biggest takeaway from the book was to notice the effectiveness of gratitude in bringing people together. Here’s a quote from the book: “You can’t listen to the Thanksgiving Address without feeling wealthy. And, while expressing gratitude seems innocent enough, it is a revolutionary idea. In a consumer society, contentment is a radical proposition. Recognizing abundance rather than scarcity undermines an economy that thrives by creating unmet desires…The Thanksgiving Address reminds you that you already have everything you need… That’s good medicine for land and people alike.” And here’s a link to the Thanksgiving Address itself.
I highly recommend this book to everyone.
The Will To Change, by bell hooks
This book was not an easy read, but it helped me to better understand and identify the roots and manifestations of patriarchy in our daily lives. If the phrase “capitalist white supremacist patriarchy” makes you uncomfortable, I would suggest picking up this book (or probably anything by bell hooks) so you can dive in and explore that feeling a bit further.
If I’m going to feel a bit uncomfortable from hearing someone else’s point of view (which, I might add, is much more thoroughly researched and organized than my own) I’m ready for that. It’s not hard to imagine how much more uncomfortable it is to exist as a marginalized person in a society that takes mistreating and undervaluing people like you for granted.
Then again, I would not recommend this book to anyone looking for light reading only, or who can’t stand to have their worldview challenged.
Slate Mountain Ramblers have been making some of my favorite old time music for a long time. I first heard them at the Old Fiddlers Convention in Galax, VA my first time there in 2002, and I’ve sought them out since then.
I was looking for some music to share with a student yesterday and stumbled across this digital transfer of a 1994 cassette they made and it’s just wonderful. The Florida Blues on there really does something for me, and that first track, Cumberland Gap, is just killer.
I don’t know if you have to love old time music in order to love this but they’ve got such a sweet groove and a nice relaxed energy to contrast with the upbeat dance nature of the music. The bass sounds like someone’s just sitting there patting their thigh (even though playing the bass is a lot more work than that), and the guitars are really together. The banjo is just right and of course the fiddling rules. It just sounds really natural, and I find that inspiring.
I’d also like to offer a recent release by my friend Jake Loew, called “Return of the Son of Old-Time Fiddle,” out now on Tiki Parlour Records. Here’s a music video for Tommy Jarrell’s “Cider”. Kind of a newish take on old time music. I think it’s just brilliant, and really fun to dance to.
Ta for now my dears!
Stay safe and well
Til next time