March-April 2009

We attended some great concerts, too. My favorite had to be the concert billed as the "Ramblin' Boys' Reunion," featuring Arlo Guthrie, Brian McNeill, Dick Gaughan, Enoch Kent, and Archie Fisher. Each took a turn at a short solo set, and then they joined together for an unrehearsed song set. What a night!

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Silly Test Answers: Hereare a few more of those test answers supplied by Missouri state music teachers:

· Anyone who can read all the instrument notes at the same time gets to be the conductor.

· Agnus Dei was a woman composer famous for her church music.

· Iknow what a sextet is but I had rather not say.

· Caruso was at first an Italian. Then someone heard his voice and said he would go along way. And so he came to America.

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Costly Open MicNight: This one comes directly from an article in the LA Times...

ST. JAMES, N.Y. --One pooch in New York is really in the doghouse after he crashed his owner's van into a Long Island coffee shop. Police in Suffolk County say Bentley thedog was left in a running van and somehow managed to knock the gearshift into drive. The dog went on a brief joy ride Wednesday night and ended up crashing into the Cool Beanz coffee house.

The 50-pound dog's owner, Bryan Maher, said he just wanted to keep his best friend warm. "I raninside the coffee house to sign up for open-mike night, and I left my car running because it's cold outside and I didn't want my dog to freeze," saidMaher. "The next thing I knew, I looked up to see my van coming at me in the window, with Bentley in the driver's seat grinning at me."

No one was injured in the crash but a window in the coffee shop and some patio furniture were damaged. Bentley was apparently unfazed, wagging his tail afterward. The owner of the coffee shop took it in stride, saying Bentley is a "really sweet dog."

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Just a bit more about festivals, if I may. As I'm writing this, I'm actually sitting in a Starbucks in Santa Clarita, California.I've been in the US for a couple of weeks now, and have been asked by a number of people whether there are good festivals in Scotland that visitors would enjoy. The answer is yes, yes, yes! Here are just a few to consider:

· CelticConnections is the most obvious one. I've mentioned it enough in this column and previous ones that you don't need a description.It's in January, in Glasgow, and it's the best. www.celticconnections.com

· GlenfargFolk Feast is small but brilliant. It's in April, in the small Perthshire village of Glenfarg, and hostedby the local folk club. Concerts this year will include (among others) Grace, Hewatt & Polwart and Breabach. There are also workshops, agreat sing around session, and an annual themed songwriting contest. Probably the friendliest of all the festivals. FolkFeast

· Perthshire AmberisDougie McLean's annual festival of song, workshops and sessions, held in the Pitlochry Festival Theatre and thereabouts. It's in October, at the same time as Pitlochry's Autumn Days festival, so there's plenty to do. It gets bigger every year, and the 2009 version promises to include a lot of Burns. www.perthshireamber.com

That's a start... I'll mention more in the nextcolumn.

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Whet your Whistle: Doyou play the pennywhistle? Or, have you always wanted to try it? You'll findjust about everything you ever wanted to know about the whistle at Chiff & Fipple. This site has instruction for beginners, tunes for every level of expertise, whistle trivia and history, a whistle forum... all presented with more than a bit of tongue in cheek humor.

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Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except the best." - Henry VanDyke

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Are you annoyed by the price of concert tickets? Here's some food for thought: tickets for Frank Sinatra's first solo performance at the Paramount Theatre in 1942 cost 35 cents each!. In1964 you could have bought a ticket to see the Beatles play at the Las Vegas Convention Center for only $4.00.

On the other side of the economic coin, Warner Communications paid $28 million a few years ago for the copyright to the song Happy Birthday to You.

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Singer, songwriter, activist, environmentalist, and peace advocate PeteSeeger has been presented with the 2009 Freemuse Award. The nominating committee cited Seeger's "commitment to musicians' freedom of expression in an illustrious career which spans over sixty years. His voice has been one which has constantly been on the side of the oppressed and which has refused to remain silent in even the darkest hours. He remains an inspiration to those musicians who seek to use their work for the greater benefit of mankind."

Although Seeger does not believein awards, he made a rare exception in this case. In a statement Pete Seeger quotes an old Arab proverb: ‘When the king puts a poet on his payroll, he cuts off the tongue of the poet!' Pete Seeger adds: "But throughout history, songwriters have found ways to get around this problem by putting together songs that people like to sing and teach to their friends."

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"If only the world could feel thepower of harmony" W.A. Mozart

"Do you know that the soul iscomposed of harmony?" Leonardo DaVinci

AnAmerican now living in Scotland, LindaDewar is a singer and a player of various instruments with strings and keys. Shecan be found performing Scottish and American folk music at gatherings on bothsides of the Atlantic, as well as singing In the Aberfeldy and District GaelicChoir. Visit her web site at www.lindadewar.com.

  

All Columns by Linda Dewar