Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Back from Strawberry

I went to my first Strawberry Music Festival. It was a long drive from Reno, and that took a lot of my steam out for photography as I passed through Yosemite National Park at Toulumne Meadows. I will have to return to camp and photograph some other time. Also, I was very unprepared having decided only the afternoon before I drove down to even attend. The bluegrass jamming was more localized that at bluegrass-specific festivals. It is in a beautiful place not too far from Hetch Hetchy. I took many Instax 210 photographs and about 2/3 a roll in my Leica IIIf. I seriously considered taking out the 200mm Zeiss on the Hasselblad with the prism viewfinder to photograph Sam Bush’s workshop. But I knew it would be terribly distracting for all since that rig looks like a small armored truck.

Unlike bluegrass festivals or the Kerrville Folk Festival, the musician/attendee ratio was lower; maybe one in twenty. There were over four thousand people that came out. I made some great new friends and cemented further some old friends. I missed half of Buddy Miller’s set, which was my only real let down. I could hear him singing Wide River To Cross as I was making the long walk to main stage from my camp, too far away in Coyote Meadow. It was very cold at night. Propane heaters made late night jamming possible. I would certainly bring more thermal clothes next time, and a down jacket. And a warm hat.

Very soon I will be at Grass Valley and this will be the first time in many years that I am not desperately broke and unsure of my next step. Okay, just not desperately broke.

My F5 premium plus Lebeda mandolin garners a lot of praise for it’s ability to cut through loud jams. As much as I think it is a great mandolin, I believe most of it is the length of time I have played that particular instrument. In that kind of setting, with many other mandolins, seek to play something different than them. This means I spend a lot of time on the wound strings, G & D, working through some break with loud double stops and a pick attack way back by the bridge. I call this the ‘Wheel Hoss’ tone, from Bill Monroe’s 1950’s recording of that instrumental. It is a little hard to tame, but I am seeing a distinctive style evolve in my playing over the last few years.

I wish I had some time to get up at least some of the many shots I have. Some of my best Instax portraits to date came forth. As you regular readers know, I am not very in love with the scanning film process.

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