Mandi-something something

Professional songwriter, performer, educator

Mandi-something something

This week I’ve decided to broaden my musical horizons. I was inspired by how much Pat’s mando tracks pumped up the mix of the tunes on my album. It really gave it that “something different” sound I was looking for and I realized that since he won’t be able to accompany me to live shows I had better learn how to play that thing. I’ve had a cruddy Samick mandolin in my closet for many years; it was much more a decoration than an instrument. It was time to dust it off and start playing again, which took longer than expected because there was a LOT of dust and rust that had to be cleaned to get it in playing condition again.

I figured if I was going to do it I might as well jump right in…I brought it to a party at my friend, Mike Orantes’ Minnesota home. Why bring it to a party? Are you going to sit in the corner and dink around by yourself? Oh, no. In our circle of friends it is an inevitability that where there is drink and instruments there will be a jam session at some point in the evening (disclaimer: no promises are made about the musical quality of said jam sessions).
So I got reaquainted to my mando playing what I’m sure were “interesting” renditions of Counting Crows, Foo Fighters, John Hiatt, and a little House of the Rising Sun (which I know is a song, not a band, but if I said “the Animals” you’d think “Who’s that?”). There was limited success in that endeavor.

Then a thought crossed my mind….maybe my kid has more functions than sleeping, eating and crying…maybe he can be my test audience. Yes, that’s perfect! He doesn’t judge me if I screw up (I don’t think, and even if he did, he can’t do anything about it). So I’ve been laying him down on the couch, crankin up some tunes and playing along with the mandolin. He hasn’t thrown any tomatoes so far.

Here’s the thing. I’m kind of a music snob and even though I’m not great at this instrument yet I’m still preturbed that it’s not intonated well. I suppose that’s what I get for buying a cheap instument that I proceed to neglect for a decade before I got around to playing it…oh well. So I begin my search for a new instrument, one that plays in tune, one that, while it may not make me sound better than I am will not make me sound worse. Since I’m doing that, why not go big? why not get a mandicello? Mandicellos are mandolins that are longer to give you an extra lower octave to play with. So it’s like getting two instruments in one, because if you want a mandolin, just throw a capo on the 12th fret and boom goes the dynamite! (if you missed that reference you need to see this.)

So to make a short story long I’m going to the Homestead Pickin Parlor today to see if they can hook me up.