Saturday, March 21, 2009

Last Friday's Fun

or "Going Walkabout In Southwest Florida"

I saw a nach Meyer flute on ebay and it was offered by a shop in Port Charlotte, about 45 minutes away, so I went up yesterday to have a look at it and try it out. The shop fixed it up for a guy and he didn't want to pay to get it back so they are auctioning it off to recover expenses. I don't really need another one until I fix up the ivory headed one I've got and sell one of the two I currently own. So I just went mainly to have a go on the flute and learn something about a different maker's nach Meyer. I've been wanting to stop in at Darkwood too, so it was a good chance to combine both missions.
 
The Music Stand is a comfortable place with five practice/lesson rooms and a ton of instruments. Dave, the owner has been in the business for many years and plays in the Charlotte County symphony. I didn't ask what he plays, but he could make sounds on the flutes. I'm guessing he plays some sort of woodwind as he's got a string guy working for him.
 
Anyway I called before I went and got the guitar tech and he said come on up. When I got there he had the flute out behind the counter for me. I checked it out and gave it a couple toots, and tried a tune or two. Dave appeared at that point and asked would I like to step into one of the rooms. I'm thinking "Am I that bad?" Anyway the takes me back to a room and I mess with the flute some more, get it lined up as I like it and played an actual tune. Gotta warm these things up you know. Dave appears again and says it seems I know the music. He then goes and gets a whole arm load of old wooden flutes and piccolos. And a silver Eb Boehm flute that he is quite proud of.
 
I went to the car and brought in both of my flutes and the banjo. We had fun passing smelly flutes around and trying to play them. The one he repaired had cracked thru the embouchure and the crack wasn't very visible at all. Nice job. Tthe embouchure was a little larger than I though it would have been for that period. It played pretty clearly in the second octave. The low octave was a little more airy. 
 
He had another flute that appeared to be by the same maker. Same keys and rings. He had not worked over the corks and pads on this one and the joins wobbled a little but it held air and could be played. The tone of this one was much better. I didn't think to put the head from the wobbly on the ebay one. He had one with an ivory head that wasn't in shape to even try. I tried a piccolo or two and don't have the focus for that. He could make sounds on them but a few notes would take his whole lung full of air. I've read they are harder to play than a flute.
 
I told him about the whistles I make and showed him the one I had in my pocket. He asked the price and said he would like to buy one. I didn't have a good Walkabout with me so I promised to bring one up to him. Which also gives me another chance to hang with them and check out more stuff. He said he'd come to the Ray in a couple weeks once the symphony season is over and he is free on Sundays. His guitar tech was into the banjo and wants me to bring the cello banjo up. He said he's got a bunch of loose strings in the back and he'll see if he can find some that would be good on the CB. He might come to the Ray. He's off at 4 on Sundays.
 
So I take my leave and head to Darkwood, and when I walk in Chris (a session mate) is there, having just finished giving a hammered dulcimer lesson. She introduced me to her student and took me around the place. It's interesting. A mishmash of cafe, music store, pottery studio and luthier cave. I had "Grandpap's fiddle" under my arm as I was wondering what it might cost to fix it up. RJ, the luthier and main dude had a look at it. "And oh, take it out of this case. I smell mold. Mold eats glue, which is really just horses ass." Chris told him I was the whistle maker and it was sort of "Oh". And as he putters on the workbench a bit he goes to a shelf and hands me two keyless flutes/fifes. "These are from the Civil War, made of oak from the Atlanta area we think." I have a go and it's a real struggle to play because they are so blasted small. Almost like playing a high G whistle sideways. I manage part of tune before the wheels come completely off my playing. I remark that it's hard to play, and my fingers have not learned where the holes are. He said "That's more consecutive notes than anyone else has got out of them" and he wanders off. Guess he's not the chatty type.
 
Steve (a string playing session mate) appears, and the three of us chat about St Patrick's day gigs, MG A's, MG B's and MG Midgets for at least an hour. I had them rolling holding their sides with the story about driving along under a semi to dodge on-comming traffic on a rolling two-lane state highway in Ohio. Chris allows as how she'd like to buy one of my whistles to practice her whistlin' in the self-consious learning phase. She's got an aluminum one she likes pretty well but doesn't practice it cuz it's so loud. After a while I put the fiddle under my arm and start drifting towards the door, pausing at the banjo mute sitting on the workbench top. (It's a claw hammer) RJ happens in and asks "Are you going to leave the fiddle?" "Not today, I just wanted to know how much budget I needed to work up." "Are you a friend of hers?" "I don't know if she'll admit it." "Gimme it. I'll glue it up for you." WhooHoo! "Come to the Ray some Sunday and I'll buy you a pint." He smiled "I drink Guiness." Chris says "So do most of them." So maybe we'll see RJ sometime. Chris says he's got an Irish song or two.
 
So, In pay it forward fashion, I gave Chris a whistle as payment for the fiddle repair that she unwittingly facilitated. Maybe she'll learn to play it and fit in a smaller space on the little stage than her hammered dulcemer. Maybe she's looking for a way out of that corner under the A/C vent. 
 
Whatever the result it was an afternoon well spent. A whistle sold, a fiddle repaired (both just promises at this point) and some tunes played on some strange flutes. Oh, and the best part is that's the first time I noticed I didn't feel like an interloper in a music store. I used to feel like all the instruments were taunting me. Now just some of them are, especially the right-handed ones. . Music shops feel as comfortable to me now as car parts or wood working stores.
 
Boy, that's a whole chapter in a book!  Sorry about that. That's why I don't twitter. Maybe I should save these ramblings and publish my own "Last Nights Fun"