~A TWIST OF HEMP – Embarrassing Blowouts~
……With much practicing, John Joe Badger has learnt most of a simple jig. He has invited a couple of his closest friends and confidants over for a cup of tea to share it with them. But lo! Just when John Joe reaches the B part, *phlooofff!!*….. An embarrassing blowout! His friends do their utmost not to laugh, as these things do happen. Especially in the beginning.
The fecks continue to fly, of course, yet John Joe carries on. His friends are delighted at his progress, in spite of the leaks, the blowouts and the goose-like cacophony of his playing. Keep practicing John Joe! Oh, and maybe a little twist of waxed hemp to shore up that connections between your bellows and your bag, yes? Yes.
~A TWIST OF HEMP~ week 3 of John Joe Badger’s journey into Uillean Piping……
John Joe is diligent in his efforts on wrestling the octopus-like instrument we call the Uillean Pipes. Gallant even! But there are times during this journey when one might hear some rather colorful phrases coming out of the woodshed, or round the kitchen door. John Joe realizes he has taken on a beastly task here, and that this will not be easy.
With every mistake, out of tune squawk, honk, or (occasionally, miraculoustly) note, John Joe looks up, takes another deep breath and tries again. Letting the flying curses fall where they may….
~A TWIST OF HEMP – humidity~
….. in which we deal with dryness. It is far too cold in the woodshed for John Joe Badger to practice his pipes. He must bring the noise making inside where it is warm and dry. Dry, yes. Winter is dry. And the pipes find themselves leaking air in all directions. What is John Joe to do??? Well, he shores up leaky connections on his borrowed practice set with a twist of hemp thread, made sticky with a bit of beeswax. He puts a full kettle on the stove top to boil. These two things may help get John Joe through these trying, leaky, dry times. For today at least……
John Joe’s struggles are my own. I practice the pipes as much as I can, when I can find time alone in the house. They are loud! And not yet pleasant. (For others at least.) The dryness that comes with a “forced air” heating arrangement is mitigated a bit with cool mist humidification and of course, putting the kettle on as much as possible. It does help. And so does the bit of hemp and beeswax. It all feels very old fashioned. It’s testing parts of my brain and motor memory which need the exercise! I may never get to the point of playing this contraption out in the world. But who knows? I will say that I already have next week’s John Joe drawing idea in mind. And it involves flying curses. Til tuesday…..
Keep on playing!
Meet John Joe Badger. …. and his story in the coming weeks.
A borrowed practice set of Uillean Pipes. Loads upon loads of humility and patience. A fair bit of time. And patience. (Did we mention humility?) And humor too, of course. And we mustn’t forget the tea. Cups upon cups of tea. (I hear he’s partial to Lyon’s, with a splash of fresh milk).
These are just a few of the things John Joe Badger will need as he begins his journey down the perilous and noisy road of learning a bit about the Uillean piping tradition in Irish music. There will be blowouts, embarrassment, hours alone in the woodshed. (And more ungodly sounds!) But our John Joe is keen. He’s made a few friends on this same tricky path already and he’s acquired a teacher whom he’s fairly certain is a saint or perhaps an angel disguised as a fellow Irish musician.
This is week one of A Twist of Hemp. A little set of storied pictures of a timid badger making his way, albeit clumsily, down this musical path. Stay tuned!!