Friday, July 22, 2016

Dom Flemons' Music Workshop at Cecil Sharp House

First break of the morning and it's coffee time. I'm catching up on She-Punks admin this morning and the kettle is on.

What a treat last night- I'd discovered that Dom, who was one third of the amazing North Carolina jug band The Carolina Chocolate Drops, was playing a gig at Cecil Sharp House and I logged on to buy a ticket- then saw the workshop and decided to do that instead. I run lots of workshops and barely attend any, apart for the guitar workshops that Martin runs, and I thought it would be a great experience to go along especially because of the promise to teach us how to play bones.

It was a sweltering evening but Dom was a genial and gracious host; he talked about his way of playing and how it links into a good performance; he showed us some licks on both guitar and banjo, recommended books to read and music to listen to, and then finally distributed sets of bones, made in Vermont, and taught us all how to clickety clack in unison in a response to him.
I wasn't the worst (that's my way of saying that I was almost the worst), but it was really good fun and I reckon at least five people are going to take it up seriously after last night.
After a bit of prompting, Dom set off on a real bit of showmanship, showing us many different ways of creating rhythms with one hand, two hands.. could it be three?
With the speed of a juggler, he played 20s jazz rhythms, proto-spoons rhythms, all sorts of different styles and techniques. He told us about a chauffeur he'd met who had taken up the bones after seeing the Chocolate Drops and who had a set tucked into the top pocket of his uniform and did an impromptu demo for him in the street. Dom said that playing bones taught him an entirely different approach to playing guitar and banjo. It's a great sound: when it's done properly it sounds like tap-dancing.
I should have taken a photograph, shouldn't I? But it wasn't that sort of evening.
At the end, we had the opportunity to buy a set of bones and/or a CD and I didn't have enough money for both- although I did have an Anarchy Skiffle CD for him. He offered a CD swap, so I now have a set of bones and my poor neighbour will have to listen to a very strange clicking coming through the wall.
Good luck with the rest of the tour Dom, and thanks for a great evening!

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