Monday, March 19, 2012

Raggle Taggle! (Uh, Do You Know Any Zeppelin?)

Raggle Taggle at Brochach -- St. Patty's 2012
Since June 19, 2009, I have been loosely associated with a ragtag group of musicians that get together on Tuesday nights at Milwaukee's Brocach Irish Pub. It has been fun. It has introduced me to lots of interesting and remarkably talented people. It has helped me overcome my fear of the stage (some might wish that fear to return!). And it's given me motivation to further learn music, guitar, and singinga passion of mine since I was old enough to strum a 6-string.

Our Tuesday night session is called "Raggle Taggle," which, until I wrote this, it has never occurred to me that that's probably the full-length version of the word "ragtag." (Duh. Right?!)

Saturday was the third time that I've had the pleasure of playing with this motley crew at Brocach's St. Patrick's Day celebration. At the pub on Tuesday nights, we play in a circleone person will lead a song and others will play along, figuring out the song's key and chord structure on the fly. St. Patty's at Brocach was similar, albeit linear instead of circular (left-to-right and back again), but we managed ...  and sometimes we actually sounded good! (You can see our "line"-up in the picturewith my giant heed on the far right.)

With a bodhrán, fiddle, banjo, ukulele, and acoustic guitars, you might imagine that we sound a wee bit o' Irish. For the most part, we doand if not Celtic, we at least lean towards the rocky side of folk music (a la Old 97s, Neil Young, Dylan, Springsteen, Mike Collins, etc.). Mark Meaney (Raggle Taggle's founder) and I know a considerable number of Irish pub songs, and our violin (or filddle? I never know!) player extraordinaire (Lori Adams) knows at least 500 jigs, reels, airs, and hornpipes by memory. If we all played all the songs we know, we could probably play for days.

Despite the library of songs we can play, a spirited St. Patty's Day reveler repeatedly asked if I knew any Led Zeppelin. "Aww. C'mon man. You gotta know some Zeppelin!" Well I do, but they're all just riffs and runs actuallyI don't do any Zeppelin songs from beginning to end. I couldn't do Led Zeppelin justice if I tried!

After incessant nagging about Zeppelin, he said, "Well if you don't know Zeppelin, you gotta know some Bad Company!"

No. No sir, I don't know any Bad Company. I've always appreciated the classic rock vocal stylings of Paul Rodgers, and I am sorry to disappoint you, but I do not know any Bad Company.

"Aww, dude. You guys are soooo good! How can you not know any Zeppelin or Bad Company?!"

Well, friend, I can assure you that if Jimmy Page and Robert Plant or Simon Kirke and Paul Rodgers wrote any jigs, reels, airs, or hornpipes, our fiddle player would know them, but at the moment, we are fresh out of 70s classic rock.

"How 'bout Otis Redding? You've got to know some Otis Redding!!"

And he was kind of right. With the help of an Internet-connected iPad, we were able to stumble our way through an impromptu version of Redding's classic "(Sitting On) The Dock of the Bay." Mind you, Mr. Inebriated demanded to be our lead vocalist for this fine Rock 'n' Soul performance. We (I) let him, although I suspect it cost me my turn to sing "Black Velvet Band" or "Seven Drunken Nights."

I guess that's what makes this all so much funjust winging it and seeing what happens. Some fly; some flop, but playing on the edge is what make it exciting.

And when I play, I recognize when a song is rambling, too long, and needs to be ended abruptly. I will apply that knowledge to this post.

Thanks for reading. Bye! ;)



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