Improving my photography skills.

One of my goals this year was to improve my photography skills.  To that end, I’ve taken a couple of online courses, subscribed to a couple of forums, and just been working hard.

I’ve no aspirations to become a professional photographer, I just want to be a GOOD photographer who takes more than snapshots.  I’m planning on entering the State Fair Photography Contest, also, something I’ve always wanted to do.

I thought I’d share a few of my recent works with you.

Eunan McIntyre, visiting from Ireland, and my wife, Holly, at the Indianapolis Artsgarden.  People aren’t my favorite thing to photograph, but I’m pretty happy with this one.

Eunan and Holly

The Scottish Rite Cathedral in Indianapolis

Scottish Rite

Seagull, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Seagull

Meerkat portrait, Indianapolis Zoo

Meerkat

So, those are just a few!  I hope you enjoyed them!

New Toy: Concertina

Last Saturday, Holly and I had some time to kill and stopped by a local music store that specializes in used instruments.  While I was browsing the used guitar section  (I don’t really NEED a new guitar, but….)  I heard Holly call out, from across the store  “Rick…come check this out”.

I assumed she’s stumbled upon a really cool old fiddle,  so I went over, and there it was…a beautiful, red Concertina.

Red Ctina

The concertina has a fascinating history, and was developed in Germany.  It was one of those instruments that was designed to bring music to the common people…small, portable, and inexpensive.  Much like the American dulcimer, it’s use is primarily in folk music.

This particular concertina was made in Italy, and is an Anglo version, as opposed to the English version.  In the English concertina, whether you push or pull, you get the same note.  In the Angle version, you get one note when you pull, another when you push.  You get much greater versatility, but it does make it a bit more difficult to play.

As I mentioned, it’s used on lots of different types of folk music, but my two favorites are traditional American cowboy music, and Celtic music.  I stumbled upon this reel  (which I’d never heard before) and I’ll leave you with this as a taste of what this little instrument can do.

 

It’s time to think about what I want to accomplish next year.

2016 has been a great year, personally and professionally for me.  I’ve tried some new things, I expanded my comedy horizons by doing more and more corporate type gigs,  concentrated on writing more and working cleaner, and concentrated more on social media and promotions.

So, I’ve been thinking about what I might want to accomplish in 2017.  Things at the top of my list include:

  • Continuing to expand my social media horizons, especially for effective promotions.  I recently download and started using Snapchat  (I’ve been a long time user of Twitter and Facebook, but there’s a bit of a learning curve on this one).
  • I really want to improve my mountain dulcimer playing.  I’ve been playing for LONG time but I’m still a pretty average player.  I’m considering entering a contest next year, as a motivation to improve my playing.
  • I need to spend more time on my bike next year.  I’m getting to the age where I need to be more aware of my health.  The bike is my favorite way to do that.
  • Write more, especially for the corporate comedy market.

I’m sure I’ll come up with some more things, but those are going to be at the front of my attention.  Do you have anything you’d like to concentrate on in 2016?

 

On the passing of a friend.

You may, or may not know that I once had a problem with alcohol abuse.  At that time, I was very active in the local recovery community, and was a regular fixture in a local club for members in recovery.

One day, this fellow wandered in, and I found out he was a musician, and just passing through.  As one might suspect, we became quick friends, and wasn’t very many minutes before we were out on the porch, guitars in hand, swapping tunes back and forth.

Rob was a fascinating man, a great musician and songwriter, with a warm smile and a personality to match.  I didn’t get to see him in person very often, but he’d always stop by when he was passing through.

Even though we didn’t get to see each other in person very often, we kept in touch via facebook and email, and chatted back and forth a couple of times a week.  We’d chat about music, recovery, our lives, and more.  He was more than thrilled when I met Holly and often told me how he enjoyed watching our courtship and marriage from afar.

Rob was a far more successful musician than I realized at first.  He served a stint as Chuck Berry’s keyboard player, he was a songwriting partner to Christopher Cross, and much more.  In between all this, he found time to recover from addiction AND fought and beat cancer, not once, but twice.

This weekend, he was stuck and killed by a hit and run driver…just a couple of weeks before a musical he wrote is opening.

All of us who knew him are just stunned at the loss to the world.  So, I say to you, hold your friends close all the time. You never know.

And, to you, Rob, Godspeed.  Thank you for the encouragement when I so deeply needed it.

 

rob

Moon Pie…the new MusicMobile

I’ve never been a car guy.  Even in high school, when many of my friends were putting Cragars and Air Shocks on their cars, and racing stripes and fuzzy dice…I had no interest at at all in that.

To me, a car has always been a tool…a way to get me from one place to another.  That’s it.  It’s just utilitarian.

Our former MusicMobile had well over 250k miles on it, and we in need of a major repair.  Instead of pouring money into a vehicle with that many miles, we bit the bullet and went car shopping.

Car shopping for me has always been a matter of study.  We need a vehicle that has enough space to haul all our gear, one that gets decent gas mileage because we travel a lot, and one that is reasonably comfortable to ride in for long hours.

SO, I spent a fair amount of time studying and reading, comparing cargo space, gas mileage, average repair costs, and more.

We walked onto a lot, and I’m not sure what happened, but we saw a car and immediately fell in love.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Moon Pie.

MoonPie

Moon Pie is a 2012 Kia Soul, and it’s perfect for our needs.  I’ll be honest and tell you I didn’t make this choice logically….I just “fell” for this car.

It’s turning out to be the perfect car for us.  The rear seats fold down, and there is plenty of room for our instruments and PA system.  It’s comfortable with plenty of leg room.  It’s easy on gas and fun to drive.

After about 4 months of owning it, I have no complaints.  It came equipped with Sirius XM radio, which makes long trips nice, and it’s certainly cut down on our gas expense.  I’m certain we made the right choice!

 

 

In the recording studio!

Although the intent of this blog is to separate my “work” life from my real life, they can’t help but he entwined. 🙂

It’s been a near lifelong dream of mine to record an album of traditional, mountain Gospel music.  The dream began to become a reality a year ago when we first started planning this, and yesterday we spend the day at Minor Prophet Studio recording the first four tracks.

Recording is an adventure.  I’m primarily a performer,not a recording artist, and what works well on stage doesn’t always translate well into the studio, and it works the other way around too. Nevertheless, it was a GREAT time and we are off to a very goods start!  I’m having to adjust a few things I do, but life is one long learning experience, and this is just one of those!

Here are a few pictures from yesterday.

holly and morganCatrina vocalseddie and ricklistening to the playback

Mossie, my new favorite guitar.

Last fall, I acquired a new guitar.  I’ve had her for a while, and she’s been searching for a name.

As you tell, she’s pretty rough around the edges, beat up pretty well, but, when played, puts out the most beautiful music.

Yesterday, it came to me.  Mossie.  In honor of Mossie Neal, a dear, sweet lady that was in my life for several years and became one of my favorite people, after getting off to a rocky start.

I’d been invited to a Church in Muncie….they were seeking a Minister of Music….and I attended for the first time.  I was setting in a pew before service, minding my own business, and suddenly I was tapped…and not too gently…on the top of my head with a cane.

I looked up,and there was an 80 something year old woman who simply said “You’ll have to move.  You’re in my seat”

Long story short, I got the job.  And, not too long after, Mossie started feeling badly about what she had done.  Somewhere through the grapevine, she found out I liked pie, and she baked me a pie.  And then another, and another,and another.

Over the next several years, she’d call me about every other week and say she had a pie for me.  She became my dear friend and I was so saddened when she died…but also so honored because in her last wishes, she asked me to sing at her funeral, her favorite song, “I’ll Fly Away”.

So, this guitar, that’s rough around the edges, has revealed it’s beautiful heart to me.  Her name is Mossie.  Long may she play.

Mossie