Ken's Voyages Around the Sun

PUG Music
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Yesterday the family (including dogs) drove over to the 47th annual Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest to check out some old-time music.

Attendance seemed to be a couple thousand people, and it turned out pretty much as anticipated. I hadn't expected the setting though, which was Paramount Ranch, operated now by the National Park Service. I had thought the festival was set just amongst trees and fields at the park, but not so – Paramount Ranch is a complete western movie set, perfect for establishing the atmosphere of the event.

At this point I'd like to go back again next year, but not with the dogs, or at least not with Sparky. She just pulls so hard to get anywhere and won't lay still for long, so she's distracting. She's well-behaved with respect to people and other dogs, but just too impatient.

Molly's Revenge, a featured Celtic music group, didn't inspire me to even buy their CD, although some of the little nine- and ten-year-old fiddlers did a better job. I should at least try to memorize some fiddle pieces and play them more often at home. I don't know how to do that though, and find it troublesome to even play from a score, and have absolutely no idea how to jam, even assuming I could play correctly and in tune.

Between all the staged and scheduled events you could find numerous small groups of players jamming – a large part of the event to be sure, people playing by themselves for themselves.

This reminded me of the World of Warcraft term "PUG" which stands for pick-up-group. To make a successful PUG in WoW you usually need each person in a group playing a different role in order to balance out stregths and weaknesses.

Seems to be that way for a jam session too...

Mage : Fiddle
Tank : Stand-up Base
Healer : Guitar
Rogue : Banjo
Hunter : Mandolin

But some roles can be filled or duplicated as well. You also have the dulcimer, penny whistle, saw blade, washing tub, harmonica, tamborine, vocalist, accordian, and others.

Thankfully, we didn't witness any wipes, even with a number of 12-year-olds playing. :-)

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