Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fall On My Knees

I never would've kissed
Your red rosy lips
Never heard your lying tongue, little girl
Never heard your lying tongue

      Another banjo tune! Unlike the videos I've posted in the past, this one was recorded with actual recording equipment (i.e. not an iphone or point and shoot camera). My cousin Duane was responsible for the excellent recording and took great care to make sure the multiple microphones were positioned in the perfect places to pick up both of our instruments and voices. It was a lot of fun to record on real equipment, although it took me a little while before I got used to all the microphones. Once I forget that the microphones were there, everything came together.
      This song is a blast to play thanks to it's upbeat tempo.  To me, this song is all about the energy and drive so I try to emphasize the rhythm rather than the melody.  I didn't play any intricate melody in this song and for the most part I stuck to the basic bum-ditty banjo lick.  Duane also did a great job contributing to the rhythm with his percussive guitar techniques.
      I also finally built up the confidence to sing with my banjo, a skill that many banjo players encourage to new players. I took their advice and it not only added another dimension to my songs, but also made playing a whole lot more fun. If you are learning the banjo, give it a try. Nobody cares if you make a few mistakes. This is old fashioned folk music, not refined, auto-tuned and artificial pop music. In the end, I think Duane and I did pretty well, and we both had a blast creating some foot-stompin' music

Friday, February 17, 2012


      This is a little late, but I have not had internet access so I'm posting it today as opposed to Tuesday.  Since we just had Valentine's Day, the classic image of a heart is fresh in many people's minds.  Although real hearts don't look anything like that there are many other things in nature that do.

The cross-section of this pignut hickory (Carya glabra) seed has a nice heart shape.  Others liken the shape to a pig's nose, hence the common name.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Spring Time in the Southeast

      It is with great irony that I am writing this post because it is snowing outside right now.  However, I'm in Baltimore, not the southeast, and on my drive up here I was able to see the early signs of spring.  Last Friday, I was camping in Blackwater State forest (N. Florida) and the sparkleberries (Vaccinium arboreum) were already in bloom!  Even way back in  January I spotted a "confused" elderberry plant that was flowering.  Normally, I don't see them until early summer.  I was also surprised to see the dewberries (Rubus trivialis) are blooming too.  As long as we don't get a late frost, we should have plenty for eating, making jams, and fermenting into wine or mead.  The fragrant black titis (Cliftonia monophylla) that normally bloom in late February or March are also starting to bloom in wetlands and along roadside ditches.  Redbuds (Cercis canadensis) are blooming in hardwood forests and residential areas. Cultivated plants such as Chinese magnolias, red buds, Bradford pears and evens some azaleas are blooming along city streets and in suburban yards.
Dewberries (Rubus trivialis) are blooming early this year.  Pay attention to where you see these flowers because sweet and tart fruit will replace the flowers in late spring (Photo by Jonathan Bollhoefer).

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fish or Fishes

Three fish but two fishes (i.e. mullet and speckled trout).
      In case you didn't know..."Fish" can be singular (e.g. "look at that fish over there") or plural (e.g. "look at those fish over there"). "Fishes", on the other hand, is plural but it refers to the number of species (not individuals of fish.  For example, if you caught a bass and a catfish, you could say, "Look at these fishes!"  If you caught two bass you would say "Look at these fish!"  Of course, fishes could also be used to describe the act of fishing (in the third person, singular present tense) such as "He fishes everyday."  Anyway, I just figured I would clear this up because I'll be using both words when I write about fish and fishes.

Lapse in Posts

      I received a message from a concerned reader who noted that I have not updated the blog lately.  Apparently he needs something to read at work.  Although I do not officially condone reading my blog at work  (feel free to pass the link on to your coworkers) I will try to get some more posts up by tonight or tomorrow at the latest.  I have not been neglecting my readers.  I have actually been on a marathon drive this week, and the week before I was having issues booting up my 2007 PC.