|A nice flush of chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sulphereus) This particular flush had a different growth form than the mushrooms I found at a different site last year. They were much thinner, and had wavier margins with much less yellow (Photo by Jenna Crovo).|
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
|Some oyster mushrooms I found in Auburn, AL.|
Thursday, August 1, 2013
|A chanterelle found in Auburn, AL. I'm calling this one a smooth chanterelle (Cantharellus lateritius) because the ridges (technically false gills) are shallow. This was a very mature specimen, and it these were the most distinct false gills we saw all day. We found other species too.|
Thursday, June 13, 2013
I did a little jamming with my friend Michael "Beard" Bracht. He has been trying to help me learn to jam rather than just play the melody. In this video, I play the melody and then he does some improvisation on his mandolin. I hope you enjoy it.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
|Broad-leafed wild leeks (Allium ampeloprasum) that my lab mate found in Talladega National Forest.|
I was doing some field work in Talladega National Forest and my lab mate spotted a patch of broad-leafed wild leeks (Allium ampeloprasum)*! We improvised some digging sticks to harvest a few, but we were sure to leave some to repopulate the patch. The digging sticks worked pretty well, and unlike shovels, they don't chop bulbs into pieces. They also leave the soil behind so the habitat isn't disturbed as much as it is when using shovels. The leeks were very strong and spicy when raw, but had a pleasant flavor when cooked. None of the leeks had flowers yet, and they appeared to be actively growing, so they should be around for a little while. Readers in more northern states should have plenty of time to find them. However, before you go out harvesting leeks, learn how to identify them.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Corn won't grow at all on Rocky Top
Dirt's to rocky by far
That's why all those folks on Rocky Top
Drink their corn from a jar
- Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, from "Rocky Top"
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Brave boys here
Brave boys there
Brave boys here
Way down in Alabama
-Chorus from Old Yellow Dog Came Trottin' Through the Meeting House
Here is a fun song I learned. One of the verses is about a dog that walks through a church. When I first moved to Alabama, my friend pointed out all the rural dogs, or "Alabama brown dogs" as she affectionately called them, that wander the country side. Something about this song invokes an image of those dogs wandering around on a hot summer day. I recently changed my head (from fiberskin to renaissance) and added a compensated bridge, The banjo lost a little bit of it's mellow tone, but is a little louder. The fifth string really pops, which I like. It is, however, very hard to sing over. Overall, I still think it was a good choice because it helps me fit in with string bands.
Monday, April 22, 2013
|A thick-footed morel (Morchella crassipes) near Auburn, AL. My friend Cody stumbled upon this patch. I believe I owe him a beer.|
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Here are some sample recordings from the last old time jam at my house (hidden below the fold because the music plays automatically and I didn't want to get anybody in trouble at work). The recordings can sound a little rough at some parts, but that's part of the essence of old time music. I need to get better at recording, but I had fun with this side project anyway. While listening to the recording to separate the tracks, I noticed that there was a lot of laughter. So even if we don't sound like a professional band (which we are not), we all had a lot of fun. A little homemade mead, a few instruments and some friends makes for a great time. I also realize that lately mosts of my posts have been about the banjo. I don't think this is a bad thing, but I'll post about some other topics eventually.
Sunday, March 3, 2013
|Photo from A Prairie Home Companion's photo archives.|
Prairie Home Companion did a special on banjos last weekend. If you haven't heard it, check it out. Banjos appear on the show pretty frequently, but this whole episode was dedicated to this quintessential American instrument. If you don't want to listen to the whole show, I have posted some highlights.
Here is a parody of a catchy tune called "The Fox." It makes me think of Fantastic Mr. Fox and includes clawhammer and three-finger style banjo.
Here is an old song called "Down the Road," played in clawhammer style.
This is an awesome version of one of my favorites, "Soldier's Joy." It definitely puts my version to shame.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Made from hide and wood, the mountain banjo changes with the barometer, and because the ingredients were once alive it is always in some stage of degeneration, rotting in the picker's arms. There is a shuffle and ache in the sound worthy of the weak and vulnerable and broken... Unlike a store-bought banjo, the homegrown version has a life of its own and is perpetually dying.
- Steven Harvey, Bound for Shady Grove
In an earlier post I wrote about my homemade mountain banjo. It just wouldn't be right if I didn't at least mention Frank Proffitt. So, here is my version of one of his songs. I played it on my mountain banjo*, which is similar to the banjos he made and played. The song is called "Rove Riley." I first heard it played by Frank Lindamood one day after work when I used to be at the FSU Coastal and Marine Lab. Frank Lindamood was a carpenter there, and if I was lucky I could catch him playing the banjo in the wood shop before he left. The aroma of pine and wood shavings on the floor really contributed to the overall experience. Both Franks have influenced my playing. In fact, Lindamood first introduced me to old time music and also referred me to some of the early Frank Proffitt recordings.
Sunday, January 6, 2013
Here is a primitive horn I made out of bull whip kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana). I didn't cure the kelp. I just picked it up off the beach, chopped off both ends, and used it as a horn. using a larger piece of kelp not shown in this video, I was able to get four different notes. I consider that pretty good considering I have never played a horn or brass instrument. Apparently, some people even make vuvuzelas out of the bull whip kelp. If you are interested in other uses for the kelp, check out this website. I tried to dry mine to make it last, but it just started to rot. It is now composting in Portland, Oregon. My favorite thing about the kelp horn was the response it got from a bearded man who was the epitome of an old seafaring man. As I walked through a rock tunnel blasting the horn, I heard him ask, "Are there orcs coming? I normally carry an elvish blade to warn me, but I forgot mine." Later, as I was blasting it off on a rock with waves crashing all around, he suggested I stop. "There are many sea beasts out there, and one could easily mistake that for a mating cry," he warned. I doubted the existence of sea beasts, but I still wasn't going to hang out and test his theory. As I was leaving the beach, he tipped his hat and thanked me and my brothers, who were also wielding horns, for the "seaweed symphony". It's always nice to meet other people who have a sense of humor, an appreciation for Tolkein's works, and a sense of adventure.
Friday, January 4, 2013
|A cluster of oyster mushrooms. They were found on quaking aspen in WY and are probably the aspen oyster mushroom (Pleurotus populinus) instead of the true oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus), but the photo does a good job of illustrating the growth form of oyster mushrooms.|
Two weeks ago, I was out in Oregon visiting my brother. As we collected conifer boughs for a Christmas wreath, we noticed some edible* oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) growing on old alders. Some of the mushrooms were even poking through snow! I was inspired to search for some "oysters" of my own once I returned to Alabama. The Wednesday and Thursday brought some rain to the area, and it hasn't been too cold, so I thought there might be some around. After dropping off my rent check at my landlord's, I figured I might as well take a quick walk down the wooded bike path that intersects his street. The harvest was not great, but I did find one cluster of oyster mushrooms suggesting that there could be more around.