Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Rising Star Fife and Drum Band

Last night the Professor and I went to see the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band, who were opening for the North Mississippi All-Stars. It was tremendous, these three guys from Senatobia, Mississippi –two playing snare and one on the base drum winding their way through the crowd playing old marching cadences they learned from Otha Turner. Writing it like that makes it sound strange and boring, but it’s definitely not boring. It’s strange, though, that’s for sure, especially when they start to sing. They sing in this stylized, droning monotone (though, for their last song, they did a really beautiful three-part harmony) that means there is no melody for you to focus on, instead, it’s just you and the steady throb of marching drums. And they hold their snare drum sticks the old fashioned way. Drummers now days grab hold of both sticks as if the sticks are handlebars and rhythm is something that must be torn away from the drum violently through those sticks and the drummers’ wrists. But it used to be that the drummer approached the snare drum palms up, with the sticks playing across the open face of the hand, dancing along loosely between the give of the thumb, the rock of the wrist, and the bounce of the drum head. Is there a difference, other than the fundamental philosophical one? Does it sound different? I don’t know. It seems to me to sound different, that the snare sounds lighter and brighter, but I haven’t asked the Professor or the Butcher what they think, and both are in a better position than me to know. The North Mississippi All-Stars were fine, as well, and after they sang one song, the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band came back on stage and joined them for the rest of the set, so if you like your blues drum-driven, I highly recommend seeing them this way.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why oh why didn't I blow off work to see them??

12/06/2004 11:44:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

I can think of a number of reasons:

1. You owe your sister $100 and the insurance company $200 and neither of them would be very happy to find you at a fabulous concert when you were supposed to be earning enough money to pay them both.

2. Certain faculty members frown on letting you carry forward incompletes indefinitely.

3. Walmart locks its employees in at night to make sure the stocking gets done, so you couldn't have left, even if you wanted to.

4. Mr. President! You spend 1/4 of your time on vacation. If you have to spend one Saturday night coming up with someone to replace John Snow at the Treasury Department, I don't really think that's too big a sacrifice.

12/07/2004 09:41:00 AM  

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