Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Music Overcomes a Power Outage!

Power blew for the entire Island at 2pm, just an hour before our last RISK of 2015.

NEVER FEAR! We stuck it out together, we found another place to play, and soon seven of us were making music in the living room of new RISKees Liz & Janna, who live nearby. Thank you, kind ladies!

RISK will start again in January. And the application to play at the 2016 FolkLife Festival is IN! So keep in tune and TUNED IN to RISK in 2016!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Late start for RISK on Nov. 3rd

Hey Riskees—RISK will start late this Tuesday, November 3rd, because our teacher Riley can't get out of school in Seattle in time to get here at the usual time. So schedule yourself later. And if you arrive earlier, well Karen will probably be there to talk you into going through some of our current playlist! But plan on being there until 4:45.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Our A-List of Tunes

This list is as of October 2015.  I've included some chord & note hints. Many of these are within this blog so you can find them & print out sheets. If you don't find one, most are findable on the Internet: type in the song title and browse the Images that Google coughs up. DO take care to print out song sheets that are in the same key as listed below!

The Asterisked are tunes we did today, October 27.

*Ashokan Farewell   3/4 WALTZ in the key of D
*Banish Misfortune   6/8 JIG in key of D, starts on high F#
*Bayou Pon Pon  4/4 REEL in key of D, starts on high G
*Bear Dance    2/4 MARCH in key of A Minor, starts on high E 
Bei Mir Bistu Shein  (Klezmer)    4/4 SONG in key of F  (B-flat)  starts with mid-A pickup to high D
*Blackthorn Stick   6/8 JIG in key of G, pick-up on D to high G
*Blarney Pilgrim 6/8 JIG in key of G, starts on low D    (first chord: G)
Boil Em Cabbage Down 4/4 song in key of A
*Britches Full of Stitches 2/4 MARCH in key of A, starts on A, first chord A
*Brose & Butter  (Peacock) 9/8 SLIP JIG in key of D.  Starts on high D,  (first chord: Bm)
Butterfly   9/8 SLIP JIG in key of Em  (1 sharp), starts on B, first chord Em / D
Don’t Mess with My Toot Toot 4/4 Cajun tune in G, first chord G
*Irish Waltz 3/4 WALTZ in G, starts with pick-up on D, first chord G
*Isaac Hannah       4/4 Reel in key of C, starts on high G, first chord G
*Mari’s Wedding 2/4 MARCH in key of G, starts on low D, first chord G
*Morrison’s Jig 6/8 JIG in Bm, starts on low E, start chord Em / D
*Minor Swing / Hall 4/4 SWING in Am, probably starts on D, first chord
*Old Aunt Jenny 4/4 in key of G, pick up on G, first chord G   (others: Em D C)
*Paddy on the Handcar     4/4 REEL in A Dorian with only F#; starts on low E, first chord Am / C / G
*Rakes of Mallow      4/4 REEL in key of G, first note G, first chord G
Road to Lisdoonvarna    6/8 JIG in key of Em, starts with pick-up on low B, first chord Em
Rubber Dolly      4/4 in key of A, starts on C, first chord D  (D  A  E  A sequence, ends on A chord strum.
Salmon Tails     2/4MARCH in key of G, first note G, first chord G
*Swallowtail Jig 6/8 JIG in key of Bm (2 #s), starts on pick-up of mid-E, first chord Em / D
Tit Galop Pour Mamou 4/4 CAJUN TUNE, starts on high B


Arkansas Traveler 4/4 reel in key of G
Back Door (Cajun) 2/4 in key of G
Cluck Old Hen either 2/4 or 4/4, starts with A
Hangu / Freylachs 4/4 Klezmer tunes. Hangu starts on low A (A7 chord); Freylachs on D (Dm)
Here Comes the Sun key of D, starts on high D, chord D G A7 E7), turnaround F-C-G
I’se the B’y 6/8 JIG in key of G, starts on B, first chord G
Kesh Jig 6/8 JIG in key of G, starts on mid-G, first chord G
Little Gal’ll Fool You key of D, starts with pickup on open E, DAG chords
Odessa 4/4 Klezmer tune in Am, first note mid-E, first chord Am
Red-Haired Boy 4/4 REEL in key of D, starts with low E, first chord A
Roses in the Morning 4/4 slow REEL in key of G, starts with pickup on D, first chord G
Snowden’s Jig 2/4 MARCH (despite name) in key of Am, starts on high F, first chord Dm
Ten Penny Bit 6/8 JIG in key of Am, start note high E, first chord Am (can use A)  G Em

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

JIG set: Road to Lisdoonvarna / Swallowtail Jig

Here's another Irish set: Road to Lisdoonvarna, and Swallowtail Jig.  They work together because they're both in 6/8 JIG time and in the same key.
These are designed to be printed and fit on an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper.

Brose & Butter / Britches Full of Stitches as a set

Here's two that John Daly & Kat Eggleston taught us last session:  "Brose & Butter / Britches Full of Stitches." Handy together because both song titles start with B. But they don't really work as a "set" because of the widely different time signatures: one's a 9/8 Slip Jig, the other's a 2/4 March. The dancers would be falling all OVER each other if you switched from 9/8 to 2/4 time!
     I learned the hard way in today's RISK session that "Brose & Butter" was actually given to us in a different key than this version. Here's what you get by just grabbing any old version of the tune off the Net—you end up playing off-key from your fellow RISK-takers!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Paddy on the Handcar, and NO RISK on 10/27

What a fun, 2-for-1 session we had at RISK on October 13!  Kim Nelson on fiddle and Holly Tuttle taught us not only "Rakes of Mallow," but when the group got that down, they taught us "Paddy on the Handcar." Great fun with some nice jaunty tunes.

Here's the link to the SoundCloud recording of us all playing through the tune SEVERAL times, just like they do at contra dances or Irish sessions. If you'll read along on the sheet music, you'll notice that Kim on fiddle deliberately dropped out some of the descending extra notes at the end of phrases. This gives a bit of a breath before the first notes of the repeating phrase (the "oomph-pa-PAA! followed by the eighth-note runs "dee-dill didi diddle diddle-di"). A nice effect, and it's easier for the new player to keep up at a faster tempo.


Open the Soundcloud recording in a second window so that you can read along on the sheet music and discover that Kim (fiddle) deliberately dropped out some of the descending extra notes at the end of phrases. This gives a bit of a breath before the first notes of the repeating phrase boom out (the "oomph-pa-PAA! followed by the eighth-note runs "dee-dill didi diddle diddle-di"). A nice effect, and it's easier for the new player to keep up at a faster tempo.

NO RISK next week, on October 20th.  We'll return on the 27th to recap the new tunes of this session (Butterfly, Tit Galop Pour Mamou, Rakes of Mallow and Paddy) plus any others we can remember. I'll put up a current playlist so you can work on them during this break if you want to.

Rakes of Mallow

10/13/2015 — Today's RISK session, starting at 3:15pm at Minglement, will feature Kim Nelson on fiddle and Holly Tuttle on guitar, teaching RAKES OF MALLOW, a common and peppy Irish session tune. The tune comes from County Cork in the 1780s. Oddly enough, right after its origin, it was picked up by an Indian composer and used as the melody for a sacred prayer to a Hindu Goddess. Music the Universal...

The soundcloud link goes to the recording, but it has a weird number name that I couldn't successfully edit.

Here's the sheet music—

Monday, September 28, 2015

RISK learns the Cajun tune "Tit Galop Pour Mamou" with David Lange on Sept 29

Hey RISKees!  Dave Lange & Company will rejoin us Tuesday, September 29th for more Cajun music from down South.

They'll lead us through some songs he's already taught us, like Bayou Pom Pom, Back Door, Don't Mess with My Toot Toot, then on to the new song, which is—

Tit Galop Pour Mamou (Slow Galop to Mamou) 

You might even recognize the tune in this jaunty YouTube video of a string band playing this at a party. Some funny balloon commentary floating over the band playing.

And here's the tune's writer, Dewey Balfa, and brother playing on a pretty static YouTube, but hey, he wrote the thing.

The lyrics in English are:

Canter, canter to Mamou! 
I sold my little mule for fifteen cents.
I bought some red candy for the kids, 
some sugar and coffee for the old folks.
'  www.cajunlyrics.comww.cajunlyrics.com
Canter, canter to Mamou!
I sold my little wagon for fifteen cents.
I bought some red candy for the kids,
and a yard of ribbon for my wife.

At SoundCloud, I've uploaded the melody and harmony parts separate and together. Here's a link to the LEAD + Harmony voices 1 & 2—all fiddle parts.

Finally, here's the music to the A part and the french cajun lyrics.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fall 2015 Schedule for RISK

Rock Island String Kollective (RISK) will start up again on Tuesday, September 22.

NEW TIME!  3:15-4:15 meshes better with school schedules.

SAME PLACE: Minglement, otherwise known as the coffee roasterie south of Vashon town and just north of the school campus, kitty-corner from the VAA's new center-in-construction.

SAME GOAL: for kids and adults to improve their skills on string instruments, build repertoire in Celtic, American Trad, Klezmer, and Cajun musics, and have a ball!

COST: $45 for the quarter, $40 if you pay during sessions 1-2.  $5 for single sessions.

DATES:  Sept 22, 29th
Oct. 6, 13, not 20th, 27
Nov. 3, 10, 17

Note that October 20th is a break.

Look forward to jamming with all my RISKees!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

RISK to play at the Open Space this Saturday, August 1

Please be at the O Space at 3:40 to be ready for our 4:00 performance.  It will be casual, but would be nice if you could wear your RISK shirts. Sarah will lead the violins; I'll be leading the guitars.


Video of RISK playing the VARSA stage at Strawberry Fest

Thursday, July 16, 2015


Happy Festival to All!

We will be playing on SATURDAY at the VARSA (Village Green) stage.

Our time slot is now 4:15--4:35

Please arrive by 4:00 to tune and get set up.



Thursday, June 11, 2015

Preparation for Big Gigs on July 5 and Strawberry Festival

We are on for Strawberry Festival!  We will have a 20 minute set on Sat. 7/18 at 3:35 to 3:55 on the Village Green (VARSA) Stage. 

Please arrive 15 minutes early (3:20 ish) to warm up and tune.

We will rehearse on Tues. June 30th at 3:45 at Minglement for this and our upcoming show (July 5th, 3--3:30, O Space).
Thanks and looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks.  Keep playing!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Rubber Dolly (or Ducky if you prefer)

Here's the recording to "Rubber Dolly" as played by Kim & Karen.

Here's the chord sequence—

ends with a fiddle tag, joined by guitars on a slow "A" chord strum.

Here's the melody for the violins.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Our Set List for FolkLife

We have a playlist! RISK plays Seattle FolkLife on Friday, May 22, in the lower level of the Armory/Center House, Seattle Center. We perform for 30 minutes, starting at 4pm. See rendezvous times below.

Below is a jpg of the PlayList and Guitar Chord Cheat-Sheet. It's now revised, so feel free to print it out for your use during FolkLife. No heavy notebooks to drag around!

There are ferries off the North End at 12:25 and 12:45. Once on the mainland, take 99/Viaduct up to Seattle Center. Performer parking is in the Mercer Street Garage on the north side of Seattle Center; we only have 3 parking passes so RISK will reimburse drivers who have to park elsewhere. We have 3 more cars than passes, so drivers without passes, be prepared to wave your Official Performer Maps at surly parking gatekeepers or catch the earlier ferry to allow time to find street parking (which will be payola).
     If you don't have a pass and can park anywhere, you might try the garage west of the Pacific Science Pavilion. It's the nearest to the Official Load-In Gate, which is Gate 2 at 2nd & Thomas. That entry is next to the Hospitality/Registration area, where Kim will be registering our group by 3pm (see Map hand-outs, coming to you at RISK session May 19th). So our first rendezvous point will be 3pm at the Hospitality area. Those together by then will proceed to the Armory at 3:10.
     By 3:20, we must be backstage of the Lower Level Stage in the Armory (once known as the Center House). Our stage is on the lower level: a nice sunken stage with bleacher seating around it. Note that we are NOT on the main stage (I, for one, am relieved...).
      To help you if you're lost, I STRONGLY SUGGEST putting the iPhone numbers of Kim and myself into your phones. Most of you already have Kim's #; mine is 206-856-8952.

More details & hand-outs to come. Meanwhile, Guitarists, print out the OFFICIAL CHEAT SHEET!


A Klezmer Klassic: Bei Mir Bistu Shein

This is a Klezmer classic, written in 1932 for a Yiddish musical called "I Would If I Could." The lyrics are a dialogue between two lovers. The musical closed after a year, but in 1937, an American music producer heard the song performed in Harlem, bought the rights from the two Jewish composers for a mere $30 (big money in Depression America), rewrote all but the first line of the lyrics into English, and persuaded a new girl quartet, The Andrews Sisters, to record it. It went gold, became a world-wide hit and a jazz standard, and over the years earned $3 million—but the original composers couldn't earn a thing on their creation until 1961 when the purchased copyright expired. Proving once again that You Never Know...
Here's the English lyrics to the Chorus part represented on our sheet music.

"Bei mir bistu shein, please let me explain,
"Bei mir bistu shein" means you're grand.
Bei mir bistu shein, again I'll explain,
It means you're the fairest in the land.
I could say "bella, bella", even say "wunderbar".
Each language only helps me tell you
How grand you are.
I've tried to explain "Bei mir bistu shein".
So kiss me and say you understand."

Taken from http://lyricstranslate.com/en/Andrews-Sisters-Bei-Mir-Bistu-Shein-lyrics.html#ixzz3ZI36ildn

Finally, here's a New York group that managed to turn a New York subway platform into a red-hot Swing Club for their performance of our classic. Wait patiently through the 27-second commercial and the group getting themselves down to the subway, then enjoy all the Shake-Jive-n-Wailin' of The Hot Sardines and all their jazzoid friends.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Risk Jr Opens Up the School Day at Chautauqua

All the kids of RISK Jr. welcomed the students at Chautauqua Elementary, Vashon, one morning with this rendition of that classic, "Boil Dem Cabbage Down." Wow, that's a lot of new young talent on guitars and fiddles. Check them out on YouTube!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Schedule for Spring 2015 RISK Session

Here is the schedule for the next RISK session:

(Note: NO MEETING NEXT WEEK, 3/24/2015)


March 31st
April 7, 21, 28 (No meeting during Spring Break 4/14)
May 5, 12, 19

Tuition, if paid by April 7th, is $30 (includes a $5 discount), or $5 per meeting.

We will continue to have some new guest artist until May.  More on that to come....

I'm grateful for all the good energy you all bring to RISK!

Kim Thal

Monday, March 16, 2015

All Irish at RISK this St. Paddy's Day!

Our last RISK of this winter session falls on St. Patricks Day, March 17. In honor of the Green Saint, we will run through our Irish songlist, including—

(In alphabetical order but not necessarily how we'll play them)

Banish Misfortune
Bear Dance
Blackthorn Stick
Blarney Pilgram
Brose and Butter in both keys (the other one goes Em--D,  G--D)
Gravel Walk
Irish Waltz (an Old Time tune, but still Irish-y)
Isaac Hannah's
Kesh Jig
Mairi's Wedding
Salmon Tails Up the River

If you have time to practice, do a little polishing and we'll have a rockin' great time.

PS: Wear your green or prepared to get pinched.....hee hee

Monday, March 9, 2015

Jonglement Catin, from Dave Lang

Here's another great Cajun tune, given to us by Dave Lang last Wednesday, March 4, along with Melanie Solenen on cajun accordion. It's "Jonglement Catin" loosely translated as "Think of Me Sometime (or not)." I've picked it up on YouTube (see link below) as "Jonglement A Moi (which my schoolhouse French translates just exactly as "Think of Me").

At SoundCloud, I've put up Dave's several recorded tracks of the song, divided into an "All Harmonies" and individual tracks for the various violin parts. Here's the link—

The guitar part is done with chords D & A, starting with D. As is traditional with learning Cajun music, we'll just let you learn this by listening. So get out your guitar, turn on a fiddle track on SoundCloud, get going with those (as Chris Anderson called them), the "Ker-Chunks," and you'll hear where D switches to A.

And here's a YouTube of a young Jimmy Breaux with his step dad U.J. Meaux and the Happy Cajuns on the old Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler show, playing the tune. Check out that weird guitar laying on the table! (Be forewarned if you grab your guitar to play along; they've capo'ed it up a few).

I won't be with you 'all for next Tuesday. Have a great time, and I'll join you on St. Paddy's Day!


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Little Gal'll Fool Me

These are the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers, an Old Time string band from NE Tennessee. From them, courtesy, of Johnny & Riley Calcago last Tuesday at RISK, we gained the tune "Little Gal'll Fool Me." Here's Riley & Johnny winging through: Riley first solo, then Johnny joins in on guitar, then Riley asks to do it again—"FASTER!"

For the violins, here's the sheet music for the melody:

And here's the guitar chords:
Next week, Dave Lang and company will be back to bring us some music from Cajun country.   Eeeee-ha!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Roses in the Morning

Reilly & Johnny Calcago were back last Tuesday, February 3, 2015, to show us "Roses in the Morning." This is a traditional fiddle tune played by a Clyde Davenport; I looked him up and found he's an old Kentuckian, born 1921 and still alive, who plays fiddle and banjo. So I found a recording of him playing "Roses in the Morning," and here it is:


Here's a banjo version of the same song for Rowan and his aunt. (It loaded instantly at first try, then took forever later: apologies)

Here's Reilly and us playing at last week's RISK—

And to give you something to watch, here's a young lady from South Carolina, playing the same tune on her fiddle, backed up by a friend on guitar.

Finally, here's our sheet music. The top is the rhythm guitar chords, and on bottom the melody line for the fiddles.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Salmon Tails Up the Water

At our January 28 meeting, Kat Eggleston & John Daly introduced us to "Salmon Tails Up the Water." Kat described it as another top tune at celtic music session gigs. Hunting it on YouTube, I found some really rocked-out versions, and it seems to be a fav at contra dances, too. So once we get the tempo up to dance-speed, we should have as much fun with this tune as we do with "Morrison's" or any other jig.

First off, the group recording made by Kim of Kat & John playing the tune slowly: here's the link to it on sound cloud:

Here's a very shaky but rip-roaring version from a gang of youngsters calling themselves "OysterBand" who are rocking the T√łnder Festival audience in Winnipeg, Canada. Catch the frontman fiddler in the deep back.

And here's the sheet music, should you need it. The beat is on the 1 & 3.

Swish those tails!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Blarney Pilgrim

In Kat & John's first session for Winter 2015's RISK, we learned an Irish tune Kat called "from the top 50 of Irish sessions"—"The Blarney Pilgrim." It's in 6/8 time, key of D, and Kat did it (after warning us not to try this ourselves!) in DADGAD tuning. I think I'll give it a whirl in Drop-D tuning later tonight...

First off, here's Kat & John playing "Blarney Pilgrim" on guitar and pipe. The recordings are on SoundCloud and the links will take you there—

and all of us trotting out the tune several times in a longish recording—

Second, here's a YouTube of a couple guys on guitar and violin who give this tune a faster spin—

And finally, here's the sheet music. The penciled-in letters stand for alternative notes you can play instead of those right above. Enjoy!