Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Blues had a baby and they called it Rock N’ Roll – but who was the daddy?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

You’d think with no job and little to do that my posts would be much shorter, but that doesn’t seem to happen!

I woke up this morning to try to go to church. Zach said he would go too, so we left for St. Nicholas Cathedral at 10:45. The lady at the TI had looked it up for me and said Protestant services were held on Sundays at 11 in the Cathedral. I was under the impression that the Cathedral was Catholic. Turns out I was right. Mass was being held at 11:15. We walked around inside before leaving to go find another church she might have been talking about nearby. No such luck. I decided to try out mass anyway. Should be easier to follow along than the mass I went to in Florence given in Latin.

The service was nice. Cathedrals are better built for song and hymns than preaching. The acoustics of the place created an echo (good for back before stereo and microphones but not so much now) that distracted from being able to clearly hear the sermon. I did get parts of it enough to realize that it was about something I had been thinking about recently and the type of relationship God wants.

I don’t mind Catholicism, but it isn’t something I feel comfortable with. I didn’t grow up Catholic, so that’s mainly why. I’m never sure what I should be doing and what I shouldn’t do since I’m not Catholic. There are lots of rituals and meditation in Catholic worship that sometimes seem almost a glazed over way of worshiping. It is very reverent, but I feel like it is missing something. One might say that Protestant churches are too lax and easy (depending on the denomination) but it is all what you are accustomed to.

After some reheated pizza and a quick nap, Zach and I walked down to the City Museum where the lecture and barn dance were supposed to be. The lecture was given by a man named PJ Curtis. It was really quite interesting. The idea behind the title of this entry is that the sounds of Ireland, Scotland, and England from long ago went over to America and started the music of bluegrass. Much of it has remained the same even to this day. The fiddle playin and banjo strummin sounds of the Appalachains mixed with the Cajun influence of blues and some of the Texan swing influence (guitar coming up from Mexico) and you got this melding of what gave birth to modern music and what we hear today. The banjo originally came up from Africa and was changed a little in Ireland before adding another string to get the 5 string banjo of what we commonly see in America.

An interesting part of this history, which not too many know about, is that Henry Cromwell, a son of Oliver Cromwell, started shipping Irish people as slaves to Barbados, Jamaica and other islands in the Caribbean. Many of these were Irish women taken while asleep in bed and shipped out from the port of Galway to be breeders in the islands in order to create more laborers. Many Irish names like all the Mcs and O’s can still be found on these islands. Bob Marley’s great grandmother was actually Irish. A lot of the music and lyrics of songs from Ireland has influenced directly, not even distantly, a good deal of Americana music. One book he noted to check out was “Confessions of an Irish Slave Girl”. As a side note he told of the Ann Glover in Boston who was persecuted for being a witch right around the time of the Salem witch trials. She was from the islands and had married and made her way up to Boston where she got in the practice of herbal medicine. Given her Irish Catholic heritage she was a prime target for the witch hunt. On her trial she started reciting the Lord’s Prayer in Gaelic as the first known account of any Irish actually spoken in an English court (since we were not yet The United States). The Gaelic to them sounded like chants and more spells so she was found guilty as a witch.

Interestingly enough, a large portion of his talk centered around the state he thought best preserved the bluegrass music - North Carolina. He referenced Charlotte and Boone as places he had traveled. He said that while staying in a hotel in Charlotte he thought it would be interesting to look in the phone book and found a list of all sorts of Mcs and O’s proving the Irish influence even there. He gave many examples of music that was actually Irish, but well known in the mountains of North Carolina. It was all sounds I’ve heard before, but never really though more of it than some hillbillies playing their banjos and puffin on a moonshine jug. The lecture was actually an awakening of discovering something bigger than I ever really knew.

Some interesting musical groups of this kind are The Band, Uncle Earl, and a song called Tom Dooley. There were many more, but I didn’t have a pen with me to write anything down!

There was another couple in the room from Charlotte. After the talk I went up to have a word of thanks with Mr. Curtis, but found myself engaged in conversation with Mr. and Mrs. George Kester instead. This was the couple from Charlotte and he is actually a professor at Washington and Lee University on leave to be here teaching a class at Galway University for the fall term. We talked for a bit and he took down my information to pass along any news of a job position he might hear of. I told his wife that it was nice to meet someone who wasn’t passing through and was actually here about as long as myself. I told her if she wanted to grab lunch sometime I would be grateful for the company. She said she would love to, but they were to be traveling further west in about a week, and she was leaving after that, but her husband would stay to teach. I did get to thank Mr. Curtis for the talk.

After the lecture, we went down to the “barn dance”. Outside of the museum was a square where they had set out hay bales and set up a band. There was a caller, the guy saying “swing your partner round and round”. Kathleen showed up too. Zach wanted to go dance, but neither of us gals wanted to be a part of it. Finally I gave in and handed off my camera to Kathleen. I learned the Virginia Reel and the Texas Star and something else of which the name escapes me. It was really fun. The only other time I’ve done any square dancing is when Lauren and I went with Amanda Gerringer and her friends to the community center of Hillsboro out in the middle of nowhere. It actually was a barn. There was about 2-3 hours of square dancing and for none of that time did I really know what I was doing, but that’s the fun of it. I took a break to talk to my parents while sitting on the side of the river. Kathleen left and the music ended soon after. I stopped in the Gallery café to get a drink and saw Ellie working. I said hello and told her I was still available if she needed any help. She smiled, said ok, but it didn’t seem to have any conviction behind it.

I did get a text while I was in the lecture from Eddie Rockets (their version of Johnny Rockets) about coming in for a chat in response to the CV I’d left to be apart of their promotional staff. I have an interview at 3pm tomorrow. This is great! But I have no idea if promotional staff means holding a sign outside of the place, handing out flyers in the streets, or actually doing something worthwhile. Whatever it is, if they are going to pay me to stand outside with a sign, I’ll do it till something better comes along. At least it’s something to do. I can even zone out with my ipod if need be. I saw some girl the other day reading while she was holding an advertisement sign.

Zach and I walked back to the apartment and he went to the grocery store to get some stuff for dinner while I called my grandparents. Today is grandparents’ day I think. I did find out that we went to the wrong church. There is another St. Nicholas Cathedral evidentially that is protestant, so I guess I’ll go there next Sunday.

Something I have found now that I’ve branched out as a much less picky eater is that I’m more critical of others when they don’t want to eat something. You’d think I’d be more understanding, but it doesn’t seem that way. I guess it is because I always had the thought that if I can eat it (as one of the pickiest eaters ever) than anyone should be able to eat it. Now that I at least try pretty much whatever aside from seafood, I still carry that mentality. If I can eat it and try it then you should be able to also. For example, the other day when Becky came over to eat dinner she picked out every pepper in the pasta. It bothered me because the peppers are so good and I only found that out after I started trying them. Granted the green peppers are not as good as the other colors, but still. I’m a believer in needing to develop a taste for something so it can be enjoyed and not just consumed, but how would you know if you’ve grown that taste bud yet if you don’t try it. I’m sure my parents never thought they would hear me say anything remotely close to that!

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