Friday, July 19, 2013

music at Mythcon

My Mythcon report didn't mention the musical performances. Saturday evening our frigid auditorium was heated up with a concert performance by the Saline Fiddlers, who get their strange and savory name from the town near Ann Arbor where they are all high school students. It's a neo-bluegrass group that plays Mark O'Connor and his ilk, with an occasional appearance by something actually trad. There's about eight violins, usually playing in unison (which is trickier than they think), five cellos, and a mixed electric-acoustic rock backup section, whose electric guitarist gets occasional solos. Several of the players also double as dancers.

These are fiddlers, not violinists, so their playing behavior is liable to alarm classically-trained string musicians: turning in choreographed movements as they play, cellists balancing their instruments sideways on their knees to strum them, etc. I've seen antics like these before, so, remembering firmly that it's an entirely different musical tradition, it didn't bother me.

What did bother me was the overall quality. Sure, for one small-town high school there was an impressive amount of talent and training on display. And the players were consistently energetic and enthusiastic, with lots of stage presence. That made the show quite enjoyable overall. At least, when asked for comment afterwards by enthusiastic fellow attendees, I could mention that, and ignore something else: that nothing could hide the fact that none of the violin or cello players could play in tune. At all. And this is not something that good bluegrass needs any apologia for.

The "Lord of the Ringos" ensemble, which goofed up the stage on Sunday, has apparently run out of rock songs worth writing Tolkien-reference lyrics for. I can enjoy a boozy scratch parody performance if I know and like the original song, but this time, their first three numbers were songs I didn't know and most certainly didn't like. I couldn't stand any more and left, occupying my time reading the tourist brochures on the registration desk until it was over. Remembering past editions of these shenanigans, the fault lies in the choice of material rather than the rendition.

1 comment:

  1. The performance of the sextet was "Where Did Our Ring Go?"

    It was based on Motown songs from the '60s: The Supremes' "Where did our love go?", The Miracles' "Mickey's Monkey," The Temptations' "Papa was a rolling stone," The Temptations' "My girl," and the Isley Brothers' "Twist and shout."

    Were all of these unfamiliar to you?

    Boozy we weren't. "Scratch"?

    I'm sure you know more about Hindemith than Motown.

    I can't speak for our sextet, but I am sure most of the people attending enjoyed the Saline Fiddlers.