I’m not fond of loud crowded pubs, but Old Man Luedecke is playing at tonight, so I’m going to give it a go. Not once in my life have I seen anyone play a banjo. It’s just something I’ve never been exposed to. I got a banjo last year for my birthday but haven’t had the time to learn it. Too busy trying to make a living and all that crap. I’m thinking I should have picked up a six-string banjo first and then worked my way up to 5 strings once I had the time to get into it. That would have killed the learning curve and at least I would have been playing something over the past year instead of barely touching my 5-stringer. I’m moving into a new house, though, in about 2 weeks where I can let loose on the banjo without disturbing any upstairs neighbours (a severe deterrent for many of my current musical ambitions, as unambitious as they are). If I get any good, I’ll start posting banjo stuff in the fall. That’s something to look forward to.
So I’m going to check out Old Man Luedecke tonight and hope the experience inspires me to get off my butt and start playing the banjo. I’ll update this post tomorrow after I’ve seen the show, if there’s anything to report. That’s something else to look forward to.
You can go back to ignoring this blog now. That’s if you’ve read this far, which you probably haven’t. Good thing, because if you keep reading this to the end, you’ll — shit, gotta go!
UPDATE: Old Man Luedecke was fantastic. I’m definitely dusting off my old banjo as soon as I move into our new house. I loved it. His banjo playing is just as versatile as any guitar or stringed instrument I’ve heard. The Old Man should put out a live CD.
UPDATE #2: I wrote this as a comment, but here it is again. My take on seeing Old Man Luedecke live at a pub in St. John’s, Newfoundland:
They advertised the show for 8pm, but there was a warm up act and he didn’t start playing until 9:30pm, by which time the pub was packed. I’d say about 200 people, maybe more. Difficult to judge. Me and Jenny and our friend, Mike, found a spot in the back in the corner where we had to stand for the whole night. Finding a table is never easy (although our friend Mike abandoned us when some friends of his family invited him to a table close to the stage). We drank Guinness, a pint each. If I hadn’t been in the back away from most of the crowd, I’m not sure how long I would have lasted. I don’t love crowds. But it was tolerable.
So Old Man shows up around 9:30, goes in back, puts on what looks like a wool suit, sits down at a chair on the stage (a small platform about 6 inches off the ground with some speakers in the corner) and starts playing his banjo. Most of the audience was standing, so it was difficult to see him. I got a few glimpses of his banjo, but that was about it. Mostly I just saw his head. Jenny couldn’t see him at all.
He sounded drunk, but I think that may be the natural cadence of his voice. I enjoyed hearing him talk about Nova Scotia. He lives in Chester. I’m always missing Nova Scotia.
He seemed like a nice guy, personable and friendly, intelligent and self-deprecating. His banjo style is a mix between picking and strumming, always melodious, no crazy fast blue grass stuff. His songs were entertaining and easy to hum along to, sincere but not too serious. It made for an enjoyable evening.
I loved the sound of his banjo. He had moments where he really picked the hell out of it, and other moments where he’d fall into quiet solos which would hush the audience, everyone leaning in to listen. His voice would go low too, almost moving at times.
In the past month I’ve seen Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Old Man Luedecke. I enjoyed Cohen the most (better than anything I’ve heard from his records; it transformed his music for me) and Luedecke second best. Yup, I enjoyed Luedecke more than Bob Dylan. Dylan was impressive, but I saw him in a large arena and the sound wasn’t so great. Unless it’s in a small venue, or you’re close to the stage, it’s almost not worth going to large venue concerts.
Someone should invite Old Man Luedecke to Alaska. I think he’d fit right in. Real good down to earth music. And don’t ask me how to pronounce his last name. No clue.