Dean Rosenthal is smack dab in the middle of the Annapolis music scene. Gordon first took Pony and me to see him on the October version of “First Sunday” (a tradition in Annapolis that runs from May through October, whereby a portion of West Street is closed off to only pedestrian traffic, various merchants set up stalls, and live music is added into the scene). Dean was playing in a group dubbed “The Basement Band” (I suspect one of various incarnations that feature various local musicians that Dean has known and played with over the years). Their repertoire included a heavy dose of gems from Dylan and The Band, played with a winning combination of easy graceful and understated confidence.
It was a few days later that we were invited to join new friends, Dave and Nancy, in the basement of The Ramshead, to hear “Three Piece Racket”; again, featuring Dean on guitar, along with Gary Wright on mandolins, and Tom Friedrich on amplified tambourine. It was a tight trio. Dean called the tunes, keeping the audience tuned in with a mix of blues, country, some more Dylan, and some late 60’s and early 70’s gems. And there were a couple of other local musicians invited to join in on tunes, here and there.
Again, it was a good, solid performance; the kind that comes from guys who have played together forever. But I was particularly taken by Tom Friedrich and his amplified tambourine. He balanced the tambourine on his left knee, bouncing his leg to provide the sort of steady back beat you would expect from a hi-hat symbol. He played the head of the tambourine with a stiff brush, and used the thumb of his left hand (the one basically holding the tambourine in place) to vary the tone and pitch of the head. It provided a very effective array of sounds; sort of a trap set all within a small tambourine.
I got a chance to chat with Mr. Friedrich at the end of the gig about his use of the tambourine. He told me he had learned the technique from Tom Amadei, of the Subdudes (a Colorado trio). We had a good chat about an informal Annapolis/Colorado connection. Meanwhile, both Tom Friedrich and Dean Rosenthal gave me some tips on some potential gigs in Annapolis that I could look into.
Then there was swimming.
There are three things that tend to center me: playing guitar, meditation, and swimming. Actually, I would say that all three share an element of meditation. If I can manage all three in one day, I am positively shiny. On Friday (October 11th), I enjoyed that blessed combination. Another new friend clued me in to the Arundel Olympic Swim Center in Annapolis. It is a beautiful, huge swimming pool, with several lanes set up just for swimming laps. It costs $6 a day for residents of Arundel county; $8 for out-of-towners like myself. I still figure it was a bargain. I had not had a chance to swim since we had passed through my old hometown of Burlington (about three weeks ago), so I tried not to over do it, but enjoyed a solid 25 laps of swimming bliss. Later that day, I had a chance to meditate, followed by playing a bit of guitar. All this on top of enjoying a fantastic meal (and several fine wines) with our new friends, Dave and Nancy. All in all, just about a perfect day.
Gordon and Stacia had both been traveling for most of the week, leaving us to house sit and continue to work on the tour, website, and such. Often, I would sit in the navigator’s chair of the RV, (where there is a desk), with laptop computer, Kindle Fire , and my blue ring binder filled with my notes for various pending gigs. I was doing just that on Thursday afternoon when four young deer wandered onto Gordon and Stacia’s front lawn. Pony was reading back in the bedroom and I called her to come see (and bring her camera). The only challenge was that Rufus also came to see what was going on, and it took everything to keep him from barking and scaring away our visitors.
On Saturday, Gordon and Stacia returned from their respective travels, just in time to greet a couple of new guests: Robert and Martha. Robert is a research scientist, while Martha has worked for some thirty years as a sign-language translator. I had a really interesting conversation with Martha about deaf culture. She was telling me about the visual puns and the particular humor that is associated with sign language. I realize it should have been an obvious thing, but I had not previously considered the development of various linguistic features in sign language that we all but take for granted in verbal speech. There are puns and jokes, and a form of poetry, and lyricism. Of course there would be. All these things come from the core of one’s soul. These things must be communicated, shared. Still, it sort of set my imagination on fire, considering all of it.
The only downside of the last week was several days of rain that severely restricted our puppy’s ability to run and play. Consequently, he was getting very restless and a bit less well-behaved. I had managed to line up a gig or two in Massachusetts. We decided to head out with the intention to spend a week or so in a state park in northern New Jersey. It was time to head out for our next adventure.