Welcome to Bloom's General Store. Since my choice of music has always been wide this seemed like a great title for this project. Thanks to my sister and her husband, Larry and Ellen (AKA-LA Ell) Underhill, I found out that this is real place! Located in downtown LA in the loft district at 716 Traction Ave., Bloom's General Store is the brainchild of Joel Bloom (no relation that I know of). This is a comfortable hang out that sells magazines, milk, soda, cigars and general sundries. It's the place to go when you need a quart of milk and you don't want to drive miles to get it.
My undying thanks to Larry Underhill for his fine photos that became the cover of this project. Larry is one of LA's finest photographers and I am very lucky to have his work grace my project. My thanks also to Joel Bloom and his unique store.
I've tried to explore some new musical areas as my skill with the bowed dulcimer increases. I hope you enjoy my musical meanderings.
- Fykerund's Farewell to America- Lars Fykerund, an exceptional Hardanger fiddle player from Norway, visited the United States in the 1890's. He stayed three years and made a lot of money playing. Unfortunately for him, he spent it as fast as he made it. At the end of three years he had just enough to get back to Norway. He wrote this beautiful tune on the boat going back.
This is my distillation of what is a much more complicated piece of music. I played this on my Hardanger bowed dulcimer which has five sympathetic strings in an attempt to capture more that Norwegian flavor.
- Talencort- from the French Canadian tradition. This little-known tune was found on an old 78 and has been recorded by at least one modern Quebecois band. I arranged this for bowed dulcimer, clarinet, and bowed bass. The tune lends itself to this interlocking approach where parts echo and answer each other. My thanks to Harry for showing this tune to me.
- Belles of Lexington- one of those great old time fiddle tunes with avery distinctive melody. I learned it playing in a session at Clifftop and it stuck.
- Bjorklingen Marchen- one of the chestnuts of the Swedish nyckelharpa repertoire. The nyckelharpa, or keyed fiddle, is a wonderfully distinctive sound that I have loved for decades. They are often played in twos and duets like this lots of fun to play.
- El Invierno del Alma- literally The Winter of the Soul. I wrote this for one of my wife's best friends, Anne. At the time I wrote it, she was going through a terrible time in her life. I am happy to say she is doing much better now.
- Lucy Long's Mystery- Lucy Long is a lovely player and scholar from Ohio. Last year we were playing in a session together and she played this tune for me. I was struck with its tunefulness and simplicity. I had her teach it to me the following morning. She did not know the name, thus the title.
- Marcha do Golpho- this is another great tune that Harry showed me. It is Portuguese and from a tradition of European music that I have always loved. I hope to do more like it as my skill with the bowed dulcimer increases.
- Old Devil/Little Star- Old Devil was written by Harry and I think is one of his more distinctive tunes. We have had a lot of fun playing it in different contexts. Little Star came out of Harry's Narmour and Smith project. I thought it was delightfully querky and learned it. A huge amount of fun to play and one that never fails to confound the more prosaic players!
- Heart of Oak- I have been an 18th century re-enactor for about 15 years now and hold the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major in the 84th Foote. There is a tradition of "singing out the troops" before marching off to battle. This is one of the real standards for doing so. Done up as a bowed dulcimer trio.
- Diamond Joe- another of my all time favorite old time tunes. Another one that is fun to play with fourty or fifty of your closest friends.
- La Golondrina- when I was small, my father used to take me down to Olvera Street in downtown LA. This is where the last remnants of the original pueblo is. On Sundays they had Mariachi bands playing and this tune was one of the more popular ones that they played. I have always loved the tune. Last year I played this arrangement with two friends from Chapel Hill, Jeff and Janet Furman, as our entry in the twin fiddle contest at Fiddler's Grove in Union Grove, North Carolina. We won first place!!
- Mississippi Echoes- another from the canon of Mississippi tunes that have become so popular among the old time players. Lots of fun to play and an opportunity to do circus music.
- Missing You- I wrote this back in the 70's on the concert zither. My wife had gone out to California to visit her parents and this came out as I was sitting down at the zither, playing and thinking about her not being there. My thanks to Mark Murphy for his wonderful cello solo and to Tim Pitt for his inspired guitar playing that set the mode so nicely. I hope to do more like this in the future.
- Walkin' With Josie- I wrote this little tune while we were doing the recording. Josie our senior citizen in our canine collection. She is half cocker, half Brittany. When I take her on walksshe really comes to life and I tried to capture that in the piece. The pauses are her pauses to fully investigate her environment.
- Eli Green's Cakewalk- one of those great Turn-of-the-Century tunes with a very engaging melody. Music like this isn't heard a lot these days but I feel it's an important item to stock in my General Store.
- Shove that Pig's Foot Further into the Fire/ The Snouts and Ears of America- two great fiddle tunes. The first is fairly well known among old time fiddle players these days and is heard a lot at fiddler's conventions. The second I found in Hill and Country Tunes, a great collection of tunes from Western Pennsylvania. A lot of people are familiar with Sara Armstrong, which appeared on my last recording. Sara Armstrong was a fine player from Western Pennsylvania and Snouts and Ears comes from her. So many of the tunes in this book have a very strong Northumbrian flavor to them and this one, especially so. This is one time when a great title and a great tune are linked!
- Virginia, Ma Chere- I wrote this waltz for my wife a couple of years ago at Clifftop. We had just finished playing a long waltz session and most folks had headed off to other places. I was sitting in the campsite, noodling on the bowed dulcimer and this came out. If it hadn't been for Harry insisting that I record it right then and there I probably would have forgotten it. Thanks Harry!
Since I made the first bowed dulcimer CD, I have developed a lot of different models of the bowed dulcimer. These have come about because someone asks "do you think you could ...". You can see examples of this by going to www.boweddulcimer.com
. My thanks to everyone who contributed to this projectj and made it possible. My thanks also goes out to all the bowed dulcimer players out there who continue to attend our events and play the instrument. If you want more information about any of this, check out the website or just get in touch with me. I'm always happy to talk about my favorite subject.