Day of Music

Every once in a while I hear about something interesting, investigate, and act on it. And when it all turns out good, I am so proud of myself.

I am so proud of myself.

bluesband

Saturday, the husband and I trekked downtown to Jones Hall and the Houston Symphony’s Day of Music. They had stuff going on all day on five different stage areas. In the morning there were crafts, activities, and the instrument petting zoo for kids. They had food trucks in the plaza across the street. The Houston Symphony performed two concerts to bookend the day but all the music in between was local groups. We weren’t in it for the long haul, but the bits and pieces we sampled, not to mention the people watching, made for a great day. It’s not too hard to sell the husband on something like this, if I show enough enthusiasm myself, but when I mentioned the harmonica clinic, he was all in.

After wandering around and checking out most of the venues, the first group we listened to was Clandestine – Celtic Music with Texas Style.

celtic

I took this picture from three levels up, looking down on the front/main lobby of Jones Hall. I’d say they had a nice turn out for the event! From this high up, ALL you could hear were the bagpipes. I can assure you that the architect for Jones Hall paid little regard to the acoustics in the lobby. So we worked our way down to a better vantage point, both visually and aurally.

Clandestine is a four member group. I expected the bagpiper and the fiddler. One guy was playing a cittern, apparently common in Celtic music, but I didn’t know what it was. Husband suggested it was a lute-shaped guitar, which is pretty much exactly right. I was absolutely mesmerized watching the lead vocalist and percussionist play the bodhran, an Irish frame drum. You play it with both ends of a drumstick, sort of like a cross between a drummer and a baton twirler.

By this time, the first performance of the symphony had ended, One of the pieces was Casey At The Bat, narrated by Milo Hamilton. We passed Milo signing stuff for people afterwards. The husband went over and shook his hand. I just took a picture of him rockin’ the argyle socks.

milo

Next we headed to the harmonica clinic, headed up by a board member of the Houston Blues Museum.

harmonica

You know you’re in Houston when a dude who still has his Indian accent is entertaining you with “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan, giving you a lesson on harmonicas and the blues, and leading a group of 50 novice harp players in a rousing rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Amazingly enough, when accompanying a loud guitar player, and when all the harmonicas are in the same key, all the random blowing and drawing actually sounds more like music than noise. The husband learned that you are actually supposed to try to play one note at time. Sigh. I learned that in blues music, the harmonica is played in a different key from the rest of the music (called cross harp). Hmm.

Then we hit the food trucks for lunch. With performances all day, there were lots of musicians mulling about with the rest of us. I realized that some members of the Joy of Djembe Drumming group were my age and ethnicity when I saw them in getting in the elevator wearing their African garb. There were plenty of opportunities to play “Guess What’s In That Case?”

what is it

This dude was just waiting for his lunch. I thought the case might contain a small child, but it was awfully still. Any other guesses?

We caught the end of a set by Milton Hopkins and the Hit City Blues Band. Hopkins apparently has quite a resume in the music business and his group is quite famous on the local music scene. The audience was really enjoying their music, certainly the most enthusiasm of any of the performances we  watched. It was nearly impossible not to start tapping your toes, but this couple was dancing non-stop, doing some seriously choreographed moves.

dancers

Husband got a bit claustrophobic trying to listen to Mercury Baroque, so we headed outside to hear Blue Steel, a steel drum ensemble from Aldine High School.

 

blue steel

 

It was interesting as the director explained the differences between the various drums in the ensemble. It you look at the right side of the picture you can see the five true oil barrel drums that are the bass drums of the ensemble. They were clearly school kids and not professionals, but I think it’s pretty cool that a local high school has put together a steel drum band.

There was a lot more to hear at the day of music, but the siren song of the Flying Saucer was calling us. Picture perfect way to end the day.

rubaeus

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