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  1. The Shetlands are sooooo far away from the mainland, just about everything about Shetland culture is different. (Just think back to the days before planes and reliable boats...the Shetlands grew up all by themselves, without too much mixing with the rest of Scotland, save for the Orkneys). If you ever meet a Shetlander, you can tell just by how they talk. It sounds so musical to me, soft and sort of lilting! I read an article about a musical group from the islands recently, but I can't recall whether the group was from the Orkneys or the Shetlands. Three sisters, or two sisters and a friend.
  2. I only know about sean nos dancing...in case you are interested The most noticeable difference between old style and modern Irish step dance is that the old style is done much closer to the floor. There is not an emphasis on picking up the legs and feet, so you don't see the high legs (for clicks, kicks, etc.) that you see in the modern style. Old style also has less emphasis on keeping the arms in perfect place (which in modern is down, glued to your sides, shoulders relaxed, hands made into fists with fingers curled around the thumb and fingernails touching your body). Old style dancing also places much less emphasis on "classic Irish step technique" (for lack of a better thing to call it!). Which is to say there is almost zero emphasis on crossing the legs and turning out the feet. Have you tried a google search? I would be surprised if there wasn't some branch of Comhaltas or one of the Gaelic leagues that did old style singing. (It seems to me that for every seemingly obscure topic, someone with fanatic knowledge has a website these days.) Finally, you might try looking through one of the books tracing the history of Irish (or "Celtic") music. There is a particularly good one I've seen, but I can't recall the title or author. (The book is at home, I am at work.) The cover is mostly a dark red color, and I think there is a bodhran on it. This book had recommended recordings for all of the styles/periods/groups it discussed.
  3. That curse engine is hilarious! (On the page from Sheila.)
  4. Yep, Yank, it was at the good ol' Cactus Cafe. One of the things I really miss about Austin. He's playing Portland though (and Corvallis and Seattle, if I get ambitious I could make those shows...) so I will get to see him this tour. You know he just released a new album You can order most of Dougie's recordings from his website. The prices are in pounds sterling, however, so they are not as inexpensive as they look. (Of course I paid something insane like 16.99 pounds sterling for 'Riof'--it had *just* been released--at Balnain House...but then it's a charitable venture, so...) In my experience, they are rare in the States. If you can find any shop that carries them, they are likely sold as imports (well duh, they ARE imports) and may cost $25 or more. The only one you are likely to find is the Putamayo recording. ("Putamayo Presents: The Dougie MacLean Collection") CDs are, of course, for sale at the live shows. I think they were $22 each when I saw him. They are available on Amazon.com but I don't remember what the prices are like. A few pop up every now and then on ebay (two months ago a guy sold six as a package for $65, and I'm kicking myself for not bidding, though I had two of them already). They often go for about what it would cost to buy them new.
  5. Dougie does have three sets of sheet music...I'm not sure what all is included with them, however. There is Songs 1, Songs 2, and Songs for Guitar (which includes piano music?). http://snaigow.com/cgi-bin/webcart/webcart...tain&CODE=PHOLD also linked to his homepage
  6. Dougie is my favorite musician! About five years ago, I was in the Balnain House highland music museum in Inverness. I was looking around, but I kept stopping to listen to the CD they were playing. Finally I asked what it was, and bought a copy. ("Riof," for those who are curious.) I do not know whether he has sheet music/tunebooks out, but you might try looking at his websites (I think his personal one is www.dougeimaclean.com, and you might also try Dunkeld Records, his label). FYI He's on tour these next few months in the great Northwest, and I might get to see him while he is in Portland! I saw him at a small place in Austin once, and it was AWESOME. (Unfortunately, he was either very tired or very not interested in his fans after the show, as I basically got the brush off immediately after he signed my CD--the one I'd carried home from Inverness).
  7. Flamenco's advice is good. I'd add that feedback often does not tell the whole story. Be very careful of anyone selling an instrument who is a regular seller of stuff (like an antique/estate sale type dealer) who says anything like "I don't know much about [name of instrument]s, but I'll answer all of your questions." It isn't that they are necessarily scammers, but they often don't know enough to be helpful. I asked one seller if there were any cracks anywhere on the violin, or noticeable repairs. She said no. When the violin arrived, it had a small chip off of one point, and a very, very obvious repair to an area around the left F hole. My advice (are we up to #50 yet?) is to spend your money locally. You may not get "the best deal" but if you buy from a reputable local shop, you should get a good return policy, maybe an upgrade/trade-in option, and customer service for those dollars. (This is also good for the local economy, helps smaller dealers stay in business, etc.) If you do not have a reputable local shop, or do not like what they have on offer, or want a custom instrument or something, stick to a reputable seller (like Shar or other places recommended by folks here who you trust).
  8. Where are you? I have beaucoup packing materials (some bubble wrap, tons of foam peanuts) and I would be more than happy to give it to you. (I'm in Portland, OR.) That offer is open to anyone, so if you need packing stuff, let me know.
  9. Crystal, I am sorry to hear you have lost your father. I have not lost a parent, so I do not know how you feel. I hope the sympathy of the folks here, and the knowledge that we are thinking of you/praying for you, provides some tiny amount of solace. Thank you for the reminder that life is too short to be caught up in pettiness.
  10. So I just started in a small group lesson with an OT style fiddle teacher. (One of the other students is actually learning mandolin.) The other fiddler bought an instrument through the newspaper, because this is her first crack at playing, she isn't sure she will stick with it, and she didn't want to spend a lot of money at this time. She got an Anton Breton instrument, and paid only $50. Unfortunately, the sound post was loose, and it and the bridge went kaplooey during the class. So she will need to have it fixed. (And probably get new strings, too.) Since I am totally underqualified to do so, I didn't offer up any opinon on what that might cost. But I am curious as to what you experienced folks would advise a raw beginner to be willing to pay to make that $50 fiddle playable. Also, how much you would sell it for later on (assuming the rest of the instrument is in great shape--no cracks, etc.). If I recall correctly, the Breton violins are basically student instruments, right? (She will probably upgrade after she is sure she will stick with it, and has some $$ to buy or rent a nicer instrument.)
  11. My music background is in piano (umpteen years of lesons), and voice (from first grade until the end of college I sang in at least one vocal group). I had wanted to play violin in the school orchestra, but our junior high didn't have an orchestra, and to take orchestra at the high school would have meant giving up my first hour class (Latin). Also, the school had a rule that I couldn't take both orchestra and choir. (Instead, I got useful classes like shop and home ec. Ugh.) After returning from a trip to Ireland, I took up competitive Irish step dancing, soon to be followed by ceili and set dancing as well. I completely fell in love with the music, as well. After seeing a variety of badass fiddlers at the Texas Scottish Festival and Highland Games (VERY MUCH recommended!!!) and Natalie Macmaster, I decided to rent an instrument and take some lessons. After all, if I don't start now, when will I? I took 6 or 8 formal baby violin lessons (private lessons through a community school program, via the school district), and then for a variety of reasons (job, car accident, moving across the country) didn't take more. But I bought the fiddle, and am now in a group class (three of us) with an old time teacher. I need just a wee bit more guidance from a live human being, I think. And I already have the Mel Bay Irish fiddler combo, the Kevin Burke tapes, and another intro video by some other Irish guy whose name I can't recall...so I've been working on some of my favorite tunes.
  12. I'm still a baby learner on this instrument, so I only own one (not the one, just one). I imagine that if I pursue this and continue to enjoy it, I will buy a nicer, better sounding violin as a reward/encouragement. In that case, I do picture having two violins: the nice one, and a "beater" to take to place where I would want a fiddle but might not be comfortable with the risk of taking the nice one. For example, there is one outdoor music festival I go to in Texas, and when I get better I think it would be neat to be able to join in the jam session. But in past years, it has rained like #$@!!, it's humid (welcome to Texas!) and the temperature has exceeded 100. Of course, this could just be me... my first teacher remarked on a few occasions that the violin is a pretty sturdy thing, and I'm too careful with it.
  13. Another vote for just keep doing it and doing it and doing it. I used to be terrified of public speaking, and now I think it's ridiculous amounts of fun.
  14. Incidentally, the yurts sleep 5, and cost $27/night. Fort Stevens State park (northern Oregon, near Astoria) would be something of a midpoint-ish place. Well, it's the most northern park I know of... I'll surf the WA state parks site some more too. http://www.oregonstateparks.org/park_179.php
  15. I've clicked around on that website, and it is tent camping only. My thought was originally to try to get cabins or yurts in case it rained (or something) as I wouldn't trust my (inexpensive student model that was all I could afford) violin to a tent. The advantage to a cabin or yurt is that it is up off of the ground, and provides some more substantial protection from the elements.
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