Sometimes all you gotta do is ask.

In my quest to learn the mandolin, I’ve been playing my favorite bluegrassy, folksy, old-school country bands on the stereo, and trying to ferret out the chords along with the music.

Johnny Cash (of course), Hackensaw Boys (my home-mountain band), Nickel Creek, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, Dixie Chicks, Greg Brown, Gram Parsons and my newest addiction: The Fox Hunt. One particular song by The Fox Hunt, “Lord, We Get High,” is the ultimate closing song…swaying and familiar and warm, a little drunk and a lotta heart. Naturally, I wanted to play it.

So for a good six-hour stretch one night, I figured out enough chords to almost get there. (Before you ask me why I didn’t Google the tabs, I did. They don’t exist for the band yet.) On my own, I was marginally successful. But one crucial chord alluded me. Something between the D and A. But before the G…and maybe it was D again, or some kind of 7th chord I didn’t know yet…or the A again and ARG!

At wits end and now unnaturally obsessed with the song, I did the unthinkable. I e-mailed the band and asked for help.

Imagine my shock when I actually got a reply:

the main progression of that song is d, a, b minor, g. that’ll take care of the intro, verses, and ending refrain. the only different part is the chorus, which is a, b minor, g. hope this helps, and have fun playing along!

Now I ask you, how awesome is that?! I got the missing chord (the B minor) AND I was reaffirmed in my belief that The Fox Hunt is one of the coolest new bluegrass bands around.

Check ’em out! “Lord, We Get High” isn’t on their site, but “Murder In My Heart” is, and it’s excellent.

P.S. Thanks Matt K!

Mando-Madness

After several months of learning on my $30 eBay special which has served me well as an intro instrument, I took the plunge: I bought myself a shiny new mandolin:

It’s an Ibanez M510. Low on price in the grand scheme of things, but good parts and better for the sum of them.

I would like to say I purchased it after careful research and respected recommendations (of which I had many from a very talented musician-friend). But the truth of the matter is that I walked into a music store that sold a few mandos, picked them all up, played my go-to chords (C, D and G) and chose the one that sounded the prettiest. Not particularly methodical–which caused me no end of distress for the first 24 hours after the purchase. There was much second-guessing and doubt. But then I would pick her up (it’s a “her” though she hasn’t yet told me her name) and she would reassure me in clear tones that sang out: You done good, sweetheart. I spent most of Sunday playing her, finding her particular buzzes and tweaks, adjusting them where I could, but mostly embracing her personality. I think we’re going to get on just fine.

And apropos of nothing, but worth a mention: The soundtrack to The Waitress has an excellent cover of Howard Jones’ “No One Is To Blame” by Emile Millar that I have listened to 23 times since downloading it last week, according to iTunes. The movie is stunning in its simplicity; the song complements.