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Stringband

Fatted Calf Stringband cover

Fatted Calf Stringband cover

I finally went to TD’s today, on a get-up-and-stretch break from doing homework at Soma. I walked out with 5 CDs for about $30, a couple used, and a couple brand new. Happy day.

The one I couldn’t wait to pop in and listen to was Fatted Calf Stringband. I just heard of the band about a week ago, that they sometimes played squaredances. I am not a squaredancer, but I do like strings! So when I saw the CD, I took a look. The first thing I do when picking out music is look at the album art and track names, but this simple, embossed cardboard cover didn’t say anything but “Fatted Calf Stringband.” It was also the most expensive of all the CDs I had in my hand at that moment (but still only $10!). What made me buy it? Well… 1) it’s local music 2) it’s strings and 3) the minimalistic, uninformative cover had red stars on it. I’m a sailor. I like red stars. If it had had one red star on the left and one green star on the right (red for port, green for starboard), I would’ve paid more than $10 for it, but then I would have expected sea chanteys. So the two red stars are perfect. (Your homework: Look for green 5-point stars. They are extremely hard to find. Scrapbooking supplies, rubber stamps, iron-on patches… stars come in red, white, blue, gold, silver, and sometimes white. No green. What does the world have against starboard?)

Anyway, I bought the thing, carefully unwrapped it, and pulled out the single-sheet insert. I didn’t recognize any of the track names. The straight-to-the-point liner notes say: “Recorded in one day with one mic by Mike Bridavsky at Russian Recording, Bloomington, Indiana. The Fatted Calf Stringband is: Brad Baute fiddle/guitar Joel Lensch fiddle/guitar Alex Mann bass Chris Mattingly banjo.” Just “one day.” Not which day, which year, etc. Just “one day… in Bloomington, Indiana.” I like it.

So how does it sound? It sounds like a fantastic sampler of a band you really want to see live. This isn’t surprising, given the genre. This is music that is meant to be seen, heard, and experienced. It’s best with a little give and take, a little audience interaction. For now it’s a substitute for “the real thing,” great for a work day you just can’t escape or a drive in the car.
To discover more of Fatted Calf, including streaming audio, check out their Myspace page

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Eleven Days

I got off the boat eleven days ago. I worked there for $40 a day.

Today I found a 9-6 receptionist job for $15 an hour. With an hour for lunch, this boils down to $120 to sit in an office all day and be nice to people. I can do that. In fact, I’ve done it before. I’ve counted on those hour-long lunch breaks to get my reading, studying, and even exercise done.

That seems like a different world.

For the past year, I have spent at least six days per week at work, at an average of fourteen hours per day. I was actually very excited to find a job in my field that paid $40 a day! These were labor-filled days. Keeping up the boat demanded heavy lifting, climbing, cleaning, hauling, painting, sanding, teaching, and in all kinds of weather and all kinds of conditions. Some days the students were screaming because there was water washing over the deck and they couldn’t keep themselves upright. Some days were so hot and still I couldn’t even get them excited about petting fish.

Eleven days… off the boat for eleven days. Most of these eleven days I’ve been sitting on the floor staring at this computer screen: sometimes surfing, occasionally chatting, but mostly job-hunting. I’ve had a wireless connection from the first moment of consciousness in the morning until finally drifting off, unable to type another word. I haven’t had to work twenty-eight consecutive days for each day of leisure, and I haven’t had to travel for an hour to the nearest e-cafe for Internet, just to spend my last $1.50 on chamomile tea because it’s the cheapest thing on the menu. I haven’t woken up in the wee small hours of the morning to discover that I’m laying on deck in the middle of a torrential downpour, having to run around closing hatches and putting in weatherboards before rushing off to my stuffy cabin, looking for dry clothes and dry blankets before drifting off for the one or two remaining hours of sleep I might be able to squeeze in.

I’ve had a grocery store, a movie theatre, a library, a bank, even a Target within walking distance these eleven days. I’ve been able to see new places in broad daylight- during business hours, even, and been able to buy souvenirs.

I’ve been offered what I consider to be three days’ pay for half a day’s work. I’ve slept in till noon. I’ve watched movies and read magazines. I’ve washed the dishes that only I have dirtied. I’ve had a hot shower every day. I haven’t run out of toothpaste, deodorant, or clean clothes. I’ve even been to the nail salon.

Eleven days… Maybe day twelve is where the fun begins.

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