Contributed by Tom Bailey
Happy New Year FOG members! Time sure flies this time of year, we are all so busy with activities of the Season. It is so important to spend time with loved ones and friends, lest we not forget those who are not feeling joy during this time of year. The COPS gigs coming up this month provide an opportunity to share uplifting music with some of these folks. The set list was sent out at the beginning of December, so all members can see what we will be playing at the gigs. COPs gigs run from January through April; please think about coming to play with your fellow FOG members.
After the annual meeting last month, the Board distributed a survey to determine members’ interests. Primary goals of the survey were to find out who is interested in workshops, COPs gigs and paying gigs. Survey input will allow us to set up contact lists for workshops and gigs, as well as letting us know what type of workshops members are interested in for the coming year. But if you don’t send in your completed survey the Board will not know your interests. We will be cutting back on membership-wide email blasts, instead communicating just to those who are interested in receiving specific information. Some folks are tired of receiving so much “junk” email from so many sources that we don’t want to add to the pile. So, if you are interested, let us know!
A couple things came up in the annual meeting that have been communicated to the membership, but the Board wants to reiterate: First, a FOG financial meeting will be scheduled in the near future. We will have an end-of-year financial report. A proposed budget will be presented to guide some of the decisions for the coming year, i.e., number and scale of workshops; number of paying gigs we need to accept without placing a burden on the membership; any desired expenditures and so on. Second is a jam schedule; the 2nd Friday of every month will feature a slow jam from 6:30 until roughly 7:30, led by Pat Fink. A monthly gig practice will follow; this will be the ONLY Friday gig practice for the month. All other Friday evenings will be regular jams for everyone, not just members. A gig list for 2020 has been distributed with most of the available dates already filled. We are hoping this will allow members to plan on joining in some of the events. As we get workshops set up, those dates will be added to the list.
Another change for this year is that we won’t have a Music Committee, as the one that has been in place the last couple years has been basically inactive. Greg Roat will go back through the older FOG tunes and come up with a handful that we will add to the jam playlist for the month. There are a lot of great tunes that we have simply forgotten; now we will go back and enjoy these tunes we used to play all the time. Deb Abel has offered to continue writing up any new ones we want to add to the repertoire.
So, with the exciting plans to look forward to in 2020, I want to wish you a prosperous and Happy New Year.
Until next time – Play nice and play often!
A Little Taste of FOG
Contributed by Tom Bailey
By now everyone should be familiar with the Members’ Interest Survey. In the Comments section of the survey, one respondent suggested FOG needs a program to introduce members to our repertoire of 170+ tunes. Handing a FOG newcomer “the BOOK” can be a daunting experience for someone not used to FOG. When Julie and I joined in 2006, we paid our dues and were handed a massive stack of tunes. Where is one supposed to
start? We were familiar with old time music in Florida and the Carolinas, even Virginia, but this FOG music is different. It can be enough to scare someone away. So, when Mike presented this suggestion, it was decided we need to pursue such a program. The program would be for folks familiar with other music but not FOG’s, or folks wanting to learn the tunes commonly played at jam sessions, or even for folks just wanting to learn to play old time tunes. It would be for all instruments. The idea needs further discussion, but we are looking at possibly meeting at a member’s home and reviewing a handful of tunes chosen from the massive repertoire. The tunes would be announced ahead of time so attendees would have time to review the music before the date of the gathering. We would probably request for all involved to come up with a list of tunes they want to learn and then 5 or 6 would be chosen for each event. The hope would be to review and play the tune enough times that a participant would come away knowing the tunes well enough to play at any jam session.
Might you be interested in such a gathering? Please let us know; you could even add it to the “Other” section at the bottom of the survey. Think about it: a relaxed, no pressure, no judgement gathering where we can just share old time music!
Winter a Hazard for Instruments
Contributed by Kathy Schwar
Originally published in the December 2018 Fiddletter, information that bears repeating as we find ourselves firmly in the hand of winter’s chilly grip and our heated, drier homes.
I recently attended a workshop on caring for musical instruments during Rochester area winters. While much of the information may be common sense to some people, I found it really helpful for protecting instruments. As they say, “Instruments still think they’re trees,” though they are not, so they need special care in maintaining the wood and lacquer. Plus, the effects of the cold can affect the sound.
Dave Stutzman, of Stutzman’s Guitar Center, was the workshop speaker and this information is intended as a summary of “need to know” points:
- In winter, it’s all about maintaining humidity to prevent cracking. While every instrument will not crack, it is hard to say which will and which won’t. But Stutzman knows that harsh winters will bring so many panicked musicians in for repairs that he has had to turn some away.
- Keep instruments out of the cold as much as possible. But if they’ve been subjected to it for some time, let them acclimate, best for a few hours in their cases when they get home; don’t immediately open the case. He has actually seen that cause instantaneous cracking of the finish.
- An easy rule of thumb is that when you turn your furnace on for the season, start
humidifying your instrument(s). When you turn it off in late spring, humidifiers aren’t necessary.
- Keep your instruments in their cases, not on a stand, with a humidifier. This keeps the humidity there and also helps humidify the neck.
- If you use a console home humidifier know that the gauge on the machine may not be accurate. A digital hygrometer, bought from places that sell indoor-outdoor thermometers, more accurately tells you the humidity. You want to keep indoor humidity at 45 to 55%. Keep all your instruments in one room if you can. In winter the basement would naturally be more humid than upstairs, but don’t leave instruments there in summer.
- Some humidifier choices are the Dampit-type humidifier–easy to use but follow directions on the package. Also, hold it by both ends when shaking it out. MusicNomad’s The Humitar and similar options are available. If you fill the devices once a week routinely you’ll be reasonably sure there’s enough moisture. Even twice a week when temperatures plummet. Careful you don’t let them drip.
- In summer, by the way, keep instruments out of a hot car or loosen the strings. When outside keep them in the shade with the case cracked open. But overall, Stutzman said, instruments subjected to cold “lose more moisture than they gain” in heat.
FOG jams will be held at the Fairport/ Perinton VFW on Rt. 31F, from 7:00-9:00, each Friday in January. Come join us!