A couple of nights ago Randal Bays, a talented Irish fiddler and guitarist, was in Tucson for a house concert; about 40 people showed up. I never met him before but heard only good things about him. And what I heard was true; he not only put on a good show, he really made an effort to make sure everyone present felt welcome and included.
I asked if I could take some photos of him while he played, to post on this blog, and he was kind enough to say yes. The photos look fine, but in them you can’t see how friendly he is; most fiddlers, when you take a picture of them, are looking down or away and they look asleep or else deep in thought, though I remember one who smoked a pipe while playing, Vincent-someone, a big tall fellow, that was years ago, in New Zealand.
So please click here for a better photo than what I was able to take; Randal’s website is impressive.
It is so hard to be a traveling musician these days, dependent on patrons–either listeners or students–for an income. While listening to Randal, I found myself wishing musicians and artists like him got more support. And why not? The arts greatly improve the quality of our lives.
I was talking to my fiddle pal Beanie today–of the Red Wellies–about the show and about my sense that it’s probably never been harder to be a musician on the road, trying to drum up interest and business. Even in this nation’s Great Depression there was funding for the arts, which supported the likes of Mark Rothko. Geez. And yet today, we have no interest–as a collective–in giving the next Rothko a leg up. You’d think I’d no longer be stunned at what we value, as a collective. But, I continue to be stunned. No doubt it’s why I spend so much time with my sewing machine and my fiddle.
Anyway, as for the house concert; it was a fantastic listening experience. A good friend of mine said later of Randal that he’s a real mensch: I agree. Well done! As they say in Ireland (perpetually, it seems, at sessions): lovely.