Tim O’Brien – Hey Joe

I came across this video of Tim O’Brien, Jerry Douglas, and John Doyle playing the classic song Hey Joe.


I love everything Tim O’Brien does.  He can play straight up bluegrass, writes great tunes and songs, and really seems to bring folks of different talents together to create something.  The first album of his that caught my attention was The Crossing.  Its a mixture of instrumental tunes and songs, combining irish, bluegrass, and appalachian influences.  It has the arranging and hot picking that I like in modern string band music, combined with the modal and ancient sound of celtic music that has always appealed to me. 

Lately I have just not been feeling much inspiration when playing solo celtic guitar.  Perhaps its from spending the last year working on this cd, and really arranging and getting these tunes down tight.  But it just doesn’t excite me like it used to.  Not that I am going to stop playing, I think I just need to move some new things into my practice routine to break up the staleness.  Here is what I have been working on lately.

  • Warm Up/Technical Exercises. These come mostly from the Pumping Nylon book, and are aimed at improved technical facility in the left and right hand.  Its oriented towards classical players, but I think anyone can benefit from alot of it.
  • Learn to flatpick some fiddle tunes. I’ll dabble with flatpicking occasionally, but never really with enough focus to get a bunch of tunes down.  I would like to be able to flatpick more celtic tunes in the CGDGCD tuning so i can work them into live shows, as well as perhaps the next cd. I have been working on learning a few blugrass tunes in standard tuning.  I have some friends that play bluegrass, and it would be nice to become a more well rounded guitar player.  So if i am hanging out with a bunch of musicians that don’t play irish music i can still contribute, have fun, and jam.
  • Improvise more.  This is kind of connected to the bluegrass thing.  I miss improvising.  I used to do it some when i first started playing guitar, then more or less stopped when getting into celtic music, as that is not part of the genre.  The musical high from a good solo and flying by the seat of your pants approach is fun.  At the moment i am mostly doing this with bluegrass fiddle tunes.

Something i have trying to keep in mind with all this is to be flexible with my approach.  I will plan things out for a certain practice, but i won’t hesitate to scrap the entire thing or move onto to secondary goals if what i am presently playing is not inspring me.  I think in the end picking up the guitar as much as possible is what matters.

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