|November 17th, 2023
I decided I'd host a party with board games and quieter conversation in our apartment upstairs, and music in the empty downstairs apartment. I spent the whole evening downstairs so I don't know how games went, but I'm very happy with how the music went!
Since people were coming from out of town and probably wouldn't have their own instruments, I set up the room with a range of options: keyboard, footdrums, electric bass, electric mandolin, (classical) guitar, violin, shakers, sousaphone, baritone, trumpet, whistle, etc. A friend brought their flute and steel-string guitar. This was probably overkill: mostly people were interested in the keyboard, steel-string, bass, mandolin, and drums.
As is common with this sort of musician gathering I didn't know in advance what kind of music we'd end up playing. Some things I remember:
Simple fiddle tunes: Angeline the Baker, Sandy Boys. A few people knew them, others could pick them up, others felt a bit awkward and left out.
Secular Solstic canon: The Circle, haMephorash, Still Alive, Brighter than Today (Boston version), Level Up (simplified), We Will All Go Together, Somebody Will (not simplified), God Wrote the World, Uplift, Hymn to Breaking Strain. Maybe some others? When we played Brighter Than Today a crowd came downstairs partway through to join in on the singing.
Dance music: we made up some music for swing, waltz, and polkas. Swing and waltz were not taught or called; I taught a (three couple) Kerry set.
Sing-alongs: a mixture of looking up lyrics on phones and the Rise up Singing sequel. I remember at least Viva la Vida, I Want You Back, Let it Go, and the House of the Rising Sun, but there were a bunch. Some of them fell apart (it can be really hard to judge whether you have anyone who knows a song well enough to lead it, and sometimes you think you know a song but you really only know the chorus) but mostly they went well and were fun.
Probably about 80% songs with lyrics, 20% instrumental? I was excited that lots of people tried the footdrums, and was generally really pleased with both how musical people were and how willing they were to try things out of their comfort zone.
We went for about four hours, with some people staying the whole time and others filtering in and out. Averaging maybe 15 people at a time? I had a really good evening, and it felt like a great way to wind down from a weekend full of relatively intense 1:1 conversations.