Saturday, November 27, 2021

Am I in the cool yet? After 20 years of blogging!?

Oh my! The second pandemic year of 2021 is almost over and I haven't added a new page here since December 2019! Here's a lot of catching up in a short space... and a plug for one of my most recent musical discoveries -- not an old video clip like previous entries here, but a podcast that has accumulated something like 300 hours of music and musician interviews, "Get Up In the Cool." Its name, by the way, is from a tune recorded in 1929 by Eck Robertson that makes me think about climbing up to Rocky Knob in Floyd, Va., on a hot summer day. But the podcast is cool in another way. More about that in a minute. First, a couple of my own short smartphone video clips...

I have been playing and listening to music at home and at outdoor jam sessions like that one on the street in Floyd and others in Blacksburg and Radford, Va., after social-distancing rules and vaccination made sharing music possible again. And I have been writing about those things -- but on Facebook and YouTube, not here. 

The Floyd Country Store Sunday afternoon jams eventually moved back indoors, as shown above, but as winter approaches, most of the others still have not found homes. Online through 2020 and 2021, I have attended Floyd Country Store, Floyd Handmade Music School and Augusta Heritage Workshop friends' "Zoom" and YouTube events, and finally -- "armed" with two vaccinations, a booster and flu shot, went to the October Augusta Heritage Center Old-Time Retreat for music classes, jams, and even some singing and dancing.

Alas, the week I returned was the start of a month-long cold that made sleeping through the night difficult, but even that was an excuse for musical discovery: I'd heard of, but had not explored, an oldtime fiddle-and-banjo oriented podcast called "Get Up In the Cool," which turned out to be a wonderful way to spend those sleepless nights. 

Before I started listening, banjo virtuoso and interviewer Cameron DeWhitt had already accumulated 270 interview-jams with fiddlers and banjo players across the U.S. and Canada, including current friends and teachers of mine from Ithaca to Dittyville -- and even Hank Bradley, an inspiring guitar, banjo and fiddle player I studied with back around 1978 and have not seen since!

I hope all of these links aren't overwhelming... but at least I feel I'm getting caught up on the latest incarnation of Blogger, including the ability to easily post my YouTube clips and switch between a modern "Compose view" and vintage 20th century "HTML view" of the page I'm writing.

Blog history... 
In addition to noticing that I have been neglecting this blog for almost two years, I noticed today that this blog is now 20 years old! Hosted-for-free blogs are like that... people lose interest, regain interest... sometimes they even die. I knew a "serial blogger" called Jimbo -- interested in music and old-time radio -- who died a few years ago, leaving behind probably thousands of pages of his writing on linked-together podcasts and blogs about various 1930s to 1960s radio shows, none of them signed with his real name.

My "Blogger" site started in a classroom at Emerson College, where I taught a freshmen seminar called "Digital Culture: Mediamorphosis," in which students explored media history while learning to use Web tools and Photoshop. The second time I taught the course, one of the students asked why I was having the class write raw HTML code on a campus server to create what I called "weblogs" when there was a new tool called Blogger designed to do the same thing with less work. 
The point was that I wanted the class to learn about the page-markup language that was "behind the curtain" at all websites. But I was embarrassed. I had used a couple of other "edit this page" online publishing sites, but at that point Blogger (or "Blogspot") was off my radar, so of course I gave it a try. And this site is the result. Over the years I would create other blogs and websites with Radio Userland, Manila, WordPress, Django, Drupal and more. 
But this one -- thanks to Google's ownership -- is the oldest of my "free hosting" sites. This "Boblog" has evolved over the years from classroom-discussion demo to regular postings, either personal or journalism-class-related (especially 2008-2009 at Radford U, after my Radio Userland host went out of business and while I was in transition to WordPress), and finally reborn as an occasional space for writing about music, while my other sites, and fill other needs.