Dan Crary, ‘Lady’s Fancy’.

When I first got blown away by bluegrass music, I do recall running across Dan Crary’s name here and there, but somehow it all got lost after discovering Tony Rice’s astonishing work with the first David Grisman Quintet.  And so it took a number of years for me to circle back around to Crary as a composer.

Mistake.  Dan Crary is a monster and has been for a long time.  When I first started to set up a Pandora station for “work”, Crary was the first seed, and that has turned out to be an inspired choice.

I don’t remember finding a live clip of him playing “Lady’s Fancy” the first time I looked for one, but fortunately, there is at least one!

Duly bookmarked!

Steve Ball’s Airport Exercise.

Long-time Gaucho and general ace Crafty Steve Ball demonstrates his workhorse Airport Exercise, designed to stretch the fingers and otherwise provide a calisthenic challenge within a simple form.  Here, the brilliant addition of the moving bass line is a good reminder that exercises can also be musical, if we listen for it and respond in kind.

The tuning in the video is the Guitar Craft standard tuning, C2-G2-D3-A3-E4-G4, but obviously the core idea could be extended to any tuning with reasonably minor arrangement.

The exercise can be as simple as the core five-note pattern, which systematically stretches the fingers and provides a basic alternate picking challenge (the “1” alternates between an upstroke and downstroke), or as rich as what you see Steve doing here, adding parts, playing with muting, staccato vs. ringing notes, and having the exercise move against ensemble parts like Tony Levin’s added bass.

Bookmarked here for easy reference!