the beautiful perfect minimalism of del and dawg.

this is likely going to sound like i’m telling you yesterday’s weather, but my feeling is that there is likely too much generated useless data in the physical/external realm. this idea came to me as i was walking in an airport and passed one of those news shows they mysteriously beam at you every 8 feet on a flat screen hi-def. there’s a robotic person talking, a crawl of oblique non-sequitur on the bottom going by, and a graphic pie chart PLUS a corporate logo. so that realization brought forth a somewhat intense appreciation of minimalism in art; which brought about my diving in and studying about the topic. {first time i heard the concept was in a music appreciation course in college.}

i used to teach banjo in a small store in austin, working for one of my best friends in his guitar shop, seeing about 20 folks a week. in a general sense, it was harder to help someone fix a tune they had learned incompletely than it was to show them a new tune from the ground up. which to me was a good lesson in the fact that it’s much easier to put an idea into one’s head than it is to take one out. therefore, a person has to be ultimate degrees of selective about what goes in there. this speaks to the value of minimalist art.

it’s vitally important really to search out the best stuff. the physical plane is stuffed with copies of copies whose copies eventually became ads for a concept that was not designed with the end user’s best interest at heart. so i think we really have to search out the best ideas. the best art. {what is that definition? a great question.} i think towards that end, at this juncture on the space/time continuum {in a sense we are all on a type of spacecraft} minimalism makes a big point.

the downside of having a head full of ad/ideas that get placed there, is that the person is thus forced into reacting. in real life as it were, an overwhelmed overly-stressed person reacts. whereas a calm mind can receive. for example, if you get a chance to sit down with a master musician to speak or study, if you do all the talking, it’s unlikely you will benefit of the opportunity. the same is likely true in reading a great novel or poetry or listening to a great piece of music. there has to be a limiting of non-essential head clutter.

one of the great things happening in music right now is the del and dawg duo. just seeing those two guys play by themselves is an amazing gift. here’s part of what you get: they have known each other since 1966 i think. those two guys together pretty much represent a large portion of acoustic american stuff and are direct links to the first recorded masters, who were direct links to the great unknown abyss of unrecorded masters that go all the way back to the beginning of the current cycle of time. in other words, this is about the deepest study a person could make today, if they are at all interested in american acoustic music, learning to play a mandolin banjo guitar sing folk songs, anything in that part of the library. certainly if you are trying to be a professional musician while holding a banjo or something. or even appreciate the form as a listener. the repertoire is really the finest stuff from that period all kinda distilled down into it’s essence. they play into a mic so the audience has to actually listen and pay attention. that way you are getting the full beautiful tone of the instruments and voices. and these two old friends tell the stories of the songs as well. it’s an intense experience because when there’s a band you can look over at player A for a while then look over at player B,C,D check out the light show, look at your phone, talk to your workmate, look around. but with just the two guys playing into a mic, it draws your attention on the music itself and what these two masters are doing. and why. 

i think their work is a beautiful perfect minimalist statement where the idea is laid bare and everything stripped away with nothing extra. my idea is that if a person was interested in any music remotely related to picking music, this would be a really good study. and then to research where the songs all came from. it would likely take a person about 5 years to “get to the bottom” of their 2 cd recording. not necessarily to able to duplicate it, but to be able to grasp it conceptually.

i think those guys are the greatest thing going on in the acoustic/picking music realm. this kind of pure uncluttered expression is a valid response to things.