Q&A October 2011, Part III
12/1/2011 (updated 2/5/2012)

I'm a fan from Italy and I really appreciate your site. Interesting news, lyrics, discography, all very updated... everything a RT (<) fan can wish for. Thanks, Andrea

PS the Live at BBC set is great, but the first 4 songs, notwithstanding the great performances, have a rather mediocre sound, it's so bad it actually takes away much of the listening pleasure... It seems incredible to me that the great John Peel couldn't come up with something better... particularly since the following sessions boast such great, rich sound... I'd like to know your thoughts about it... Thanks again!

The sound on the early BBC recordings was not great. They probably decided to go with those selections for rarity value, rather than sound quality.

I mostly want to simply thank you for the inspirational music you made last night in Albany. I haven't been that moved by an instrumentalist since I saw Ravi Shankar and Segovia as a young kid. I've seen, heard, and played with countless thousands since - and this jaded old musician felt the magic like a young kid who "gets it" for the first time. Your songs and delivery are wonderful as well, not to slight that in the slightest. In fact, without the soulful and beautifully crafted songs, your playing would still be great but it's the combination that makes it magic. It was the songwriting that first drew me in, then as I paid more attention to your playing it really blossomed for me. Thank you, thank you, and thank you again!

Now here's my question. We were told not to take pics or video or record last night - and I did not. However, the way that I got to the gig went like this: my girlfriend told me I should listen to a beautiful song she found browsing online. Yes, Beeswing. I was politely checking out a youtube live video (pro recording BTW) and had to admit that it was damned good. yeah I've known about RT for a long time but just somehow didn't get to it. Then I tried to play it with her because she likes to sing with me. But it was not as easy as it sounded. Thus began endless youtubing of every lo-fi video I could find to dissect and try to play various songs of yours and digest some of your playing style. Even a little tiny bit. Just to get the tunings, capoings, and fingerings remotely similar... Ultimately we bought lots of music, will continue to, bought tix to the show and will do so at every future opportunity, and I tell all my friends to do the same.

What are your thoughts on people videoing your shows and posting them on the web; pro or con? Thanks, Danny

This is a debate we have a lot. I don't mind lo-fi taping/recording, unless the process interferes with other peoples' enjoyment of the show, and from the feedback I get, sometimes it does. If the recorders are very discreet, no one's nose will be out of joint. If they compromise the show by getting in peoples' sightlines, distracting lights, movement, etc., then I'd rather they didn't. I also want people focused totally on the show, not distracted by taking notes or operating cameras and recorders.

Your Ithaca concert Oct 8 was absolutely thrilling, astounding, overwhelming. The spirits of the place are clearly in love with you. I've been listening to Dream Attic in my car, and your voice has been haunting me, taunting me (see what I mean?). I loved the beret randomizer. I do the same sort of thing in everyday life to nudge myself out of habitual patterns -- I'll randomly choose a movie, a recipe, a color to wear, a concert. Chance encounters can be powerful....

My question is this: now that you've been experimenting with the randomizer on tour, do you feel that the selection is really random or that it's somehow right for that particular time and place? Kate Bloodgood

That's a very philosophical question, of a type rarely encountered on this page! I feel the uniqueness of each show, whether I sing the same songs or different, because the audience and the venue make it a one-off event, and if the songs change as well, then it can go up another gear. I'm just trying to get inside each song, with varying success from night to night.

Hi - I've been a bass player for the last xxx yrs and rarely strayed - except once to the Central French bagpipe after a trip to the Ste Chartier Festival, and once more just recently - to the Mandocello, which makes a sound in the real world that I thought was confined to my head only in quiet moments…. A little bee told me that a mando was used on Strict Tempo (some tracks) and that the buzz was that it was gonna be released on CD sometime this year. I'm trying to collect up recordings featuring the instrument as - quite frankly - I'm not sure what I'm doing with it yet. It'll all evolve in time, but I need a kick start…. Any info/advice/other leads greatly appreciated… Cheers, Paddy Shaw

Mandocello is wonderful instrument, occasionally used in celtic settings, where it can compliment or replace the guitar/mandolin.bouzouki. Normally tuned the same as a cello, but can be tuned other ways. I use it in several places in Strict Tempo - it's used as a bass on 'Rockin' In Rhythm', for instance, and an octave under or as a drone on the dance tunes. I have a huge one made by Dallas that's at least a hundred years old, and it sounds very full. A thousand and one uses.