Missouri native and MVFS founder Gerald Trimble plays his first gig in KC in 5 years when he plays at the Pilgrim Chapel in Kansas City, Missouri’s midtown tomorrow night, Saturday November 17, 2007 at 8pm.
Trimble is a very influential musician in Celtic music circles in the KC area, and has collaborated with, among others, Mícheál Ó Domhnaill of The Bothy Band, the late great Scottish fiddler Johnny Cunningham, and Bouzouki ZoukFest man Roger Landes of KC’s legendary Scartaglen.
Somebody has described Trimble as “a cross between Planxty and Duke Ellington” which at least sounds great as a quote.
I’ll confess to long ago getting lost in the various supposed distinctions between a cittern and a bouzouki, even an Irish bouzouki, but you might be interested in this journey of the bouzouki from its Greek beginnings in Acoustic Guitar where Trimble’s contributions to Irish music are acknowledged:
The Irish-style bouzouki took on a life of its own in the Midwest. Missouri native Gerald Trimble, originally a guitarist, saw the bouzouki’s potential. “I tried to make it an instrument that could play more than just backup. I wanted to be able to improvise, play leads, and take the instrument to a new dimension.”
In 1983 Trimble collaborated with Scottish fiddler and producer Johnny Cunningham to make First Flight, a breakthrough recording featuring the bouzouki—or cittern, as Trimble called his ax at the time—playing traditional Irish fiddle and pipe melodies. Trimble’s next project was Heartland Messenger. “Johnny encouraged me to explore the music of Missouri fiddlers and the Ozark musical traditions that were part of my heritage,” he recalls. The resulting album was probably the first to feature the bouzouki as the lead voice in traditional American music.
Now before you explain to me what’s what in the world of citterns, bouzoukis, and mandolins, you might want to have a read of this article by “Celtic Guitar God” Robin Bullock on his site, FlatPicker.com. Called “So Just What Exactly is a Cittern, Anyway?” it goes through the history of the nomenclature and ultimately acknowledges that all of these instruments are different things, except when they are the same thing, and nobody agrees anyway.
If it’s a mandolin-like instrument, basically teardrop-shaped, flat- or arched-backed, more or less the size and range of a guitar but with eight or ten (or twelve…all right, all right) paired strings, then it can be called either a bouzouki or a cittern with equal historical inaccuracy, given that both terms were borrowed from other instruments in the first place. (I suppose a case could be made for “cittern” being marginally less inaccurate than “bouzouki” since “cittern” refers to an instrument family while “bouzouki” is the name of a specific instrument, but let’s not split hairs.) “Octave mandolin” is only accurate if it has eight strings and is tuned an octave below a mandolin, and the safest thing to do with “mandola” and “mandocello” is continue with the aforementioned Gibson definition of those terms, since those instruments have found a new home under those names among bluegrass/new acoustic musicians. And if you want to call it a “blarge,” go ahead, but you’ll do so without me.
And since you’re now reading around, I love the story of how Johnny Moynihan of Sweeney’s Men, who is acknowledged as being responsible for bringing the bouzouki into Irish music, actually came across the instrument. The story is told by John Pearse on Google Groups
Anyway, Gerald Trimble is woven into this history particularly with his album First Flight, and you are getting a great opportunity to see him perform in a quite unique venue.
Tickets are $10 in advance from the Pilgrim Chapel (816) 531-5002, and Aquarius/Vulcan’s Forge 3936 Broadway (816) 931-6303, or you can pay $12 at the door but be aware that the chapel is a very small venue.
The Pilgrim Chapel is at 3801 Gillham Rd, where Gillham does that split thing between both sides of the road. It’s on the east side. You can see what it looks like inside on this video of a recent gig by The Elders there.
See a complete list of entertainers performing Irish music in the Kansas City area