The Lawless Firm

Swing Jazz and BEYOND!

Stories from The Firm


The Lawless Firm was priveleged to play at the Vancouver Island Musicfest this summer in Courtenay. It was too much fun, that's for sure. Our first workshop was hosted by none other than Amos Garrett. One of our songs we perform in " Nuages", Django's famous masterpiece. For Gypsy jazzers in the worls, this song was composed in G and 99.9% of the time, it is played in that key. However, there are French lyrics which Eleanore learned and her vocal range puts it squarely in D.  Amos requested us to play Nuages if we knew it and we were most happy to oblige. "However, Mr. Garrett, we do it in D" I said. We started the song and when it came time for a solo, Amos jumped in with a beautiful solo in D on a telecaster no less....something which is not esay if you never played it in that key.  It was one of those magic moments that happens at festivals. The workshops are really where  the great stuff happens. Normally, our band, or any band does not share the stage with a tango band, a Mongolian band and a band from Mali, or a trio of 3 Aboriginal women who sing our national anthem in Cree! But everyone feels compelled to contribute something to the mix when things get rolling and I found myself playing a Malian song alongside of a Dousngoni player wearing the greatest hat I have seen in a long time.

The Dousngoni is a clost relative if the Kora, a 21 string West African gourd bodied lute.

It is a prime example of the power and connectedness of music in its ability to bridge different cultures. The beauty here is a complete lack of ego and a giving of oneself to music that we may never hear live again and the openess that occours in these workshops is rarely seen in everyday musical life. Oh, it happens allright but the occasion rarely presents itself like at a festival workshop.  Where else would you have heard a solo on Undecided played on not one, but two Indian Sarods. It was wild. Anyway thanks to all those who turned up enjoyed our musical shenanigans at the festival. I will write short stories from time to time and will try to add some photos soon.....Michael Dunn





Joe's airborne bass....!

In Courtenay, a scant 5 minutes before doing our concert, I was sitting behind the tent inder a canopy about 9 or 10 feet square. A sudden gust of wind came up and lifted the entire canopy off the ground and deposited it a few feet away upsidedown on its roof! This happened so fast that it was a second later that I saw that somehow a part of the canopy snagged Joe's bass and carried it about 6 feet depositing it down hard on its side. The seam between the back and sides blew open from the C section all the way down to the bottom of the bass where the end pin is. I looked into the 1/2 inch gap and noticed that the soundpost which is a 2 cm dowel of wood that is sandwiched between the underside of the soundboard behind the bridge and the back was sitting where it should be. It should have fallen out but by some freak of fate it was still in position!  And then just to prove that just maybe there is a God, a young lady appeared before me saying " I've got a roll of Gaffer's tape....will this help?"  Several of us werstled the back and side together as we taped  the open gap shut again and it turned out that the bass had scarecely gone out of tune!! We couldn't have been more than a minute late for our downbeat and the bass held for the enitre gig. Much to the credit of the VIMF staff, a second back-up bass appeared on our stage " just in case" but it was not needed.







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