Poor Man's Fortune

Kathy and I saw Poor Man’s Fortune, a Texas-based celtic group, for the first time last night at the San Marcos Summer in the Park concert series. They weren’t quite what I was expecting, but were quite enjoyable and engaging. Some of the surprises:

  • When I heard the first strums on the guitar, I was arrested by the sound — it was definitely not using the usual guitar voicings, but wasn’t any standard alternate tuning I could figure out. About halfway through the show, the front man explained that the guitar had been set up like a lap dulcimer, which has several courses of doubled strings, which accounted for the unusual sound. The fretboard was still set up for a chromatic scale, however, rather than the diatonic scale the dulcimer uses. He called it a dulcitare. I really liked the sound, and will certainly encourage Grant, my irredeemable guitar-collecting friend, to acquire one so that I can play with it.
  • The group focused on instrumental music, but also did several accompanied songs. To my surprise, a good number of them were in French, which I don’t usually think of as being a particularly Celtic language. Apparently, however, Brittany is a part of France that is home to some of the Celts, and is a musical tradition these performers mine heavily. Live and learn.
  • The flute and whistle player at several points pulled out an instrument with a flare at one end and a oboe-eque double-reed at the other. It had a strident, reedy sound and appeared to be fingered the same as a pennywhistle. He eventually explained that it was a Bombarde — another influence from Brittany.

They played some really interesting enjoyable stuff, and I look forward to getting to hear them again. Here’s their gig calendar if you’d like to catch them sometime.