Music on Main: Michael Fuerst (w/ video)

Music on Main: Michael Fuerst (w/ video)

Want to play in our lobby? Email Jim Rossow at and we'll book it

Staff writer Paul Wood asked Urbana's Michael Fuerst about his extensive experience on an instrument you don't hear every day after Fuerst performed three songs in The News-Gazette's lobby.

Why do you choose to play a soprano recorder? How long have you played it?

My elementary school class (second or third grade) played them. After my elementary school experience, I tooted on it very occasionally until the 1980s, when I started participating in and teaching a form of group dance called contra dancing, and wished to learn the music used for such. The recorder was the only instrument I owned.

Is your instrument valuable?

My recorder is eminently portable and, being made of plastic, needs no care and totally resists heat, cold and being dropped. If lost, $20 or so buys a high-quality replacement, although one can spend several hundred for a fancy wooden recorder that needs the TLC of most other instruments.

Is there a special sound you like?

I enjoy stringing together rapid note sequences (which musicians call riffs), which I did not become really skilled at until several years ago.

What's your favorite song?

For the recorder, a song called "James Betagh" by the Irish harpist Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738).

Where have you played blues and bluegrass locally?

Monthly blues jams, now held at Pipa's Pub in Champaign from 7 to 10 p.m. the fourth Wednesday and from 4 to 7 p.m. on the second Sunday. Also, the weekly Monday Night Hootenanny at the Rose Bowl Tavern in Urbana from 8:30 p.m. to midnight and Daly's Sports Bar from 7 to 10 p.m. at Philo's first-Thursday music jam. And the jam sessions at the annual Folk and Roots Festival in Urbana.

Tell us about your experiences in Nashville, Tenn.

The past several years, near the end of October, I have visited Nashville, where a well-known blues bar, The Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar, holds a weekly Monday-night blues jam. Anyone putting their name on the sign-up list will, sometime during the evening, get thrown on the stage with three to five other musicians and/or a vocalist to perform three or four blues tunes. The first time I attended I put down my name and indicated I played a recorder. I did not know exactly how the moderator would react, but he just threw me up there.

On my Facebook page, there is video of me playing in Nashville, at the Folk and Roots Festival and at the Hard Rock Cafe in Memphis. You may have to turn the sound down a bit to hear the recorder.

Topics (1):Music