I've been jamming with a group every Friday for the past nine months, playing guitar and singing. It's one of the high points of my week, confirming what I've known for a long time: that making music with friends tops the list of things that make me happy. Living the dream, you might say.
I've been lucky in that it's a particularly congenial group of ten men and women, all snowbirds except me. We have a lot of laughs and none of us is obsessively picky or tries to manage the group. Four of us have played together for years, onstage and off, though they've never played for money. We have seven singers, four guitars, a mandolin, an accordion, a percussionist, a slide guitar and an autoharp.
I feel profoundly blessed to be allowed to participate in this group. Sometimes when we're doing a particularly entertaining song, I get a case of the nonstop grins and a rush from my toes to the roots of my hair.
Most of the time we just play for fun, each in turn calling for a favorite tune we do only once, for better or for worse. But when the San Carlos Canine Refuge organized a benefit show and invited us to participate with a half-hour set, we had to get a little more focused. There will be at least 200 people in our audience, probably more.
We're one of five opening acts for the star performer, Jeremy McComb (pictured here, isn't he a cute pup?), who's flying down from Nashville to headline our show.
In the last week we've added two extra rehearsals, spent a lot of time sorting through dozens of songs to come up with nine that we feel are ready for prime time, and tweaking introductions, solos, arrangements, harmonies... Though occasionally the higher expectations plus a deadline have altered our usual laid-back atmosphere, I think the process of refining our music has been good for us. Especially for me, the most junior of the guitarists.
And that's my challenge: I have never before played guitar in front of an audience. None of my cohorts is aware of this, and I don't plan to tell them until after the show is over. (None of them reads this blog, so I'm safe in confessing here.) When all this is behind us, we'll only have a couple more Friday jams together before everyone heads north for the summer.
We'll be doing country/western songs, in keeping with the Nashville theme. If you're curious, here's our songlist. Each of us has at least one solo/lead, and mine is "I'll Fly Away."
Cowboys Of Baja
Folsom Prison Blues
I’ll Fly Away
Throw Another Log On The Fire
Kansas City Star
Gold Watch and Chain
In Spite of Ourselves