A funny thing happened last night when I played open mic at a friends wine tasting room, I fell back in love with local music. It’s a place I’ve been absent from for a few years.
While learning to trust my own voice, I’ve met musicians from all sorts of backgrounds; from seasoned older jazz statesmen like Milt Hinton, Barry Harris, Curtis Fuller, Frank Foster, Milt Jackson and so many others that used to teach through NYC’s Jazz Mobile project. That’s just one small pocket of players. Many other country, rock, and folk legends, but I digress. One consistent trait across the broad range of people playing to countless genres in music is a humble approach to the disciplines which surround music.
It’s a brotherhood & sisterhood where arrogance leaves the room and acceptance and encouragement welcomes all. It’s funny, but being an arrogant prick or a dickhead in music is usually a true sign of amateur hour.
Now that I think of it, that truth is consistent across all industries. Another truth is how music thrives in tight knight communities. Go watch “Echo in the Canyon“.
For a Tuesday night, there was a good crowd that was building at Coomber Family Wines, O-Side. A local hero was ripping it on acoustic, which is always a good sign. I ordered a glass of Pinot at the bar, signed up, waited my turn until I was called up after a few jams.
Next up Ron…. Is there a Ron here?” Silence. A couple of awkward minutes. I raised my hand, “I’m the Ram bro.” “Correction, is there a Ram in the audience? You’re up!” Fuck yeah! Unpack my National steel, tuned it up and lay down a trusted original.
I started with “Do It Right” an older composition that was a 2 chord jam with a simple chorus & bridge. The guy running the event agreed to sit in and holy shit, what a badass. His name is Marco Savoia, check him out! His double-bass backbeat just about blew me off the stage, a veritable powerhouse of foot-stomping and string slapping. I felt super loose, and extended the song out in a manner that you do when you are enjoying the simple act of playing, I also was listening to the bassman add intricate runs that have never been put to my song in the bast. A bass solo, HOLY FUCK!
Overflowing with confidence now, the second song I chose was fresh off the notebook. I’d recorded a demo and a shitty music video of it but had yet to play it in front of anybody but fellow musicians at the home studio. “Keep Warm” was exactly what I wanted for the next song. The only problem came when I forgot my lyrics and chords.
Now we’ve all done it and know how badly it sucks, but it’s all how well you recover from the situation. Some people exit stage left never to perform again. I flubbed a couple of chords then said to the audience,
“Hey everyone, you know what, FUCK IT, I’m going to try this one more time with feeling.”
It came like a warm breeze. All the chord changes, the lyrics, the intensity of the first time I penned it to paper. There you have it hero to zero in two songs. I needed a closer. “Motor Kine” was a song that fit that bill. I also just noticed the place was filling in with some of the local music heroes. All the members of Shane Hall’s band were there along with Shane himself.
On the beach a few days earlier I was talking to a surfing buddy who is starting the trials for the Baja 1000, he was just starting to get back into it and I asked if I could make a music video to his racing footage. So “Motor Kine” was fresh on my mind and I let it rip. That’s when my mind transported me to the outer reaches of the Baja Peninsula all along the Pacific Ocean. The heart & the inspiration for the song.
Race down the Pacific Ocean.
Run down that Mexico sand.
Just for nothing babe,
just cause I want to…
Gonna fly all across this land.
That felt good, we locked into a nice groove feel and jammed that shit out. Got loose enough to put in a guitar solo with the bass was locked in so well. Damn, hand my guitar off for Shane to use and I’m done. Time to listen and take it in.
The real reason I felt compelled to write about the experience was the discussions that took place after everyone played. I’d never met Kaleo Wassman before, he was one of the warmest souls I’ve ever met. When I apologized for forgetting my lyrics, he told me how cool it was and that forgetting lyrics is a true sign of an artist. This was a place where a songwriter could share his new material in the company of friends.
This was heaven.