We had a department meeting recently that was supposed to end early so the troops could head out for a game of golf. Since I don’t play golf, I was just about to head back to the office when I was asked to sit in on an impromptu jam session. One of my co-workers had brought an extra guitar (a Martin – hence the title of this post), and was willing to let me make some noise with it.
I could say that the guitar was forced on me, and that I only agreed to play after much modest protest. That would be a lie. It was a lot more like:
Steve: "Pat I brought and extra guitar. Would you like to pl…"
I hadn’t touched a guitar in six months, and haven’t played with anyone else or in front of an audience for at least twelve years. Needless to say I was rusty. Since I was still technically on company time, there was no possibility of a stiff drink to loosen up.
Luckily it was a pretty informal session, and Chuck, Paul and Steve were easy to play with.
We played for over an hour. I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think I humiliated myself.
What surprised me the most was how much I enjoyed playing with a group of compatible musicians. The first five minutes were nerves and cramped wrist muscles. After that it was pure joy. I even sang a little (luckily very little). I may look dead serious in the pictures, but don’t believe it for a second. It was Nirvana (in the Buddhist sense of release from worldly cares, not in the sense of the 80’s flannel grunge band.)
One of the things that used to discouraged me was the fact that I’m not much of a natural musician. I’ve noodled around with a guitar since college, and took lessons a couple of times, but no one would ever accuse me of being musically inclined. I stuck with it because I love playing music with other people. In the 80’s and 90’s I played with a garage band called PC and the Compatibles. It wasn’t until the band broke up (job relocations, marriages, babies, you know…) that I realized how much it meant to me. I consoled myself by reminding myself that we sucked.
Now it occurs to me that it didn’t matter a damn how technically proficent we were. We were a bunch of musically compatible people who enjoyed making 20th century electric folk music (albeit very loud and dissonant folk music) in basements and cheap mexican restaurants. We loved the music, and truly enjoyed making music as a group. It was ok that we sucked.
Anyways – The jam session was well received. We had an audience for a while, and I’m sure a lot of people were surprised to see that side of me. I’m usually pretty frazzled and humorless on the job.
My left hand was in pretty tough shape the next day. You need callouses and some muscle tone in your left hand to play acoustic guitar, and I have neither. Ah well. I guess I’d better start practicing.