Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Musical DOG AND PONY show...
...at least I didn't have to balance a ball on my nose...arf, arf...

I actually spent some time in ANOTHER TOWN on Sunday! I haven't been out of IDAHO since last September, and I've only been out of CDA 4 or 5 times since then, mainly for medical stuff. But I actually went somewhere else this past Sunday. Spirit Lake, in fact. There was a Sunday Afternoon jam session at one of the bars there. And I NEVER go into bars anymore. Sometimes I think I'm losing my social skills; I don't mingle AT ALL anymore. I never go out unless there's an instrument I can play. In the past, I've partied, I've gotten crazy, I've drunk enough beer to keep Budweiser and Coors solvent for a good long while. But that was years ago. "No no no, I don't drink it no more...I'm tired of waking up on the floor", as Ringo once sang. (That song was written by Hoyt Axton, by the way.)

I can't help but think that ALL jam sessions are nothing more than musical "dog and pony" shows. Me, I'm always a bit more paranoid at jam sessions, because I envision all the other, more capable musicians out there, picking me apart..."he screwed up; he did this wrong, he did that wrong"...and I always walk away from jams thinking I messed up; I'm never happy with how I do at jams. Another beef I have about jam sessions is that you've gotta wait your turn, and then you get up to do 2 or 3 songs; you don't have time to get warmed up. So you play 2 or 3 best songs, but you can never play the stuff you really WANT to play; instead you play simple songs everyone knows (songs that are so simple, even extreme nervousness won't make you forget them).

There's no time for creativity at one of these "jam sessions", because if you get creative, you'll extend the song yer playin', which means you get to play less songs because all of a sudden it's someone else's turn to get up and play. So then you sit down and watch someone else play songs you have heard a quadra-zillion times by mega-millions of people down thru the years. ZZZZzzzzz... And then there's always the guy who's running the jam session, hustling things along, making sure everyone gets a chance to play. Trouble is, one guy gets up to play, and everyone else has to watch him; mind you, this is a room full of MUSICIANS who want to PLAY who literally SALIVATE at the chance to play., but when you attend a jam session, well, you might have driven over 30 miles to get there, as did I; you wait however long to play, then all of a sudden it's your turn (and you might not be ready yet), so you get up on stage, fumble around with your guitar and try not to screw up.

Before you know it, the guy who's running the jam session makes you get back down because, after all, there's 87 other people who wanna get up there and play. I love to jam with people, but my idea of a perfect jam session would be where EVERYONE can play at the same time; someone would sing a song, and everyone else would back him up; a "circle in the round"; a TRUE jam session. Jam Sessions such as the one I went to Sunday, are actually nothing more than minor-league, non-paying spotlight performances. Dog and pony shows. Although the musicians aren't chained to a post in the center of the stage and forced to walk around in circles. Not yet, anyway. I am never at my best during these kinds of jams.

When I'm playing in the park, I 'll start out by strumming various chord progressions for 15, 20, 35 minutes AT A TIME, and if I hit a chord pattern that reminds me of a song, I'll do the song. I have a "little guitar symphony" I do (which is based on Led Zeppelin's "Rain Song"), that I can play for half an hour straight. And I don't CARE if I'm alone, or if no one hears me. I'm not doing it to show off; I'm exploring, trying to expand, and I don't CARE if I don't play something the right way; I'm prone to taking a song, and speeding up a song or slowing it down; doing whatever my brain is telling me to do at the time.

This impulsive musical tendency of mine upsets people that try to jam with me; they have their preconceived notions of how music should sound; I say, the "known" version of a song is nothing more than a road map...it's up to you to determine how fast you are going to drive, or how many stops or side trips you're going to take. I have taken the two-chord song, "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac, and have hammered away on it for 45 minutes. To me, THAT is jamming. And if there's no one else to play along, fine. I "hear" things in my brain, and I try (sometimes in vain) to play those "things". The '60's rock band, Vanilla Fudge made a career out of taking pop songs and just s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g them out. (Those guys were really coooool.)

I think if I were in a band, I would be a George Harrison type of character. As long as I could perform a few of my songs, I would be content to just stand in the corner, play my guitar, and find ways to embellish whatever song is being played by whoever else is onstage. I wish I was a better player who knew more, but I think I've gotten a tad better over the years, and I've got things to offer. Sometimes I wish I could be one of these glib solo performers with a killer personality and unique stage presence, but I have none of that. I don't care about "image" or "presentation" or "glitz" or even trying to be "noteworthy", "notable" or whatever. I just wanna play.

In moments of retrospection, I've come to think that maybe I'm secretly jealous of people who are "glib" and "cool" and "entertaining". So I end up resenting them. But I'm not "cool" and will never be. I've accepted that. There's a story about when Paul McCartney was a kid; he was so pathologically attracted to his guitar, that he even took it into the bathroom with him. George Harrison, I've read, practiced until his fingers BLED. THAT'S the kind of player I am. There have been times I played for so long, my fingers blistered out when I was playing and the pain was so bad I couldn't get to sleep. THAT'S my style. I don't care if I don't say anything for hours; I don't need personal interchange, I just wanna PLAY, dammit!
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Omigosh. Tarnation! I just went on and on about this, didn't I? For those of you who've read all of this, your eyes are probably in need of some pictorial relief...and I've got just what the doctor ordered...



Here's a picture of a lake cabin on DEL CARDO BAY on Coeur d'Alene Lake. Gosh. I've lived here all my life and I don't know where this bay is. But I'll bet, back in the 40's when this picture was taken, people could actually AFFORD lake property. People who weren't millionaires, that is. Blog Update: Commenter "StDash" tells me there's a "Decardo" bay on the west side of the lake, near Mica Bay; evidently "Del Cardo" evolved into "Decardo", says he. This is what's cool about blogs; I can throw stuff "out there" and people respond to it. And I end up learning something in the process.

5 Comments:

Anonymous STDASH said...

A look at the map of the lake reveals a Decardo Bay between Mica Bay and Lofts Bay. It would be my guess that Del Cardo Bay has evolved to the current designation...somewhat in the way that the pronounciation of Coeur d'Alene has changed over time.

10:56 PM  
Anonymous STDASH said...

I found a site that has the same picture and it date the picture to a 1910 one cent postcard.

10:59 PM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

Thanks again StDash...that's the beauty of a blog; thru exchanges with readers, I can learn. I hope the readers of this blog don't think I'm a know-it-all; I tend to be quite emphatic at times. But I can also just "throw things out there", and the responses I get set me straight. Which is tough to do!

11:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's actual name is "La Delcardo Bay" , and my family has had a cabin there for the past 50+ years.

10:18 PM  
Anonymous little ol' me said...

Wow, Anonymous...I wrote that post almost a year ago. "La" Delcardo bay? Well, the "La" is the Spanish "feminine" noun-referral word, and "Del" is "Of The", and I'm not sure what "Cardo" means. Actually, if "La" is correct, then literally, in Spanish, it would be "La Delcarda Bay". From the picture, though, it looks like a nice place to have a cabin!

11:32 PM  

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