Monday, July 5, 2010

Presbyterian Church Orgy a Senior Food Fest

Not everyone was older than I am, but a comforting majority were. We played well, and the acoustics were that of a busy cafeteria, although the sound man was fairly conscientious for a 15 year old. Actually, he was better than many I've seen. Certainly more amiable than the guy at BB Kings in Memphis, and less nauseatingly cool than the one at Sun studio.

No one is up there with the guy at the Arkansas Blues heritage festival, formerly known as the King Biscuit Flour Hour Blues fest. Give the kid his due; surrounded by Presbyterians in a food frenzy, most of whom were peers of his grandparents and great grandparents.

Soon into the solo rendition on diatonic blues harp of the National Anthem all in the room were completely silent and standing, hands over hearts. I played it almost as clean as I wanted and without noticeable error. I was hoping to produce something that would invoke a slight air of drama while remaining simple and not stylized. A reverent statement of respect for the good in the conception and growth of my country.

It does not go easy to realize that I rarely envision current culture and trends as part of the underlying philosophy which allowed our land to become a significant part of the map.

The vocals and performance of the rest of the group were excellent. I think they had as much fun as I did. Later we spent the late afternoon on a deck overlooking the bay at my friends' newly rebuilt house. A more perfect place to spend Independence Day, I cannot imagine.

Soon enough the guitars came out and we played some more. I had to play the Star Spangled Banner Twice more. The last time was become a couple of their friends who are well connected in the state department showed up. It was by request which surprised me plenty. Who would think that I have probably never been asked to play something so much ever.

The bizarre point of the day was when some guy at the church orgy tried to request Peter Paul and Mary tunes. He asked if we play "If I Had a Hammer and I just gave him a flat "No". I'm way more touchy about requests than most people. If it is a friend who knows me, or a free form jam, I can be flexible, but generally I just don't do requests. Get a juke box. I'd have been more fond of the guy had he asked for "Melancholy Baby".

From our vantage point we could see all the fireworks in the area. In San Diego, they coordinate five or so launch points so that each sends up the same displays simultaneously. I could see everything from Shelter Island to Imperial Beach--a stone's throw from Tijuana. It was a day full of hard core, good natured banter and fantastic friends. I probably made an ass of myself, and I was the only one in most of the city who was stone cold sober. They had me laughing so hard I didn't know the difference. I cannot imagine how I would have behaved if I was drinking.

Much of the show was recorded, but the sound may not have come through very well. We'll see. A few times when the guitar player did a solo song or one with his wife, I was able to go out to see how it was. Some areas were almost dead zones, Most of the time, in a place which has its own set up, you can nitpick the acoustics and the sound. That is the name of the game. You just do the best you can, adapt, and realize your little performance is not going to change the course of history anyway.

I was, however thinking of becoming a professional national anthem player, with visions of being driven from stadium to stadium playing the Star Spangled Banner for every sporting event in town. At 100 or so a pop, I could make a decent living. Already, between practice and actually doing it for those who asked, I can probably play it in my sleep. Wouldn't surprise me if I end up doing just that.

I use a harmonica in the key of G (in case you want to try this dangerous stunt at home) because it is in the lowest range, pitch-wise of all the standard harmonicas of this type. Seems to have the best quality for what we wanted. I tried a couple of others in practice and everyone voted for the G. I am still happy I did not blow it and that they had faith I would do OK. My own certainty was inconsistent in that regard.

When I opened my eyes during the thing and saw all those people standing, it made me more sure I would pull it off. I do better under that sort of circumstance. What a relief. I was more nervous before this show than is normal for me. But during it, we were all quite relaxed.

I won't look on youtube to see who does it better on bluesharp. The real last word on that tune is uttered by the Cactus Cuties out of Texas. A group of little girls who absolutely blow me away with their performance of that song.

and a year or so later, I think. I'm a fan of that group

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day


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