Friday, February 17, 2012

Another Open Microphonic Experience

At the last minute I decided to go to one of the open mic events with my friend Cliff, and his wife. I knew he wanted to play something from deep in the archives of Cliffville, and it would be stuff I've never heard him do, so I just encouraged him to play it alone. He's a lone balladeer, to a point, anyway. And I do not have to play on everything my friends play.

So, I was enjoying sitting out. He ended up with time left so he suggested I fill the time with a solo, by my self. It was kind of haphazardly last minute. I had a B, of all things, harmonica that I had found at home, in my pocket. I left the pouch full of many keys on the table and just decided to do that. B crossharps out to F# I think. Let's see count up five, include sharps and flats--G Ab A Bb B--yep I guess I played F# on the B harp. I'm pretty sure I was mostly in crossharp. That lets you get the strongest notes inhaling.

Usually my solo or near solo stuff has been off of minor keys. For a few years it has been like that. I just said I am trying to kick the minor key habit and move into the majors. Some people were worried at that point that it was going to be a comedy routine. I heard a murmur, "Oh God, it's going to be a clown bit".

Then I just started making stuff up, and tried to figure out how to get out of whatever it was and into something else. I segued a few times, even did the standard boogie woogie riff in the middle. Through the entire thing, start to finish, I kept picking up the pace until I hit the fastest lick I hit, which is kind of a train lick. I did that until I got tired and just blew one chord and stopped abruptly,.

If I had planned it, I doubt it would have worked out. As it was I'd say it was a major success. Immediately a guy wanted to know if I'd play on his stuff when it was his turn. Mellow stuff I don't know, but despite the odd chord changes, not bad to float background in. So, I faked it all night, and left people thinking I have some clue regarding music. I have to laugh because I am as clueless as they come. I have very little idea who did what, know hardly any songs--when I play something with a singer or band, that is almost always the first time I hear the tune--and I have no real idols that I worship in musicland.

Had little idea what key the guy was playing in, but we worked it out. I think I may have played straight harp on one and cross on the other. Who knows. Music is really kind of a pain. It ought to be left to musicians and people who like it. Of course, I do like Tito and Tarantula.

I guess I hide out when it makes little sense for me to play on something, and that helps. How I got into playing is a mystery. I'm not even sure I always like music. I know I can not tolerate most musicians for any length of time, especially in music playing environments. For me to play makes zero sense. I only do it because it seems like being temporarily in another dimension, and there is a physical feel to it. For some reason that is all heightened if there is an audience , and even more intense if I'm playing with a group. Provided the guitar player or others aren't overly stricken with guitar player disease, or primadona disorder.

I have to watch myself that I don't develop a similar condition. That is a good reason to lay out sometimes and just listen to people do their thing. It either doesn't make sense, or I am simply not comfortable playing in every case. Lots of times it adds nothing, so why push it?

I'm thinking I should work out a few different solo pieces and do them. It is something the drummers in my Memphis band wanted me to do but the idea never flew. I didn't push and I didn't know then what I know now. Even if I had, I think it was best not to rock the boat. That was an easily rocked craft and my first purpose and goal was as backup, sideman harp. That's where the clueless should remain. They can do very well there. The ones who don't have sense enough to stay in that spot invariably disappear into oblivion. Jimmy Buffet's harmonica player is an example. I think he made the band 33% better, but without him they are still known and he really isn't except in very narrow circles. That was a very good gig gone sour.

I'd rather play with Willie Nelson, I admit. I think he's an easier guy to get along with. But both harp players had similar gigs. The guy with Willie, Micky Raphael, obviously has enough sense not to go running off thinking he needs to be front man. Best harmonica job in music, and he's been smart enough, and good enough to hang in there. Let the other guys who think a harmonica fronted band isn't sure to burnout quicker have their day in the sun. All icing and very little cake gets boring. Harp is icing, bot cake. It's the spice, not the meat and potatoes, or rice beans, or other fine food.

That's the deal when it comes to my sort of harmonica stuff. Except Micky and Buffet's guy, Greg tend to be more clueful, or less clueless than I. However, I am not sure Buffet;s guy knew what a sweet deal he had. No idea why they parted but that was a lose-lose deal, with Greg losing more than Jimbo.

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


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