6/24/12 Public Musical Meanderings

My friend, the great Britt Gully, asked me a couple of weeks ago to play with him at Squealers Barbecue in Meridian for a gig he had lined up there on 6/23/12. I was all excited at first, but the closer and closer it came to being time for the gig, the less I was inclined to go, looking for any excuse which may suffice as a good one. I even had a couple of good excuses develop, but decided to go and do what I was supposed to, which is honor a contract I already had. Not only was it the right thing to do, I had a delightful time.

I played bass for Britt, and not only bass, but I played the upright bass. Now, while I am not the best bassist out there (I’ll reserve that for my favorite bassist, and band-mate, Augie Joachim!), I am a good bassist, though I have not played an electric bass for many years, only playing the upright, since you all know I am an acoustic musician. But this was to be an electric gig, so I got out my ORANGE bass amp, dusted it off, made a rubber rig to hold a microphone securely and noiselessly in the tailpiece, rigged up a preamp, and set off to Squealers with my bass rig in tow. When I arrived, I told Britt that he could count on one finger the number of times he had seen me show up to a gig with an amplifier. It was a new/old/deja-vu-ish experience for me.

Now, playing the upright takes a bit more planning and energy than an electric bass, particularly if one is out of shape, and believe you me, I was out of shape. I wisely stopped and bought some athletic tape to put on my right hand thumb, index finger and middle finger, because without it my fingers would have been a bloody mess before the 3 hour gig was over. The fingers on my right hand are pretty good this morning . . . it is the fingers on my left hand that are so sensitive I can hardly stand the touch of this keyboard. I will survive and continue on typing.

We had a delightful time at Squealers, and I want to thank them for their gracious hospitality and good food. My friend, Rick Courtney, just insisted that I come to the Brickhouse in downtown Meridian after the Squealers gig, where my friend Al Brown was playing and Britt was going to join him. Our Squealers gig was over at 9:30, and my first inclination (it ALWAYS is) was to go on home, but I decided to saunter on to downtown Meridian for a bit prior to heading home. I’m so glad I did.

I thoroughly enjoyed the music of Al Brown, Amy Lott, Britt, Bubba Hampton, and  my friend Manny Mitchell, who I have not seen for a long time. Also there playing were my former DITCH band-mates, Joey Ethridge and Steve Smithson. I saw many other people I have not seen in a long time. Had Rick Courtney not insisted I come down, I would have missed the good time. Thanks, Rick. Thanks to everyone who treated me so graciously.

I enjoyed an extended conversation with the very interesting Jason Armstrong outside the Brickhouse in the patio area. While we were talking, I got to witness something I thought remarkably sad, but par for the course when someone intent on having a good time on a Saturday night overindulges in alcohol and makes some bad decisions. I don’t know what bad decisions the young man made, but he obviously made some that led him to do some things that angered the Brickhouse’s owner, who unceremoniously escorted him by the arm and threw him out the side door, shouting at him, “Get off my property and don’t ever come back in here.”

This was not enough for the inebriated young man, who thought his persuasive skills superior to the handicap that alcohol had placed on him. He refused to leave the property, instead telling the owner that he wanted to talk to him, perhaps wanting to use his alcohol-elevated superior reasoning skills to get the owner to reverse his decision. The owner was having no part of that, grabbing the young man, dragging to the edge of the property, and then, after resistance, giving him s shove which sent him tumbling down the sidewalk, again with the admonition, “Don’t EVER come back on my property or I’ll have you arrested!”

This still wasn’t sufficient for the young man, who kept saying, “But come over and talk to me.”

“I don’t want to talk to you, I want you to get out of here and NEVER come back,” said the owner, his arms folded, just waiting for the young man to step back on his property. Looking like he just might do so, the young man apparently decided against it. With his resignation, the owner turned back inside and the young man stood on the sidewalk, pulled his cell phone from his pocket, and called whoever it was that he called, his fun-filled Saturday night now sequestered by too much alcohol, and an ignominious ejection from a place where many of his friends like to hang out. He will be forever barred from this pleasure.

Perhaps this is a good thing. I don’t know what he did. Maybe he vandalized the furniture. Maybe he was using offensive language. Maybe he groped a waitress. Maybe alcohol clouded his judgment to the point that he thought whatever he did was cute and clever. Apparently the owner did not see it the same way.

I watched him stand there, his fun-filled evening reduced to some scrapes from sliding on concrete, and his further plans for the evening no doubt clouded by this experience. Maybe it was the first time he had been thrown out of a bar. Maybe it is his custom to be thrown out of a bar. Maybe he doesn’t know how to behave in public when sober, much less when inebriated. I watched it all with fascination, filling in all the gaps of what I didn’t know in between the facts as I saw them. I hope he learned a lesson. I hope he learned that alcohol can cloud his judgment, and instead of being something that he thinks can make him feel good is something that will make him feel really bad. I had no sympathy for his results, I had sympathy for the CHOICES he made that led him to this sorry state. He looked so dejected standing there on the sidewalk . . . he will be even more dejected when he awakens this morning and thinks about what happened to him last night, remembering that there is one party place less in Meridian that he is welcome in. After observing him for a moment or two longer, I got distracted, and when I looked back up, he was gone.

Maybe he learned that alcohol does not make him as clever and cute, or as tough, as he thinks it does. Maybe he learned that a club soda with a twist of lime is the best drink for him. I wish him well.

I re-learned that places that serve alcohol are not my favorite places. Oh, they are OK when everyone knows their limits, observes them, and behaves, but there are always those who know neither. At least, the folks who were my age seemed to know their limits. It would be a really sad thing to be my age and still not know how alcohol can affect you when you have had a bit too much.

As for me, while I was there, I didn’t have my usual mixed drink, a club soda with a twist of lime. They were out of lime. I drank my club soda straight. The only influence alcohol exerted over me was to provoke me to muse about others who had over-indulged. In an earlier time, that could have been me. God bless that young man. and give him the ability and fortitude to make wise decisions. May the day he awakens to be the one that sets him on the road to prudence.

One can be sober and have a lot of fun!

The photo posted is by Lara Jean Hammond. Thanks, Lara Jean.

Thanks, also, to everyone who was kind, gracious, courteous, and a joy to be around. I had a nice time last night and appreciate every one of my friends and fans!

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAVID! Tell me how is it to be 55, so I’ll know two weeks from now.

6/23/12 Saying Nothing

I have used this quote from the great Cicero before.

Write. Even if you have nothing to say, then write and say so.

I have told you before who Cicero is, and if you need me to tell you about him, then shame on you. Google him for yourself and study all about him and his contemporaries. The Internet, while full of many errors and foolishness also puts a world of information available to you with just the click of a mouse button.

Today, I have nothing to say, and taking Cicero’s advice, I am writing and saying so. There is no forthcoming profundity, no eloquence, no advice, no clever-words . . . just nothing; so in the midst of this nothing, desiring to write anyway, I am writing to tell you so. You have been warned.

In our writing when we have nothing to write ABOUT, we sometimes get inspiration from unexpected sources. This is a lot like life, when we are empty, drained, and weary . . . but the going through the motions gets us through to a new, perhaps better place. Not always, but sometimes. At least writing when one has nothing to say is far superior than TALKING when one has nothing to say, for we must think about what we are writing, and so often, we utter words without thought, and utter them in haste, and then cannot recall them or the damage they have done.

So I am writing. I am not doing any damage, nor will I write anything I have to recall out of shame or embarrassment, or for having offended another. Perhaps we should write before we speak, particularly about important things, or things we might say to those we love which can create wounds that can fester for the remainder of a lifetime.

I sound like I am lamenting some words I have uttered, but that is not the case, for I have learned to choose my words with far more care when speaking them, though my Debbie might say that I can still be somewhat careless. She would be right. But I have not been careless TODAY, nor, I expect, will I be careless tomorrow, though I cannot be certain.

I just wanted to write, and however irrelevant this is, I have written. While writing I have waited for some inspiration to come upon me, but it has not, nor does it now seem likely that it will. I am just putting words down so you can read them. They actually serve no purpose but mine. Would that I had some pearl of wisdom to impart. Would that I had the words to bring healing, and comfort, and joy to others, but they are not in me today, just this desire to write.

Perhaps I am writing because it is cool here in the air-conditioned comfort of my studio. There is grass to mow, and a pool to be brushed and vacuumed, but I am overtaken in a malaise of indifference. The grass gets cut, the grass grows, the cycle begins all over again . . . this, too, is vexation and vanity, saith the preacher. While it was cool and delightful this morning I should have been doing my chores, but I chose to sit and enjoy that which was in front of me. As I sat and observed in the early morning twilight, the grass didn’t seem so tall, nor the pool quite so cloudy; everything seemed fine and in order and in its place. The bright light of the sun changed all that and revealed far more than I was really willing to consider. It funny how light does that. The darkness hides many things. The twilight gives them their own subtle beauty, hiding the harsh reality, accentuating that which we find beautiful. But the broad, bright glare of the sun reveals all those things we had rather not see . . . those things which require our attention, at least, they require our attention until the light begins to fade and the wonderful vision of twilight returns, and in the cool of the evening, everything seems just right.

I think I’ll wait for the cool of the evening twilight and take another look. I’ll still know the grass will need mowing, and, of course, I’ll vacuum the pool the first thing in the morning, or maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll slip down here to my studio and write about nothing, just as I am doing now. Though I have written about nothing, I have done something. I followed the advice of Cicero and feel better for having done it.

Cicero would be proud that someone remembered his words written so long ago and took his advice. He would be the first to say that the words we write live on after us, and the words we speak vanish as the frequencies of their sound is absorbed by the same air that we breathe. I am not so fortunate as to have the words I utter be remembered and recorded by others, as some have been, we being the beneficiaries for their having been recorded. I serve as my own archivist. There could be danger in this, since I only give you the edited version. But everything is edited, one way or another. We tell what we choose to tell, and we red what others have chosen to tell us. The real, objective truth is out there, though it can be so hard to find.

As a writer and an archivist, I fear I may have overrated myself. That thought gives me a hearty laugh. At least this drivel produced a good laugh at myself, which is always a good things. We should all take more time to laugh at ourselves. It is good for us to not take ourselves too seriously, since, like Copernicus hypothesized and Galileo confirmed, the sun does not revolve around me; I am but a bit of dust marking a tiny place in a sphere so vast I cannot measure it . . . yet, here I am.

There you are, too, having wasted your time with the nothing I chose to write about.

At least, it’s every bit as good as modern TV, and not a bit worse. Perhaps you didn’t waste your time after all. Get out your pen and a piece of paper and write. Even if you have nothing to say, then write and say so.

Thanks, Cicero!

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