Of course there continue to be moments of frustration but that’s what playing music is and should be about, along with the moments of triumph. Little things confound me from time to time. Sometimes I will have to start all over when I revisit a song that I knew quite well years ago. I wish I could get over my quest for the “perfect” guitar, which I most likely will never find. Nuts and bolts issues like my ongoing battle with my new SD/USB recorder and amplification problems – OK, I admit I’m probably too picky! – make me nuts. And the inexorable march of time that has left me with an annoying case of Renaud’s Syndrome, rendering my fingers useless if I don’t pay very close attention to keeping them warm. A recent pulled back muscle heaving my Fender Vibrolux into the back seat of my truck on the way to a gig. Knowing that I should spend at least as much time exercising my singing voice as I do my fingers so one of these days I can get back to playing with a band when more singing will be required. So it goes.
There were plenty of high points for me in 2016 though. My continuing residence at the wonderful local café the Daily Brew every Sunday morning is great. February will mark my 6th anniversary there and tt has inspired me to learn new songs and best of all, I’ve met and come to know many of the “locals” who frequent the place. Some turn out to be fascinating, like the older lady who comes in once in a while and repeats her stories of playing country music professionally many years ago. She showed me a couple wonderful photos of herself in full cowgirl regalia holding her 1956 Gibson L5, which she still cherishes even though she gave up playing long ago. I keep asking her to bring it in some time as I’d love to see and play it. Although I’m not involved with the local bar music scene, quite a few of the players who are have become friends and it’s fun to gossip with them about the scene.
Although I said above that my guitar quest will probably never end, right now I have two great guitars that will probably stick about for a while, a 1992 Martin HD-28 C.T.B. (Custom Tortoise Binding) that is one of only 97 made by Martin as part of their long-gone “guitar of the month” series. It sounds and plays great, very classy looking with gorgeous appointments. For gigging I’ve been using an Eastman AC422CE, which I had Fran Ledoux of Bay Fretted Instruments outfit with a K&K pick-up and I replaced the tuners with Gotoh 510’s, also added some Colosi bone pins. It is a joy to play, with the slightly rolled edge on the fingerboard that makes it super comfortable. The sound is remarkable – it surpasses any of the Taylor 16-series guitars I’ve owned or played, many of which cost three or four times as much. I’ve had a few students in the last couple years who own Eastmans and I am now of the opinion that they are the absolute best guitars coming out of China at this time due to their flawless fit and finish – and sound. Plus, I’m less concerned with bringing out on gigs than I would be with my expensive Martin. If finances allow I may just pick up the mahogany version of this model in the Spring. See what I mean? Never enough guitars….
I had the opportunity to hear some great live music in 2016, the highlight being Lyle Lovett and his Large Band at the Cape Cod Melody Tent. We had seats only two rows from the stage and as much as I love Lyle, watching from a few feet away the legendary drummer Russ Kunkel drive the band was worth the price of admission alone. It was a GREAT show, probably the best of the 10 or so times I’ve seen Lyle. He is a class act all the way and truly loves and appreciates his band mates and playing. See him if you can! I also heard some great music last spring in Key West (and some awful music too, but hey, that’s Key West!). I’m looking forward to two trips down there including one in the near future. I will report back.
But for me 2016 also held moments of deep sorrow and the greatest joy. My mother in law passed away at the age of 90, not an unexpected event but I will miss her forever. She was a remarkable member of the Greatest Generation and a prime example of why it has that name. But my joy was the birth of my first granddaughter to my daughter and her husband. Little Clara is truly the light of our lives and as prefect a baby as one could hope for. I look forward to playing her some songs in the next few days. I did bring her a ukulele when she came home from the hospital but I don’t think she’s quite ready to play with me yet (!).
So, as I always say at the end of these posts: peace & good music. 2017 WILL be a good year because ultimately intelligence, compassion and grace WILL prevail. I absolutely believe that.
Happy New Year!