In the meantime I had become more and more interested in jazz, which was not something that Andy cared to do and Steph's "real job" as head of the public information office at Woods Hole Oceanographic was taking more and more of her time. For my part, playing four-chord songs was just not doing it for me anymore.
I was still teaching now and then, mostly giving lessons on a casual basis to friends but my real job as editor of On The Water magazine was also taking a lot of my time and mental effort. I had officially stopped teaching a few years before and every time I thought about getting back into it I talked myself out of the idea. I was, to put it frankly, out of the loop, both in terms of the local music scene and also in what was popular even in the acoustic music world, for the most part. I did make a point to keep going to concerts though and heard people like Lyle Lovett, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bonnie Raitt, Little Feet, and even Trisha Yearwood and Vince Gill (one hell of a great guitarist!). I also heard and spoke with quite a few very good jazz guitarists on cruise ships, of all places, something my wife and I had discovered we loved doing.
But playing was definitely diminishing in my daily routine. The problem with that is you tend to find the playing experience less enjoyable as you play less often because your skills begin to slip. And that leads to playing even less. Not a good thing.
Sometimes weeks and weeks went by when I didn't even pick up the guitar, feeling like I wasn't progressing in my jazz studies and having no interest in playing the stuff we played in my group a few years before.
Then one day about five years ago something remarkable happened. I received a phone call from an old friend from my college days, urging me to come visit him and another old friend at his son's place up in the Poconos. We would spend the weekend trout fishing, drinking some beers and talking about the good old days - and by the way, be sure to bring your guitar.
My friend Frank and I had played together for hours and hours back at Wilkes, Frank on harmonica and me on guitar, playing old blues tunes, plus of course Neil Young, CSN and other stuff we were listening to at the time. In the interim Frank had taught himself to play the mandolin. So I went, bringing along a guitar.
I won't bore you with too many details but suffice to say we played for two days and nights, when we weren't fishing. It was nothing less that an epiphany. In short, I remembered why I had started playing in the first place. I'll always be grateful to my wonderful friends Frank Kardisco and Lew Brill for reminding me.
When I got home I dove into practicing again, learning quite a bit of Brazilian jazz and also working on my own arrangements of pop and blues tunes that incorporated playing a bass line, chords and melody at the same time. I began taking on new students again, mostly by word of mouth. It felt good to play again.
Tomorrow, part 12. Up to the present.
Peace & good music,