It's funny how guitarists don't seem to play outside as much as they once did. Maybe it's because they don't want to expose their guitars to the elements. I'm not talking about big summer concert situations of course, rather the simple joys of just sitting out on the porch and strumming away.
I've played many concerts outside over the years, both locally with bands and in huge festivals with fiddler Marie Rhines years ago. Those were great experiences but that's not what I'm talking about, exactly. Just as memorable were the many times I've played under the stars just for myself or perhaps with a couple friends. Here are a few that stick out in my memory.
When I was a teenager a friend and I would sometimes take my family's small skiff out to an island off the mouth of the Mystic River to camp and I would often bring an old "beater" guitar so we could do some playing. Side note here - the famous Van Morrison song "Into the Mystic" was written after Van spent a summer sailing down the New England coast and he sailed into Mystic to visit the famous Mystic Seaport. Next time you hear him singing about "when I hear that foghorn blow, you know I'm coming home" you can imagine how I relate to that song.
I remember bringing my old guitar to the Newport Folk Festival and jamming with other players in the parking lot between shows - I learned a lot in those fun sessions.
One time when we were camping and I left my trusty old Yamaha 12-string outside when I crawled into the tent for the night I awoke the next morning to find it had rained and there was about an inch of rain INSIDE that old Yammie. Well, I dumped out the water, let it dry, and God bless that guitar, it played and sounded just fine a few days later. Not recommended!
Quite a few times when Kathy and I would take summer camping trips around the Northeast I would play in the evening and other campers would come by to listen - met some wonderful folks that way, and sometimes one would bring over a guitar and we would play. Lots of fun and really the essence of what sharing music is all about.
More recently I have enjoyed taking a guitar out on our front porch in the evening in the summer and playing. It is always interesting to hear how the guitar sounds in such an open environment. We also used to have outdoor parties after the famous Falmouth Road Race and a few times my son Matt played drums with my regular trio. I'll always treasure those times.
Last March when I went down to the Keys for a fishing trip I brought along a Taylor GS Mini, which is a great little travel guitar and for three evenings in a row I sat on the dock at the marina where we were staying and played for an hour or so. I don't think anyone heard me but that totally didn't matter. Sitting in the warmth of a Keys evening and playing Jobim bossa nova tunes seemed just about perfect.
So, if you've never done it, take your guitar outside and play for a while. I guarantee you will find it peaceful and fun.
Peace & good music,