Author: Alvira, Marco

One of Those

This is one of those columns. Upon reading those words, every columnist know what I’m saying. It’s 11:40PM, and I’m struggling to stay awake as I type. I eschewed my customary tumbler of column-writing-Irish-whiskey for a pot of freshly brewed coffee; and lively music is streaming from Pandora on my computer. It’s not like I procrastinated writing. I’ve been thinking about this piece for over a week. There are about a half dozen themes on which I’d like to expound, but my eyelids are far too heavy at this moment.

I didn’t start out the day thinking, “Boy, wouldn’t it be great to wait till midnight to write. This Saturday was supposed to start with a run after the morning paper and coffee, the column, and then kick-back to watch some Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants playoff baseball. I was about to pull on the ol’ sneakers torn tee-shirt for the run when the phone rang. It was my daughter, Annie. I knew she was in Fresno helping her best friend shop for a bridal gown.
“Hello Daddy.” I wandered what she wanted. My 24 year old was calling me daddy in the same tone as when she was eight years old. Winds up she had a gig that night at six that she had forgotten about and was imploring me for my help. She hadn’t realized that she needed two 45 minute sets. Well, normally I love picking with my daughter-- any dad that wouldn’t is an absolute Cretan—but I really wanted to see that Giants game. Not wanting her to think that her father had abandoned her in her early twenties, I resigned myself to the idea of watching a recorded game. As I was throwing-on my old tattered sneakers and sweatshirt to get my run going, two good friends of ours walked up to the door. They were just dropping of some teaching material for my wife and only had a couple of minutes to say hello. Two hours later, we were waving goodbye, and I knew my column would have to wait till tonight.

The gig wound up being a dinner show as part of an Octoberfest celebration. The evening temps were perfect and there was a nice little crowd amicably chatting away, swilling beer in the patio area where we were to play. This was perfect. Most folks would be busy and not focused on us. The lack of preparation really didn’t bother me. Annie and I have played enough shows that we had the material covered. Mostly, it was that while warming up earlier, I was having a decidedly unmusical day. And this is the crux of this column: why is it that one day one can be playing licks almost supernaturally well and the next day…even hour, the sonic emittance from one’s instrument sounds like rusty nails. So had been my case while we were warming up at home. Most of us have had those nights—the one when our otherwise steady rhythm is skipping beats and playing music feels about as comfortable as an American League pitcher with a bat in his hands.

This phenomenon is capricious and shows itself at the most inopportune moments. Of course, there is an inverse corollary as well: you absolutely don’t feel the music, but every note you play comes out sweet, pure, completely in sync. No amount of preparation, or lack of the same, seems to deter the course of this musical maelstrom. When our show began, the plan was to keep things simple until the veil of harmonic malaise lifted. Gladly, by the second set, it did. The audience was very appreciative and someone even requested Blue Highways, “Born With a Hammer in My Hand.” (I’ve got to learn that song—it’s a good one.)

Well, I’m typing at about a sentence every minute now as I dose off and begin dreaming about the music playing on the computer. (Note: Bryan Sutton’s barrages of notes can damage sleep). While I never did see the Giants game and my run will have to wait for later, I did get to spend an evening on stage with my beautiful and talented daughter--which is a lot more than an old dad can ever hope for in most cases. It’s all worth losing a little sleep.
Posted:  10/8/2012

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