Author: Compton, Cliff

Pickin' on the Parkway
Matt Coleman sent me an email saying he needed a guitar player for a fundraiser for the American River parks, and it sounded like fun so I said yes and I put it on the calendar and then I looked at it a little closer, and it turns out we were playing at the crossroads where a bunch of marathon runners and walkers would pass on there way to and from wherever it was they were going, and I felt a little like the before picture on a before -and- after photo for a diet plan and marathon runners always look like the after pictures, but thatís O.K. because my father told me that, if nothing else, I could have value serving as a bad example. Anyhow, I like to pick, and I like to pick with Matt and his friends, because they donít stay inside the box, and me, well, Iíve never colored well between the lines. So I figured the music would be interesting and it was all for a good cause.

And it rained like April the night before, and Iím thinking, theyíre gonna cancel this thing and that would have made for more sleep, because for some reason athletic types want to get up early and get their blood circulating, and thatís O.K. I suppose, but as for me, Iíd prefer to leave that task to StarbucksÖAnd sure enough morning came and it wasnít raining so I had to get out of bed about 6íOclock and head on out toward the river, and it looks like rain to me, but I got my guitar and a cup of Starbucks, and drove to the appointed place.

Matt was there. So was a pair of port-a -potties, much to my relief, because it was morning, and Iíd just drank four shots of expresso. And them clouds still looked like rain, and the promoter had promised a pop up tent to keep us out of the elements, but whatís promised donít always happen, and this was a case in point. And Iím thinking about my beautiful Martin, and how wood and water donít mix. But hey, the tent showed up about half way through the first set and we were under the cover when the rain began to fall.

And the acoustic eclectic jam band is a pretty good bunch. Matt on the banjo, Jac-a-mo on the bass, Curt on fiddle, Kim on uke and Bruce (mandoboy) on, you guessed it, mandolin, and Iíd played with them at some art gallery/coffee house on Del Paso blvd. A couple of times and it was good to see them again, and they all got there just about the time the first runner come running down the trail.

Itís interesting playing for people running by. Itís kind of hard to gaze into their eyes when youíre singing a love song. Youíve got about three and half seconds to connect with their souls. Itís like serial dating without the good night kiss. They wave, you nod, theyíre gone.

It was three hours of pickin'. We played for a lot of people. They just didnít hear more than half a verse. each The walking ones might have got a verse and a chorus. But my guess is that the only ones who really heard much of us were the ones that stopped to rest in the porta - potties. Muzak for the weary.

Well, anyway, a lot of people looked happy running by. Some of them were clapping, some stopped for 30 seconds to dance. Some just gave us a thumbs up and continued to dodge raindrops.

But itís all worth while, you know, getting up early and pickiní on a rainy day. Maybe raising a little money for a good cause. Making a few people smile, getting together with your music buddies. Spreading the joy, and picking fast, so the sounds got time to reach their ears, before they pass out of our lives.

Posted:  5/8/2009

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