Author: Karsemeyer, John

Random Thoughts of an Older Bluegrass Musician – And Murphy's Law

Seven o'clock in the morning. Why can't I sleep in? What day is this? Oh, that's right, it's Friday. What am I going to do today? Oh right, I've got that bluegrass gig at the Irish Pub tonight. What time do I have to be there? Oh now I remember, seven o'clock.

So that means I have to practice today, more than usual. I mean, who wants to “die” on stage? My back hurts more than it usually does. I wonder if that's from the stress of thinking about playing tonight? But it's only the morning. Why would it be hurting already? Oh, well, there's always ibuprofen that can come to the rescue. Maybe I should take a walk to make it better.

It's ten o'clock and I still haven't practiced yet. I shouldn't have stayed so long on the computer at the CBA website. That website is addictive. In fact, I haven't even eaten breakfast yet. Let's see, bacon and eggs, toast with lots of butter and jam. Wait, better not, too much fat and cholesterol. Let's see, put some organic flax, oat bran, and wheat bran (nature's broom) in a bowl of whole grain cereal, and that will be better. That last breakfast recipe from “J.D.'s Bluegrass Kitchen” would be a lot tastier than this health food stuff, but, well, better not.

It's 10:45 am, and I still haven't practiced yet. My first wife (42 years so far) wants me to vacuum, but my back, my back. Oh well, I'd better do that anyway.

It's 11:30 am, and I still haven't practiced. My back is hurting more now. I'm getting to the point where my enthusiasm is wanning regarding this gig tonight. Probably I'm just getting tired, already. Oh well, it will pass, maybe. The phone is ringing.

Can't believe that Tom, my buddy from the army, called me. We've kept in touch for the last forty years. He likes to talk. He's telling me how much he likes playing banjo music, which he does every time he calls, but that's okay. It reminds me of Steve Martin saying something about if you play the banjo you can't be depressed.

It's 12:45 in the afternoon, and I still haven't practiced. Time for lunch.

1:15 and I still haven't practiced, but I forgot to take that walk to ease the back pain. Better do it now. Now why did I agree to play this gig tonight? Good idea at the time, even though by the end of the last set I'm usually in bed. I wonder if Doc Watson ever feels this way about a gig?

That walk took longer than I thought it would. The red tailed hawk sighting so close to me made the whole thing worthwhile. If reincarnation is true, that's what I'd like to come back as. Don't believe it though. How long do I have now before I have to leave for the gig?

Three in the afternoon, and I still haven't practiced yet. Sitting on the sofa after the walk feels really good. Seems like I'm drifting off....(head snap) Whoops, better not go for a nap, the alarm clock isn't working. If only I hadn't agreed to playing this gig tonight I could drift into a long, long nap, and awake to the smells of my first wife cooking dinner. I wonder if Earl Scruggs ever feels this way about a gig?

Let's see, I'm just going to watch this one thirty minute T.V. Show on the Discovery Channel, and then I'll get to practicing for the gig tonight.

Wow, that show went longer than I thought. Worthwhile though, “Adult Survivors of Peer Abuse” in schools is something I never thought about. Now that I think about it, it may have happened to me.

Now when is that bluegrass festival at Plymouth? I'd better look it up. Where did I put that last Bluegrass Breakdown? Oh yeah, in the back room, somewhere. Okay, the Plymouth Bluegrassin' in the Foothills is September 17-19.

Shoot, it's five o'clock in the afternoon, and I still haven't practiced. No time now, have to shower and leave for the gig by six. Man, why did I agree to do this? I wonder if Del McCoury ever feels this way? All I know is that if I could sing and play like he does I wouldn't feel this way!

Six o'clock and I'm on the road to the gig. We have a substitute bass player, and one of our guitar players is in Jackson Hole Wyoming, but it will probably be okay. I haven't practiced today, but it will probably be okay (denial is a great defense mechanism).

I'm at the Irish Pub and have an hour until play-time. Plenty of time to set-up, and practice a little. What do you mean there is a private party in the room where we are supposed to play, and the band can't set-up until fifteen minutes before the gig? Okay, I'll go into the other room, have an iced-tea, and wait.

Lenny is in the other room, sitting at a table by himself. I haven't seen him for a number of years. He came to hear the band, early, but can't get in the regular play room either. He has peripheral neuropathology in his feet, he tells me. That's pain. We talk about blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and general aches and pains. Talk that has replaced topics of how far and fast we used to run, how good we used to play music, and generally how good we used to be. Lies, most of it.

It's way past time when the band is supposed to get into the music room to set up. Maybe I should walk over there and see what's going on. Okay the room is still full of people. They were supposed be out by now. Why did I agree to do this?

The manager tells me to just go on in and set-up. To just go around the people, and they'll be out soon. I try it, and it's impossible to get through or around them to the stage area. I'm told to go through the kitchen. Wow, this is a small kitchen. Again, why did I agree to do this?

It's 7:59 pm, and finally the band is set up. We get a sound check from one of the pub staff, who hasn't done it before (the regular person is off tonight). It feels like tonight is going to continue to be a disaster.

The band is “out of the shoot” and starts playing at 8 pm. We stop playing at 10 pm. The substitute bass player is great. We get along without our other guitar player who is on vacation (and think of firing him), and the other band members play just fine. I didn't get to practice, and I can tell, but the audience doesn't seem to be aware of that. It all worked out. It feels great.

I'm glad I agreed to do this.
Posted:  8/14/2010

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