Author: Compton, Cliff

Once again at the lighthouse

It’s ten o’clock on Thursday night and I just had the unsettling realization that my column is due tomorrow. That would be today, if this is Friday. Last week I wrote a beauty. It would have rivaled Shakespeare. The culmination of the work of a lifetime. It would’ve made poets weep and engineers scratch their heads. It was about popular music, and my visceral dislike of most of it. The computer didn’t like it. It has been dispersed throughout the Ethernet. Disconnected bits of unrelated thought traveling unfettered through time and space. Perhaps the result of my foot disconnecting the power source from the computer. Or perhaps the work of evil elves. Whatever….I’ll give her another shot.

A group of us spent parts of last week at the lighthouse marina. A place I look forward to every time the opportunity to go there presents itself. My grass valley fathers day fest was cut in half this year by an infection that did not understand the necessity of bluegrass to the heart of those who practice it, and as I’ve slowly recovered, the need to pick, and to be surrounded by my people had increased to an almost unbearable pitch.

I snuck away from work late Tuesday afternoon, because I couldn’t wait anymore, and stopped at Jeanie and Terry Ramos’s campsite, unsnapped my guitar, hugged a dozen or so beautiful woman, and then hugged their ugly husbands and then sat down to play, and in the immortal words of John Prine, “felt just like a Sunday, on a Saturday afternoon.” Jeanie was playing that sweet gospel music, and Vic Yenkle was thumping out that C and W bass from one of those wonderful works of art that he creates up in his hideaway above Newcastle, and Jerry Pujol was singing that song where he yips out the end of the chorus and makes me wish I could sing about four notes higher than I can, and Amy and Kim were there, and they’d been going through a rough spot and that music, like the smile of God, was taking the edge off the hard times, and reminding us about how much we appreciate each other., and the love that binds us and the music that lifts and moves us, and I had to go back to work, but I went back singing.

And I came back Thurday, at the end of my work day. Finishing off the last sales calls on the phone as I absorbed the last of the sun, and one of my friends came by as I sat there, and we got to talking about this year and the trials and difficulties that our musical circle had endured, and even what we’d gone through ourselves, and we said a little prayer and I think God listened.

And I saw Chef Mike, and things were better yet. Because that’s my friend, and a campout just ain’t right, until I see him. We picked a few. We always do. Merle haggard would have been proud.
And I don’t know….I guess I never get tired of this. Seeing my friends, playing for the people. Swapping licks. Looking for everyone. I walked around the marina twice looking for Howie. I saw his scamp trailer but I didn’t see him. I really wanted to pick, but not enough to walk around the marina for the third time. So I ate a donut with his old pickin’ partner, Mary Curtin and sat in the sunshine.

And it was grand time. Playing with the revolving band on stage at night. Watching Rick Cornish drawing in the crowd with “milk cow blues.” Playing with Bill Schniederman and Johnathon Blumehl and being so happy that my legs had healed that when Alex and Michael Sharpe started playing that old time fiddle and guitar stuff, I couldn’t contain myself. Went out into the audience and, found some willing partners, and danced like a crazy fool.

Probably won’t do that again….Well, at least till the October campout at the same place.
Posted:  8/13/2010

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