Music has always been a part of my life and that of some of my best friends. For me, piano lessons from age 6, clarinet, band, orchestra, a youth symphony. As an adult, I traded in the clarinet on a violin. But I had no great talent, no real ear. I sang the end of each verse of CCR's Bad Moon Rising for weeks as "Bathroom on the Right" before someone clued me in. Still, I love music even as my interests (and definitely my talents) lay elsewhere.
But I still dabble a bit, a keyboard in my living room, a guitar often nearby, a violin in the corner. My friends play much better and sometimes they get asked to play in public, sometimes for pay. (People often offer money for me NOT to play though I've not let it stop me).
For you see, my friends will show up with their instruments and say. "This is what I learned to play this week!"
And I reply- "Great, this is what I learned."
But, an invite to play at an outdoor event was extended. My partner in squirrel adventure, M., prepared his guitar. It would be fun. A Garden Festival., it was called. M. said to not get too excited, he plays at many such things, it's not too hard. He reminded me of that River Dance episode on Roberta X's hardwood floor (two pints of IPA and 12 years of tap dancing lessons just don't mix). I promised to behave myself.
And so the day began, instruments were tuned, music prepared.
It would be fun. . . Well that was the plan anyway.
Arrived for the Fairy Garden festival at the nursery.
Garden at a nursery means greenhouse right? Wrong.
Carried equipment 100 yards to the greenhouse…
No AC…and it’s almost vacant.
Sound of crickets.
Someone approaches: "Hello - you need to be in the Fairy Garden".
400 yards away in the other direction and outside.
Outside temp: 85 and climbing. Wind: Steady at 20-25 mph .
Carry equipment 400 yards. Remember why groupies are all really young.
First awareness of what the Fairy Garden is: Mothers and little girls wearing long dresses with wings and garlands in their hair. Face painting.
Uh OH….Place to play: On top of a wagon.
Fully exposed to the wind.
Did I mention it's a wagon?
Folding metal chairs. I don't know anyone over the age of 21 who can take a metal folding chair for more than an hour!
Move chair to the ground and behind a tree to shelter from the wind. The ground is very soft, a lot of rain from recent storms.
Sit on chair which has a metal seat that's been in the sun for hours and is now the temperature of a toaster oven set on pizza.
Yow! Wave at the people. Just part of the act.
Set up. Amp for guitar unloaded…..no power. Request power: they run 400 feet of extension cord out.
Try to hold onto the music. A fairy just blew past.
Time to play. Are you ready? Right foot on a foot stool, left food on the leg of the music stand so it doesn't blow away.
The delicate melodies begin. Little girls in fairy dresses with face paint standing 3 feet away staring like the ghostly twins in the hall in The Shining.
Something is moving… either the chair is sinking or UFO's are beaming up the music stand.
Well, iit makes it easier to see the amp anyway.
The amp! Black ants are crawling all over the amp.
Ants now on feet. Open toed sandals. Try and avoid Riverdance II.
Halfway through the second song they're crawling on the sheet music. Is that a note or a really giant ant? Oh crap, they're crawling up my leg to set up base camp!
Focus, focus, adjust to the temp, the wind, the ants crawling across the sheet music, the close proximity of staring people. "Hello Danny. Come play with us"
Yes, time to play.
Solfeggiotto. All together now. Beautiful, everything is perfect. Perfect harmony
50 Harley’s go by on the road about 150 feet away.
The crowd applauds, the little girls finally smile.
Maybe this is why we love music, as I love flying. Music induces in me a sense of the infinite and the contemplation of that which is unseen. Music and flying are both wonder, or can be. The same visceral connection between the soul and what elevates it to the heavens. Both strike in some people the same chord, the same spark that is embedded in some hearts. Something that, in certain individuals, is simply part of our most basic and natural inability to live with the gravity of silence
Now, I wonder if the face painters can paint a face half purple and half gold. Go Vikings!