This was a post I had originally drafted in June of 2008 but didn’t quite finish. Crazy, huh… about a year after starting my wordpress blog. After my last post where I talked a little bit about my youthful aspirations of wanting to be a musician when I grew up I thought this was appropriate to pull it from the drafts and finish up.
When I was a kid I was in the band… junior high and high school. I already had some musical genes gifted to me from my parents and others but being in the band cemented the fact that I like music. And as a lot of kids did, who grew up in the 70s and 80s, I listened to bands that would become pretty influential rock bands… KISS, Rush, Yes, Zeppelin, The Who and others despite my mother’s attempt to add country music in to the mix. On our daily ride to school she made me listen to Ronnie Milsap, Charlie Pride, Tammy Wynette, Buck Owens, George Jones and Merle Haggard. Mama tried. : )
I rebelled against country music in high school and my love for it didn’t stick until much later in college. I went to a small school in east Texas so country music started slowly but in time became a staple. However, I was also exposed to a new wave of music and embraced bands like Yaz, The Pixies, The Smiths, R.E.M. and Depeche Mode.
When I think about it, I really liked all kinds of music and knew different types quite well… everything from rock to country, Motown, jazz, classical. Hell even disco. (please don’t hate me for that) But I had never really heard or paid much attention to the lowly singer/songwriter.
So fast forward about 17 years… it was about 2002 when I heard my first “guy and his guitar”. By chance I stumbled upon a little pub on my way back from dropping off my daughter after having her for the weekend. The sign on the front said BREW PUB. With my affection towards good beer, I thought I’d see what they had on tap. Coincidentally it just so happened to be Open Mic Night. Most people might think this would be the worst way possible to be exposed to singer/songwriters. Turns out what I thought would only be a half-hour-long detour wound up keeping me there for more like five hours.
My visits to the Brew Pub started off a little intermittent but after several months I eventually was going every other weekend as I came back from dropping off my daughter on the other end of town. What I loved about the open mic at this pub is almost all the performers were doing original music… or at least their own take on a published song.
Of course not everyone was good. In fact most were quite bad but many, if not all of the patrons on a Sunday night are musicians/open mic-ers and are very encouraging as well as very forgiving. And the host ALWAYS makes each open-micer feel like he or she is THE headlining act of the night. It’s pretty damn cool to be honest.
So after a couple of years of sitting as a spectator I bought my first guitar thinking i might try to teach myself how to play and start making music again. (sixteen years earlier I had left the music department in college thinking I was completely done with music). So I would sit at the very front of the little stage and tried desperately to remember the shapes their hands and fingers made as they played their guitars and I would race home and attempt them on mine at home. Evidently I was trying to learn guitar a la the Phoebe Buffay school of guitar learning. : )
That isn’t exactly the best way of learning. Plus I would put the guitar down for weeks at a time and it took about a year before I really decided to give it an honest go of trying to learn. I’m proud to report I have since gotten better, which isn’t saying much because I was REALLY crappy when I first started. And wouldn’t you know it… I got my nerve up and did my first open mic about a year and half after really buckling down and consistently practicing and trying. I remember the date: Jan 23, 2005. I know because it was my birthday.
And about two years after that, some friends and I formed a band. We even play at the ol’ UU church now and again. That’s how we all met was through our UU church.
So thankful for that little pub, my friends from church and oh how I love making music again.