Tuesday, July 31, 2007

That's gonna leave a mark ...

Well, today at guitar camp, I got a tattoo. Okay, it's a press on tattoo, but I'm thinking of making it the real thing. It's the circle of fifths with a snake as the circle. Check out the pic. It's a handy little tool complete with a chord speller in the middle.

I have graduated to music geekdom.

All hail the music geeks.

It's been a full day. I haven't had a chance to come back to the room to chill before now. Classes in the morning, then a half capo workshop after lunch followed by another class and a free form writing session with a fellow student. The teacher calls it "ink vomit" - just five minutes of free form writing based on a beginning phrase. This is part of the songwriting course I picked up after dumping the "Stealin' from Chet" class that was going to be too over my head technically.

It's turned out to be a great switch since my other two classes are theory. The songwriting class gives me a chance to let the right brain play and it's like a kid going to recess for the first time in months. On the monkey bars, jumping off the swings, then jumping off backward, getting dizzy on the merry-go-round. Damn. This kid hasn't played in awhile. It's nice to have the freedom to do that.

The "ink vomit" (I do hate the word "vomit") is an interesting exercise. You take a phrase and just riff on it and see where it leads. The one the fellow student and I did began with a line from a poem she had: "If the moon were a house ..."

Here's my ink vomit (actually lead vomit, since I used a pencil):

If the moon were a house, I'd sell it to the highest bidder and immediately buy it back. If the moon were a house it would be finely decorated, but have no atmosphere (ba, dum, bump), If the moon were a house I could see inside your window every night and watch over you as you sleep. I'd build an addition just to block out the sun, so you'd have to stare at the moon the rest of your life. If the moon were a house, I'd paint it purple with beige trim and make the property values of the universe plummet. If the moon were a house I'd put a couch on the porch and park my beat up Chevy on the craggy lawn. No need to worry about the growing grass because it's the moon. If the moon were a house, I'd have you over every night so we could shoot pool, drink beer and watch the world go round. If the moon were a house I'd live there forever but I'd kick the old man out and make the place my own. If the moon were a house, we'd live there together until we grow too old then we'd simply float away into space. Floating forever, away from the moon where we made our house.

Well, they call it "vomit" for a reason - but there's a fun song in there somewhere ...

I'm including a shot of the pedestrian bridge to the other side of campus. Warren Wilson is gorgeous and the view of the mountains with the morning mist is breathtaking. The bridge is beautiful and represents what I'm working on this week - bridging that gap between mind and spirit, body and soul, music and musician.

I'm well on my way to that spiritual journey - and I know it's gonna leave a mark.

Monday, July 30, 2007

This one time, at band camp ...

I arrived in beautiful Asheville last night, all set to sharpen my chops at the Swannanoa Gathering. It's both guitar and contemporary folk week, so there are people wandering the Warren Wilson College campus with guitars and mandolins. (No trumpets and I'll steer clear of any I see.) One guy told me he had a bazookie (not sure how to spell that), which he says is a bass mandolin. Can't wait to see that appear at a jam session.

I spent the first night not even touching my guitar, but watching a lot of other people play theirs. Orientation consisted of some housekeeping items and a short performance by each teacher. It turned into a monster concert and left me feeling overwhelmed and inadequate. I found the beer tent and headed back to my room to play the three songs I know by heart and began to doubt the wisdom of coming to place where everyone seems way ahead of me in skill.

The lady at the beer tent was philosophical. "Well, you expect your teachers to be a lot better than you."


But, there's that nagging voice that says you're not good enough and you never will be. I tied that voice up and set it in the closet before leaving for class this morning, but it escaped. The first class on theory was a blast. Great stuff to know and learn. I even have a press-on "circle of fifths" tattoo that I'll be sporting later today.

But, the voice made its reappearance in the second class called "Stealing from Chet" where we're learning some Chet Atkins licks and styles. Having never finger picked before it was way over my head. After I blog, I'm going to go out into the rain and talk with the class folks about perhaps finding a different class. The songwriting classes looked great, so I may try that. I haven't written any songs since the 80's, but it's never too late to start again, eh?

I haven't taken many pics yet, so I'm simply including a shot of the room - er, cell, that I'm sharing with a lovely woman from Australia. We are getting on fine, as she might say. No snoring and we're both cold natured so the room is nice and toasty. Mmmm.

I'm approaching this week as a spiritual retreat as much as a chance to learn more guitar. Last night, I felt the spirit in the first few minutes of the orientation session as the organizer and three others sang this great song.

Sing, like you don't need the money
Love, like you'll never get hurt
Dance, like nobody's watching
If it ain't got heart
It ain't never gonna work

I'm here to find my heart this weekend. We all have a song inside of us ready to be played, we simply have to find it and bring it out into the world with our whole heart. I'm in search of my heart this week and I'm listening very closely to the music not just outside of me, but inside as well.

Once I find that music, I'll never feel inadequate again. Even if I still suck at guitar.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Visit Reverend Bitch, Sir

My good friend and sometime mentor (though I always resisted whatever he suggested), Rev. Paul Turner, has launched his own blog.

Dubbed "Reverend Bitch, Sir" you only have to read a few lines to understand the title. Paul is as outspoken as he is out - and believe me, he's way out.

A blog suits him and I'm looking forward to reading as he muses loudly in cyberspace.

Check it out.