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.