I think more people should learn how to play a musical instrument. How about a guitar? Keyboards? Maybe even an autoharp? It's fun. I'm reminded of that from time to time when I play alone or with friends.
I'm not kidding myself. I'll never be a star. Never trot onstage with my guitar to the roaring screams of crowds and break into song, be that in an arena or a ten seat pub. But it's fun to imagine it. More so to get together for a mutual jam session and play as a group, everyone getting a chance to shine a little. Maybe the experience stops there. So what if it does? It's a great way to while away a few hours enjoying either our own company or that of friends.
In the decades before television; the time when live concerts weren't nearly so prevalent; when radio was the primary entertainment for families, more people played instruments, in their living rooms, on their front porches, wherever and whenever the mood struck.
Stars emerged. From Jimmie Rodgers to the Carter Family. Robert Johnson to Doc Watson (pictured on right). Most of the great blues artists from the 20's through the 40's were discovered playing on front porches or small joints.
Let's set that aside a second. I've already said that we're not going to become stars here. But we can become a little closer, sharing a creative endeavor rather a position in an audience. Make no mistake, I love watching other people create whether at a monster arena or a ten seat pub. Truth be told, most times I'd prefer the ten seater to the monster.
So why don't we do more of it?
Because we ... myself included, and I've been playing for forty-five years... aren't particularly happy starting with folk songs and one-four-five rock and twelve bar blues then, working together, building up the more complex material. We want to play the guitar like Clapton or Slash or not at all. We want to be Elton John on the keyboards instead of enjoying a little Heart and Soul.
Listening to the perfection of those who practice six to eight hours a day, five of which is nothing but scales and bleeding fingers has spoiled us.
But I say let's all learn an instrument. I'll learn a new one. I'll buy a banjo, or maybe I'll learn to play the autoharp like Maybelle Carter played it.
And writing songs is pretty fun, too.
I leave for San Francisco this Thursday for the conference. I'm not expecting anything. I have hopes, but mostly I was to see a beautiful city.