by Michele Christopher
When we first moved out here to the dry side, I was really bummed out because I was going to have to find people to play with, and there didn’t appear to be much of a live music scene to start the searching. Plenty of crappy karaoke, but not much in the way of “go out on a Friday and see a band”. I even went into one of the local guitar stores (we actually have three) and asked if there was a board or something somewhere. The guy asked what I played and then answered that there were plenty of bass players around town. That was a year ago, and he annoyed me, and it’s only been in the last couple of months that I’ve gone into his store for anything. He’s much nicer to me now, though.
Then, searching online for something, anything of interest in the area, I came across a thing in the entertainment section of the paper that mentioned a blues jam. So the Smart Half and I moseyed on down to it one Thursday, and moseyed back out pretty quickly. It just didn’t look very happ’nin’.
I set my bass down and ordered a beer and as soon as I returned to the jam area, I was set upon by a small, enthusiastic blond woman.
“What you got in the case?” she asked.
Well, the case is weird looking, looks like a BIG version of something an SG comes in.
She introduced herself and said that, because it was kind of late, she wasn’t sure if she would be able to get a spot for me.
So I just hung out and watched people, I guess. I don’t really remember.
So I went the next week, and I got there early. The small, enthusiastic blond woman was the president of the blues society and she was really happy to have another bass player around.
I lived within walking distance (a couple of blocks) so I went ahead and started drinking and had a nice buzz by the time it was my turn. I had that weird little moment of “aaack” I always get when I’m about to get onstage, and felt really self-conscious about jamming with these people. I hadn’t really done any blues stuff for about five years. Suddenly I was very drunk, too.
“oh shit” I thought to myself. “These people know how to play this. I’m wasted…”
“G. GCD. Stormy Monday has that stupid sharp thing going on, too. Chamberlain always played it.”
And then I was off. And I nailed that stupid song. I had never been able to get it on the coast. But it was there, and it went from my memory to my fingers flawlessly and I couldn’t fucking believe it.
I played four or five more songs before they did a switch and then I got something even better- compliments. None of this “You ain’t too bad of a geetar player fer bein a girl” shit (to which I usually answer “it’s a bass, dipshit”). I hate THOSE compliments, because they imply that they had low expectations because of my gender. Real compliments. “Nice playing”. “Good job keepin it down”. “Wow it’s nice playing with you”.
And our jams are like that. We try to encourage each other and get new people up and encourage them. Cos even if you suck the first time we hear you, if you show up at the next one, chances are you’ve made progress, and that’s all you can really ask, I guess. Make progress. Get better. I still get better every time I play, and I use a lot of that theory knowledge.
Digression: I’ll probably do a writing on “that theory knowledge” one of these days.
Even though I’m not much of a blues fan, unless you count Cream as blues, I go back every week, because I have to. I don’t have to because I’m a blues society board member. I don’t have to because I’m in a band. I have to because I have to keep playing and the blues is a fantastic thing to reteach yourself stuff.