I kicked myself out of the apartment tonight and headed out to the monthly Open Mike at the Whitehall Library. Run by my friend Earl Andrews, its another example of developing community arts at the grass roots level. Pat Two did a set of her poetry, filling us in on dates, family situations and her faith that spurred her own personal muse. Another newly retired gentleman came up and sang some nice songs and did some good guitar work.
My friend Mike Holliday led off the evening with several songs, projects, recent tunes, all in his open tuning. He makes the one tuning work nicely. And his songs are personal, well-sung and presented honestly.
I decided to do a themed set – horses. I started out with Pinto Pony, a tune I did last night for the poets. It’s only three verses so I decided to do an instrumental and I invited the audience to do the clip clops with their mouths. It was pretty cool. The folks picked up on it and their trust made it work.
I followed with Martin Carthy’s Skewbald, one tune I very rarely do. I did it without reviewing it earlier, and I did miss one of the more fun verses where the horse speaks to the rider. The guitar work (definitely the initial fascination with this ballad) cooked and got the point of the song (horse race) across. I didn’t nail it.
I finished with Blue Mule, a bluegrassy tune from Peter Rowan. It worked well, but I did stumble on the first line of the third verse – exposed for the fraud that I am. I did pull it together from then on, but it always reminds me of the scrapes that I still find myself in.
The evening did a second wind, so, following Mike again, I was wrestling with tuning the whole night – nature’s way of telling you to change your strings. I led off with Lessons from Pete and nailed it this time. I followed with Me and Martin Growing Old, nudged by a gentleman mentioning Martin Guitars. I then took a chance on Foxglove, a Cockburn tune in drop C. I really hadn’t done this one in a while, but figured, why not? I did a couple of stabs on the fingering, and figured it out (thank goodness for open tuning and time to recall the fingers). It was nice to play it, remember it and play it for listening folks.
I’m really glad I kicked myself out the door. I knew I needed the nudge.