The paying gigs a few over the last couple of weeks, so I pick my spots and one of my favorite one is Amy Forsythe’s acoustic jam in Boyertown on the third Thursday of the month. Amy is a gracious host and fine fiddle player and she attracts some fine players of all levels of skill. Everyone gets a shot at a song and the variety is great. Fiddle tunes, acapella gospel, Motown, blues, jazz standards and more. The patter between songs is precious, too. Very funny.
I got to lead three songs tonight, starting off with St. James Infirmary, a nice bluesy tune that builds nicely, has some vocal Hi de hi’s and room to improvise. I also finished with Dixie Chicken. I guess I really enjoy working out arrangements as I go along, dealing out lead, working the dynamics of the song, breaking it down to just vocals, etc., all while laying down a steady rhythm guitar. It feels good and the moments are rich for everyone.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to do my best to support the players with a strong rhythm on mandolin or guitar, especially when there is no bass. I also have a good ear for the chord progressions and pick up the pattern quickly. I really like the brain work that goes on figuring them out. It’s quite like my love of crossword puzzles, picking up clues from the melody, and, once the pattern is established, finding the nuances in the chords and experimenting with them.
It’s great to be among fellow players, sharing tunes, leads, backup and more. As much as I love taking the stage, I really like the opportunity to support others. I don’t get much chance to do this kind of playing and it refreshes me and soothes me in these quiet January times.