I figured I was due a visit with my pickin’ friends in CT so I picked a Friday date at random and booked a trip up to Ron Anthony’s kitchen in Northford, CT. I had to forswear a Patty Larkin gig at Godfrey’s but my soul pals come first. (Patty asked about me. Yay!) I loaded up a mando and a guitar and headed out about noon. The traffic wasn’t too bad and I had my tunes and leftist podcasts ready for the trip.
I got up there early so I headed for the graveyard on the hill outside of Northford to meditate and decompress from the drive. It was the right thing to do. I gave thought to the ten years I spent in CT, building a family, making friends in the acoustic community and dealing with a different regional mindset.
I headed to Ron’s about 5 and we had a chance to catch up before folks started arriving around 6:30. I like to not know who is showing up beforehand so I can be genuinely surprised and glad that folks show up. I had the opportunity to really thank Ron for being one of my few ‘brothers’, someone I can confide in, and he seemed surprised but honored that I thought that way. I don’t hesitate to tell folks that I love them anymore.
My friends started rolling in, with some new faces. Frank (and Cathy), Denny, Bill, Lou showed up but Betsy and Chuck were new faces. Betsy was a really pleasant surprise. She’s a sophisticated guitarist and singer (I have seen her band Too Blue several times when I lived here) and I really enjoyed interacting with her during the session. Guitar talk, etc. She made the trip. I missed Ron’s lady Sue, away on field trials with a horse and dogs in Maryland. She makes me feel at home when I visit.
We passed around songs, some good jam tunes, some pretty difficult, but what makes these sessions special is the fact that we don’t have to play all the time. We know when to play and when to listen. I love to put my guitar aside, just close my eyes and listen to my friends. We are some fine players and friends. That’s rare.
Over the course of the evening I pulled out We Are Welcomed, Mr. Bojangles, Nadine, On Top of the World, Don’t Call Me Early, July and Dehlia. Some are good jam tunes but all have interesting nooks and crannies that makes one think. I get to make some musical statements with my friends I haven’t seen in awhile, let them know where I’m at musically. I don’t have the opportunity to share my new material with them at the local open mikes. And then there’s the inevitable conversations, chat and truly awful jokes.
Folks pulled out country tunes, blues, standards, swing and more. We all had the chance to stir the pot. I’m not sure I have a chance like this in my own home town! That’s why it’s important to cherish these gatherings. And that sense is deep among us.
I decided not to stay over this time, though Ron and Sue make things very comfortable for me. I packed up, said my thanks and left about 10:15. There was a pretty strong March thunder system rolling through and for the first hour driving back, I questioned my sanity. But, the weather broke in NJ, there was little traffic and I had some good tunes (Steve Winwood and my Sunday radio show) to sooth my ears. I got back into town about 1 pm. Not too bad.
I had hoped to sneak into my apartment undercover (so I could pee….) when some friends (comfortably drunk) were standing outside The Fun House and said “Hello, Dave Fry.” Drat. I was a little rude when I told them of my particular urgency so I unlocked my door, deposited my instruments in the stairwell and headed for my friendly bathroom and dealt with three hours on the road. Feeling a little abashed, I went back down the the street to reconnect with my acquaintances. Alas, it was futile to try to make intelligent conversation, explain what this journey was all about, so I bowed out gracefully and headed u[stairs to my home.
Enough for one day. Seven hours of driving, three hours of great playing.