Music, Verbosity, and Anything Else

Friday, March 16, 2007


The stairs were narrow, unlit and steep. Aromas of gin, coffee and cigarette smoke billowed at me from the top of the stairs. As I ascended I saw my good friend and bass player beckoning me to approach his mentor and college jazz instructor. Accompanying them was a notable area guitar teacher, something of a small legend. He had been built up to iconic status by my band mates.

Have you ever had your hopes built up and subsequently shattered in such a fashion? I expected to meet this guru, have him acknowledge my strengths and weaknesses then help me to realize how to manifest them into performance, musicality and confidence.

Instead, I got a lesson in cocksuckery. The guitar teacher, upon my inquiry, decided I should consider never playing again- he never heard me, having left after our conversation. I have received negative reinforcement before but this felt gratuitous and just plain fun for him.

My bass player, following this, insisted I sit in with his combo which consisted of he, his jazz teacher on tenor and a drum machine named "Victor(see footnote)."

The Sarge suggests "Autumn Leaves." Okay, I've got the Stanley Jordan "Autumn in New York" album, and it's the first track. I know this, right?

Not so fast. Jordan's track cuts the B section in half; the true choruses are twice as long. It threw me off big time and as the changes passed by in unexpected fashion I became completely petrified.

So, what do Sarge, Nick and Victor do? Victor doesn't know shit, he's a drum machine. Sarge, however, sits down in the corner for EIGHT choruses. For seven choruses I was a model for Edvard Munch. Sarge seemed to enjoy this, passing furtively gleeful glances at my "friend."

So, for about ten minutes(it seemed like eons)I stood frozen at the Frog and the Peach with my dick hanging in the soused wind. At song's end I made a hasty laconic exit; with my Spiderman trick it took about three seconds.

A brief aftermath- soon after this a full-scale blitzkrieg ensued and I severed all ties with these people. May 6, 2001.

Stage fright elicits images of musicians displaying phobias in the face of performance. However, I saw it affect everything in my acumen and persona; I prefer to call it "Life Fright." I blanched at life in general. Music was simply the thing I placed at the center of my life. Small wonder that it became such a source of all-overs.

Fast forward six years. That person seems like a faint shadow of who I have become.
It would be impossible to explain exactly how I came to be "New and Improved Der(with more stain fighting action!)" but suffice it to say two things stick out as precipitants. First, I am surrounded by truly interesting, thoughtful, generous and inspiring people. Thank you, all of you. It's like having a new lease on the universe.

Secondly, as a result, I feel more in tune with my own energy, needs, desires, et al. I'm poised to begin living life my way, and the prospect of discovering what that is is incomparably exciting.

More news...on Monday I went to New York to see Les Paul. At 91 he doesn't quite have the chops he once did(check out old recordings of Les Paul/Mary Ford- he was a certified badass)but his showmanship is matchless. Sitting on top of a grand piano, hitting on his 24-year-old Aussie bass player(she was stunning, and very good but it was obvious the soundman wanted to fuck her)he seemed as if he was sitting next to me. I thought he might ask me how the salmon and lentils were. To wit, he became something of a watermark to me for stage confidence. And, as performing legends go, I could emulate worse.

Music is magic as long as listeners can acknowledge the trick happened. Hand in hand with musicality walks vulnerability. I guess I'm not so afraid of such a thing anymore. Wait until I get that voice coach. Corey Glover from Living Colour, Broadway cats amongst his clients...I'll be kicking ass and taking names, soon...

Footnote: Victor was introduced to the fray by a music store manager/keyboardist who was later busted for displaying a full regalia of beer bottles, whiskey, and cocaine and mirrors to his District Manager. Sarge is a Napoleonistic dipsomaniac. Nick seemingly became a complete egotist. The guitar teacher has been dutifully engaging his students in that inimitable snarky negative reinforcement; many of my students were formerly his and I hear about it quite often. Turns out, folks like encouragement.


Blogger Bimbo said...

That was absolutely painful to read. I cringed along and (with the post's theme) not to the beat. I shall punish the guitar teacher by never sleeping with him because A)he's done this to you, despite the enlightenment you dredged out of an otherwise shitty experience, B) he's short, and, C) B) and A), but largely A). What a terrible little man.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Bimbo said...

*I feel more in tune with my own energy, needs, desires, et al. I'm poised to begin living life my way, and the prospect of discovering what that is is incomparably exciting.*

But on a more serious note: fuck yeah. I think we're lead to believe that we need to achieve a certain state before we can begin to do this, i.e. once we graduate from college, get that job we want, or have someone to share it with. Glad to report all of that is untrue (so far, in my humble yet clinical testing)and that it's your liberation that brings about the goals, not the opposite. And once you really start doing this, it's hella good. Narcotic bliss good. It's also dangerous and unrealistic at times, but fuck it - I could be dirtnapping tomorrow for all I know.

1:34 PM  
Blogger TheAdequateDer said...

Dangerous? Unrealistic? I think some of the best shit happens when these adjectives are attached.

Oh, the guitar teacher was tall and balding. The sax player/professor was the fat drunk nebbish. It may or may not alter your libidinous decision, but that's cool. With Antiprince I must admit he had some doofy chick he was with some time before Antiprincess that I was purely physically enamored with. She was quite shitty to him and shriveled my goodness up into my mesentery concerning her attractiveness. I totally hear you.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too had the misfourtune of meeting all these wastes of skin as well.I thought the drum machine was the best conversationalist.

11:20 AM  
Blogger TheAdequateDer said...

Gee, anonymous...

Might we have met them at the same time? Are we acquainted?

11:21 PM  
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