Last Sunday while hanging out with Jim, a call came in for a gig. He couldn't play it. I thought about it for a while, and made the bold assertion that I could do it. I thought I could wrangle enough musicians together for a full band at least part of the time. But by the day before, last Friday, it was clear I had to cancel, or gulp, play the show alone.
I started making a list of every song that I know all the words to and will still play. To my surprise, I came up with a very Americana list of ninety some songs. I knew that would be plenty. I figured for every sensitive songwriter song, or dark Townes Van Zandt song, I could throw in a Bill Monroe bluegrass song.
So I did.
Virginia City was taken over with the Americana festival organized by Cindy Gray. I wasn’t part of the organized entertainment, but it didn’t seem to matter. I set up a few mics on a borrowed PA at the Ponderosa, known for their mine tour.
During my time on the mic, Yoseff Tucker of the Central Valley Boys came up and we played Bill Monroe’s I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky, one of my favorite and most enduring Monroe songs. I never seem to tire of it, and after having lived in Rosine and nearby Zion, Kentucky, Monroe’s catalog carries a personal nostalgia and a certain amount of lived-in quality for me.
About half way through the four hours, my friends from Wildhorse Drive came up and played a few songs before heading down for their show at the Great Basin Brewery. (See their new web site).
The show ended up being a lot of songwriter stuff. I will forever be sure to include Susanna Clark and Richard Leigh’s Come From The Heart. Susanna passed in mid June.
Now here is the one thing that I keep forgetting when everything is falling apart:
In life, as in love, I need to remember there’s such a thing as trying to hard.
and so, always fitting, the chorus is ever resonant:
You’ve got to sing like you don’t need the money.
Love like you’ll never get hurt.
Dance like nobody’s watchin’
It’s got to come from the heart if you want it to work.
But then I went into Dublin Blues, written by Guy Clark , and I lost it during the chorus.
I loved you from the get go and I’ll love you ‘till I die.
I loved you on the Spanish steps the day you said good bye.
Afterwards I ended up in a bluegrass jam playing mandolin, and later I played a borrowed bass on the wooden sidewalk. The end of the night I strummed away on guitar in an old-time jam. Old time is very different from bluegrass, but perhaps not to a casual listener.
I stayed up really late that night and slept away Sunday morning. That’s when my friend Jay invited me to go out on his small sailboat at the Sparks marina. It was very relaxing, and all in all, a very good weekend.
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