I went to a jam session in Driggs ID on Sunday.  The players included a couple of people I’ve seen performing locally, plus a couple of outright amateurs.  It was a weird session, partly because of the mix of levels.  One of the players, a woman I’v…

I went to a jam session in Driggs ID on Sunday.  The players included a couple of people I’ve seen performing locally, plus a couple of outright amateurs. 

It was a weird session, partly because of the mix of levels.  One of the players, a woman I’ve seen performing locally twice, was baffled when I proposed a song that included a B major chord in it.  It never occurred to me that a performing musician–especially one who plays guitar–wouldn’t know how to play a B chord.  But there it was.

The weirdest thing for me, though, was the nearly complete lack of response from the other musicians after I played.  I play with plenty of respected musicians, and I generally get a very positive response from them and the audience when I do.  This time, I threw down on a few songs, and–nothing.  Not even a smile.

I’ve wondered what that lack of response might be about.  I don’t think it’s because I suddenly suck on harmonica.  When I listen to the recordings from the show at Alpine Wines, I like what I hear.  So what is it then?

I can think of two things.  One is that some people–including plenty of modern artists–just don’t know or care about the difference between executing well and not.  There’s a sense out there that the idea is all that matters, as opposed to the execution of the idea.  I’m obviously not in that camp–I’m of the school that says virtuosity matters.  (You’d think it would matter in a place like Driggs, where everybody talks about bluegrass, a style whose practitioners obviously know their ways around the necks of stringed instruments.  But maybe not.)

The second thing is a little scarier.  I was the oldest person at that jam, by 2-3 decades at least.  I wonder if I just looked to them like the old guy playing the harp?

Scary to think that might be the case.  But so what?  I’m not going to be thirty again anytime soon.  In the meantime, I’m just going to keep playing the best s— I know how to play.  We can let history sort it out.  We’re all young compared to the age of a rock.

2 Comments

  1. Richard, that’s life ! I played a song in a pub (voice and guitar,) and they just sat there with a look like”what the heck is this all about”. The next day in a singaround, everybody was joining in the chorus and asking who wrote it. Go figure.
    Recent comments from other musicians include “I suppose that’s one way of doing it”, (singing and guitar).
    “That was a bit smooth” (harp player commenting on my harp playing.)
    Oh and the one I like best was from a pub customer “Thanks for showing me what I’m supposed toi do with that box of harmonicas I’ve got at home.
    So it’s not all bad. I must add the rider that whenever I got good comments the people giving them were blind drunk. Many musicians are way too ‘cool ‘to give an opinon on anything.

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