Tuesday came and with it came a solo gig at the Mecklenburg Inn. Over the years this bar has been my little home away from home. It also holds the distinction of being the place where I cut my teeth performing in front of people. Years before I learned how to play guitar and well before I turned 21, I used to go the Meck to “Words and Music.” It was a long running, but now defunct, poetry reading. As well, after I was of age, I used to go to the long running open mic that was run by Todd Coyle and Lisa Lafferty; I would later become the host of the same open mic. Thinking about those times transports me to a different time and evokes very strong feelings more the memories. However, I do remember a few things.
The first was a performance at “Words and Music” by a lady with a name that escapes me; she sang a French song about a working girl calling to a lover. The exact details of the story escape me much like the singer’s name. Late nights, smoky bars, and decades have a way of turning the past from a photograph to an impressionist painting, leaving behind feelings instead of details. My point is that the song evoked in me a longing to absorb and then create art; the lady sang with such a beauty and power that I still carry the feelings I experienced all those years ago.
The second was a poem written and recited by my good friend Jason at “Words and Music.” Jason holds the distinction of giving me one of my first guitars, electric at that. At the time, he and his girlfriend were sharing a small apartment with my then girlfriend. I was the annoying high school boy trying desperately to fit in with these cool college kids; I was starry eyed and in love and quick with a smart ass remark. I digress…Jason recited a poem about a ring and the symbolism therein. I remember it as romantic and touching. I remember thinking, “Man I’ve got to write.” However, it was more than a thought; it was an intense feeling, a desire to create, to collaborate.
Finally, I remember the supportive and nurturing aura that surrounded the open mic. It was powerful, and I credit it with giving me the push I needed to make music such a large part of my life. I remember train wrecking through songs that I’d written. I remember also getting off stage and either Todd or Lisa would tell me that I’d done a good job. This open mic used to be packed with both listeners and performers alike. It was really very magical. Again, years and beers have covered the lens with which I view those times with the rosiest of tints.
Fast forward many years. Armed with my guitar, I set about playing this Tuesday snowy night with these memories in tow. I became drunk with feelings of old and surrounded by good friends, both old and new. I got see a good friend and we reminisced about sitting around on one particularly drunk and late open mic night singing John Prine. It was a very good night, and it’s times like these that will become the feelings that I carry with me into the future long after I’ve forgotten the names and situations that helped to form the feelings.
Let me leave you with a question and a share: What are some events in your life that made you remember the feeling more than the event? In keeping with the poetic theme, I’d also like to share with you a piece of poetry by one of my favorite contemporary poets, Taylor Mali. I’ve shared this before, but it’s powerful and deserves to be heard again (another nod to the teachers in my life).
Thanks for reading! Come see me this Saturday at the John Allison Public House where I’ll be singing with Melody Massimino! Check me out on Facebook and Youtube. Click on the like button or subscribe button, or subscribe to my blog right here on this site so you can know about all the fun things I’ll be doing this year! Let’s make some memories!