Campfire Music

Tonight, around a campfire, a semi-eclectic crowd of Catholic artists listened as I and a lovely younger girl Claudette performed on our ukuleles together. We had never met before this night, and only met because I agreed to bring out my ukulele to ‘give an alternate perspective’ for the typical campfire Christian guitar songs (and we had three guitars working together already), and, as I went up to play, someone mentioned having seen a ukulele with someone else a while ago. The guitar guys convinced her to pull out hers with me, and come play. No one had any idea I was about to play a German song that none of them were likely to know, but I figured we could roll with it – if the girl pulled out her uke so easily (though it wasn’t out of the case yet, and she was carrying a binder, too, so she had some hesitation hat likely was nerves), she must be able to play at least the basic chords, if not a great amount.

So, I showed her the song and we tuned her up and went through it quickly together quietly, and then someone actually made an announcement for everyone to listen to us play. I pointed out that Claudette was reading a language she didn’t understand for this, so please be very proud of how well she plays along, because that is not an easy thing to do…, and then we played. We made mistakes, and it still sounded awesome.

Then, because people just seem to do this, the guitar guys requested Iz’s “Over the Rainbow”, which both of us have but never play. It’s kind of a hassle simply due to the range going so low for the singing…, which we both proved to everyone while we fumbled through it together, laughing kind of often as we went. Afterward, we actually played a couple other songs well, and enjoyed them greatly. The other folks enjoyed them, too.

One of them was the first song in her notebook, “La Vie en Rose”, and, since her version was in English, we had her sing in through once off the paper, and then I sang it through once in French… which totally shocked the listeners, and was a way fun surprise. (By the way, I feel like I am sharing as though I am a middle or high schooler or something… :P) What was extra fun was the part where I suddenly realized that I genuinely have no idea what the very last line is, and so I simply shrugged just before it, and then sang, “Je ne sais pas les mots, mais c’est bon,” which translates to, “I do not know the words, but it’s okay.” Obviously, no one had any idea that I had made up that line. 😛

And we finished off with two collaborations with the guitar guys. The first was a semi-four chord song, so, since I couldn’t see the paper (remember, there are here guitar guys and then two of us), I just watched Claudette’s fingers to know which of the four chords was happening when out of sequence. It went surprisingly well for me… it was really cool. On the second song, the paper was on our side of the notebook, so I could see it for myself. And it was one of my favorite old songs from Church, about Samuel, who was Hannah’s child. But I liked the song long before I ever learned that connection… like a solid decade beforehand. Anyway, two guys claimed the first two versus, and said we all would sing the bird verse together (and choruses, of course). But, during the second round of the chorus, I was told/offered to sing the third verse myself. So, I did. And, halfway through, because the versus were rather long, I told Claudette to sing with me. And she did.

Singing with her reminds me of elementary school, when I was told that this one girl, Katie C—, and I sounded really great together on a certain song (“The White Cliffs of Dover”). I didn’t entirely understand at the time how anyone would know that, or how someone would sound better singing with one person than with another, except for the fact that he one person must just be a better singer than the other. I have since learned. And I was almost shocked tonight when I heard us singing together. Our voices and styles are quite different from one another, and yet they complement each other beautifully. It made me want to sing and play more with her. I hope I get the opportunity tomorrow and often in the future.

As we were closing up the campfire, it came out that this was my first public “performance” of my ukulele and singing skills, so to speak, and no one could seem to believe it. I guess because I wasn’t shaky, and was able to talk and play and sing like what seemed to them like any other normal day. But that’s training in presenting and self-comfort, not in performing music. In response to their claims of disbelief at this, I ended up sharing how I only just starting playing more and writing songs earlier this summer, so it is still a kind of new idea for me to be playing for other people in the first place. And so, now, they clamoured to hear one of my songs.

So, I accepted the anointed guitar the priest had been playing – because that’s just baller, y’all – and told a quick background to one of my songs, and then played it for everyone. And I think the back story really put a context to the song that kind of blew everyone away just a little bit. It actually made me tear up a bit during the song, as is common for me with this particular song… it’s just really good, and the meaning is spectacular when one knows the context of its writing. Anyway, so, that was a really, really cool mini-adventure tonight. And I am very grateful for it, on many accounts. Now, however, I must sleep.

Goodnight! 😉

Post-a-day 2020

Extra ouch

Well, today felt like much of an improvement after yesterday. I tutored in the morning, finished up mixing six CDs for a student to have some exposure to French-language music – these have been taking me weeks of on-and-off effort to organize them out and pick which songs to include, which genres go where and belong at all, and figure out what degree of effort it is worth as well as how many CDs would be acceptable – messaged with a good friend about her wedding planning and tres leches and not feeling like working out, and then I worked out and watched a very interesting film of Natalie Portman’s. I want to look further into the film to see what it was all about, and whether it was inspired by a specific story or many or what. She sang very well in it, by the way, and I was quite pleased with her performance on all levels, especially the concert portion, which was a surprising yet lovely part to me. As for the workout: man, it had a 3k run in it, as well as 80 jumping up-downs (burpee without the push-up)… talk about a sore calf feeling the heat! Both calves have been sore for a few days now – I genuinely could barely go up and down the stairs two days ago, and walked with a limp, all because of my calves. Finally, when they show signs today of recovery, I have to put them through so much work. Ridiculous, just a bit, I dare say.

But the greatest part of the workout, I think, aside from doing it, was the part where I hung out in the pool afterward to relax and stretch out. That was awesome. Though, the effort to swim breast stroke for a few lengths of the pool felt like it might paralyze my arms, my shoulders and all were so worn out from today’s workout. 😀 Haha

Anyway, I’m off to read and sleep, now. Today was a lot in a good way, but it was nonetheless a lot, and I am exhausted. Goodnight!

Post-a-day 2020

Two things about music

The first:

It is funny, the things that get us, that get to us… I have been mostly totally fine with all of the splatters of chaos going on in the world around me these past weeks (the past one especially), and my life has been rather normal-ish… I have been bummed for many a people who have had work closed (and, therefore, no pay) or canceled (performers who, of course, now will not be paid for unperformed shows), but that is it… I have been bummed about it.

Today, as I read the lovely e-mail from Houston Grand Opera, stating clearly and beautifully that they are cancelling their remaining shows, both paid and free to the public, of the season (four altogether, with many performances of each) and that they are still paying 50% to all workers and performers who were hired to work on the shows, and, if we would like, we could ‘click here’ to donate our ticket prices to help them do this (instead of being refunded or having it apply to next season or something), I found myself full on crying… tears overflowing, body shaking slightly, a feeling of failed, helpless distress filling me…

Perhaps it was the first thing that 100% affected me directly, and not merely indirectly…, and perhaps it was that they were doing it all so kindly, handling it so well for the performers and workers they knew would be out of income probably entirely until the public returns to a life that includes theatres and performances and people…, whatever the case, it helped me to experience all the feelings I had been avoiding inside myself about all of this… I am terrified for my friends, these people I love, who work in these industries that have closed, and I am distraught for my performer friends, the people who light up my life for me with their every moment of work – their entire job serves the higher good in my life, lifts my spirits, heals my soul… how can I tell them that everything will be okay, when it very possibly will be quite terrible for them for a while?

I cannot…, but I can love them and value them nonetheless for all that they do, for all that they are, both in the world as a whole and in my life specifically…

I don’t know how I would be in life without them and all that they do and are committed to doing…, perhaps that is why it is so hard for me to know and accept the current absolute halt of their work… they mean more to me and my life than they ever could know or understand.

And I believe they might be feeling entirely useless and stupid and helpless right now…, I want the to know that they are not – they are as amazing as ever, and will be even more so amazing when we move forward through all of this, and they stick to doing what they do so spectacularly, both for themselves and for the world around them.

::big siiiigggghhhhh…

Second thing:

I discovered today that one of my absolute favorite places to sing is in a parking garage… I have turned unconsciously to singing this past week, and unabashedly so.

Walking through the parking garage today, I couldn’t help but marvel at how spectacular my voice sounded, reverberating so majestically around the concrete and air that surrounded me… it was beautiful.

And I am not exactly a fancy or trained singer or anything – very much an average, so far as people who understand and play at least some music go.

It was just so amazing a space for singing, it made my own singing sound worthy of being on a soundtrack…

Crazy, right?

Anyway, I look forward to gathering with friends for music dates in the future, in which we feel not so unlike drug dealers, when we meet up in various parking garages at all hours, like it is totally normal. 😛

Post-a-day 2020