Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Animal House

I went to a party last weekend, the one, because of which, I had to DVR the Pens/Bruins game. Some friends of Pinky’s and mine were throwing a birthday party at their house for another friend. Normally, I wouldn’t consider this “blog-worthy”, in and of itself, but the host is quite a musician. In fact, his garage is converted into a nice little rehearsal studio.

Now I have absolutely zero musical ability. I’ve had a guitar for almost 20 years; a very sweet red Ibanez electric guitar, the kind Joe Satriani plays. (It’s actually autographed by Satriani too… I won it from his record company, back in another life.) I’ve tried to learn to play via how-to books and tablature books, but music has always been like a secret code that I just couldn’t crack. That, and a bad left hand that just will not obey, has left me on the outside looking in. I can play a lurching, fat fingered version of "Louie Louie", but that’s about it.

We had a piano for a while when I was growing up, but that was inscrutable to me.

Anyone can play a harmonica, right?

Wrong. Not me… even with more how-to books… no can do.

Instead, I’m just left to just “appreciate”. In fact, I parlayed that into 13 years worth of career, working in and then managing record stores. But Saturday night, I got to play with the grownups… The little studio-garage had a drum set.

OK, it wasn’t quite that big, but it was bigger than the usual 5-piece beginner set.

When I went out to the garage, the host was playing his keyboards (which seemed to be able to make any musical sound under the sun) and everyone was singing. So I slid behind the drums and just kind of joined in. First of all, I had to take care NOT to play like my drumming idol:
It would not have been appropriate for the James Taylor/Eagles songs they were playing. So I was subtle and under-played, with a couple of small runs and light cymbal crashes. They actually did me a favor by keeping the songs simple… That way, I got to appear competent.

You should have seen the look on their faces when I actually was able to sit down and do a decent job. They had no idea I could do that. (OK, I didn’t either.) I guess all those years of Air-Drumming finally paid off!

I was fine, as long as I didn’t have to do anything with my feet. I am utterly incapable of keeping a different beat with one or both feet. In fact, I consider it a “win” if I don’t crack myself on the knuckles with the sticks.

What was especially surprising to me was that I was able to keep up on our host’s original songs, which I obviously didn’t know. Of course I didn’t do anything fancy, just kept the beat and added the occasional flourish when one seemed appropriate.

When I was a teenager, I had a buddy that set up his full drum kit out in our barn, so we could fool around on it. It was a pretty big set that just surrounded you.

We used to play along to songs on the stereo. (This wasn’t any ordinary barn, but that’s a future blog post in itself.) I wasn’t any good, but it at least taught me where things were and what my limitations are. And to wear gloves with knuckle pads. So I guess a lot of that came back, mixing in with a lifetime of paying attention to the construction of songs. It also helps that you don’t have to read music or recognize notes or chords or anything. You just have to beat on stuff. I can do that!

Anyway, it was fun. We probably didn’t do more that 4-5 songs, but I felt like I could have played all night. I probably should have… it worked out much better than my pool-shooting the rest of the evening.

“We’re getting the bahnd back together!”


Mary Ann said...

What great big FUN! Hope you have some pics.

The Guy's Perspective said...

We've all got a little drummer in us don't we!
Sounds like it was a thrill. Good for you!

I was surprised to see the Taye kit. Are you a fan? Not enough people know about that drum company. They make great sounding drums for a reasonable price.

bluzdude said...

Purely coincidence... I was just looking for a set that roughly approximated the one we had set up for us. I never even noticed the brand.

Like I said... Not a musician, just a wannabe.

Tiffany said...

Hilarious! Again, you made me laugh as I was able to relate to your love of music, yet inability to play. Congrats on the drum performance.... Very proud!!!

I can't help but share.... I took violin lessons in first and second grade. The nun who taught me called my mother and told her to stop wasting her money, because I was going nowhere. ha ha ha. That was discouraging, I admit... but, you know I'm determined.

In fourth grade, I signed up for the band. I took a flute to school (that was given to me by my neighbor)... I lied and told the teacher I'd been taking lessons on the side. I just wanted to escape math class, honestly....

BUT... during my very first band practice, the teacher quickly realized I had no clue what was going on. He requested, "Flutes.. play this part...." I pretended..... He said... "Tiffany, play the letter D"... I closed my eyes, randomly held in any key.. and blew....

He asked me to pack up my flute and go back to my class..... that was the end of my musical journey.....

Perhaps this is a new beginning to yours?

JennyMac said...

This sounds like a perfect night. We have a friend in a band and one night he invited me up to sing with him. Oh, oooops...you didnt want me here all night? TOO BAD. I LOVED IT.

bluzdude said...

It's funny how kids think they can just bluff their way into these situations... lol...

I once put on an exhibition of tap dancing in my 1st grade talent show. I didn't know the first thing about it, but I saw Sammy Davis Jr. doing it on TV and it didn't look that hard. So I marched up to the front of the class, slammed my feet around for about 15 seconds, and then sat back down. Done! If I'd have had the where-with-all to look around, I'm sure I would have seen a sea of stunned faces, including that of Sister Mary Urethra.

I guess that'll teach him. Please tell me you were at least singing backup, and you didn't take over the band...

Gina said...

We have jam session at my house too, and I am always surprised at how good they sound. My son is the drummer (and sometimes guitar and keyboard) and is getting pretty good at it.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't appreciate a little soundproofing, though.

Cher Duncombe said...

I haven't been to a jam session since college. This sounds like it was a blast! Good for you. :)

bluzdude said...

This was my first jam session in 30 years that didn't involve "Smuckers."

Now I just have to come up with ways to sneakily get invited back!

Cassie said...

Sounds like you did a fine job! don't be so hard on yourself! :)