A Big Step: Playing with Others

This was a Big Day for me: it was the first time I’ve played my guitar with other musicians. I went over to Jeff’s at 8:00 and after his friend Cesar arrived, the three of us played together for an hour or so.

It didn’t go as badly as I feared. I didn’t feel embarrassed or humiliated and while I was probably tense, the atmosphere was loose enough that I had fun. I played some reasonably good leads, but had trouble (as I had anticipated) keeping my place when I played rhythm. In part it was so loud with both the bass and drums in a basement room that it was hard to hear the chord changes.

Jeff would pick a song, and usually said what key it was in. Mostly I wasn’t familiar with the songs. He did a version of Albert King’s “Crosscut Saw” that was in a different key than I was used to, but at least it was a familiar song. For one song, Jeff sang the notes of an accent lick he wanted me to play. I managed to figure out the notes, which pleased me.

On the whole, I felt it was a successful experiment, at least from my point of view. I hope Jeff will be interested in repeating the experiment, though Cesar took his drums home at the end of the evening.

About 10:30 we headed over to the Harlem Avenue Lounge, which has an open mic blues jam on Thursdays. Jeff signed up to play and strongly encouraged me to sign up. I had taken my guitar home to avoid that possibility. Because I was still recovering from a bad cold, I was really pushing it to go at all and should probably have gone home to bed. However, I hope eventually to get up the courage to sign up and play.

I’m glad I went. It was a fun time, and it was good to hang out with Jeff. He knows a lot of the Lounge regulars. I asked him when he first started playing, and he said in junior high, when he was about 12. I wish I’d started that early. At one point in the evening, he mentioned playing with Junior Wells. I’ll bet he’s got a lot of fascinating stories to tell about the guys he’s played with over the years.

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