Anita and I are gonna rock the double hockey sticks out of Metropolis on Monday, May 7 from 8pm – Midnight. Some Anita time, some Tom time, some double-barreled Anita & Tom time. You’ll hear familiar Anita stuff and familiar Tom stuff. And you’ll hear new stuff from both of us. The real treat will be hearing us together. We tried some stuff out at that open mic last month (such a treat) and we’ve worked on some more stuff since then.
I’ll probably have a longer post pretty soon about what I’ve learned from playing and singing with Anita. This isn’t it.
Anita will bring her lovely voice and a guitar and some ukes. She’ll make you laugh and make you cry, all at the same time with her wonderful original songs as well as beautiful renditions of some classics. Think Patsy Cline meets Nancy Sinatra, but with more sass.
Best. Open Mic. Ever. Try out shiny new tune capoed correctly: check. Get to sing and play with Nita: check. Not suck while singing and playing with Nita: check. Get pretty much the whole place singing along to the sing-along: check. Did I mention sing and play with Nita? Best. Open Mic. Ever.
C’mon by and see me grab some 15 minutes of open-mic fame at Metropolis on Monday, February 27 after 8:00. What the heck? I suspect there’s gonna be some great players there. You don’t wanna miss this. Plus, Addison’s hosting and he’s terrific! It being an open mic and all, I’ll bring my newest stuff. ‘kay? If properly motivated, I might even do a request…!
I was challenged in October (Friday, 10/14) to write a new song by some folks who were sitting and listening to me play at Metropolis. The gist of the song is “I’m a big wuss and I’m afraid of my wife so I have to get home.” This was long after I was scheduled to have stopped playing, but there I was, still playing because people were still listening. I made their attendance at my next Metropolis show (Monday, 11/14) for the grand unveiling of the new song a condition and they agreed. So, the challenge was on.
I thought they might expect something cute and funny. I thought I would try to write some over-the-top, gut-wrenching, heart-on-my-sleeve thing, but the song decided it wanted to be a blues. So, “Fright’nin’ Blues” (or is it “Cellphone on my Trail”) was born. I promise, it’s a blues, but it’s a completely tongue-in-cheek blues. Something Restless Legs Johnson would write.
I played at Metropolis last night. Three hours in, the folks still hadn’t shown, so I played the song to start closing the night. There was a witness to the original challenge there, so he can confirm that I held up my part of the bargain. While I was playing it, there was a woman at the bar madly operating her smartphone. When I was done, she caught on to the whole challenge thing and that I had written the song. She was disappointed, because she’d been trying to find the song online and figure out whose song it was so she could download it. But then she was impressed that it was I who had written it. Huh. That doesn’t exactly happen every day.
I had also learned a cover tune for the same group of people. They had requested it and we had discussed it and how I had trouble playing it because it had too many syllables in some of the lines, so it’s tough for me to sing. I concede that people do it all the time; it’s just me. The cover tune will have to wait for my next performance.
The upshot of all this is, “I wrote a song in a month because I do what I’m told.” Also, “I can write a song in a month when challenged.” That’s kinda cool. I also wrote another song this past week because it occurred to me and I just sat down and wrote it. So, I’ve got two new tunes to road-test and get comfortable with. Sweet!
So, I had two interesting conversations about my left arm this week. Y’know, the one with the nerve damage and messed-up muscles that hurt when I play the guitar or do the dishes.
First I was talking with my massage therapist and we were wondering about some particular muscles in my left forearm. Without really thinking about it, I showed her the position my left arm and hand are in while I’m playing guitar and a look of horror passed over her face. She saw my thumb position and it all suddenly made sense to her. Those particular forearm muscles are completely engaged in order to put the thumb in that position. So, she kinda said, “Um duh, Tom. You’re doing this to yourself.” And she pointed out that the thumb is the most recent evolutionary part of the human body, so it’s a particularly nasty thing to be using incorrectly.
The next day I walked into my local guitar store with my forearm all wrapped up in tape and Icy/Hot stuff (just like Shaq wears!). My local guitar guru/god asked about the injury and then I asked if I could be pitting the frets of my guitars a little more quickly than expected by maybe squeezing the neck too hard. He looked at me and said, “So you walk in here injured with tired, strained, painful forearm muscles with painful shredded nerves and you think maybe you’re squeezing the guitar neck too hard? Duh! Oh, and your therapist probably said the same thing, didn’t she?” So I’m killing my arm and my guitars.
So, I guess there are two lessons here: 1. Yes, apparently it’s me and 2. Stop strangling the guitar while you’re playing! Less is more. Think of the Alexander Technique tenet about using only the appropriate amount of effort necessary for a particular activity and not more.
Last night I played at Metropolis from 8:00 – 1:30 with a couple of breaks. Tons of fun. I did manage to relax my left hand some of the time. Not all night, but it’s a start. I’ll work on it.
Some pics from Metropolis. Johanna was out schmoozing and sharing cupcakes and she still managed to find time to take some great pictures How does she do it…?