Unretired (musically)

Holy crap, I’ve caught a couple of gigs. They’re both outdoor shows — one in May and one in June — and they will end a 14-month gap in live performing. I hadn’t had more than two months without a show since 1993 before Our Current Unpleasantness, and I feared my performing days were over.

You can find out more about the gigs here. I hope to add to this list very soon.

Sign up and get it done already

Got Pfizer #2 today, and found out an hour later that a friend had decided against getting a vaccination at all so that he can own the libs or whatever. I expected better out of him. I expect better out of you, too. Fairfax County’s now taking appointments for everyone over 16. As of this writing, over 80 million Americans have been fully vaccinated. Serious side effects are extremely rare — even the concerns about the J&J vaccine involve six cases out of about 6.8 million doses administered — and pretty much all of us know people now who died or became seriously ill from COVID-19. This is pretty much a miracle that’s being handed to you for free. Don’t turn away.

Taking out the guitar

Tonight I pulled out my guitar and played it for a while. That should be unremarkable, and it used to be that way, but I hadn’t touched it in months. I couldn’t. All it did was remind me of loss — loss of the gigs I used to play, and the audiences that were no more, and the connections with friends that I made through music.

I love this guitar. I bought it for myself as a 60th birthday present, and although it’s not expensive by acoustic guitar standards, I think it sounds remarkable. But two months after I gave myself that present, the world went to shit, my music went away and the guitar went in a case. It’s mostly stayed there.

But I get my second vaccine Saturday. And I’m supposed to play a gig in May. And I’m hoping others will follow. So out came the guitar. I’ll probably pull the harps out Saturday, and I played a little mandolin around a campfire recently, and maybe I’ll set up a little practice space. It’s about time.

Halfway home

The event felt almost anticlimactic: First came the text message, then came the email inviting me to make an appointment for my first COVID-19 vaccination. I’d signed up online earlier in March, when I found out my hypertension made me eligible in Virginia for early vaccination — but the last I’d checked, my county was still vaccinating people who signed up in January and I assumed I’d wait quite a few more weeks.

I followed the instructions and was shocked to find I could get an appointment four days later and three miles away. And when I pushed that button and made that appointment, I seeped around the eyes a little.

That’s happened a lot in the last year, as I (and everyone else) tried to cheat death or at least stay a couple of steps ahead of it. Some of us failed and some of us got bit but recovered. I’ve been in hiding, mostly, which brought on its own guilt as others were forced to venture out, but I just kept trying to duck this invisible killer any way I could.

I’m only halfway home on my two-shot regimen. My wife, who is a chunk younger than me and has no chronic health issues, is still waiting. There are signs of a new virus surge. But there also are signs that even a single shot brings strong short-term protection. I’m still a couple of weeks away from that second dose, and then a couple of more weeks have to pass before I’m fully protected, but I can see the road ahead — a road that has real human interaction again.

theShow, Year Whatever

Possibly because I am living a sad homebound life these days, I’m watching theShow (formerly theshow, and before that The Show) again. A few observations as we chew our way through the first cull:

–All of the vestiges of cruelty that marked its most successful seasons are pretty much gone. There is no Designated Professional Asshole (or asshole of any kind) among the judges; they’re all successful musicians and they know what it takes to make it.

That doesn’t mean they’re all sunshine and nonsense; they just know that this is a tryout, and that even great people fail tryouts — often many, many times — before things fall together. In these tough times, optimism with underlying honesty is exactly what’s needed. I inevitably nod my head and agree with their praises and criticisms.

–This is a show for artists now, not karaoke singers or pageant kids or the rawest of the raw. Sure, all of these latter categories get some representation early on, and last year’s winner was a subway singer, but most of these people just get trimmed prety quickly.

So many of the best tryouts I’ve seen this year come from polished, instrumentally talented, vocally accomplished musicians who are obviously accustomed to playing in public (albeit not at the big-concert level). And a lot of them write good original music, too. And theShow dropped its overemphasis on oldies and standards long ago, which punishes the mere decent singers and pushes up the artists.

–This is a great crew of judges: Affable, but not too much so; empathetic, but with little patience for nonsense or people who aren’t serious about their music; honest, but not brutal. You never know how much of this is because of the Magic of Editing, but they genuinely seem to like each other, too. They’re watchable, which is a good thing as this drags on for week after week.

So I’m on for the ride again. theShow (I’ve added a capital letter back because it’s earned it) is scheduled to run through most of May unless the network trims the schedule. Here’s hoping it makes it.

I’ve written about theShow an embarrassing amount. You can read some of my past posts here and here.