Sunday, December 23, 2007

Glad I can still "work that stick."

My dear friend and bandmate Beth's daughter told her, years ago, while watching me play the fiddle: "I want to learn to work that stick."

That kid has gone on to be a good classical violinist and plays at the Duke String School. Meanwhile, I can still work that stick.

Last Tuesday Bob and I (the Pratie Heads) trucked over to Goldsboro and played at Wayne Community College. A nice guy who is a professor there had Googled us when his old Pratie tapes from the 80s were all worn out; he'd been surprised and pleased to see we were playing together again.

He'd noodged and wheedled until he'd gotten his Powers That Be, the President and the Diversity Council, to ok funds to hire us.

Luckily a goodly number of people came to hear us in their lovely hall, including the President, who loved the show so our host was very relieved. (He couldn't even remember the last time there had been any music offered at the college.)

The only smirch on the gig: still reeling from a donkey accident two days before, and a little woozy on pain meds, in an exuberant moment just before the encore I swept my fiddle off the stand onto the floor. It bounced. I was so out of it, I didn't notice it was wrecked - I was ready to keep working that stick, but Bob looked askance and said: "You're not playing that fiddle any more tonight." The neck was broken.

Next day I took it to our local miracle worker, John Pringle. He's a fabulous, world-renowned viol maker from England who settled out in the country west of here, in a log cabin he built (Bob helped him), and who taught school for a while but is back to making viols full-time. He's really too good for me, and fixing my fiddle is kind of slumming for him, but I've known him a long time and he was very sympathetic. I got my instrument back yesterday morning.

Last night Bob and I played at the Pittsboro General Store. The main advantage to this gig is that they feed you a fabulous dinner. We had a lot of appreciative listeners, but this was the biggest surprise:

A couple swept in the door holding a photo and came over to us. They said, "Nineteen years ago today you played at our wedding reception." They had dug the photo out of their wedding album to show us. Hey, we were cute back then. We figured it was one of the last gigs we did before we broke up for seventeen years... "Were we speaking to each other?" I asked the couple. "Welllllll, I guess so," replied the former groom, "but we wouldn't really have noticed..." Oh yeah, they were getting married.

We dedicated one of our favorite lovey-dovey songs to them and having them there, happy and holding hands and enjoying their delicious dinner, smiling at us in a sort of proprietary way, was a treat. I got very nostalgic, and beamed realizing once again that Bob and I are lucky, lucky to have started playing together again, lucky we still love our music and are able to play it. Lucky to be above ground. I think I'm enjoying the fiddle more than I ever have in my life.

Happy hols, all.




At 9:18 AM, Anonymous ezra said...

this reminds me of billy crystal in The Princess Bride,

apparently your fiddle was only mostly-dead.

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Alma said...

What a great story! How lovely to know you are a part of so many people's happy memories. It is so very nice to feel appreciated, isn't it?

Hope your hand, et al, is better.

Alma, in Mexico avoiding the Chicago snow...

At 6:14 PM, Anonymous novelera said...

Donkey accident?? Tell, tell!!


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