Friday, July 31, 2015

Nolan is a pianist now. He was pulling on my guitar’s E string a little too hard, so we switched him to the electric piano that his Great-Aunt Donna gave me a few years ago. So. He’s a pianist now. Pam made a comment that was cute and true - all of his plastic toys suddenly become INVISIBLE when he spots Uncle Greg’s guitar. Perhaps the music gene is in him, too? Perhaps his mind would be blown later in life by the images and videos of Mommy, Daddy, and Uncle Greg playing loud rock music together at John & Peter’s in New Hope.

It gets me thinking about the essence of creativity. I remember telling my Mom and her friend Peggy that I was gonna perform a concert for them. I don’t know what I would’ve sang or how long they stayed, but I know that it was in some mangy room in my childhood home (“The Labyrinth”) and I know that I was several years away from knowing how to play a chord and more than several years away from knowing how to sing. Nevertheless, it was ABSOLUTELY time to perform a concert! This was early; I’ve probably gone on dates with women born after this concert.

I also remember deciding that one of the shelves of my bookshelf should probably have a Christmas scene on it rather than books. Like a snow globe with elements you can touch. I remember the intoxicating sense of purpose I felt while doing it and I also remember my Mom telling me that I can’t use sugar as fake snow because it’ll attract ants. It was an early run-in with The Man who, in this case, was a woman.

While Nolan eyed-up my guitar, I showed Pam how three generations of guitar-playing McGarveys’ acoustic guitars are in black cases side-by-side under my bed, in descending generational order - my 2014 Martin 000-15M (almost entirely paid off, spiritually co-owned by Nick Crocker, and named “Chellie” in honor of the girlfriend who suffered through my long infatuation with this model), my Dad’s 1980s Sigma DM-2, and my Grandpa’s late 1930s or early 1940s archtop Gibson L50 (or similar). Maybe Nolan will play all these guitars one day?

Inspired, perhaps, by The Scientist and her successful, last-minute dissertation at Princeton, I’ve JUST begun promoting next week’s art show. How lazy can one get? Nevertheless, I will be interviewed about the show next week by two newspapers, one of which is the paper that I used to sell over the phone when I was a teenager (and, before that, delivered).

Having hit a rough patch in the creation of a show poster for “A Few Moments With Marcella,” I had the thought: "Marcella, you were a graphic designer; can you help me finish this poster?" A few minutes later, I went back to it and it had these strange gray shapes on it. A glitch or a spiritual collaboration? You tell me. I dug it, so I took a screen shot before it went away, added text, and now that's the show poster.

The other day, I woke to emails from two different empaths. The messages they sent me inspired me to do a little deep-soul diving. I’ve been staying busy - and gratefully so. Working, paying bills, fixing the car, going to Trader Joe’s (my Snack Game is VERY strong right now)… Surface stuff. But what’s happening below the surface?

I’m on the porch, home surprisingly early from a gig. Red flowers in front of me. Over my shoulder, a spider is climbing over the blue moon. The whole neighborhood a chorus of crickets, interrupted only occasionally by the toiletesque sound of manchildren drag-racing around town.

I played a gig on an outdoor stage in Somerville, New Jersey, not far from where I was born. I spent a song or two getting out of my own way: “Do I know how to sing?” “Will anyone come to the show?” “Why are these people texting while I’m singing my ass off in front of them?”

But then that moment happened. I succumbed. I caught the wave and rode it all the way to shore. Suddenly, we had a nice crowd watching, singing, putting money in our tip jar, dancing. It was fun watching strangers react to my songs, not to mention songs like R.E.M.’s “I’ve Been High” which they’d almost certainly never heard before. My voice and my freshly restrung Martin served me well.

My friend Jenny Cat accompanied me on Stratocaster and, thoroughly energized by the power of the music, I couldn’t resist accompanying her on acoustic guitar, slide guitar, harmonica, and vocals during her set. If you missed that gig, you missed some of my best guitar playing. (Maybe I felt more connected to the guitar having bled on it earlier in the day?) I relished in the challenge of writing guitar parts on-the-spot to songs of Jenny’s that I’d never heard before.

We were pushing our voices and guitars hard enough that we could hear them bouncing off the brick buildings on either side of the alley. Natural echo. By the end, I was stomping on the stage in my baby blue argyle socks and unable to wipe the big stupid smile off my face. The crowd let us know that they dug it, too. Even the young lady who sold me a milkshake afterwards complimented me as I tried to decide between rocky road and mint chocolate chip.

Come to think of it, on that stage, I did the deep-soul diving I’d been craving.
And I probably sounded a lot better than I did at that show in ‘80s.