“So, what do you think, Di?”
It was more challenge than invitation. Yet again, Dave was gently coaxing me to play an open mic with him. After two years, my resistance was gone. Ten minutes at the library? Why not?
“You win. Let’s do it,” I said.
Dave is a veteran of open mics. We met a few years ago at our monthly acoustic jam. Warm, self-effacing, and possessing an exquisitely light touch on his Martin, he prefers to play standing — even for two hours. I’m as envious of his stamina as his improvisation. He loves the blues, I love my ballads, but our tastes are similar. It was a jam a little while ago, as we all paused between songs, when he softly said those three little words that melt every woman’s heart: “You’re getting better.”
That did it. I gave in. He signed us up. I didn’t have rose petals to sprinkle around the living room floor, so instead I put down an amp and a microphone for rehearsing. We went to work. What songs? Who sings? Any solos? Who introduces whom?
We tried Margo Prices’s “Hurtin’ on the Bottle”. After about the seventh run-through, I stepped back from the mic and shook my head. “Dave, this is a fun song to play, and I can almost sing it, but it’s a drinking song. It’s not me. And we’re going to be at a library with moms and kids. Let’s pass on it.”
“Really? You think so?”
“Yes. Let’s do something else. What if after we’re done, the library sets up the room for an AA meeting?”
He laughed. “You’ve got a point. Any other ideas?”
“Yeah, here’s one I’ve wanted to try. ‘Your Wildest Dreams’ by the Moody Blues. We’d need a synthesizer for that eighties vibe, but two guitars can carry it.”
“All right. Got a chart?”
“Here you go. Now, there’s a hiccup after the second verse right here….”
. . .
I arrived early and lugged my gear to a back entrance. The meeting room held forty chairs, tiny cafe-style tables with candles, two mics, and a baby grand piano. A staffer, Pat, busied herself setting up refreshments, as our sound guy, Tom, unraveled extension cords. I introduced myself and helped Tom test the mics.
I plugged my acoustic into my Fishman Loudbox. Power on, but nothing came out. I fiddled with the knobs, still nothing. I was about to unplug when I remembered the volume control on the pickup in the sound hole. Whooom! Okay, there it is. I should do this more often.
People trickled in. Dave arrived. The room was cold and every string on my guitar had pulled sharp. We retuned and mingled. Pat positioned a floor lamp at the back wall, dimmed the overhead lights, and we were bathed in a cozy glow. The leadoff musician was a no-show, so Pat introduced Dave, and he introduced me.
We were greeted by some thirty faces of all ages, relaxed and polite. I heard myself welcoming everyone like I owned the place. Dave smiled. Ready? he asked. Let’s play, I said, and we counted ourselves into “The Best of My Love”. And all too soon, we came down on the final G of “Your Wildest Dreams”. We reclaimed our seats as Pat introduced the next performer.
I felt my skin tingling. It’s becoming familiar. The velvet-voiced singer at the microphone added another layer of goosebumps to those from the endorphins and the air conditioning. Dave gave me his what-do-you-think-Di look. I just grinned and nodded.