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Season 7, Episode 1: “The Bag Lady”

EXT. TENN MTS. DAY - POV: Aerial MLS of sedan on mountain interstate.

VO: She’s been down this road before. Downhill and fast. Her Camry knows its way down the backside of the Cumberland Plateau. Together they spill into the Nashville Basin. On and behind the seats the bags bounce: the Navigator’s Bag, the Guitar Bag, the Gift Bag, the Feed Bag, the Fun Bag, the Trouble Bag. Another bag with two empty Laundry Bags. There’s no washing machine where she’s headed.

SOF: “Aerial Boundaries” by Michael Hedges on car stereo [memo to Prod: no license yet]

OS: DIANE gently tapping steering wheel, then suddenly startled as tractor-trailer overtakes on right going downhill.

POV: Backseat into rearview mirror of DIANE’s eyes flickering from road to truck.

FRONT ANGLE. CU. Front of car as tractor-trailer swings behind Camry.

OS: DIANE: You want to draft me? Later, gator. REAR ANGLE: DIANE’s Camry roars away into the distance. CUT TO:

INT. GRUHN GUITARS - PAN: STEVE welcomes about 20 early birds to reception. GREG VOROS leads tour of repair shop. GEORGE GRUHN shows off latest sinker mahogany guitar. Full CAST pulls up chairs around RORY HOFFMAN, who plays a 40 minute set. ZOOM IN on dazzled expressions of amazement in audience, RORY’s hands on guitar. CU on STEVE comping on “Misty”. PAN across CAST applauding, then scattering around the store. CU on DIANE sighing, reaches for an $11,000 Macpherson, strums a few chords, and sighs some more. FADE OUT.

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Memo to: Producer
From: Screenwriter
Your script deadlines are bleeping insane. If you want to make a bleep documentary, get your bleeping crew in here and shoot it yourself. I have to bleep sleep. If the suits want something, give them this.

Season 7, Episode 2: “Tangled Up in Blues“

Synopsis: Steve welcomes the entire ensemble of 45, including guitarists from Thailand, Israel, and 12 year old Elijah. Steve’s chord practice leads in to a masterclass by finger picker David Grier, whose pandemic beard is now shorter, and wit drier than before. The Subway at the end of the driveway is flooded at lunchtime with musicians in various stages of heat stroke. The ensemble splits up for fingerstyle lessons with Collin, blues with Steve, theory with Paulette, songwriting with Kim McLean, and CPR as required. Jams follow with Pat Lindgren for popular classics, Steve for jazz, and blues with Tony Lane, who, disregarding his own personal safety, picks on Diane for a 12 bar solo. Lessons conclude as Steve explains, by popular demand, matrix algebra for session musicians (billed as the Nashville Number System). In the evening, Collin Hill and Trevor Gordon Hall shoot off acoustic fireworks with their bare hands.

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Memo to: Director
From: AD
Who hired all these extras? I counted 40 something today. We can’t pay a per diem, and all we’ve got for a caterer is a Subway down in Death Valley. SAG is going to slam us. And I still need those call sheets for tomorrow.

Season 7, Episode 3: “These Go to 11“

Synopsis: Ensemble returns at daybreak for strumming workout just before road asphalt melts. Steve invites Elijah on stage for private tutoring. Trevor Gordon Hall offers masterclass in fingerstyle; in Q & A, attempts to quash rumors he comes from the planet Digitalis and has 12 fingers. Back at the Subway, Diane and Pat discover, again, that their money’s no good. They look around suspiciously for their benefactor, drawing side-eye from a Metro police officer. Post nap workshops continue with Collin, Steve, Paulette, and Kim. Jonathan Allen teaches how to use guitar in worship settings, and Andy Reiss comps for the jazz soloists. Meanwhile, at the store, Mackenzie wonders why all the new GG hooded sweatshirts aren’t moving. In the back of Steve’s music theory class, Diane, at Steve’s suggestion, daydreams of shooting Nerf ball hoops. The jams resume. The ensemble comps in E minor as Charlie and Rick take turns on stage improvising with Steve. As night falls, the asphalt reverts to semisolid while the Guthrie Trapp Trio launches a hypersonic Telecaster.

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Thanks Diane, we appreciate the photos of what the rest of us are missing.  Wish I could go to each of the classes offered.

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Memo to: Cast
From: Continuity
We’re down to a gaffer, makeup, one sound guy, and me. Directors and the rest of script left for NOLA. If no one objects, Diane said she’d write us out so we can get back to our families by next season. Hope you’re up for improv.

Season 7, Episode 4: “Trapped in Time”

Synopsis: Paulette stumps the band with another mystery song workout: Steve teases the chords and a chromatic run until “Uptown Funk” is revealed to the delight of all. Paulette nods at Steve, “Told you so.” Guthrie Trapp begins his masterclass on plain water and good natured self deprecation. Steve arrives with black coffee. Caffeine and theobromine migrate into Trapp neural system, synapses fire, and lesson runs a half hour over, also to the delight of all. Except Steve, who now must push afternoon sessions back. Pat and Diane get waved off the register at the Subway a third time and throw up their hands. Paulette collects the courageous students for music theory class. The remaining 95% pile into Steve’s chord progression workshop. Blues coach Corey Congilio shows how to spread 12 bars across 12 frets. Collin and Steve explain how thoughtful choice of preamps, DI’s, pedals, and soft cases can enhance fantasies of avoiding thoughtful choice of which notes to play. Steve asks Diane to put down the Nerf ball and take a bow.

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Memo to: Shareholders
From: Producers

Another fantastic shooting season has wrapped! Congratulations to our awesome writers and directors, shoe-ins for Emmys! Looking forward to boffo ratings and props from Variety!

Season 7, Episode 5 (Finale): “Dance with Me“

Synopsis: Mystery song trifecta pays off for Paulette and Steve on “Isn’t She Lovely”. In the Student Showcase, Elijah hits the power chords, Dommie, Reg, Barbara, Don, Charlie and others lay down the ballads, rock medleys, originals and sweet leads. Diane summons a flash mob to get up and dance to ELO’s “All Over the World”, successfully distracting the audience from her guitar output. Steve announces the Fall Fingerstyle Retreat is on for October 27-30, and extends his parting reminder that “Your music matters.” As Daniel and Grace arrive with their son — Steve and Paulette’s grandson — in a stroller, the ensemble says their goodbyes. Cases click and zip, and guitarists hug and wave as they load their cars. Aaron pushes the Master Audio switch to OFF.

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Epilog

I’m about to load the Camry for the long haul home. Thanks for reading. Our gathering was smaller this time than recent years. This dialed down the craziness but added to the intimacy. We had more time with each other in the halls and the lessons and the jams. Trevecca has finished renovating the student center and dining hall, so perhaps that will be open to us next year. A new seven story residence hall is rising across from the Jackson Music Center. Murfreesboro Pike remains perpetually under repair. The new gray paint scheme on the walls of Gruhn Guitars sets off the instruments nicely, George’s reptiles are still happily warming themselves, and Greg Voros is doing much better.

Roll credits: Steve’s son Timothy, who assisted with the gathering since 2014, has moved on into the Real World. But Daniel and Grace and the baby have returned to make their home in Nashville, so we can expect babysitting reports occasionally on Tuesday nights. Steve’s neighbor Mackenzie assumed Timothy’s former positions at the video camera and the store. She’s a junior in high school, still contemplating what’s ahead. I used to counsel students for a living; I know that facial expression well. The sound board and new second video display were in the capable hands of Trevecca alum and employee Aaron, who made everyone sound amazing. Once again Chuck Thompson herded us together for a great group photo.

Dommie and Sharon (Episode 4 photo) found a charming Greek restaurant. Dave once more had a load of donations for Instruments of Joy. IOJ’s Joshua Macleod stopped by to describe their ministry to us. It is a sweet feeling to know that a guitar I once learned on is now in the hands of an appreciative girl in Mexico. We were welcomed to Trevecca by a professor whose name I unfortunately did not catch when Steve introduced him, but he said that they were happy to have us on campus once again.

I had to pass up a few sessions, so I hope others can report on the jazz, songwriting, and worship music workshops. In quieter moments, I learned that the past year has been very hard for some of our guitar family. Discretion prevents me from elaborating, but I can say that Pat and I found that our lunchtime benefactor was a fellow student who nearly lost his life to Covid earlier in the year and wanted to give something back. Someone said to me, referring to how close our clan is, “This is my Christmas.” That’s just how I feel.

If you couldn’t make it this year, and a lot of our gang couldn’t, please know we were thinking of you and asking about you. You know who you are. Until next time, whenever and wherever that is, I leave you with lessons from Steve: go slow, go deep, and put your music out there in the world. Somebody really, really, needs it.

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Thanx for all your hard work, and your friendship.  Always great to be able to share some good times with you.

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Back in the office and to the routine of email and Zoom meetings.   I sure was having a lot more fun last week at this time, preparing to head to Nashville for the Guitar Gathering.    I know schedules may not always work out, and certainly travel costs aren't going down, but I really encourage everyone to try and get to a gathering.    The opportunity for in-person learning and meeting friends, old and new,  is priceless.    I believe Steve said he is targeting the third week of June 2023 for next year's Gathering, and I've already marked the calendar.   I hope to see you there.     

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Thanks so much Diane for this great daily rundown of the Gathering this year. I've been trying to get over for about 10 years and 2023 will be my year to come over, I'm making my plans for a big holiday in the USA around the June Retreat. Really hope that you will be going and that we can meet up there.

Now I'm scared and excited.

Lily

Aussiemuso

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Doug and Ron, see my private messages.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just reading this made me miss everyone a little bit more than usual.  What a wonderful time was had. Steve and Paulette put together an amazing event. I learned so much.  Some new friendships were made and others reinforced.  

Looking forward to next gathering 

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