Things were getting a bit back to normal around here last night, at least as close to normal as you can get around here. The Hermit and I were discussing maybe getting a female yellow lab puppy some time in the near future. I think the kids would enjoy having a puppy around; when we got Lady she was already 2 years old so they have not experienced watching a puppy grow up.
I actually slept most of the night, and I ended up having a dream that was funny, and pathetic at the same time. I was scheduled to play a set at a bluegrass music festival, alone. It must have been an indoor festival, and I was the first act, Friday at 7:00. Probably not the best time slot in any case. The funny thing was, I knew I was playing, yet I was totally unprepared. I had no set list, I hadn't practiced any songs, I hadn't decided what instruments to play, and they weren't even tuned. Yet I wasn't worried. (note--I've been in a somewhat similar situation, where I've been asked to play music at church, but at least I arrive at church with some ideas!)
When it came time for me to begin, there was no one in the audience yet. Good. But then the emcee showed up, and suddenly there was an audience, which looked surprisingly yuppie for a bluegrass festival. Intimidation set in. I started thinking...what song do I know that would make a good opener? I started playing Kate Wolf's "Across The Great Divide"--on piano. Great way to make a first impression on a bluegrass crowd. (note--I have performed this song several times, even once at an actual bluegrass festival, but I'm not much of a piano player) I even screwed up the first few measures and had to start over.
When that song was over, I saw a friend of mine--I'll call him "Mando Man"--standing at the side of the stage. Having no idea what I was going to do for the rest of the set, I asked him if he would mind coming onstage to help out (more like bail me out). He agreed, and somehow we made it through some songs that even sounded a bit like bluegrass. I was playing mandolin, but I had forgotten all of my chords except D, G, and A--which is enough if you happen to be playing in the key of D. My fingers felt as if they could barely move. My solos sounded hesitant, erratic, and very beginner-ish. (note--in real life, they don't sound that much different) My between-songs banter was...pathetic. One of my comments was "Now this is what you call flying blind!" Which is what we were doing. At least I was able to poke a bit of fun at myself. At some point I saw about half the audience get up and leave.
Finally I glanced at the clock between songs, and saw that there was only time for one more. I chose John Prine's "Paradise", which Mando Man was unfamiliar with. I told him, "It's just three chords...no problem!" As if he, and not me, would have a problem with anything more musically complicated. We sounded pretty good on that one, and the audience started coming back. At that point I began to wake up, which was unfortunate because I wanted to see how the dream ended. I kept on going through the verses as I gradually awoke, hoping that would keep the dream going:
When I die let my ashes float down the Green River
Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester Dam
I'll be halfway to heaven with paradise waiting
Just five miles away from wherever I am
And Daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where paradise lay
Well I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in askin'
Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away
So what was this dream saying to me? And why am I taking the time to write it down? I don't know. I just thought it was pretty entertaining, when usually my dreams are much more bizarre and abstract. It was pretty close to life; the paralyzing stage fright I felt was not unlike when I am jamming informally with other people, and it's my turn to choose a song or pick a solo. It's something I would like to get over.
Practice. Don't fly blind!