Musical Companions

Been thinking about the nature of friendship and the impact it has on the players in a band. Maybe I’m feeling a bit more sentimental than usual, having just celebrated a birthday that takes me perilously close to the 60 year mark, and having just played our annual St Patrick’s Day soiree, but it surely was a blast ringing in St Patty’s with this group of friends. Then when I looked back and counted the number of tunes we’d performed at this show, and realized we’d hit the 40 song mark over three sets and more than three hours of playing, I thought, “Well that’s kind of…fantastic.”
We had a great crowd with us, singing, dancing, navigating to the kitchen or washroom and trying not to bump into us - since the band, the dancers and the wait staff were all sharing the same floor space, surrounded by runways to and from the kitchen and the washrooms. And there were old friends who came out to see us for the umpteenth time, some of whom remember seeing Dan and I perform together forty-some-odd years ago.
Now, anytime I think about how long Dan and I have known each other and played together I also think about how long ago Dan and Barry first played together - sometime in the very early 70’s I think - and that Jim and I met in university in 1974 and became musical allies shortly thereafter.
What’s really great is that after some initial unease about how we’d all fit together and the obvious stylistic differences between the band’s co-lead singers, we all seem to understand now that the contrast is what makes the thing special. I’ve always felt there’s a kind of inherent creative tension in the bands that I enjoy - a harder edge that has to compete with a softer side, if you like - and I feel as if that friction exists with ease within the framework of this group, and that somehow it’s not disruptive. Basically I think we’re able to communicate reasonably well, we accept each others strengths and weaknesses and we realize that when all is said and done, this is just plain fun. And ain’t it great that we’re able to have so much fun together, while simultaneously bringing a little bit of pleasure to whoever might be in the audience on any given night?
Nice at this time in life to be playing regularly with a good group of guys, who all enjoy the song selection, who all contribute positively without any backstabbing or bullshit - and who’ll call you out if they think you’re out of line. There’s no sense of festering resentfulness or hostility. There’s just here and now, let’s try to play this stuff as well as we’re able; and if we’re on, well then, everyone will have a really great time.
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