Tuesday, October 4, 2011

On risks, banjos - and fate

This is my dad holding a banjo.  The banjo was given to me by a complete stranger on Sunday.

Elizabeth Riley Band was on the bill for 'The Doo in the Derry', at a little church in Prospect, out in the Ottawa Valley.  The rest of the band couldn't make it, so I went and performed on my own.  Which is still something that feels risky to me.  And just for fun and increased risk with this gig, I decided to play the banjo for one song.  I don't really know how to play the banjo, but I had been fooling around on one a week or so before, and I got hooked. 

I convinced my friend Mike to lend me his beautiful antique tenor banjo (no pic of that, unfortunately!) and headed to the church.  I only played it for one song, and before I played the song I explained that I was new to the banjo, so indulge me, folks - and I showed them Mike's banjo and told them about how he got it from his father, and how they've traced the instrument sufficiently to figure out that it was made around the turn of the (20th) century.

Later on after I was done my set, a man who lives across the road from the church came in with a banjo (see above photo) and handed it to me.  He had gone home to get it and give it to me!  Isn't that amazing?  It's not mine to keep forever, but it's on extended loan. He said I can keep it for a few years til I get my own.  (I would publicly thank him here, but I haven't asked him if he is okay with that.  If he says it's okay, I'll add it in later.) 

The stand up bass player gave me the name of a guy in Ottawa who can show me how to do 'the roll' meaning what to do with my right hand.  I just got off the phone with him, I'm going to go over next week and start learning!  And I'm going to be dropping in on my benefactor out in Beckwith Township from time to time to show him what I learn.

Most of the time I think of myself as the active agent in my life - as in, I can make choices and I can take action and so on... I have some power, I can shape how things go.  And then every once in a while, something like this happens, and it feels like, in addition, there is a fate at work.  Fate handed me a banjo.

IMPORTANT ... Sarah is still the banjo gal in our band!  But while she's off in Europe for the year, maybe I can keep that plink-plunk-plonkety sound in our music. 

There are a few more pictures below from Sunday....  Sorry, none of me, since I forgot to give my camera to someone while I performed...  (There may be photos on the web somewhere, there was a someone there from Freedom Photography, but I don't know the legalities of linking to his site).

No comments: