#4 Back in the Saddle

by | May 4, 2023

Man, it sure felt fantastic to be back in front of people, sharing music, but it was also clear to me that I hadn’t played in a long time, and of course as I’d mentioned, my guitar was so badly out of tune that it was also somewhat hard for me to enjoy.

Somehow Jason found a way to hang in there with me, as I was playing like a complete ROOKIE with broken fingers, or a 3-year-old with a broken thumb. My fingers were out of shape and I could barely hold down a groove due to the pain. Yeah, I know it sounds ridiculous as fuck—especially when there are people who actually risk their lives daily at their jobs—but no matter how crazy it seems, it’s real, and it’s a terrible experience in the life of a musician.

Next, I decided to take my guitar in to have it worked on so that I could at least get my ass back up and give it another shot. Jason and I booked another gig at the same place (he so graciously accepted playing with me again), and shit got even WORSE! The pickup in my guitar malfunctioned, only allowing the lower four strings (from the top looking down at the guitar) to be heard. Hell, it was a good damn thing I play bass as well, because I was able to somehow make it through the gig by throwing in cool bass lines when it was my turn to solo. The night even ended up with a FIGHT in the bar, lmao! Needless to say, that was the last time I’ll ask to play there, ha ha.

I was a bit mortified; however, I wasn’t going to allow these embarrassing setbacks to ruin my almost-wanna-be-rockstar comeback. I mean, shit, there was a time I had it in me even when it felt like the entire universe was telling me to put down the damn guitar, crawl my ass back into retirement, and resign myself to only playing a few tunes here and there with friends. At the end of the day, that was the whole reason I started playing music in the first place. So I looked at the universe and decided “What the hell am I listening to this shit for?” People have been telling me my entire life that I wouldn’t amount to shit, or calling me a “junior jammer,” but I kept plugging away, and that was the damn reason I was able to get back up there.

THEN came the Stanly County Wine Festival.

Listen, I’m not going to pretend like this was some sort of Napa Valley gala or even the “Catalina Wine Mixer,” but it was FUN, and there were always a lot of people there. I asked another bar owner to let me sit in and play an hour after the festival, and AGAIN, they agreed! Feeling inspired, I decided to go back out on a limb and give Ol’ Finger-Pickin, Cheesy-Grinnin’, Badass Unicorn Mike Vanhoy a call to see if he would sit in and boogie with me. Mike had a gig that night, but he said, “Yeah, man, I’m good” (his typical go-to response). Again, a WHOLE bunch of people came from out of town to check us out. I couldn’t believe it. I had totally BOMBED each time I tried to put myself back out there, but people were still coming back for MORE?

This time, however, I left there feeling like I was BACK. Mike killed it, and our chemistry was undeniable. I hadn’t had that much fun playing with anyone since the second time that Chip Cooper came out and rehearsed with Satchel Foot more than 30 years ago. It was exactly where I wanted to be, and the crowd gave us all that they had.

I knew right there and then that this was the start of something good, and it was time to see what I could do with it. Mike played in another band that was gigging every weekend, so we had to navigate that, but it wasn’t really as if venues were beating down our doors to play gigs at the time. Also, I still needed a shit-ton of practice just to get back in the swing of fronting a band and playing, but I was excited about the task and up for the challenge. All in all, as Ice Cube once said, I’ve gotta say it was a GOOD day, and it showed a lot of promise for us moving forward.