Last night I had no gig scheduled. This turned out to be a good thing. I went to a friend's birthday dinner at Burnt Fork, a new BBQ place in town. Delicious! We all chipped in to buy dinner for Allison, the birthday girl. Humor ranged from physics jokes to adolescent snickering while others talked about rolfing.
Not surprisingly, everyone at the table was a musician, and Allison invited us to her place for an impromptu jam. Before we started, we ate some of Allison's birthday cake, which was baked "from scraps" by her 6 year old neighbor, Ben. We all wrote a thank you letter to Ben, and then commenced with the music making.
It's easy to have a good jam session when you're with Allison Adams, Cyndi Craven, Billy Gewin, Ashley Filip, Rick Diamond, and Lindsay Petsch from Maple Street Guitars. There was also a "new guy" who recently moved from Colorado. I'm embarrassed to say I don't remember his name, but he's a terrific player and a first class songwriter. He's been going to the Tuesday Night String Club at Java Monkey on Tuesday nights. I've missed the past two String Clubs, so last night was the first time I met him.
All these folks, in fact, play at the Tuesday Night String Club. The difference is that the String Club is more open mic-ish, with short sets of 15-20 minutes. Last night was a sit in the kitchen, round robin sort of affair. It reminded me why I moved to Decatur in the first place – to be around more musicians. When I first moved to Decatur 3 years ago, I started going to a Sunday jam at Kavarna, where I met many of last night's friends.
There's a strange phenomenon in most jam sessions. You know your turn is coming. Five people went before you, and you have plenty of time to decide what to play, but when it comes around to you, you inevitably draw a blank. Luckily, when it was my turn to lead, Billy made it easy for me. He had been looking through my songbook and lit up when he spotted All of Me. For once, I knew what I was going to sing when it was my turn.
I only played the one song last night, but that's okay. I got the nod to play a few solos on others' songs. When I'm waiting to play at the Tuesday Night String Club, I like to figure out the chords while other musicians are performing, so I've secretly learned some of my friends' music and was able to play along. (I was so happy to finally be able to play along, out loud, with I Wanna Be Like You.) I was able to find some riffs that supported the other singers, and if I was too lazy to figure out the chords, I just enjoyed listening to my friends while I pet Allison's pooch, Caleb, who was very happy to see everyone.
We all had a great time celebrating Allison's big day. She should have birthdays more often!
- Tom Godfrey
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995, served as Director of Music at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation from 2011 to 2017, and currently serve as Contemporary Band Director at the same congregation.