OUR BLOG CHRONICLES A MUSICAL JOURNEY
The basic story line is, even though he never played guitar before and had not played a musical instrument since tuba in elementary school band, Bill T received an electric guitar after he was 60 -- as a joke. From then on, despite a musical talent deficit, he tried to learn instrumental surf music but at first could not find an instructor. He met Paul the Pyronaut -- a surf guitarist a couple of generations younger. Over a few years they wrote some original songs. The Lava Pups eventually emerged from Bill T's imagination. A CD was recorded to check something off of his bucket list. Then the CD had to be performed live. And -- voila -- we had a band! The Lava Pups were a reality. For how long, who knows?
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This is now.
Last week’s full band practice ended with we need to work some more and at least get through the set before the Sunday Surf Party.
A new night came for band practice at the Doghouse. We expanded our fare to add sparkling mineral water, “still” water, and . . . ta da . . . brownies. Actually, the brownies were left over from our afternoon with the Sneaky Tikis. I had exercised self-restraint and did not eat all of them in the intervening days. Coffee and beer -- staples for every Lava Pups practice -- were at the ready . . . of course.
We blocked out three or more hours for practice. Come Hell or high water we were getting through the set! Becky was there to coach us. And encourage us by repeating “the Sneaky Tikis are UNbelievable!” Hey, we have our pride.
We played the set. What a difference a week made. Fewer glitches. No more ironing out arrangements. Improved timing. Coming together as a band. Feeling the fun of the music that we play. Becky even gave us double thumbs up on a couple of the songs.
As the arrangements solidified, dynamics could be part of the practice. “Can you hit those chords a little softer?”
We refined our timing on a couple of pieces. “We’re all over the lot there. Let’s get a single tempo going.” “How about a smidge slower?” “We need to play that faster.”
This was not work, however. It was pure enjoyment. Several times Robert observed that the songs were really fun. He got the raw energy and punk sensibility of the simple rock music that the Pups play.
After three hours, we agreed that we were ready to play on Sunday. Glenn packed his sticks. Sue put her guit-ulele (uku-tar) in a gig bag. They walked out into the coolness of the Sacramento summer night.
While Robert and I enjoyed beers and the comfort of the couches, Becky pronounced us gig-ready. She offered how my timing was improving in this new edition of the Lava Pups.
As she and Robert discussed how music brings people of all ages together, my mind wandered off to how much fun we just had and how far we had come in less than a month. We had a set of 15 songs plus whatever we were going to do with the Sneaky Tikis down well enough to entertain whoever shows up at the Capitol Bowl. We even had an encore in reserve. A sense of pride and accomplishment came over me.
We were ready to rock. And importantly we had gotten this to the point where we can -- and will -- have fun. What a difference a week makes!