A Friday "Appointment Out of the Office" Silences that Little Voice

We are a few practice sessions into getting ready for the Capitol Bowl.  In actuality, that is a few practice sessions towards re-familiarizing ourselves with what we have played publicly before and 5 new (to us) songs.  Much of our time is spent on those songs. 

A little voice keeps nagging in the back of my head, “Are we setting our sights too high?  What happens if we screw up the new ones?  Will your weaknesses as a guitar player be exposed, Mr. Weak Link?  Why not stick with what you have played before?” 

The response is, “Shut up, Little Voice!  Growth comes from stress and with risk.  Atrophy results from resisting change.  Besides, I’m not in the ‘real’ musician category.  People expect fun, not perfection.” 

That is followed by a pep talk, “For our rock ‘n roll fantasy ride to continue, we cannot stagnate.  Having fun wiht five new songs should be a piece of cake!”

The Lava Pups trio practiced three of the five new songs together.  As a trio, we put off working on two of the new songs because they require either the full band or Paul’s sage input.  And then . . . when the four of us tried those two songs, we were less than successful.  For one of them, Paul and I needed to work on the timing.  The last song was a bit outside of our comfort zone, and we still had not come up with a workable structure.

On a recent Friday afternoon, I had an “appointment out of the office.”  That is a euphemism for a lesson with Paul at the Doghouse.  It was an opportunity for a snapshot of our readiness and to figure out the last two new (to us) songs.

“Last Date/Sleepwalk” was very close.  “Goldfinger/Secret Agent Man” was the same.  Then we shifted gears to the two songs that are perplexing me and do not lend themselves to practice as a trio. 

We took on the harder song first.  “We need to arrange this.”  “I envision it as a 12-bar 1-4-5 blues progression but that’s not working.”  Paul and I played it through.  “That’s not right.  How does the original go?”  “We’re not really following the original.  We’re doing it our way.”  We played it again.  As if a lightbulb came on, Paul said, “The turnaround needs to be twice as long.”  We tried it.  Not bad.  Again.  Part of the problem solved!

To finish off the arrangement, Paul noted that we need to have Glenn add a “little something here and we’ve got it.”  Paul then said, “I’ve got tell Don that we’ve worked this thing out!”  A simple solution, and we moved from “I’m not sure we should risk it” to “we have no excuse not to go for it.”

One left.  This is all about timing.  Oh yeah, and my learning to play the chords.  “Let’s give it a try.”  As we played along, I realized that my rhythm guitar technique really sucks.  I thought, “Good thing Paul knows what he’s doing.” 

Then the lead shifted to me.  And I realized that Paul’s rhythm guitar technique pushed me to semi-correct timing.  I thought, “Good thing Paul knows what he’s doing.”

Then Paul said, “We need an ending.”  I noodled some, and Paul latched on, “That’s our ending.”  We went over it.  “Too fast.  It’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4 . . . .”  Again.  “That’s better.  Just stop there.”  Try.  Not right.  “Here’s how it sounds.  Try it.”  Try.  Closer.  Again.  “Yeah, now you’re getting it.”  Again.  Again.  And we had an ending. 

“I need to play along with your CD to get the chord changes and then add that ending.” 

“No, the Pyronauts play it differently.  Try Slacktone or Dick Dale for the changes.”

The clock on the wall read 2:30.  Lesson over.  But, as usual, an hour with Paul made the prospects for our performance brighter.  All five new (to us) songs are arranged.  We are down to practice and execution.  Funny how an “appointment out of the office” can be so productive.

I am glad that something inside me stood up to that nagging little voice.

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