Clutching the case and glass I went into the reserved area and found a bit of wall to lean against. I still wasn’t sure why I was there, I hadn’t gone out much since my dad’s death almost a year before, and I definitely hadn’t been anywhere with live music. But a good friend had stopped by the office a week ago and handed me this ticket, saying I had to go and had to bring my guitar. There was no band name on the ticket – and the concert hall website had the show listed with no other details. Curiosity got the better of me.
I sipped at my drink and listened to the chatter around me. Bit by bit I pieced together the stories of the duo that would be playing, a guitar and a fiddle.
Mary played the fiddle. The instrument had been made for her by her dad, with wood found and conditioned by her mom. She had played it ever since she was big enough to play an adult-sized instrument and it was practically a part of her. There were some dark jokes about her never letting it out of her sight and how that worked with her former husbands, or the bathroom. But everyone said she was one of the very best, that she could play any tune or style she chose.
Scott played the guitar. When he started touring as a musician he had string of horrible luck: a hotel fire, a theft, a clumsy house crew member tripping. He was talented and kept getting bookings, but it seemed he couldn’t keep a guitar for more than a month. He never missed a show whatever happened, just borrowed an instrument from someone – the opening band, a bartender, the local music shop and went on. There were two theories, either he was superstitious now that touring with his own guitar would ruin him, or he had spent so much money on guitars that had died in horrible ways he decided to stop throwing money away. Either way, he would borrow a guitar out of the ones we brought tonight and play.
The house lights went down and Mary stepped on the stage. She played something that was a reel and a lament at the same time. I put my glass down to clap the beat and fell into her music. By the end of the song there were tears in my eyes, I had forgotten how music could bring the world alive. I felt a touch lightly on my shoulder. I turned and a gentleman with long white hair and glasses was standing there. “Hello Miss. I see you brought a guitar.”
I reached down to pick up the case. “It was my father’s – he taught me to play on it.”
“Seems like it’s been quiet for a while.”
“I – my dad died and I just couldn’t…”
He smiled a small smile. “That happens. May I borrow it for a while? Mary’s waiting for me and I need a guitar.”
I didn’t trust my voice and held the case out to him. He took it carefully, and made his way to the stage.
Scott set the case on the stage floor, opened it and took out my dad’s - my guitar. He strummed a few chords and adjusted the tuning. Then he nodded to Mary and they began to play.
Oh how they played. I can’t describe the music exactly but I hear it in my dreams. They played and we hummed and shouted and stomped and I cried. There was a moment in one song that sounded just like the lullaby my dad used to play for me. I could feel the places I had closed up after my father’s death blooming back open, it was joyous and it hurt and I knew then that music was a part of me and I couldn’t cut it off again.
When the concert ended most of the crowd headed for the doors to go home, happy. The other folks who had brought guitars picked up their instruments to go more slowly, and I worried belatedly that some of them might be upset that Scott chose my guitar to play. But all of them smiled or nodded and I chatted with a few of them about open mic nights, or jam sessions in the park, or the stories behind their guitars.
A crew member came out of backstage and asked me to follow him to retrieve my guitar. The backstage space was small and cramped and people were already loading equipment into the cars to move to the next venue. Scott paused and smiled at me from across the room giving me a little bow, and then he went out the door as someone handed me my guitar. The case was still onstage so I walked out and crouched down to put the instrument away.
I hesitated for a moment and turned the guitar so I could play. I picked out the notes of the lullaby, the first song my dad taught me. Then I put the guitar in the case, whispering a silent promise that it would not stay in the dark again.
***LJ Idol is back for the hew year with the dreaded open topic, read all of the entries here.***