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Monday, February 23, 2015

Recalling A First

Which of your "firsts" seems especially clear in your memory? Your first day of school? A moment perhaps, like your first kiss? Or an event, like the first wedding, funeral or concert you attended? Maybe a person? The first adult who mentored you, teacher who inspired you, coach who challenged you? What helps any of those "firsts" stay clear in your mind?

Yesterday, my 15 year old nephew played guitar publicly for his first non-family audience. This reflection began as our conversation prior to his first performance sent me back 51 years. I'd painted my first drum set yellow and black a short while before the gig; our quartet (guitar, organ, sax, drums) played for about two hours including a brief break between sets; my Father drove me there and picked me up afterwards. We played in a VFW hall; got paid $12.00; the first song I ever sang in front of a non-family audience was "What I'd Say".  

Why the italics? In the mid 80's I somehow misplaced a log where I'd faithfully recorded details of every performance of mine beginning with that first one in 1964. Aside from where I'd played and how much $$ I'd made (either as band member or solo performer), I'd also made notes about the night's performance - how the band (or I) had been received, songs that had killed or bombed, which solos of mine I'd liked or regretted. The italicized details about my first paying gig are the fuzzier ones because that log of the initial 20 years of my musical life has never re-surfaced. Even so, I remember that gig far better than my first kiss.

I started a new playing log soon after realizing the first was gone. Though the years in the original included those when playing music was my sole livelihood and most of my road time, having a record of the 30+ years since has taken some of the sting out of that first loss. And I'm hoping my nephew starts his own log to help him recall his musical life 50+ years from now.

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