Thursday, June 12, 2014

Musical extravaganza

In the last few weeks, I've had a couple videos posted on You Tube. One, I posted of myself jamming with friend Jim Nerstheimer at Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church in DeKalb, IL, where he is the organist. I came in with a few riffs and he improvised off it. And then I improvised. Then we improvised off of each other. Then I came up with another riff, and so forth.

My talent on guitar is marginal. I can't bust out killer solos or move with great dexterity. But I have a decent enough sense of rhythm and melody, and enough chord knowledge to get by. Great music often is only derived from hours of practice. My musical involvement is purely amateur. I do it for fun. Not profit. It's a great way to hang out with friends. For those patient enough to put up with the inherent shortcomings of these videos, there are little moments of audio gold.

The other video is a cover of George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord." I practiced a couple of the chord transitions beforehand, but otherwise it is a dry run. It was recorded this past Sunday morning in my living room. We also did Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky," but failed to record it. Todd Stanley is on drums. When I perform publicly at The House Cafe and other venues, I do so under the stage name Stoom.

But when Todd and I get together, we are Tallheaded Woody, in reference to Woody Woodpecker. Fans of the cartoon know that the early incarnation of the smarmy, beloved character was taller, skinnier, and more coarse and violent than the later one. Because of his attitude, we favor the earlier version and name our collaboration after him.

Here is that video:

Todd always records our jam sessions on audio cassettes, and has been doing so since the early 2000s. He is the keeper of the archive, but when we get together he will bring an older tape for listening. What surprises me is how often these very crude jams have been the seeds of creativity for many original songs.

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