Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Musing with the Hopeful Muser

A blurry image of the Muser
The Hopeful Muser is in town this week, coming all the way from Houston, Texas, reuniting with his band, Sam's Cross, to play a wedding here in Portland.  Sam's Cross plays traditional Celtic music (jigs, reels and drinking ditties) and Muser is the front man, with lead vocal and mandolin duties. 

It's a point of pride to me that I am at least partly responsible for the Muser's passion for music. He and I were bandmates in the Mahatma Candy Daze. Back in 2000, when Dave Thompson, Lori Hefley and I were just beginning our musical endeavor, I encouraged the Muser to join us as our percussionist, which he did, although with much diffidence.  It turned out alright.  In fact, considering how the Muser continues to play music to this very day, I'd say it turned out quite well. 

Last night, the Muser and I reunited for a bite to eat and some catching up.  Time did not seem to have changed him much, but that impression was belied by his words.  "It's been a difficult year," he said, standing in my foyer, removing his sandals.  When he said it, I thought for a moment that the lines etched around his eyes and the corners of his mouth became more distinct, but I couldn't be sure.

We walked to the local Vietnamese restaurant that was one of our favorite haunts back in the daze, then went home and sat on the front porch --the very place where we had written many of the Mahatma Candy tunes.  In the time we spent talking, the conversation never flagged, nor was there any sense of estrangement.  We know each other well.  The good and the bad.

We talked about our times in the band, recounting some of our more memorable gigs.  (Memorable, mind you --not necessarily successful.)  Muser remembered our first gig in Ireland, at a little bar in Rosslare Harbor where we played well enough to coax the local Irishmen out of their nook in the tavern to sit and listen.  I had no recollection of that gig.  But Muser did not remember our second gig  in Rosslare, on our way back from Wales, when the crazy Welsh girl danced while we went through our various sets. 

Still can't remember, Dan?

There were plenty of other gigs to remember as well.  There was the gig on the Muser's birthday when the audience danced while we played our tune, Bobby Sunday.  There was the gig at Conan's where the monitor system quit mid-song leaving us high and dry and much embarrassed.  There was the gig at the Boat, in Monmouth, Wales, where we played un-miked to a raucous and appreciative crowd that would not let us quit until we had played every song in our repertoire.  And as we remembered our old gigs, other memories came to the fore:  old girl friends, crazy parties, wild, reckless behavior.

We have a wealth of memories together, the Muser and I.  Not all of them are sweet.  But that's to be expected.  The painful memories add to the texture of the whole.

The Muser believes this has been a difficult year, as told.  But if that is true, he has come through it alright.  He seemed more at peace than I remembered him being the last time we met.  He's changed some.  I expect he'd say the same about me.

But yesterday evening, there we were, sitting on the front porch where we had played and sang a decade earlier --writing tunes, creating, laughing.  Nothing is permanent in this world, of course.  But it is quite nice when the past throws up an echo that strikes a chord.  Especially a major chord.  In key of G.

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