Friday, September 11, 2009

I Got the Music in Me


After a break of twenty two years, I'm going slowly back into music.

Back in 1987, my first wife and I divorced, and I elected to give up music professionally. I got a real job; the high ticket / impulse sales world of off-site time-sharing. My priorities changed completely almost overnight. And to be honest, I was way too busy to even listen to music. My job was commission only, until I was promoted into management, and it didn't take too long before I promoted to Sales Manager. But that wasn't my real goal. My goal was to be successful enough to build a sales organization on-site - on Paradise Island in The Bahamas. Before long I moved to the most beautiful country on earth.

While in The Bahamas, I worked constantly, and listening to or playing music was almost impossible. Sure I heard (and sometimes sat in) with the local hotel bands on the island, but that consisted of playing "Yellow Bird" and other tourist favorites. When I left Nassau and moved to Freeport, I played occasionally with country star Jimmy Dean (yes, the sausage guy). He had long since retired from music and his business (he sold the sausage company and continued to earn one million a year working one day a year making those commercials). He lived on his yacht docked at the Xanadu. If Jimmy got drunk enough, he would come looking for me. He would bang on my door at 2-4 in the morning, and made me come downstairs and play bass for him, while he sang and played the lobby piano. It was always entertaining, but that abruptly stopped when he figured out I was working on nailing his daughter Connie.

After twelve years, my second wife and I moved to Jamaica. I didn't even bring my bass with me. But I started listening to local reggae, and more importantly, Jamaican Dancehall. The rhythmic assault was inescapable, it literally held the country together. In Ocho Rios we lived close to the center of town, and the music blasted until daylight. I developed a real appreciation for Dancehall, which I still have to this day. But as I said, I wasn't playing music, just avidly listening to Beanie Man, Bounty Killa, Lady Saw, Tanya Stevens and a host of artists around town.

Fast forward five years, and I'm back in the States. I've been content to ignore music here. But now Brandon is nine, and I've been giving him saxophone lessons. Hes been at it for a three months now, and is showing remarkable progress. That is giving my the motivation to go into the books and re-learn what I've buried into my subconscious. I am totally enjoying the process. I've got two years to bring him up to speed, and I'm using this time to teach him both saxophone technique and music theory. By the time sixth grade rolls around, Brandon will have a huge head start!

I'm listening to a lot of sax around the house now, trying to show the kid what the instrument is capable of. And for the first time; I pulled out my bass and held it reverently in my hands.

I have a long way to go. I'm going to take advantage of the fact I haven't played in twenty two years by entirely re-learning the instrument. I used to play with a pick, and used a fretted Fender Jazz Bass. Just before I "retired", I put an incredible fretless neck on it, but never really got around to practicing with it. Now, I have the time to study fretless, as well as learn a three finger technique so I can throw those guitar picks away.

My goal is get technically proficient enough to take a online course or two this Spring from the Berklee College of Music, without looking like a complete idiot. Wish me luck.

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