Music as always been a huge part of our family life and going to hear my dad play is always a joy. When he retired he joked about going in to schools to work with children on team working and collaborative learning, he may have landed on a winner.
On Friday we were at home to hear my dad play and I was with my best friend and we were reminiscing about how we had been going to the same place for 20 years to hear dad play. He still gets the same joy from collaborating and working with new musicians as well as established musical soul mates.
The interaction between the people he has played with for a long time is extraordinary and I have written about it before. It’s subtle nod, a raise of the eyebrow or even a gesture from the singer. It really is like watching a beautifully choreographed dance, when all it really is, is a wonderful example of group work.
I remember dad coming to the rescue for a fundraiser I had organised as a young teacher and he agreed to MC and hold the staff band together. I watched him come in, talk to tall the musicians, put them at ease and when they asked for a rehearsal, he smiled and said his famous phrase, ” just plug it in son and turn it up” I watched these grown men turn into boys as my dad nodded to them for their middle 8 solo. It was a great moment to see teachers pushed right out their comfort zone but just diving in, head first and rocking the middle 8 I may add.
New group members, but he was in his element and got an amazing sound out of them with his own brand of musical magic.
On Friday he was playing on home turf with an eclectic bunch of musicians. The age range was about 26-68 and I suspect most of the set list was written before some of them were born, while my dad was on bass he was in his zone. Despite not having played with some of the musicians for a while, they clicked straight away and the sound was amazing. They wee signals were there and they all responded in kind. Slowing down, speeding up, taking a solo, encouraging each other…. A lot of subtle ” go on my son” was going on.
Dad then played a bit of rhythm guitar and immediately the lead guitarist shifter so that dad could see what he was doing. I remember years ago watching a concert with Barbra Streisand singing from her garden. She was joined by Barry agin and at one point she was nodding to him with her perfect boy swinging along in time.on asking what she was doing, mum told me that she was keeping him right with the time. That physical encouragement to keep someone on the right road. The lead guitarist who was a bairn kept my dad in check and there was no ego, no pressure, just a group of musicians who were encouraging each other to play the best they could to get the best possible sound and to enjoy every minute of it.
Even when they were out their comfort zone they understood how all of their talents fitted together, they listened to each other, they responded to each other and the end result was phenomenal.
I imagine the first time they played it must have been different but if you ever needed a good example of group work……around yourself with rock stars ( weans) , plug-in and turn it up. ( start them off and stand back.)