Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Went Underground--Fiddler Style; Part 1

    Before beginning this post, I have one thing to tell you.  
    If you'd like a chance to win a free advance copy of my book "The Golden Sky," please go here: 

    Now, onto the post of the day . . .
    I'm a violinist (but mostly a fiddler).  We talked about that yesterday, and today, I remembered a story.  

    Cade and I used to play music everywhere.  We'd have a gig at least three times a month.   
    To listen to our music please go here:  
Picture taken by: Shear Luck
     Well, at one of our gigs, a strange, little man walked up to us.  Instead of buying a CD, or putting a tip into my battered violin case, he winked at me, set a business card on my chair and hobbled away.
    The business card was different.  On the front it read, "Old-fashioned Fiddlers' Society.
See if you have what it takes . . ."

On the back it read,
 "The condemned state building--6 am Saturday.
fiddles, guitars, banjos and harmonicas are welcome."

   "What do you think?" I asked Cade.
    "I have to work this Saturday.  If you can get Grandma Gertie to watch our Scribe, maybe you should check it out.  It sounds interesting."
    He didn't think it was scary, but I knew how fiddlers can be.  If you catch the wrong sort of person with a bow and some strings--well, things can get CRAZY!  Plus, I'd never been invited to an underground event, even though I'd heard of them.  Usually they were for street fights, racing or dancing.  Was this seriously an underground event for fiddlers?  I turned the card over.  "6 am Saturday.  All right,"  I nodded, "I'm gonna do this thing."
    So, Grandma Gertie babysat, bless her soul she's pulled me out of more jams than I've even been in!  
    Here's one of those stories: Grandma Gertie and the Break-in Patrol

    I had to park around the block since no one was in the parking lot.  That should have been my first red flag.  
    I tip-toed into the back door which was propped slightly open with a piece of wood.  I hurried to where people whispered and just when I stepped into the room, a big elderly man shut the door.  "One after six," he bellowed and locked the door.
    What the crap?  Was it really necessary to LOCK THE DOOR?
    I looked around the room.  About fifty chairs were in a huge circle, all facing the center.  Three of the chairs at one end had microphones in front of them.  In the center of the circle, two chair rested by a microphone AND a speaker.  Two old men sat in those chairs.  One of those guys tuned a guitar and the other polished the surface of his banjo with a cloth.
    That all seemed interesting, but what threw me off the most was how old everyone was.  I mean seriously, some of them must have been in their 90's!
    An old woman sized me up then.  "You're a fiddler?" she asked, and I nodded.  "Well, I'll be shocked if you make it through the first round.  Sit here," she led me to a seat which was farthest from the microphones.
    "I'm Elisa," I said, but that old woman didn't have time for a newbie like me.  She rolled her eyes.
    "Just try to keep up, Sunshine," she said and walked away.
    I sat down, next to the only other young person there.
    "What is this place?" I asked him.
    "Heck if I know," he said, pulling a violin from its case.  "I'd just finished playing with the symphony when some weird old man handed me a business card."  He sat up straight and gave me such a stuffy look that I wanted to whip him with my bow--see what I'm saying about fiddlers!
    A symphony?  Well wasn't he just God's gift!  At least I'd show one person up--and it would be him.
    The guitarist in the center nodded to the old lady who'd sized me up earlier.  She stood at the other side of the circle--across from me--the side with the microphones.
    "We're here to find the best bluegrass musician in this state.  We've been gathering you for weeks and now it's time to shine.  I'm the reigning champ." She took a bow and many of the old people clapped.
    "So, let's see if you have what it takes.  We all play by ear.  The first song will start easy.  We'll go by the chord progression 'A' Major to 'E' Major.  If Georgie taps you, then you're out and everyone else will need to move closer to this side of the circle--toward the champ."  She motioned to herself.  "Let's start."
    And it was just like that.  The guitar and the banjo in the middle started.  The old woman who'd spoken started kicking up dust.  Then, everyone started playing and I couldn't believe it, but after a few seconds, it didn't sound too bad.  They must have picked a bunch of professionals.  Plus, the fact that Georgie kept eying me and the Symphonic jerk, that made me want to play better.  But although I tried keeping up at first, I felt like all those people were kicking my butt!  Here it looked like we were in the Alzheimer's Unit and I (the young one) was having a hard time.
    That's when I caught the old champ's eyes.  She winked at me as if I'd never make it to her side of the circle.  Her taunting was just what I needed and as Georgie came closer, my bow turned to fire and instead of tapping me, he tapped the old banjo player on my other side.  The Symphony guy and I moved up a space.  I was getting closer, but could I best that old woman at the far end of the circle?

    To be continued . . .