Friday, July 25, 2008

I'm with the band

Charles here, back after Rose and I spent a week in Belize. Much fun, phenomenal scuba diving, expensive drinks, lots of lounging and, honestly, no writing. I realize that that might sound strange to many aspiring writers out there, that I would pass up the chance to spend additional time writing, but this was our vacation, and that means we spend the time together. Every night of the week when we’re not on vacation, Rose watches as I retreat into my office to write for several hours. It’s not a lot of time but it’s time we could have been spending together. And I have a way of stretching ‘just a couple of hours’ of writing into a full weekend. Besides, we were in Belize for crying out loud, home of some of the most amazing dive sites in the western hemisphere. What kind of adventure writer would I be if I didn’t have an adventure now and then?
Anyway, we’re back and I’m already days behind all the stuff I need to do for work, and then yesterday I played my first gig…
Faithful readers will recall that I count among my many talents the ability to play the tenor saxophone like a child prodigy. A tone-deaf, uncoordinated, slightly addled child prodigy. And for the past few years at the ad agency, I’ve suggested that we put together a little company band, just to play around after work. Fortunately, people had simply ignored my suggestions, but then a couple months ago somebody screwed up and the next thing you know, there’re seven of us playing some tunes in the studio space outside my office into the wee small hours of the early evening. We set as our goal playing at the agency’s summer picnic and foolishly announced we’d be ready. Yesterday was that day and, low and behold, we were ready. Well, as ready as we’d ever be.
I should point out that I am the weak link in this band—the drummer, the bass player and the guy on lead guitar are all outstanding musicians with lots of band experience. Both of the rhythm guitar players are self-taught but quite good—one’s even a regular in a bar-playing band. The lead singer is a natural showman with solid pipes. And then there was me on the tenor sax. Or at least I thought it was me since when I heard a recording of our set the sax parts sounded pretty darn good. That’s why I’m convinced somebody must have snuck in and joined the band behind my back.
I’m telling you all this not because I’m hoping that you’ll call for a booking of the band (because email is sooo much easier) but because the way I approached the saxophone and the band is how I first approached writing—not because I thought I was brilliant or even especially talented, but because I wanted to do something fun with my time on this mortal coil. And while I have achieved some success as a writer, it still comes down to one simple thing—it’s fun. When it stops being fun—or when something more fun shows up—I’ll hang up my keyboard and move on.
Last night, as we stood around drinking after our whopping 5-song set, we started making plans for new songs to learn and promised (threatened?) to play again at the company’s fall party. And when I finally got home, I fired up the computer and spent an hour wrapping up the chapter I had left unfinished before I left for Belize.
It was fun.


Anonymous said...

So when does the CD come out?

Rick Blechta said...

Charles, you look just like a tenor sax player. I mean that in a good way.

Could you supply a set list?

Congrats on having a successful first gig. I don't remember my first one so fondly. Monsignor Carlo stopped us during our first song because all the kids were dancing to suggestively. He actually demanded "a fox trot".

James Brown, Sam & Dave and Otis Redding didn't do no fox trots!

Charles benoit said...

The set list (all 5 songs):
Learning to Fly by Tom Petty
Shadow Stabbing by Cake
Every Breath You Take by the Police
Come Together by the Beatles
Watts Local by the Royal Crown Review

There was an encore tune as well, but all I know is that the guitar player said "just play blues in E"

Rick Blechta said...


Blues in E (nice choice of key for a tenor sax player!) is a famous song by Blind Melon Chitlin, the blues legend. He hailed from Wakkapanga, Mississippi. Only made three records.

Donis Casey said...

I'm looking forward to reading your mystery set in Belize, featuring a tenor sax player.