Looking Back at June with Crazy Wisdom
Looking forward to the month of June, I had such great anticipation in April and May. Every weekend on my calendar was full, with the Nor-Easter Fest, the Mount Pleasant-Traverse City-Leland road trip, the Above the Bridge Songwriters Weekend and the Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Teahouse performances. Even the Royal Oak Farmers Market Flea Market on the 2nd was a lot o’ fun.
Now that I look back, all I can think of is just how busy I was! Kim and I finally got georgeheritier.com up to speed, so I’ve been blogging here once a week, and I’ve really gotten a fire in my belly and kicked up my reports for our wine blog, Gang of Pour, as well. Add to that all the rehearsal time and trying to keep up (not entirely successfully) with errands and chores and I had little time for mischief.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’m excited at the progress I’ve made in the last two years since I remembered who and what I am and returned to playing and singing music. Those first few months were difficult, with me being seriously out of practice, and at times, it was a struggle. Getting the old Guild F-212 XL rehabbed in April of ’11 was a major step; I gradually came to realize that the 12-string was where I wanted to go with my sound, to the point where I haven’t picked up the 6-string in the last couple of months. (I plan to change that soon; the Gibson Heritage is just too sweet a guitar to let languish in its case.) (Click images to enlarge.)
I’m considering all of this while thinking about my gig at Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Teahouse in Ann Arbor, this past Friday, the 28th. These days, I’m confident in my singing, harp blowing and guitar playing, and I firmly believe in my music on its own terms. I play what I like, and when I’m relaxed and comfortable, I get in a groove where fun things happen. I don’t play music that might get me the kind of gigs I don’t want to play in the first place, like I did back when I got disillusioned and quit.
I hit that groove last Friday night. I was focused, and worked hard to prepare; I chose songs that best represented who I am, and I was pleased with my performance. My CD “In My Element” was well represented, and I also dusted off a song that I wrote back in 1977 that has languished for almost 20 years. I filled out two sets with a handful of traditional songs, Woodie’s “1913 Massacre” and Iris Dement’s take on the afterlife, “Let the Mystery Be.”
Crazy Wisdom is a room I’ve wanted to play for some time now, and this was my first opportunity. It’s a real “listening room,” located in the tea room area, on the second floor of a lovely book store that carries the kinds of esoteric items that you don’t go to Barnes & Noble for. With the kind of friendly, attentive audience this venue is known for, good things usually happen, and they did last Friday. The music flowed, and I played pretty close to as well as I ever have. I can’t help but think I was inspired by the presence of Susie Keat, who not only books this venue, but is seriously plugged into the Michigan music scene and beyond. Susie has been battling nagging health issues recently, so, when she and husband Bob walked in, there was even more inspiration to sing and play well.
I was also inspired by the presence of my dear friends Mark Jewett and Shannon Lea Linsea, who lent support with bass and vocals on “In My Element,” “My Way or the Highway” and “Squirrelly.” (I was jazzed to return the favor by blowing harp with them in their sets at Crazy Wisdom the following evening!) And seeing my old ‘60s dancing buddy from the Bay City “teen nightclub” Band Canyon, Pat Timm Wilinski, for the first time since 1971 was also “a rush,” as we said back then.
Speaking of the photos, they were taken by my Facebook friend, photographer Marc Akemann, whom I met in person for the first time on this occasion, along with his darling daughter, Camille. I love the black and white film (what’s film?!), and I love the images.
Looking forward, I need to pay more attention to songwriting. I have one solid new original since recording “In My Element,” and four or five others in the works, but haven’t been able to find the time to finish those quite yet. Hopefully, the next few months will take care of that and nurture new musical adventures as well. I can feel new songs bubbling in my being, and I’m thinking some will be erupting soon.