We’re living in the beginning of the time of the Corona virus and I had my first performance gig in seven or eight years last night. It was such a high experience: I felt like I was fulfilling my soul purpose. And I’m afraid at the same time.
Earlier in the day I left early on the bus from Raleigh where I work to Durham where we live. We were advised to work from home if possible and this may be how things are for a while. When I got home I just had time to change and briefly chat with Lanya and the boys before loading the car. I drive the 25 minutes to Chapel Hill where the venue, Imbibe, is located.
It was easy to find parking and the traffic was light. UNC-Chapel Hill was in during break and administrators were asking students to stay home. I was feeling nervous in a bad way about the sudden awareness that I was in the early stages of wheat was going to get bad. I was feeling nervous in a good way about the gig.
Brian and Lexy were already there and set up the PA. They play together in Neville’s Quarter and had invited me to join for this Tuesday’s Songwriter’s Night.
Imbibe serves Cajun food and has a Mardi Gras vibe in it’s decor. Is that a stack of canning jars awaiting labels on the back table? I ordered a beer and met Bryan Toney the singer-songwriter from Greensboro who was playing too. I extended my hand and withdrew it quickly when I remembered all of a sudden. Elbow bump.
We watched Neville’s Quarter together and I was appreciating the feeling of positivity. Like detoxing from fear. I was up next.
After the briefest of soundchecks, I was in it. I took a deep breath. I imagined a night time fire. I reached for a shamanic experience. I felt really on. Even as I made mistakes, they were small beside the enveloping feeling of being in the flow.
I talked between songs about playing around a fire. One of the wait staff approached me later to let me know that the image had stuck. And when I mentioned that I am Orange is my psychedelic song and with be engaged by eating mushrooms, a trio — I assumed to be a father and daughters — left soon afterwards. A gregarious fellow in a tie-dye encouraged my harmonica playing. Audrey Lorde, Paul Gruchow, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti made appearances and the set ended with a cover of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song.
Afterwards, I reached for Brian’s elbow and told him how much the evening meant to me. First time playing out in 7 years and it was sweeeeeeeetness. And I’m also afraid at the same time.