Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I don't know how it first happened, but I admit it -- I'm a cave dweller. I set up my music teaching studio in the basement; recording and writing gets done down here; my office is down here. There's absolutely no natural lighting, because the window boxes were covered over ages ago. So when a little light from the outside world gets through the cracks, it can illuminate the entire footprint of the basement. Sunlight down here would just plain be unhealthy.

I do my best thinking down here, because it's night all the time, and I can recreate my early days in the bars of Toronto, and later, the metro New York City area. My mum used to say that I was a "nine-to-fiver -- nine at night to five in the morning." Although, come to think of it, my latest late-night gig was in Jaffa, Israel, where the gig started at 1 a.m. and ended around 4. I used to go to that job from an early one up the street, which started at 9 p.m. and ended at 1 a.m. That gave me an hour's break for an early breakfast and coffee, plus a glance at the next day's newspaper.

Fast forward to now. I'm staring into the green glow of an old Ampeg jewel which has made its home in my 1968 Fender Princeton Reverb for at least 25 years. I know this because I swapped jewels with an old and unsuspecting Ampeg piggyback amp back then. The Princeton is my alter ego. It looks interesting and intriguing with that emerald jewel. I know that the years have passed but I am still that kid with the Princeton, playing Steve Cropper or Django Reinhardt licks as I sit in front of my parent's hifi with records scattered all over the floor. Gonna keep going 'til I nail it!

The first time I heard Los Lonely Boys doing "Heaven" on the kitchen radio, I basically did the same thing. I dropped the spatula and headed down to the cave and fired 'er up. I don't know a single guitar player who didn't do this.

I still have a handful of my erstwhile toys -- old amps, guitars, effect pedals, guitar picks. I pride myself on preserving my vintage stuff. Mind you, it was vintage when I got started collecting it, so I'm not panicking yet. And I don't have an outrageously gargantuan collection -- just enough to be slightly over the top.

One of my students last night asked me about my older stuff and I explained that although I do have some pieces from the 1950s and even the 1920s, I prefer collecting from the early 1960s because I was alive then. I even vaguely remember the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. I haven't figured out why my students are so devoted and want to hang around with an old broad, but I take the compliment.

And meantime, here in the cave, in my solitude, I watch Arlen Roth instructional guitar videos while I do a couple of miles on the treadmill, just to keep me inspired.

No comments: