Where the fingers meet fate

First afternoon without responsibilities in a while and what do I do? The same thing I seem to find myself doing whenever the opportunity arises: playing Bess.

I started off with “Foggy Mountain Breakdown and played it at various speeds. I am still nowhere near Scruggs’s level, but at least it sounds like the same song.

After that I moved from bluegrass to blues. “Five String Boogie Woogie,” to “Down and Out Blues” and from there it was “Abilene.”

I’m really proud of the second of those. It is defyingly coming along. The boogie woogie is still a mite slow, but with time I’ll master it. Abilene is a bit of a challenge for me. There is a section where the rhythm never sounds quite right. I might have to look up some recordings of it for reference.

And then I began practicing my scales. Let me tell you, it feels odd going from blues back to more classical pieces. But it also felt necessary.

Then a few minutes of finger exercises trying to build the strength and flexibility of my left hand on the fretboard.

So I was doing all of this. Window open since it a warm and humid day. The blues especial feel right on a day like that.

People walking by on the sidewalk. Birds chirping. The occasional train rolling by.  A glass of lemonade at my side with beads of condensation rolling down the side and mimicking the ones on my brow.

And just for a moment I felt timeless. Like this scene, or something remarkably similar, could have happened almost exactly the same way about a hundred years ago.

A warm and humid June day in Chicago. The young man playing the blues in his apartment. The open window. The train.

I felt an odd combination of being in touch with my roots, stereotypical, kismet, and classicism.

It is hard to describe.

Eli usually lies on the floor by my feet until I put Bess back in her case. Then he gets up and either goes to the kitchen for food or drink or he lies on my bed. Today he pats the case with his paw. It takes me a minute to realize he wants more.

Maybe later. Right now, I could use some more lemonade.


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