Three years later
Music, memory and moving on
The three-year ‘anniversary’ of the California shut-down passed last weekend without me realizing it immediately. I was preoccupied with several gigs that couldn’t have been more appropriate for the date if I had planned them to be commemorative.
The first, a ‘partners-in-life-/partners-in-music’ showcase that Kwame and I had been invited to play, occurred exactly three years after we did our first pandemic porch concert here in Alameda. The island-wide, Friday night porch concert series, which found the two of us plugging our amps in on our porch and playing for neighbors and passerby was a musical lifeline for us, (and definitely informed the performance we did last week).
The second gig of the weekend, a song-circle at pal Michael McNevin’s inimitable Mudpuddle Music Shop with both Michael and Aireene Espiritu, marked the first time I’d played an open show there since before the pandemic. I pulled out some ‘stray’ songs for the occasion, and both Aireene and Michael played work they’ve completed over the past few years as well. We marveled at how much we actually wrote despite the challenges, obstacles and occasional bouts of hopelessness and confusion that came with living through a pandemic. We also admired what a well-oiled machine Michael has become at live-streaming given that he’s played 190+ and counting live stream concerts from the Mudpuddle since March 2020. It was simply great to circle up with musical friends and play.
The third gig of the week, a songwriter set at The Spreckels Temple of Music Golden Gate Bandshell — an iconic venue and a pure joy to play — felt like a harbinger of a more open, expansive time ahead.
I know Covid is still out there… and this past week I felt another turn of a corner out of this thing. Exiting the pandemic years, it turns out, mirrors much of my experience with grief in general: You think things are better, then one day you feel markedly better and realize, wow, I was pretty low, and so on, until one day you’re more often fully in the present.
Last night, we were unloading the car after playing a private event, a process that usually entails several trips between car, house and basement. Kwame was putting the last of the gear away and I was just locking up the car when a pedestrian happened by. He asked about the music that had happened here in those long-ago early days of the pandemic. He and his family had stumbled upon them one evening, he wondered if we still played? I felt so happy to be able to invite him to an upcoming gig in an actual venue!