i rarely play guitar in public, since guitar abomination is never pretty. i know it is tricky to demonstrate causality, but it almost seems that the experience of hearing me play dramatically reduces confidence in my abilities. the reaction goes something like, "what were you tryin' to do up there, man? i useta think you were cool." plus, i usually save my best playin' and singin' for my musician daughter in the living room.
nevertheless, i'm dusting off the tweed case and venturing out of my living room's friendly confines more often these days. my colleague teresa gowan formed a class band as part of her undergraduate course, hard times and bad behavior: homelessness and marginality in the u.s (and, by the way, is a class band a cool idea or what?). they play old hobo songs and course-related standards such as buddy can you spare a dime? teresa asked me to add a little KERRANG to maggie's farm for our annual department celebration, so last night i brought out the strat (no nickname as yet, but ol' pink is the leading contender).
i also ended up singing purple rain as part of the first-year grad skit. i've always considered myself the earl scheib of bad singing -- he'd paint any car for 99 bucks and i'd sing any song for a beer. even fronting the pipin' hot talcott parsons project, purple rain proved much tougher than anticipated (note to self: just drop the mic and step AWAY from the ballads). last year the skit involved my pained rendition of livin' on a prayer -- which is only 2.5 octaves out of my range. i could blame it on the 30 seconds of prep time, but that's no excuse. there's still only one prince in minneapolis.
but i'm undaunted. the not-really-a-booktour picks up quickly in the next couple weeks, with stops in los angeles, philadelphia, state college, dc, detroit, new york, and baltimore. after a penn state talk on the 28th, i'll play a little with folks such as paul amato, rich felson, wayne osgood, and sam richards. wayne just sent me a set list. it looks like cool stuff that i can probably flay okay (where flay = .5*fake + .5*play). they do lots of dale/ventures/shadows surf instrumentals plus other inspired covers (muddy/johnny/del/buddy and falling in love again(?)). it may not be transcendent, but it does give me something to look forward to this month.