Thursday, January 5, 2012

Friday Shootout - Music

BAGMAN: "So, Mark.  Do you think you'll ever pull out the guitar or banjo and play again?"

I've been thinking about it.  And this week's shootout has made me think about it a little more.  "Maybe," I answer with an intense lack of commitment. It's a bit of a challenge to start until my fingers begin to get callouses. 

BUTLER:  "While we're waiting for you to make up your mind, can we go ahead and post some photographs?"

BAGMAN:  "Let's establish the mood first!!  You might be dragging your feet but the grandkids jump right in!

 This is my mother-in-law's piano.  I sure wish she was still around to give lessons to the boys.  And maybe to me.  I grew up with my grandparents and although I talk more about my grandfather, an artist, I also used to love to listen to my grandmother -- music was her passion.

We had a grand piano in the livingroom.

Although in her younger years she was a professional violinist
(my grandfather did this portrait of her which hangs in our diningroom)

In elementary school, son Brian took lessons on her violin for awhile
but then his interests moved on.

When I was in high school, I picked up an old accoustic guitar in a pawn shop and taught myself to play (more or less).  Mostly chords.  I could never be bothered to actually learn to read music.  These were the days of the folk music and I saw myself as hippie poet and guitar player.  I think I took up the guitar, at least in part, to impress girls. 

But I also played a lot with one of my best friends --

Lee Armen and his twelve string

I really miss Lee.  He passed away about twenty years ago.  He and I had some fantastic adventures during the late 60's and early 70's, although we were both drunk or stoned on pot most of the time.  My guess is that I don't remember the best adventures.  Looking at this old picture and remembering him, I'm thinking I probably need to do a blog about Lee. 

BAGMAN: "Can we get back to the Friday Shootout?"

BUTLER:  "You know, Mark, you sure messed up the color on this one."

"No," I corrected him.  "I was experimenting with infrared film at the time."

For some reason, I sit staring at this post.  I'm either lost in thought or realizing that I don't really have many more pictures of musical instruments.  

Bagman and Butler stand there for awhile watching me watch the computer screen. 

BAGMAN: "Is that it?  Is that all you've got?  

As I begin to lose interest, I browse lazily through some recent shots and older archive shots and throw in a couple more. 

A street musician in a Oaxaca, Mexico market
(He doesn't appear happy to have his picture taken)

The red-hat lady street band in San Francisco
(date unknown)

Closer to home - Myrtle Beach
The Johnny Rocket Restaurant waiters periodically step outside to dance.
"Hey!  My dinner is getting cold!"

I'll add this one so I can have at least one shot
from Charleston.
(After all, it is a hometown shootout)

And another from Charleston
(What kind of an instrument is that anyway?)

At this point, I just sit in the B&B studio daydreaming.  Butler and Bagman drift off to leave me in peace.  I'm wondering to myself what I should do next.  Should I write a blog about Lee?  Or should I find an instrument and see if my fingers remember anything?  

And what instrument should I pull out and where are they anyway?  Somewhere in the back of various closets, I think we have a choice of:

  • Two violins
  • One accoustic guitar
  • One electric guitar
  • One bass guitar
  • One banjo
  • One cheap electric keyboard
  • And the piano (which is not actually in a closet)
Maybe tomorrow.  I suspect that all the stringed instruments need new strings anyway.   I think I'll take the dog for a walk instead.



  1. I like this stuff....especially the grandma portrait. No more music for me. I used to sing and play a bit, like you, but now one hand goes slower than the other. Ah well.

  2. Love the photo of your grandmother at the piano. Yes write a blog about Lee. How is the house showing going along?

  3. I have missed a few of your posts, I see. Well, you have the instrument collection as we have. I think you should put some of those poems to music in memory of your long-haired pot-smoking pal. Happy New Year!

  4. Please write more about Lee. And after your move, perhaps you will have time to take up the guitar again. Do it!

  5. Love the shot of your grandma, and and the red hat ladies.

  6. You must be one good musician!

  7. Love the shot of your grandmother and her portrait. She had such a lovely, lovely face! You must have music well and truly in your veins.

  8. you got music in your genes, bring them out,

  9. I sold my old instruments to buy a new camera. haha.

  10. I think that after your dog walk, you should really think music! I'ts such an important part of life! (I now take the direction of my piano!) :-)

  11. I once played the flute, but I wasn't very good. I can't sing and my musical abilities end there. Your post reminded me of the song phrase "faded photographs" because they do take us down a bittersweet lane. Do you index your photos? How can you find all these when you need them? Amazing.