Musical Pathways

There are many ways as perhaps there are people to engage with music. It’s a bit of a stretch to think that way but it seemed apparent at a recent conversation. Three of the Gator family were discussing response to music played live. Not recorded. Ex Ante or before the music is heard, versus Ex Post afterwards.

Jack began seriously thinking about why he likes certain experiences of music, including music he has played ensemble. Is it the gestalt of everything, the singing, the instruments or the attitudes seen and felt? Perhaps at least all three, but one aspect stood out for Jack. The rhythm. When Jack played for years with a local square dance band, rhythm was everything. Even if the perceived pace was two or three times the chords or notes played. The dancers listened to the ‘caller’ we played the tune. No body in the band sung anything.

Before long, after joining the band at the invite of the mandolin player, Jack realized the gift he had been given for all of his life. He loved music from childhood onward but until he joined that band ( Duck for the Oyster) Jack did not know what really moved him about music. They knew after a short time of playing together. It was a four piece band consisting of a fiddle, a mandolin, a stand up bass and Jack on Guitar. Jack became dubbed “The Rhythm Monster” The playing of a chord slightly ahead of it’s usual place. Doubling up the time signature while the band played in ‘half time’. Adding extra beats to change a waltz so if the dancers were not careful, they could be a bit lost.

It made things cook and now and then when Jack would do these things, the guys would give a brief chuckle and join in the fun. Just adding a harmonic note instead of a chord would work too. They were all fantastic musicians and the joy they projected was palpable.

Nowadays, Jack plays with a small ensemble that is always a different group except for the guitar player and lead singer. He is, of course, the leader that gets the songs, the charts, the order and picks just who he hears in his mind to play. He picks Jack to play mandolin and violin every month or two and whenever they rehearse and play, Jack has fun with the rhythm with his instruments. The real high notes that are played with a tremolo makes the leader ‘laugh’ with delight. The fiddle Jack plays sounds more like the square dance and waltz things Jack learned playing country western music in the middle 70’s. Double stops with chops and more harmonics. It’s Jack’s love language.

This band is a worship band that plays in front of a sizable group and the hard part is playing a short period of five or less songs. The goal is to project the joy of the subject (whom Jack has some experience with) and the sure pathway to projecting this joy is to experience it in front of the singers, the congregation. A quick smile or a nod of a head. A quick glance by the leader with that smile, conveys the joy sought with all their hearts. It’s preaching on a different level. The message is always the same. The living God Jesus, deserves all the glory and honor. He dances and gives His joy to those in the room along with Him. Nothing else comes even close.

Do what you love and love what you do. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

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