A deep connection.


I used to rehearse withe my brother when I lived in the same city.  Really, I did.  This was a new thing for me because in the very beginning, when we weren’t even sure which bass player would actually be on the stage with us from weekend to weekend, there was little opportunity.

Added to that, as much as I wanted to have my own “bowling nights” so to speak, but I have to be honest: my wife hated that I wouldn’t give up the idea of being a musician.  Whatever our benefits as a couple, this was one of the things that we never agreed on until the last few years of our marriage.  I could never get her to understand what playing guitar, writing music, all of it meant to me.  Sure, I knew deep down that I wouldn’t be going on tour or playing guitar on the road when I had a wife and kids at home.  But the 17-year-old inside of me jumping up and down saying “If Clapton calls, though, I’m there!”

But I noticed today . . . in picking up my guitar and playing Fleetwood Mac’s Rhiannon with the band of merry individuals I’m with for a fundraiser in a couple weeks . . . that I was playing with a speed and agility I haven’t had since I was twenty-one or so and playing every night.  By a certain point, when we were at our peak of playing in Omaha, I rehearsed with my brother and a drummer every Wednesday. In fact, I took my daughters with me then and they used to come down and hear us play.

Abbi during one rehearsal

Now I play a lot.  I try to pick up my guitar, even if it’s my Dobro, every night and play a little bit.  Between having Julia Sinclair stay and having this gig I’ve played more guitar in the last several weeks than I did the last several years.

The difference now?  I’m playing more and nobody argues with whether I should or not.  My kids like it.  My brother obviously is a kindred spirit.  I have met musicians (Julia included) that deeply understand that connection.  There’s a feeling, a synchronicity between the guitar and me.  It’s not that I’m so amazing that the world needs to hear me.  It’s that it makes me feel complete.  It’s like my left arm doesn’t end at the fingertips, it ends at the connection to the fretboard.  The Maple and Rosewood a tactile indication of the emotions that flow through me.

Where my guitars were relegated to another room years ago I keep them in reach now.  I have the Dobro on the wall, like a piece of the decorative nature of the house.  My Strat is there for me to play regularly.  I love the way I can take the guitar and whatever I’m feeling – anger, fear, sadness, happiness, embarrassment – flows out and into the notes I play.  Clapton always used to say that you didn’t need a flurry of notes, the best playing and players realize that sometimes it’s what you put into that one note that makes it so amazing.

So I play now, every day, sometimes with the TV on, sometimes when I should be doing other things…but without it I’d be stagnant.

It’s not a hobby.  It’s not an obsession.  It’s part of me.