The Band With No Name had its first group jam in several months this evening. Which isn't to say that we've been dormant over that time frame - no, we've recorded here and there and had jams with one or the other member missing. One thing that has not happened over that time, however, is me sitting my ass behind the keys and playing them. Since the pressure was lower at those partial attendance practices, I took advantage of the situation and played guitar. Sloppily, and noisily, no doubt.
But the payback came tonight when I looked at the 73 keys on the Rhodes and saw the words of a language I'd temporarily forgotten how to speak. That's not an infrequent feeling for me with instruments - with bass, keys and drums, if I play regularly enough, I can get into a zone and do things that (at least for me) feel like I'm reaching something more. And then I don't pick up and play for a while, and all of my smooth goodness has flown out the window.
I don't really have this problem with guitar since I never seem to get any better or worse at the instrument; I've been playing since 1989 and I achieved a basic level of competence within a few months and never gotten any better or worse in the intervening two decades. There are some instruments you can just 'see,' and guitar is not one of them for me. Likely, the fact that I've played with a couple of really stellar guitar players over the years - Shaun now, and Rick, Ansley and others before - means that I haven't had to bother. In fact, as mentioned perviously on the Rambler, the only time I developed a working, valid electric guitar style was in the first year that Edz and I played together, where there was no guitar player to be found and so like insulating foam, I spread to fill that void as best I could.
These days, what I like best about playing the guitar is that I have no expectations for it and let myself suck. I feel vaguely ashamed when I don't have my shit together on keys or bass, as it's a point of personal pride that I'm good at those instruments in my style. Guitar, being freed from such ideas of quality control, is sometimes more fun. What's most fun, of course, is when the full band is up and running and I can get back to doing what sounds best. Maybe I'm not always home on keys, but I'm still comfortable enough to go into the refrigerator without asking.