Strange Moments Again

Many years ago I worked in a duo with a harper.  It was a good gig while it lasted, people seemed to enjoy it, certainly we had more than our share of decent nights.  Of course, if you’re doing something like that long enough you’re going to collect a few interesting times.

They had decided to organize a first Canadian folk harp conference, and put together a big deal concert which they invited us to be part of, honoured guests actually.  Was nice to feel supported, so of course we accepted.  The concert was being held in a large church with ample room for a decent-sized audience, although the performance space was a bit tight.  However, we made it work by taking my three guitars and placing them on their stands each one in front of the next, three in a row (I know, I know, one was an electric, one was my main acoustic guitar tuned in dadgad, the third was another acoustic in standard tuning used to avoid having to re-tune on stage).  Sound check went well and by show time there were several hundred people in the audience.  We were given a nice introduction, walked out to solid applause thinking ‘Hey, it sounds like they like us, we’re going to have a good time!’, and took a bow.  Then my partner turned around and sat at the harp, while I took a half-step backwards so I could take up my position standing at the mic.  All good, just like we’d rehearsed it.  Except I’d misjudged where exactly I was standing.  And there wasn’t a lot of room for error.  None, in fact.

And that was when it happened.  The most amazing sound.  You see there were several hundred people there, they said five or six hundred, I don’t remember.  And many of them were musicians.  And when every one of them saw what was about to happen, I heard the sound of a significant number of people all catching their breath at the same time.  Yup, I backed up and caught the edge of the first guitar behind me, just like people had hoped wouldn’t happen, which then fell backwards onto the guitar behind it, which fell in turn domino-like and knocked over the third.  Either a strike or a full-house, I don’t know how you measure these things.  But you couldn’t have staged it more perfectly if you tried.  Happily there was no real damage and we picked up and gave a solid performance.

But the thing I remember about that night is not my goofy move.  Do enough shows and something like that’s bound to happen no matter how careful you are, no big deal in the grand scheme of things.  No, what I remember quite clearly is that sound.  Wordless gasp, large number of people.  Some folks carry colour, they have a memory for it.  I guess I carry sound.

And it’s funny what’s in my sound memory.

Bu yeah, that was a moment.