I was reading Neil Gaiman's blog, and there is a video of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and the Lumenescent Orchestrii discussing & making music together. It is sublime. And it made me miss something I hadn't thought of in years: Friday Nights at The Iguana.
Back in 2002/2003, I was an Americorps VISTA in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. (The reasons behind this are another blog post entirely) I was working at the Cherokee Heritage Center and had the opportunity to meet some really amazing, wonderful, fascinating people. (Thus reaffirming my belief that there are more amazing people on Earth than I will ever have the chance to meet) Tahlequah is a small town (population 10,000ish), with a University, and the Capital of the Cherokee Nation. It is deeeeeeep in the bible belt. There are 2 bars in town, 1 grocery store, and a super walmart. There is no bookstore in Tahlequah. The closest book store is in Muskogee (pop 30,000) which is a 30 minute drive. There is a local hangout/coffeeshop called the Iguana and it is located right next door to the storefront studio of Murv Jacob. (And TRUST ME Murv is a blog post all on his own) Murv Jacob is an artist, local historian, unofficial ethnographer, collector of oddities, and all around unstoppable force for creative types. I met him through a colleague and friend, the one and only KLM (herself a blog post in her own right).*
Being that I spent Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights shooting pool (very badly) at one of the local watering holes, I saved Friday nights for the Iguana.
Once the sun had set and the heat of the day had begun to dissipate, musicians of all kinds would gather on the front porch of the Iguana. The porch itself was rather large--it could easily accommodate 25, but there were evenings when 40 people would be crammed together making music, laughing, talking. And the instruments that came were as varied as the people: guitars, fiddles, drums, harmonicas--I remember a tuba at one point, although I don't think anybody played it. And the songs were new, old, improvised--some made for singing, and others just to be listened to, lived in.
I myself have played flute, oboe, and guitar--but I have found that what I love most about music isn't the playing, but the listening. Every Friday I would trot out my eager ears to hear what the Iguana brought forth.
These gatherings were held Spring, Summer, and Fall, every Friday unless it was raining. It was like watching magic--songs being born and shared and loved.
When the seasons got cold, KLM, Debbie, Murv and I would retreat to Murv's studio. Debbie & KLM would bring their guitars and their voices, Murv would paint, and I'd bring my sketchbook and draw. Various others would float in and out of the studio as their wanderings brought them through town.
I loved being tucked into the warm light of the studio, smelling the paint, and being surrounded by music and art.
I miss Friday nights in Tahlequah. I miss the art and the music and the company. I miss being able to share that with my children.
In short; I need more music and more art in my life.
*I should at this point let you know that I am usually the youngest person in the room. I find myself more at ease in the company of people older than I am. At 30, I should just say that as an adult I prefer the company of adults...but I have always been this way.