Friday, July 28, 2017

Ask the Experts

The Morning Show is a blog companion to the podcast audio

  Good morning!  Welcome to the show.  It's a theme I talk about often, and there's a reason - this idea consistently makes my life better.  And, for some reason, I don't see more people using it.  It's the idea of asking the experts around us.  For help, advice, guidance, feedback...everything!  I'd like to shout out two people today.  The first is Curtis Blues, a musician, artist, and teacher.  I met Curtis on the docks of Alexandria, where he was performing his blues revival street show.    He was set up with a resonator guitar, a drum set strapped to his feet, and a harmonica, singing pre-war delta blues and introducing legions to the story of America's music.  He let me play his guitar, and later, when I approached him for advice about starting street music on my own, when others would have been guarded, he did everything he could to make sure I succeeded.  I remember many days of playing on the docks, too, hearing his booming voice drift over the water like a delta blues bullfrog (in a melodious way), and him stopping by to offer tips on the art and craft.  "Make it easy for people to pay you."  I just had a phone call with him yesterday, where he continued this tradition, helping me learn about bringing a show to schools and students.  His generous spirit is not only kind, but actually improves the artform that we both love.  Thanks to his encouragement, I've played street music for the past ten years, in many cities, for countless people, involving many of them in the experience, and others in the craft and the business.  From broom guitar workshops, stomp fiddles in the south, little kids getting to try cigar box guitars in Philly, guitar students learning how to busk, or the folks on the subway joining in the blues jam as the 7 train rumbled above Queens, Curtis' encouragement was a sizable investment as a patron of the arts.  I was lucky enough to ask for advice, and he was generous enough to give.

  The second person is a lady named Savannah.  She's a dance teacher, and a kind soul.  I go to a salsa club near DC often - you've heard me talk about it - and MAN it's confusing.  At first, it was terrifying.  I was even clumsier than I am now, but after much practice, trial, and mostly error, I'm slowly improving.  Savannah and her guy Will lead the regular Friday night class at the club before the floor opens for social dancing.  One evening she pointed at me across the floor, and invited me to a dance. I happened to be wearing my "Don't Hassle Me, I'm Local" shirt, a reference to the comedy "What about Bob."  Man, I felt like Bill Murray.  "I'm SAILING!  I'm SAILING!"  (In the movie, he's actually tied to the mast, as he's afraid of falling overboard.  But sail he does!)  I'll ask her questions after class, and she'll give me encouragement and feedback, guiding me to better technique.  "Stand up straight!  Stop sticking your butt out!  There you go!"  Like Curtis, her guidance is not only kind, but makes the community better for everyone.  Every girl I've danced with after her advice has benefited from her time invested.

  I know other people ask Curtis and Savannah for help.  But I don't know why there's not a longer line.  We live in such a brilliant world.  YES, of course we should check Google first, but let's make sure we ask these skilled teachers for their wisdom.  It would be a shame to waste it!

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