December 10, 2016
Today was my 3rd time attending an accordion club meeting and it was a very special one for me. Today, I would perform for the very first time in a looooooooong time! It was the accordion club’s annual Christmas party and instead of holding it in the same location, the club president rented a location in St. Leonard (affectionately called “Little Italy” of Montreal for good reason) at the Leonardo DaVinci building. We had a really nice small room called the “Salle des Gouverneurs” or “Hall of Governors” that held portraits of all the past and present governors of this Italian club. A bit smaller and intimate location with tables for about 80 people, a place where we could set up 2 sections for musicians and a nice dance area. This becomes pertinent because this time would be the first time I am performing in almost 4 decades (ok, 38 years)!
The evening started out with a nice little drink and some recorded music and swiftly moved to the meal. In the middle of the meal, our illustrious president introduced me out of the blue, and off I went to get started. Outside I was all calm and smiles, inside I was shaking and anxious as heck, and it did not stop throughout the entire performance, which I thought would last 10-15 minutes, but I ended up playing for almost an hour the first time and about 30 minutes the 2nd time near the end of the evening. What surprised me is that I must have seen 4-5 people lift up their cell phones and start recording me… lol
I knew my mom would do that, so I expected that, but the one person I did not expect to do this was Lise, who’s now deceased husband was the previous owner of the accordion. I would smile and glance her way now and then and see her holding up the phone, huge smile on her face, and what surprised me was that she was all in great big tears that I could see from all the way across the other side of the room! After I stopped the first time, I returned to finish my meal (yeah it was a little cold by then, but that’s ok), had a glass of wine and a few minutes later, some great cannoli and coffee for desert (what else could anyone expect at an Italian club… lol), and enjoyed the rest of the evening. The stressful part was over!
Closer to the end of the club, after our president played some more, and I spelled him again, so he reintroduced me, there was some nice applause and I played a mix of traditional and Christmas music and then after about 45 minutes the accordionists would come up looking at the Roland and want to talk.
Now, I have ONE stupid idiosyncrasy that I have never been able to get over my in entire life (and I have tried so many times)… I cannot play the accordion and talk at the same time, it’s one or the other, and if I am playing and try to talk, the hands stop. If I am talking and the hands start, the mouth stops, sometimes even in mid-sentence… haha! So the fact that I had to talk to these people that were asking all about me, my playing and the FR-8x, that kind of cut in to my playing because people wanted to talk to me. That was nice of them, but I did not play during that time. I appreciated being interesting enough for them to want to come over and chat, and I am sure the next time I will have more people want to have a quick talk at the next meeting. It is nice to have been spoken to by what I would like to think were appreciative accordionists.
I played perhaps 3 more songs after the chatting and by that time, for many, the evening was starting to come to an end and people started to leave, but I have to admit, not one person passed by me without offering their thanks and a kind compliment or 4. I also had several people ask if I had any music CDs that they could purchase of me playing, which I found hugely complimentary, however, no, I had never made a recording as such in a very long time (I don’t consider myself CD material for anyone other than my family and me, the one exception is the song that I had recorded to test out my new mixer and is also on this website), and had nothing to offer, but said that if they came to the next meeting, we could discuss that possibility.
So, with that, the evening was over. The week of me stressing out so much about the music, whether I was good enough to play or what would happen all came to a happy ending. I’d like to say that I played brilliantly, however, I was so nervous and the mistakes were numerous, but for some reason, the people didn’t notice or didn’t mind. At the very least, they didn’t tie me to a pole and burn me at the stake… lol.
My favorite quote of the night came from a nice gentleman at our table who shook my hand after the first set and said “… you haven’t played in 30 years? Well, I’ve been playing for 30 years and I cannot play as well as you did tonight!”… what a wonderful compliment!
My thoughts? I’ll do so much better the next time and I will have more fun doing it because the 8x will be much more familiar to me, I will have practiced a little more and I do not think that I will ever stress out as much as I did this time.
Oh, I have to publicly thank someone that I would like to consider a new friend. Richard Noel is a very good musician, an expert on the Roland V-accordion and creator of the best set of custom user programming for the V-accordion in the world. He was very kind to me and sent me 7 of his user programs out of the goodness of his heart to help make the evening easier for me, and indeed, it not only made the evening easier, it showed off the capabilities of the 8x way better than I ever could at this level of experience that I have with it today.
Richard, you had a big part part in making my evening a success… thank-you. 🙂