The John Shinnick Web Site

Shinn the Musician (Prior)

Last update: August 7, 2022

Once More into the Breach


I finally figured out how to snake an electric cord out of my house and into my porch with little effort, certainly less than I spend to get cord from the outlet at the front of the house there. Close inspection reveals that all I have to do is cut about a quarter inch off the end of the metal door jamb. The cord will fit just fine. When I’m not using it I can simply plug it up with a wad of paper or something equally elegant.


The issue was that I needed to find my hacksaw to make the cut and I couldn’t. It should have been in one of two places. It would either be on a shelf in my laundry room alcove (it was not) or in a cabinet in my garage (it was not). I never would have thrown it out. It’s one of those things that if I use it once in a year, it was a busy year, but it takes up very little space and gee, wouldn’t it be great to have it for this project.


I finally gave up and went down to my local hardware store. The good news was that I found one for about seven dollars, far less than what I’d been thinking it would be. I asked the helpful hardware dude if the existing blade was for metal. I found that that was simply what hacksaws did. There was no wood option.


Of course, when I got home, I needed to use a small step-stool that’s given me all kinds of good use. It’s a perfect height to reach all kinds of places that otherwise I’m just not tall enough to get to. It’s sturdy enough to carry my somewhat excessive frame (I’m at about 205 pounds, twenty over what I think I should be) and as an added bonus, it opens up to store a number of tools that I might need once I got to the location I was going to use the stool at!


Of course, I opened it up and found the missing hacksaw. Welcome to my life. Maybe storing tools in a step-stool isn’t the brilliant idea I had thought it to be. As for the change to my doorway, that’s a project for another day. I’ll keep the saw more visible. 


For the time being, I continue using the outlet on front of my house and play roughly twenty songs a session. I’m doing this generally twice a week, adding new songs as the mood strikes. Neighbors still wave and sometimes stop for a song or two. Very gratifying and a great way to meet neighbors I’d never met before. And last year, it led to playing at the Neighborhood Night Out. The event is listed to go for two hours, but there are presentations to make, notably by the Police and / or Fire Department folks who show up. The joys of a small community.


The great thing is that playing on the porch ensured that I had enough material ready. This year I was asked to do it again, and I happily agreed. One thing I’d been noticing, though, was that my right thumb wasn’t lasting through a full session on my porch, so I went to three times a week on the porch and would use my Martin, which uses a slightly lighter gauge string than my Taylor, for the performance. This strategy proved sound, and my thumb 

First Tuesday every August.

Our Fire Department also participates.

held up just fine!


There were a couple of other curve balls thrown at me. First, the night felt particularly humid, at least for the first hour or so. Playing was difficult as a result, and my left hand had troubles gliding up and down the fretboard until about 7:00 as the temperature cooled. Also, on my porch, I don’t use a microphone, but here I felt I needed to. It added an element of complexity I hadn’t been dealing with. I remembered the same issue coming up last year. For me, distractions lead to an excess of mistakes and that evening I made plenty. Iironically, missed words were the biggest problem. Note to self – practice with a microphone!


Steve, a guy who lives up the street from me, plays bass. He’d asked if he could join me, laying out on songs he didn’t know. He was actually pretty solid, but my set is strange. When he was set up, the next song on my list was Fleetwood Mac’s “Never Going Back.” Not a song you want to wing. I tried to find something he might either know or which was straightforward enough for him to follow. I’d arrived with a set list, but as I jumped around, it soon was in a state of total disarray. Steve soon left to get some food, but then packed up and left. Pity, with a rehearsal or two he would have added quite a bit.


Still, I would call the event a success. I wasn’t paid so I didn’t feel guilty. People enjoyed themselves and I got several compliments. But I’ve always felt that I should play as though my next gig was in the audience. I got through the evening just fine. I was given some of the excess food and wine as I left, although what I really needed was water while I played. My voice gave out about ten minutes before the event closed at 8:00. Another note to self: next time, BYOW!