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Music in the Dark

Not much happened musically in December of 2022. The church had its usual holiday concert, no small thing given that Covid had hosed the previous two. We were under-rehearsed, so it was no surprise when the church band (of which I was a part) messed up the finale, but I’m sure it will be long forgotten by December, 2023.


I was offered a chance to play bass for “The Blues Daddies” this coming March. I’ve filled in for them before a couple of times, and it’s fun. The only issue is that the gig is the day before my birthday and I like to do something special on my birthday that generally means travel. But if I do it within a week of my actual birthday, that’s close enough.


I visited my brother and his family for a slightly late Christmas (we actually didn’t all get together until the 27th) and I wound up playing my niece’s guitar while the others who were still up at that time listened in. They were playing some game, maybe Dungeons and Dragons, but my nephew, Keith, said he appreciated it, so I guess it could be considered a performance of sorts.


But nothing much happened in December, musically anyway. But having procrastinated on my monthly website update has its advantages, one of which is that I had a few extra days to have some special musical experience. This time, I had a need to entertain myself during a power outage.


I’ve found that I much prefer playing guitar on my porch than inside, to the point that I don’t play inside much anymore. There are simply too many distractions. Television. My computer. Small household chores, or even big ones. Writing. But at about 7:00 p.m. on January 4, off went my power. I expected PG&E to do a better job of texting me that my power was off. Something like “we expect to have your electricity on by Midnight”, but no. Just something like “You lost power. Deal with it.” 


A big question for me was what to do with myself while I awaited my power returning. Of the things I mentioned that keep me from playing guitar inside. TV and my computer both require electricity (my PC’s battery went bad years ago). And I can’t compose a short sentence, let alone an entire essay on paper anymore. Even with a flashlight, household chores in the dark are quite an adventure. It came down to reading or playing guitar. That evening I did both.


Reading was fairly easy, having nothing much to distract me. Guitar was surprisingly productive. With no amp, I had no special effects and that was fine. I had a fire going in the fireplace which was aesthetically pleasing, though it generated little if any heat. Little matter, the house was still pretty warm. I tried a few new songs (at least ones that I don’t regularly do) like George Harrison’s “If I Needed Someone” and revisited 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love”. I didn’t do my “fearless five”, which I always do, until the end. I generally do them at the beginning just to be sure I have up to snuff.

Shin the Musician

Last update: January 7, 2023

The John Shinnick Web Site

Guitar by the fireside. Nice atmosphere, Not so nice practicality.

The firelight was surprisingly too dim to light my fretboard and setting the capo in the right spot or even the right fret was at times difficult. Fortunately, I had a flashlight handy, and it all worked out. It had three brightness levels as well as an angle adjustment, so I just set it on the table. In all, I went for about an hour and a half, a good session.


I woke up the next morning still having no power. PG&E had still sent no estimate of when it might return. During the day I wanted to play some more, but having binged on guitar the night before, my right thumb was rather sore, a downside of predominantly finger picking. I sometimes wonder if I should lighten up my thumb stroke, but a heavy bass line is part of my style. Besides, the house was getting colder and colder. I was already wearing a jacket, but that wouldn’t help my fingers. I used my generator to get my computer (and more importantly, my refrigerator) running, but there was no music.


As with breakfast, I went out for dinner. PG&E had finally texted that power would be restored by 7:00 a.m. I prepared myself for a cold night’s sleep. As it turned out, I came home to a lighted, powered, and heated house. The text announcing the restoration came at 8:45, but it said that power had been restored at 8:09.


As of today, more storms are on the way. I hope I can play enough music to get myself through them.

The recording, lyrics, and back story to "My Brain Is Too Small", a song I wrote and recorded in 1990.

The video, lyrics, and back story of the song I wrote and performed for my retirement party in 2006.

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