C’est La Vie (You Never Can Tell)

Mountain Patch

Mountain Patch

This is the story of a gig that seemed to have gone horribly wrong but actually went right.

It was July 1st, 2012, two days into the “Derecho” power failure. The temperature was reaching a daily high of close to 100, with high humidity. At our house we had no power, which meant we had no running water and no air conditioning. We were tired, hot, dirty, and very very grouchy.

We were playing an open mic at a club in West Virginia. The crowd was sparse, mostly other refugees from the heat. They sat huddled around the bar. I couldn’t see their faces or even hear them react to our music. My husband spent his breaks (musicians get breaks) in his truck with the air conditioning running, getting a few minutes of sleep in that nice cool place. My son spent the gig counting the minutes until we could start packing up and leave. I thought we were bombing.

We played the gig. Our friends showed up to play with us. Great friends and great music. Still no reaction from the club patrons, but by that time I had decided that it didn’t matter. If this wasn’t the place for us, we’d just do the gig and get paid, and never come back.

After the gig, several of the folks came up to talk as we packed up our stuff. As they came up to talk, I realized that I got it all wrong.

The patch at the beginning of the story came from a guy named John. He shared with me that he had just returned from the conflict in the middle east. Before he left, he had been an avid guitar player and he had played every day. But due to his injuries he was no longer able to play. I could not guess his injuries because he looked fine to me, but as he talked my heart went out to him and I wondered what kind of wound would keep a person from enjoying the joy of music.

So he asked me for my guitar pick, and I handed it to him, and thanked him for his service. He thanked me and went away, then came right back with the Mountain patch in his hand. John told me he wanted me to have it in return for the guitar pick and for the music. He said our music made him happy and that maybe he’d try to play again. And he wanted me to have the patch. His patch, his souvenir of a sacrifice that took away his music.

So that’s the story of a gig that wasn’t really bad, despite what it seemed to me at the time. Let’s quote Chuck Barry and EmmyLou Harris for the title of this one: “C’est la vie say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell.”

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