“We hoped for snow on Christmas, but all we got was rain.”

“We hoped for snow on Christmas, but all we got was rain.” – from Michael, music & lyrics by Dina Hall

It’s taken me a couple of days to reflect on the New Year’s Eve gig and the entire holiday season as well.

First, I have to acknowledge how wonderful it was to share the Godfrey Daniels stage, in-the-round with Dave Fry and Sam Steffen, for the second year in a row. Watching Sam evolve as a human being and as an artist over the last few years has been a real treat. He continues to grow like a tall tree with long, strong branches.

And I’ve been fortunate to hone this craft in some of the most vulnerable situations you can imagine. You stand on that stage, with the audience close enough for you to touch them, and they can see every muscle twitch, every bead of sweat on your face. They can hear every breath you take. Heck, they can probably hear your heart beat and see it pounding in your chest when you realize you don’t remember the words to that song that you’ve sung at least a hundred times before. And that’s exactly what happened.

photo by Brian McCloskey

Ever since I started radiation therapy, I’ve had spasms, and tingling and numbness in the fingers on my left hand. It gets particularly intense when I play guitar, and I’m doing my best to overcome the discomfort. On top of that, the anti-estrogen drug has caused my hot flashes to increase in frequency and intensity.

At some point during the show, I realized that I was not in control of my body. I had to surrender to whatever was going to happen. I knew I would need the audience to understand what was happening, otherwise, I would simply fumble my way through the songs and that would be embarrassing. So, on my next turn, I prepared to play Michael, a song written in the first-person voice of a homeless man. I took a long, deep breath, and acknowledged my discomfort aloud, all the while trying to remember how to start the song. I stopped and started the rhythm twice until I settled into a groove, and the words came to me, from somewhere deep inside my brain. I focused on my voice, and I trusted in that audience that was close enough to touch. I knew that if I faltered, THEY would hold me up. And with that one song – in those four and a half minutes – somehow I was able to regain control of my body.

That’s our folk community. Thank you all, even if you aren’t reading this.

Lastly, I’m pleased to say that Gail and I enjoyed a very sweet Christmas with our children. The highlight of it all was having my baby granddaughter fall asleep in my arms at the end of a wonderful day.

Here’s to 2016, everyone. Cheers!

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