Listening To A Riff; Capturing A Moment

The Two Hats Blues Band

Music makes me happy, and live music can be the best of all. I’m fascinated to watch musicians listen to each other on stage as they take turns to riff. It’s one of many added benefits of live music.

You’ll see all degrees of listening – in-the-mood in the main, but also respect, surprise, the odd wince, right through to definitely-thinking-about-something-else. Naming no names, of course, for civility’s sake. In most cases they’ve heard it all before, often.

I loved how these blues players listened with intensity, as if they were hearing each other play for the first time. The stage lights had simplified their colours to blues and magentas and the steel guitar had become abstract, rippling gold. 

When it’s played live, a song can be simultaneously familiar and reinterpreted – delivered a touch faster perhaps, with more soul, or with altered lyrics in a nod to a different place or time. On a good day, the rhythm takes on a live ‘bounce’. If you’ve experienced it, you’ll know what I mean.

It’s the kind of bounce you would have felt at a Split Enz concert in Liverpool in the good old days, watching the lead singer, Tim Finn, doing vocal aerobatics, interspersed with a series of half-flying, aerial press-ups during the instrumental bits, each with a hand- and foot-clap mid-air, presumably just because he could.

I’d be surprised if his act includes that now, a few decades on. But the moment remains, and not just in my memory, I’ll be bound. I didn’t have a camera back then, but no matter. I don’t even have to shut my eyes to bring it back.

Some moments, out of the billions that make up an average lifetime, evade our normal processes of forgetting and forge themselves into long term memories with a physical presence in the mind.

If you’re a music lover too, it’s a minor miracle how many songs you have made part of yourself: snatches of tunes or lyrics that bubble back readily in response to a prompt, or as a reflection of your frame of mind.

In an uncertain world, thank heavens for music.

Shared for the Daily Prompt: Riff. The picture shows The Two Hats Blues Band playing at Number 39 Hopstar Brewery Tap, a favourite live venue in my home town, Darwen.

11 Replies to “Listening To A Riff; Capturing A Moment”

  1. Music is amazing! I find that many memories are connected with a feeling and a song that was playing – whether live at a concert or over the car radio while with friends 🙂

    1. Have you ever experienced a companion singing a snatch of a tune that had been playing silently in your head just a moment or two before? It happened so many times to my Mama and Papa that she wondered if you might be able to decode passing radio waves. I imagine there must have been some kind of prompt that both people pick up on.

  2. Hooray for live music! It’s a wonderful way to be in the moment & sometimes have truly magical moments.

    1. When I was younger I loved the chance to hear a different version of a favourite song. You had to hunt them out those days. A live album was a massive treat.

  3. Ah, music. It hath power, as the saying goes. I very much enjoyed your thoughts on it; I think music goes so deeply into us that it’s hard to find words to say what it does. Or what it is. Thanks for reminding me not to take it for granted.

    1. It’s as if it seeps into us unawares. My sweetheart likes some music I like and some music I really don’t like. But I know some on the don’t-like side of the scale will switch sides, by osmosis, through the sheer power of hearing it many times. (Please don’t let it be Tiny Tim or Puddles Pity Party!)

      1. Of course I had to look up Puddles Pity Party. Never heard of it/him/them. I’m sorry to say I do know of Tiny Tim. I’m sure I share your dread.

  4. Interesting timing–I just saw Arlo Guthrie last night, playing and singing with two of his adult children. Watching their interactions added a great deal to the experience! Great points you made here!

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