|Thanks to the Two Writing Teachers blog for hosting the #sol17 writing challenge!|
I shift on the leather stool I am perched upon, straining my eyes in the dim lighting of The Old Rock House to gaze at the small stage scattered with various stringed instruments. The low murmur of conversations floats across the intimate venue as we wait. The crowd is small and varied. An older man with suspenders and a flowing beard stands next to a girl in a floral dress. Off-duty musicians are given away by the callouses on their fingers. Older couples twine their arms around each other's waists, their heads tipped together as they wait for the main act to arrive. I take it all in. I am waiting too.
Finally, the night's entertainment begins. An unassuming dark-haired man with a banjo slung across his shoulder walks to the center of the sparse stage, and without preamble, launches a shower of bright notes across the room, flinging them across the rapt audience as if they were candy at a parade or meteors darting across a night sky. The fingers of his right hand dance, the silver pick catching the light as it moves up and down the strings. His left hand waltzes up and down the fretboard. We jiggle our feet, nod our heads and tap our fingers to the beat he sets, but we are otherwise silent. This music demands to be heard.
He looks over the crowd, not at it, as he plays. His eyebrows arch in time with his notes. In brief moments, a smile quirks at the corners of his mouth, interrupting his otherwise stoic expression. As I watch him do what he so clearly loves, I think that he is somewhere else. He is not here, in St. Louis, playing for a crowd united only by their common love of bluegrass music. He is playing for himself. He is where the music is.