Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wednesday night jam

For as long as I can remember (the better part of the last six years or so), my brother has hosted a Wednesday night jam at a local bar.
While the bar and the band have been through several different incarnations, the jam has remained a steady fixture.
It (usually) goes something like this:
You show up, grab a drink and/or seat, sign up on the jam list if you want to sing or play.
Rob opens the jam with a hard charging set (sometimes blues, sometimes reggae, sometimes funk, sometimes all of the above).
After a very energetic and sweaty set, the stage opens up to the brave/shy/amazing/terrible souls who want to share their music.

When Jeff and I broke up, the Wednesday night jam was my weekly refuge and escape.

At that time, my ex and I were still living together even though we had split and my brother was one of a very small handful (not even handful, really) of trusted friends who knew what was really going on.
Every Wednesday, we'd have a drink together if he got there early enough or we'd catch up after the opening set.
Sometimes we talked, sometimes it was too crowded or harried or rushed...sometimes I asked him to play a particular song (sometimes, I wouldn't have to ask).
I went there to get out of my house, to get out from under the suffocating weight of sharing a space with somebody I didn't want to share anything with anymore.
I found comfort there, simply watching the person I grew up with play his music.
The person I grew up with, my first life long friend.

Now, the Wednesday night jam carries on without my brother...The Wednesday Night Jam hosted by the Rob Perna band (minus Rob Perna). 
Last night, a girlfriend invited me to the jam for a drink.

I haven't been there much at all in the past few years...nowadays, by ten o'clock on a typical Wednesday night, I've tucked my children into bed and I'm drifting off to sleep as Bill gets cleaned up from his ride.
Last night, I felt compelled to oblige her invitation.   
As I sat near the stage and watched Joe set up his drums and Matt fiddle with his amp, my nerves began to gnaw at me.
When Joe beckoned me to the stage, I nearly lost it. {maybe I did lose it for a minute}
Joe has been a constant within the flux of all my brother's varied musical projects and personal struggles...he's been around long enough to get it and he's nearly family.

As we caught up, I told him that I visited my brother Tuesday night..."He looks good. Really good, maybe the best I've seen him in a long time.." We talked about the pragmatics of a phone visit. Money orders. Mail.
I took my seat as the band continued to set up.

A few times, I swore I caught my brother coming in the back door, as he has for so many Wednesdays...late, laughing.
That's ridiculous.
He wasn't there (obviously).
His presence was certainly felt.

I couldn't finish my drink and left as the first set ended...

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