It happened and I can’t say that I was that nervous.
I guess when you’ve spent more than half your life taking the stage in all situations whether or not you have a guitar strapped around your neck doesn’t matter that much. Being on stage is being on stage. The expectations are different and that made me nervous but I was comfortable up there.
I hosted the benefit show for The Blues Foundation and The Americana Music Association. As some of you know I had the opportunity to sit in with the band lead by Jimmy Vivino. We did an old Bluesbreakers tune called ‘Steppin' Out.' I had done a few bars of it on Conan with the band but this was different. We did the whole song and Slash sat in as well. Me, Slash and Jimmy. I talked to Slash on the podcast a little while ago. Great guy. He knew I played guitar but I don’t think he registered me as a ‘guitar player.’ I was just a guy who plays guitar. I mean, who doesn’t at some point. When we rehearsed the tune a few days before the show I did alright. Slash texted me that I sounded good. That was amazing. Of course, I didn’t believe it because I’m me and I never think I’m good enough. At guitar. Some things I know I’m good at. I mean, I’m 55. I can’t think I suck at everything. That would be annoying to me and everyone else.
I know I am not a professional musician. I do know I can play a few things pretty well. I practice. The thing I always seem to learn over and over when I am around real musicians is they have committed their lives to a magical art. I am always amazed and excited at how consistently they nail songs and take you on that journey. I play to play. Not to do the job. I practiced for the song. I didn’t just play. I ran it. My fingers hurt by the time I got to the show. I did my hosting job for a bit and when it was my turn I took the stage with my guitar strapped on and brought out Slash and we all laid into it. I wasn’t freaked out. I just wanted to play well. To nail it. One take. Like a pro. The great thing about playing with great musicians when you are not one is that you have a little room to be clunky. They’ll carry you. It’s not on you. I thought I was a little clunky in parts but it sounded great. I was happy with my playing. It was pretty fucking cool to be standing there trading riffs with Jimmy and Slash. I don’t really have a bucket list but that was certainly something I didn’t ever think would happen in my life and it did and I am grateful and excited to have done it. I want to do it more. Don’t worry. I’m not starting a band but I want to get better. I don’t want to be a pro but I’d like to sit in with pros on occasion. It’s just fun as hell.
Watching everyone that night was just mind blowing. Larkin Poe. Lucinda Williams. Shemekia Copeland. Tash Neal. Leigh Anne Womack. Joe Louis Walker. Doyle Bramhall II. Tal Wilkenfeld. John Prine. Spectacular.
And Bob fucking Weir. He broke it open into that space that only the Dead can create. He’s a portal into the space the Dead created and he keeps it open. It was beautiful to watch and listen to.
Unforgettable night all around.
Today I talk to John Cleese. We recorded it a while ago in a studio before I got the new garage set up. Thursday, I talk to Eric Idle. Python week. Great talks.