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As I continue to collect rejection letters from employers, Congress is preparing to vote to re-extend unemployment benefits to the multitude of people who had their benefits cut off in May. I’m not sure it will apply to me—a lot of people who reportedly won’t get helped any more because they’ve been “unemployed too long” are the middle-aged men in professional positions (like me) who were the first to lose their jobs when the economy first collapsed.

The garden is way more satisfying than the job market, because things do happen there, albeit slowly. (And there will be food. Food is good.) One of the dying pea plants suddenly put forth a pod this morning, with one pea in it—that’s probably all it’s capable of in its death throes, but I appreciate the effort. Planting new, healthy pea plants next to the dying ones may actually have stimulated some activity. Maybe plants really can feel embarrassment. (I wonder if there’s a song in that.)

The Bay City Centennial folks did approach me (finally) asking Deathgrass to play at their celebration. I don’t know (because they didn’t know) whether we’ll be offered the Saturday or Sunday of Labor Day weekend—and when I know, I’ll have to ask the band. It is a freebie—but everybody’s been anxious to play again, too. Being limited at the last minute to a ten-minute “show” at Garibaldi Days was somewhere between frustrating and annoying—though we will do it.

The other freebie I’m still trying to organize is the benefit concert—our third—for the Food Pantry. Saturday, Aug. 21 is about the only date I’ve got available, though, and I don’t think I can get everybody together. Aug. 27 (Friday) I’m scheduled to be on stage in Central Point for SOSA, and in September the band is playing the “Rocktoberfest” Sept. 19 (Sunday) and the Arts Center concert Sept. 25 (Saturday). And the Bay City Centennial, too, if that happens.

It looks like we might be able to put on a concert of the “Rockshop” bands on Saturday, August 7. (They’re being limited to ten minutes apiece at Garibaldi Days, too—and that’s hard on (and not nice to) the kids.) Aug. 7 is the night normally reserved for the Bay City Arts Center’s open mike—but it’s my job to host the August open mike, and I’ve said if we can get the kids, we’ll cancel the open mike and have the kids do a show instead. The four “Rockshop” bands can collectively do 1-1/2 hours of music, I understand, and that’s an ideal length for a show. I can get band photos at Garibaldi Days, and do posters, and give ‘em a good shot of publicity in the two weeks before the show.

There’s the contra dance band, too (general consensus was to call ourselves “ContraBand”—has such a nice ring to it). Right now, we’re fiddle (Jane), piano (Fred) and guitar (me); there’s an effort to line up a bass player. Talked to guitarist Jim Nelson, who’s played a lot of contra dances, and contra dance music is mostly reels, I think. I have danced reels, though I’ve never played them—reels are what the square dance club occasionally defaults to when there isn’t a pool of dancers divisible by eight. (For reels, your pool only needs to be divisible by two.) As far as tempo goes, think drunken colonials in hoop skirts—that’s who was historically dancing those reels. (“Reel” may well have been a double entendre.) How fast can drunken colonials in hoop skirts move? That’s the speed one has to play.

I have a lot of material to learn—mostly old fiddle tunes, some of which are a lot of fun—but most of it isn’t too difficult. Once I’ve got the tunes down, I can do more interesting things on the guitar than just rhythm, but for right now, I’m able to play just rhythm. Our first gig may be as early as July 31, and we’re only able to all get together to practice on Sunday nights.

Music Wednesday afternoon at the Garibaldi Pub, Friday night at City Hall, Saturday afternoon at Garibaldi Days, and contra dance practice Sunday night. Job interview Thursday night in Lafayette, over in the Willamette Valley—first one in a long, long time. Wish me luck.

Joe

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