The T-Shirt That Got Me Into A Blues Band

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Seemingly disconnected events in life, spanning a period of time, 

might fall into the jigsaw puzzle of life in surprising manners or else set up quite

an intriguing domino effect when the timing is right. This is what 

happened to me with the t-shirt featured here. 

The days in Malta were getting warmer and I switched into lighter wear; which included this t-shirt. At the time I was the youngest member of a 60s music band. The rest of the band were actual 60 yr olds coming from the time of the 60s music, when they had their local band names in the naming style of the era (“The Boys”… “The Graduates”…”The Monkeeys”… The Beatles…)

On one particular rehearsal, my ‘new-kid-on-the-block’ status changed. 

Robert joined on guitar. He was a tad younger but this is not the point. 

The point is the t-shirt I wore struck a chord with him!

How, you might ask?

Well…

…Throwback a few months (or maybe a bit longer) ;-)

I had had a tele-talk with a postman-cum-DJ friend of mine: DJ Bon (in real life, Etienne Borg). 

Etienne is such a nice guy, always trying to help. 

He had realised i’m a professional musician and we got on well. He was all ears and eager to learn about my unique music-teaching methods and my projects; and he was quite sad that my initiatives and activities were not being so well-received by society at large. 

So, whenever we spoke, he always did his best to find and offer contacts and connections, in his personal quest to see me prosper (my gratitude expands with every life experience I accumulate!)

On one of these tele-talks, he had mentioned a certain Mc Bride (guitarist) who had put together a blues band. 

He said he’d talk to the guy and pass on my number, which he did. 

But I never heard from this Irish-surnamed lad. 

Weeks passed… then months… 

…I forgot the name (somewhat strange for my excellent memory) but perhaps not so much given the significant number of people I meet within a plethora of spheres. 

In fact when the penny dropped about “Robert”, there was a clang only a split-second after! (Read on, read on…)

Back to the Present 

So, we had this new band member on guitars. We were told he’s quite good (which he was!)

Scouted by the rhythm guitarist of the 60s band as a lead guitarist due to his soloing qualities (which suited the 60s band quite adequately) we were prepared for him and welcomed him warmly. That day we had a great rehearsal with new energy raising the vibration of the group into previously un-attained levels.

For this rehearsal I was wearing this particular t-shirt. The t-shirt itself was blue (with pink print) and the writing was about Jazz. So, it was a natural progression to be asked whether I liked “jazz and blues”. Of course I replied affirmatively but thought nothing much of it. 

Robert, on the other hand, had a process going on in his mental cog-works…

* * * * *

That day (or maybe within the very next few!) at home, I receive a call from a number I didn’t seem to recognise. 

And rightly so!

“Hello”, the voice said, “my name is Robert Mc Bride. We met at the 60s band rehearsal. Let me tell you, my friend Et— … [and that’s when the 2nd penny dropped with a strong clang, and I interjected / interrupted with]… —

“Oh my god, DJ BON  - awww, Etienne Borg !”

“Yes, the postman…”, Robert continued, “…gave me your number…and when I saw you with that t-shirt, I had to ask you to confirm that — ”

“I was the person that DJ BON gave you the number of —“

“Exactly ! … And, man, you have no idea how sorry I am for not having contacted you before; really sorry!!”

“Why is that?” I asked.

He said, “You wouldn’t believe me…when Etienne told me how good you are, how you impressed him by your playing, how well you explain and teach and so on, I said to myself: ‘then this person would be so busy and sought-after that surely he must have no more time to join our blues band’, so I never called you before! … And then, I had to meet you at a 60s band and started questioning whether my assumption might have been wrong…”

So Mr. Irish-surname went on to relate how much they had been wanting / needing a piano / keyboard player in the blues-band that he had founded. How much they were willing to “go out there” and to play and earn money. From my end I shared how much I had been looking for playing work (gigs and more) and how I had been finding it tough to get into the scene and to earn a buck to ease the financial pressures of life.

Mc Bride nearly swore in Irish ! ;-) 

Well, he actually did swear but it was Maltese that he used, and it was quite a tense moment-of-frustration-expressed-quite-graphically ;-) 

I was slightly surprised yet curiously-awaited-in-silence for only a few seconds until the situation was unfolded for it to make perfect sense to me. 

The aha!-moment made me bite my lip not to add any further graphics to the world of sound myself, only offering that we might have lost a small fortune since I was actually willing and available for “paid-stuff”.

Once the waves of introduction, recognition, gratitude, description and frustration abated, I was popped the question as to whether I would be interested in joining the blues-band that Robert had founded some years back and to consider teaching and taking the band out of the garage and into the music scene.

This we did and I wish to share one of the many many treasured moments and a live-music experience which my friend taking this video calls: “Mr. Norman on steroids!”

Here is my piano solo on our interpretation in faster tempo of the Little Richard original “Good Golly Miss Molly”.

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A note of reflection

As the above experience clearly illustrates, the path I had been following up until this point in my life was one of the “starving-musician”. 

Even now, years later, writing this bog post: as sweet as the actual memories were, the idea of financial frustration and struggle come to me as reminders of the importance of what I am doing and the path I have placed myself upon. 

Despite the challenges, pitfalls and difficulties that are encountered, my desire (almost a vow) to never struggle or starve again were great enough to fuel my motivation and determination to improve my life! 

I sincerely wish the same for you.

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