32. Music after dinner

I had to admit, dinner was pretty damn good. Jeff offered to help do the dishes. “Nah, forget it. I’ll wash them tomorrow” and this time I REALLY meant it.

Then I had a thought. “Jeff, have you tried music yet?”

He looked ashamed. “A long time ago. Beethoven pointed and laughed at me.”

“Never mind that arsehole. I mean real music. Grab those last two bottles and follow me.” I picked up the wine glasses and lead him into the spare room – the one the boys sleep in on the weekends.

Jeff’s eyes went wide when he saw the electric instruments. “Are we going to play some rock?”

“Hell no. Pass the bottle. We’re going further back than that, to the electrical roots of rock. To the Chicago Blues sound that the Chess Brothers exploited in the 50s. Now before you pick up Brad’s bass guitar, pass me the bottle before I smite thy arse with my boot.”

Jeff did as he was told, and figured out the On switch for his amp. I grabbed Ritchie’s guitar. And let the lesson begin. “Chester Burnett, also known as Howlin’ Wolf, came up with some of the best one-chord blues songs out there. My favourite is No Place to Go. The main riff only has four notes for you, so we’ll start there. Put your third finger on the seventh fret of your third string. No, THIRD finger. And THIRD string. Seventh fret. Seventh. There we go. Now watch me carefully.”

I played the riff a few times, then Jeff tried it himself. After several false starts, he had it. “That’s great, dude. Now you need to get that blues feel in there; this ain’t Beethoven. Instead of playing the notes in perfect timing, you’re going to throw in some imperfection. Do it to the same rhythm as slow sex.”

Jeff giggled, but the metaphor worked. He had that Chicago feel – sort of. “Okay. Now no matter what I do, you just keep doing that.”

He was grinning from ear to ear and just nodded. First I brought in the guitar part. Then I started to moan in a low voice, “How many more years are you gonna wreck my life?”

We sounded pretty fucking fabulous. We spent the rest of the night drinking and playing. I eventually taught him how to play some basic twelve-bar blues songs as well. That expanded our repertoire. We were able to play some Muddy Waters, some Sonny Boy Williamson, and even some early Junior Wells. We were totally in the pocket.

Finally we had to quit because Jeff’s fingertips were in a lot of pain. As we were finishing the last bottle of holy wine, Jeff patted me on the shoulder. “Art, motherfucker. You taught me art!”