May 22, 2012 — Anybody who knows me well knows I’m not one who wants to just jump up on stage and play my guitar for people anymore.
Sure, that may have been my biggest ambition half a lifetime ago, and as much as I love playing in my living room, it’s just not such a high priority for me anymore.
These days I always feel kind of awkward and out of practice in that environment, and that makes me feel strangely uncomfortable.
Still, I took a week’s vacation recently and headed to Fresno to participate in the first annual Lane Family Concert sponsored by the Fresno Folklore Society.
My old friend and long-time musical collaborator David Lane, who’s suffering from stage 4 cancer, was the headliner of the evening, held at a new nightspot on the Fulton Mall in downtown Fresno.
He was joined on stage by his older sister, Shelley, a friend of mine from the old coffeehouse days in the late 1960s — (we even wrote a song or two together back in the day) — and his younger sister, Kathleen — the lead singer of her own band.
I’ve worked with Kathleen as well, recording some demos when she was looking for a record contract, and doing a few live shows before I moved out of Fresno nearly 20 years ago.
Prune Rooney, who used to play with Bay Area blues great Alice Stuart, danced around behind the front line with her big old string bass belting out harmony lines, and I sat beside her beating out the rhythm on my old jumbo Gibson.
The two-hour evening focused on music anyone who’d been around the Lane family for years would have recognized. Their mother, Jimmie Lane, was a versatile and talented ukulele player, and before any of her kids took up the guitar, she showed them how to play the uke— you know, the old standards like “Has Anybody Seen My Gal,” “Ma, She’s Making Eyes at Me,” and “Alabama Bound.”
Other family hits included their father Bill’s favorite song, “Ruby (Don’t Take Your Love to Town)” and a number of David’s original songs.
We played several old songs from the folky days such as the Crosby, Still, Nash and Young classic, “Teach Your Children.”
Sadly, several of David and Kathleen’s kids were too stage shy to participate and opted out of participating in the concert, even though they have the talent and skills to make a contribution.
Although the doctors say there’s nothing more they can do for David, Shelley, a nurse, is seeking the services of a more aggressive physician, and David is pursuing what he calls “alternativeprotocols” not followed by the medical community because they can’t make any money on home remedies such as massive doses of vitamin C and concoctions made from, I kid you not, Grade B maple syrup and baking soda.
But the disease is clearly taking its toll. David’s a huge baseball fan, and we offered to take him to a Fresno Grizzlies’ game, but when game day came he said was just too tired to make it. He’s a big man, and hasn’t lost much weight, but he still looks oddly frail.
They say life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it. David said the idea of this show was to have fun, and we sure did that.
Although we never talked about it, I think we all knew this was probably the last time we’d be on stage together.
Thanks for asking me to play with you. I had a great time getting together with some of my oldest friends.
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