By Harry Funk
Let’s see if this sounds slightly familiar:
“I’m not a musician, but I play one on the Internet.”
OK, maybe I can strum some guitar chords and have a penchant for remembering lyrics without consulting an iPad. But considering just the number of people I know personally who have genuine musical talent, I hesitate to put myself in anything resembling a similar category.
That doesn’t stop me from making noise, so to speak, when presented with even the slightest opportunity.
So when COVID-19 started obligating the responsible parties among us to stay home, freeing up some of the time I usually spend sitting in traffic jams, I decided to present a live stream of what I termed “An Exercise In Self-Indulgence,” properly crediting the expression to the subtitle of a song by the rock band Rush.
For the better part of three hours, I sat in front of a cellphone – my image reversed, it turned out, making it look as if I were left-handed – and put on a concert of sorts.
I’ve played to live audiences for years and years, ever since I was old enough to stop caring what other people think of my, uh, talents. But I was really nervous about the live stream.
In fact, I compare it to the classic episode of “The Honeymooners” – actually, they all are classics – in which Ralph is all set to portray the Chef of the Future, and then he’s reminded that he’ll be in front of thousands of TV viewers. He freaks out, and Norton has to save the day.
Of course, I wasn’t on television, and everyone who checked out what I was doing is a friend or family member. My dormant self-consciousness, though, decided to make an unwelcome return.
And now here’s the weird part, at least as far as I’m concerned. Some of the friends and family members called for a repeat the following week. And the week after that.
Who would’ve thought?
Meanwhile, the people I know with genuine musical talent increasingly are doing their own live streams, which has made for some fun evenings. A concert by a fraternity brother of mine, for example, drew a lot of viewers I haven’t talked to for a while, and we had a good time commenting back and forth about the exceptionally stellar performance.
My own not-nearly-as-stellar performances have included leading a program called Afternoon Tunes with McMurray Rotary and Friends at Peters Township Public Library. Starting in January, pianist and fellow Rotarian Pam Linnon-Flinn was joining me in providing music for singalongs on the second and fourth Fridays of the month, and I must say, we were drawing some pretty good crowds prior to COVID-19.
The folks at the library asked if I could continue the program in some manner, and I came up with a half-hour video of me playing and crooning, with lyrics provided in case anyone at home wants to give their vocal cords a workout.
That turned out to be quite the adventure, too, attempting to get mistake-free takes, at least as far as the guitar was concerned. If I applied that to my singing, I’d still be working on the video.
Whatever the case, if what I’m doing musically helps lift one person’s spirits … well, you know how that goes.
So let the noisemaking continue.
To view the virtual version of Afternoon Tunes With McMurray Rotary and Friends, visit tiny.cc/PTLibraryYouTubePlaylist.