• Feeding my head with what I CAN do

    by Cathy Speck

    On a recent Friday evening, my lovely and talented wife, Linda, and our dear friend Elizabeth (whom I call Gally) went to see/hear the awesome band “Blame Sally” at The Palms in Winters. Their band is four very talented women over 40, and a fine male bass player. I think the venue was filled to capacity, and it’s too late anyway to be told to “cease and desist” by the authorities. We went home after the show, and deceased and desisted.

    Aargghh, that clever gallows humor slips into the conversation whenever I dare look away from the laptop!

    Blame Sally is a tight band — highly skilled musicians, excellent vocals, with just the right amount of passion. Some of the women are gay, some are not. Their bass player, the lone male is not gay. I bring this up because I know (from the power of “over-hearing”) that audience members try to figure this out… And of course my “gaydar” is 99.9 percent accurate. I even went back to school to earn my PhD in Sustainable Interplanetary Gaydar.

    Back to the music and the audience: When I was first diagnosed with ALS, I said that the hardest thing for me will be when ALS made it impossible for me to sing/perform anymore.

    It felt good to be in the audience, but I did feel my heart ache just a bit. I miss being able to sing and perform. I miss being on stage with a microphone and lots of prizes and toys to toss into the crowds for silly reasons. I miss helping people laugh and getting folks to enjoy the moment and dance, laugh, or maybe even cry if it’s the sort of song. We performed/produced several shows at The Palms in Winters, as well as when it was in the legendary barn in South Davis.

    The good news is that I’ve accepted that there are so very many things I can’t do anymore, and I don’t have time to mope around and sit in my own sadness. I acknowledge the loss, grieve a bit, then express thanks for the opportunities and experiences that I was so blessed to have.

    After I’ve mindfully taken those steps, I take another step on the stairway (not to Heaven) that leads to all the delightful things I CAN DO! I can write — my life has come full circle. In third grade I announced that I wanted to be a writer. Well, I did graduate from third grade, and now I really am a writer/columnist.

    The biggest, longest “thank you hug” for encouragement goes to our very own literary Queen Debra DeAngelo. And more about that will be in another posting. But until then, check out: www.ipinion.us.

    And a whole ‘nother kind of hug goes out to Laura K. Marsh PhD, who is my Blong-master. Without her help, my Blong would only be seen written on walls in the handicap stalls of women’s restrooms. Well, that’s not completely true. I’d also grab my cloth ACE bag of stolen spray paint and post my Blong on the freight trains parked behind the Davis Food Co-op. Just kidding. I would never steal, especially from our very own Davis ACE (aka Davis Lumber) as we “old-timers” say.

    Lauramarsh, as I like to call her, also gets credit for being the person who was dead set (gallows humor, or mere coincidence?) on getting me to sing in public. I was far to self-conscious and thin-skinned to sing in a public venue, where someone might not like my voice. LKM ,as I also like to typo cuz it’s shorter, is also the one who first took me out to hear live music and witness the musical magic made by Linda Duval.

    She was and is the best female guitar player I’ve ever heard/seen. Not only because her style is very unique, but because of the range of genres she masters: jazz, R&B, rock, swing, pop, country, blues, Broadway musicals, rap, folk, bluegrass, and I’m sure I’m forgetting something…

    And so here it is, Saturday, March 10, 2012, and neither Linda nor I have made any music since our last gig on September 25, 2010. That was a hugely successful outdoor music festival to raise money
    for ALS research.

    I had been struggling with my voice for a few weeks, and I was really worried that I might not be able to perform at the benefit. It was around 97 degrees outside the day we were setting up the stage. We worked for at least four hours in the sun before it was time to go change clothes, and grab a bite, or bite a grab. Of course, we were hydrating with water, Recharge, Coconut Juice, Air Borne and Emergen C.

    And I always had a huge pink mug of my special throat tea — a concoction of Throat Comfort Tea, Bengal Spice Tea (Celestial Seasonings) lots of local honey and some Herb Pharm extract called Wild Cherry Petasites. Even though I can no longer sing, I want to offer my “singing secret” to any musician, word performer, teacher, speaker who might find it helpful.

    Anyway, I got side tracked. (That never happens with me.) The show was wonderful, all the bands, emcees and performers were just right. And, our set felt the most fun ever. Of course, our final song was “White Rabbit,” and I hung onto that last note like I might never sing it again.

    And I did (hang on.)

    And I won’t (sing that note again.)

    And that’s okay.

    It really is… okay.

    (Note: We — ” Duval Speck” and “The Essentials” — still have CDs and T-shirts for sale on our website, www.duvalspeck.com or you can comment on the Blong. T-shirts are $10, and CDS are $15 or 2 for $20. You can also get one CD and one T-shirt for $20. You can also call us at home in Davis and leave a message on our home machine: (530) 756-8260. Our CDs are also for sale at the Davis Food Co-op, but out T-shirts are not. We accept cash and check, or work/service trade. I’ll scratch my back, you scratch mine!)

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