Last week a friend (actually, two separate friends, who both know me well) invited me to come along and hear Club Django. I do love hearing bands play live and I particularly like this kind of music but sometimes it seems like too much trouble after a long day at work and the concept of coming home and going out again seems unbearable.
Still, as noted here before, I find Klezmer (or so-called ‘Gypsy Jazz’) especially cheering and these past few weeks, I have been feeling super down and questioning almost everything I usually find enjoyable. That sounds bad and it hasn’t been as bad as all that, but I’ve been embroiled in my past and I feel so stirred up, I have not been sleeping and I’m overwhelmed a lot of the time.
So, on impulse, and despite the fact that The General was just as happy not to attend, I decided to accept after all and headed out at the especially odd time of 2pm, out of the glinty sunshine and into a darker venue to catch Club Django in concert.
And from the opening notes, I was so, so happy that I did.
The high-octane, soaring guitars matched the swinging violin beat for beat ( I couldn’t take my eyes off the technicolour hatted Rodion Boshoer, who was playing like he had been recently set on fire) and I felt absolutely transported; I was also amused to note that there were several extra, extra large coffee cups by the band’s amps. Abbey Sholzberg’s energetic skill with the double bass was both lively and impressive, his faux-leopard vest charming and suitably quirky; basically, it was impossible not to be happy in that room and the crowd was loving it. I was so glad that I was there and that I had forced myself to come out.
Django himself, would be well pleased.
I was startled though by a memory which presented itself from literally decades ago, as I watched the handsome and accomplished piano-accordionist Gerry Duligal, because really, in day-to-day life one does not see or think about accordions very frequently, unless I am a total freak. Suddenly, I recalled a salesman who had called at our home (yes! this actually happened!) when I was about 8 years old. As the door opened, he was to my eyes, a god. With his dark, slicked back hair (think: Don Draper selling accordions) and a lanky, cool confidence he made the accordion seem like the piano’s bad-ass, edgier cousin.
And, he looked around my mother and gestured because he wanted to talk to me, particularly!
He must have had major charisma because my mother dried her hands and let him into the house, smiling, patting her hair and allowed him a few minutes with me so he could show me how the accordion worked. (How I loved that garnet-infused sparkly front and the sharp pleated fans wheezing in and out!) I was completely innocent of how uncool the accordion is perceived to be and I was absolutely transfixed, both with that dark, sloe-eyed salesman and the instrument itself. I would have done anything for him and listened with desperate, rapt attention as he went through the basics of how to play a simple tune,which I too might be able to do by the end of his time with me.
Reader, I was able to play and under the doubtful stare of my parents, absolutely bursting with pride that I had managed to do as he had taught me.
(Surprisingly, I cannot recall the tune but it was something along the lines of “Row-Row-Row your boat” without jazz variations). After I had finished, the salesman shook his head solemnly and expressed that he had rarely seen such talent in the raw. My heart was so full! Together we would travel the country, (I saw those swirling newspapers showing the passage of time as depicted in 1940s movies) as we moved from city to city together, till eventually we would marry at the peak of my fame …
But the roast beef was due to come out of the oven now and my mum was having none of it.
I watched sadly as he packed the accordion away into its crushed velvet lining, clipping the case shut securely and carrying away my hopes.
He barely looked back afterwards and I heard the door click shut behind him.
“Dinner’s ready,” my mum said.