Sunday, January 4, 2009

Bootblogging #5: Chuck Reinhardt's guitar circle hits

Hazy as this photograph is, you'd think it was the only extant image of Chuck Reinhardt at a guitar circle and that's why I'm sharing it. In fact, I have no picture of Chuck Reinhardt, at a guitar circle or anywhere else, so I'm using the closest I can get: a photograph taken at a guitar circle where Chuck Reinhardt may or may not have been present.

Who do we have here, making a little music in Roy Francis Kasten's flat? A woman named Amy (I think; I know I don't remember her last name); myself, looking a little like baby I'll be there to share the land; Mark Stephens, digging out a lick; and somebody else in a Cleveland Indians hat (candidates include Chris "Piedmont" Johnson, Randy Dugan, or Carl Stelzer, based upon morphology and the appearance of knowing how to play a guitar solo).

Not only does this image not represent Chuck Reinhardt at all, it doesn't represent the guitar circle very well. It depicts a handdrum - decidedly not a regular feature of guitar circles - and it shows people jamming, which also was discouraged in favor of listening to the other songwriters and not spooking the many porch musicians who frequented the circle.

If they are jamming along with me, I must be performing "Creepy Part of Town," my guitar circle "hit" (everybody had one). They are jamming along with me, I'd imagine, because Mark Stephens was there, he loves that song, and he is seldom to be discouraged from jamming along with anyone, whatever the rules or expectations may be.

An image of Mark fits as an illustration of Chuck Reinhardt's guitar circle hits, at least, because he is the subject of one of them. Chuck wrote "I Believe" after seeing Mark and Sunyatta Marshall, then unmarried and nondivorced young lovers, get up and dance at Off Broadway (I believe).

Chuck did not yet know Mark or Sunyatta, when he saw them dance and wrote the song. He did not yet know that they are both local musicians of somewhat legendary status. He could never have guessed that he would eventually perform this song any number of times in the intimate setting of the guitar circle in the company of one or both of them. When he wrote the song, they were just beautiful young people who embodied the spirit of music and gave him something to believe in.

That sums up the spirit of the guitar circle.

None of us are very young anymore, not even (quite) Sunyatta. She and Mark remain beautiful beings, though their love turned into marriage, which turned into not being married and all of the mixed feelings those changes bring. But, at one time, they got up and danced together, and they made somebody believe. Whenever I hear this song, I too believe.

However, the real heartcrusher among Chuck Reinhardt compositions, for me, is "Midget's", a song about a grocery store that manages to sum up most of what I feel about trying to maintain connections to people and what we share together while we grow older and grow away from them. "Is there any reason," Chuck asks in this song, "to update what our heart holds dear?"

Is there? Is there any reason to update what our heart holds dear? Still trying to figure that one out over here.

I don't know how to find Chuck today. Last time he reached out to me, he said he was working as a janitor. I hope this thing finds him or he finds it, and he knows to get in touch so I can tell him how to get to the guitar circle we are holding on Monday, Feb. 16 with guest artist and guitar circle founder, Michael Shannon Friedman.

I'd love to see him and Id love to hear him sing these songs. My hearts holds them dear. I don't intend to update that.

Free mp3s

"I Believe"


"Pony to Ride"

All songs written and performed by Chuck Reinhardt.
They belong to him, and to music, not to me or to you.


More free mp3s in this series

Bootblogging #1: Three by The Lettuce Heads
Bootblogging #2: Three elegies for local musicians
Bootblogging #3: Michael Shannon Friedman
Bootblogging #4: Three more by The Lettuce Heads

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