My Neighbors and Music

I live in a 1940’s vintage neighborhood. The lots are small and the houses are close to each other. We have zoning coded so antiquated that one is allowed to build to within 7 feet of one’s property line. There are zero covenants on house color, styles, roof tiles… nothing. It is a wonderful neighborhood.
My neighbors are from all different strata of life. One lady at the end of the street has been here since her house was built in 1942.
I have now been here so long that I am well known in the area. I am the music guy. I think what that means to most of my neighbors is that I am the guy who is always home during the day. If you need your battery jumped- I am home. If you need help moving stuff during the day- I am at home. I have a fairly steady stream of neighbor kids who show up at my door with a guitar that needs a string or a violin that needs tuning. The day before yesterday Talia K. showed up on my porch with her trumpet and played Hot Crossed Buns. She is 8.
Once a year I have a huge Christmas party. I think something like 250 people come. I hire a band. This year it was a Trad/dixieland group of upright bass,drums,banjo/guitar, trumpet,soprano sax and trombone. When they are not playing I play piano and everyone sings Christmas Carols. If I do say so myself it is a hella party. One of the great parts of this party is the reaction of my ( non-pro) neighbors to this music making. This might be the only time each year that they see and hear this level of excellence at close quarters. The musicians that show up are not as impressed. Mostly they are waiting for a chance to sit-in. It is the neighbors’ wide-eyed stares that make me so happy to put this party on. I think they all feel like they stepped into a Bing Crosby movie. To see great music being made with so much joy, and seemingly, with such off-hand effort. There is no printed music in sight. This totally bewilders the neighbors who may have studied piano in the past or played clarinet in high school band. This is a party that takes dancing and singing and generally merry-making seriously. That is,of course, what the party is all about. But what I love to see is that look of astonishment on the face of someone who thought you only got to see and hear music like this for fifty-five dollars at Wolf Trap. The ease of it all, the fun of it all, the free of it all, the excellence of it all is reflected in their eyes and their gushing comments. ” How did you FIND these guys?” is a regular comment. My answer is determinedly casual. ” Oh, these are just a bunch of guys I work with”. They are so much more than that. They are all guys who have devoted their lives to this craft. They all bring thirty years of diligent practice to this gig- just to make it look easy. It is really grand to be the guy that brings this, with a lot of beer and chili, to the neighborhood.

The Sports Page

This is a really special day. The sports page in the Post was as good as it has been in 25 years. The Wizards beat the Heat last night. The Nats got their fifth starter, Dan Haren and it looks like they are going to retain LaRoche. The Skins are on a roll with a true star in RG3. The Hoyas won. The Terps look good. I always wanted to live in a good sports town. Maybe now I do!