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COMMENTARY · 13th November 2011
Merv Ritchie
I was told about this gathering at the Nathan Cullen fund raising stop at the Kiva Café Friday evening. Tonight, after a short rest from the exciting day in the Skeeena Mall at the Child and Youth All candidates community dialogue, I decided to attend and see if I could join in. I like to play piano. I have two in my living room. It is my way of relaxing. After hitting this keyboard (my computer) for hours at a stretch, I sit at my piano and pound away at that keyboard. I am not really very good unless you like to hear the same few songs over and over again, the few I feel I have mastered. But I went out to the jam session anyways.

Just before I left, after spending about two hours there, I told Paul, Chris, Denis, Holly, Jeff and Phillip I would likely be able to write about this and use it as a political speech. And on the way home I figured it out.

Shortly after I arrived the three lead guitarists began with the percussionist and a bongo drummer to play a classic Stevie Ray Vaughn song. It was an amazing thing to watch. The drumming was impeccable and the guitarists each took turns with lead rifs that were right on point. The entire production made me feel as if I was at home listening to my own Stevie recordings. It was electrifying. I wasn’t going to poison this music by attempting to join into this tight group of musicians, I just happily listened. When it was over (it lasted at least 15 minutes) I asked how long they had been playing together.

These six people had never played together before. Two of the guitarists had played together in the past but, as I recall, they said they hadn’t for about six months. The other four had been jamming together and had been perfecting some of their own songs but not this piece. It became apparent too as they each started to play parts of different songs they each knew and the others would join in. After a few minutes each of the other musicians would figure out the groove and the harmony and soon it was working like a well oiled machine.

All these first songs were cover songs or well known classics and it didn’t take long for everyone to take their place and perform as a team. This could be expected with good musicians especially with a good drummer keeping the group tight.

And then the four who had played together writing their own music started playing their originals; a whole new venture into unknown territory. What happened was quite remarkable and this is why I sat down at this keyboard to write.

The foundation of course was these six wanted to make music. It is no different in the upcoming new Terrace council soon to be elected. The desire is to work in harmony and make Terrace enjoyable.

I and the two other guitarists had never heard these songs before of course, they were original compositions. During the first couple minutes as the music was developing the new guitarists would join in lightly attempting to catch the drift, the flow of the song. Another guitarist would turn and show his finger action as he was playing. Then things began to pick up and the new players began to become more engaged in the song. Within five minutes the entire ensemble was playing in complete harmony. It was tight and beautiful. They continued and once again it felt as if this team had been playing together for years. And then they did it again with another original song which was much more difficult. A composition with rising and falling crescendos.

What I learned tonight was this. When you get a group of people together who have the same desire, in this case to make music, it doesn’t take long and everyone finds their place. Everyone is included and the music soon becomes remarkable. Even if an entirely new song is begun, those who want to make the music work will soon be fully engaged and an integral part of the team.

In my case I didn’t want to ruin the harmony and disrupt this talented group of musicians and left the keyboard to the other pianist. I found my place for a time by acting as the music stand for the vocalist. We all find a place to fill a need.

On November 19 Terrace will be electing a new Municipal government. Be certain of this, no matter which you elect, they all have one desire and that is to make Terrace a better place. And this they will. It might take six months or a year for everyone to find their place but get ready to enjoy a remarkable community.