The photo is from happier times, at the Bay of Islands Jazz Festival last year, playing with Denise Puppyn and the Jazz Factor Band.
Right about now I'd be practicing up country songs with Ricochez for the Paihia Country Music Festival that would've been held in early May - and then we'd have the Bay of Islands Jazz Fest in August. Both have been cancelled and quite rightly too, in view of the COVID 19 virus.
So many events have been cancelled, with rescheduling uncertain, and this has been tough for musicians and music-lovers alike. From the big festivals to the weekend gigs in pubs and restaurants, even our local Dairy Flat country music, rock n' roll, blues and jam nights, not to mention live music at parties and weddings and all manner of private occasions .. all suspended, for now.
But that hasn't stopped the music, no sir - we have plenty of online sessions and musicians singing, playing, teaching, sharing, all live and happening - fantastic. The world is, at the moment, one big online musical community.
Because there is no doubt at all that music is a universal language. Doesn't matter who you are or where you come from, music gives us a common platform to share, enjoy, create, listen, dance, cry, and laugh together.
During this time of solitude, my belly-dancing friend puts on her outfit and practices her moves every morning. It lifts her spirits, it's joyous, she says, and it's great exercise. The young drummer down the road from me hits the skins every day without fail at 4pm, regular as clockwork and you can tell he's enjoying himself. I've been spending some time behind the kit too, just keeping my hand in so I don't lose my edge (such as it is!).
There ain't nothing quite like being there though, feeling the bass beat coming up through your shoes, watching the performers connect with people as only they can, the crowd rockin' as one to the music. People having fun, enjoying themselves in a total, all-encompassing way.
And I know when I'm playing my drums in a band, I'm not thinking about work, or lack of money, or what to have for dinner, or how down I felt that morning over some little thing or other. I'm right there with the music, in the game.
Yep I will miss the country festival with the people line-dancing to our songs, singing along, those who come from near and far to enjoy a weekend of great music and fun. I'll miss the glasses of cold beer after a full-on gig and a debrief with the band about how it went. Even the not-sleeping-nights-in-a-strange-motel-room seem OK today.
I'll take it all, thank you.