In May of 1982, I think, I drove up California's Central Valley to Turlock, where my friend Deni was attending CSUS (California State University at Stanislaus). She and her daughter Nicki shared a big old Craftsman house with some other students and had invited me up for a weekend.
On the Friday night the house filled up with various students and friends, many of whom played guitar. Our friend Dee was there as well and she brought her guitar with her, just as I had.
After a dinner of Polish spring vegetable soup and crusty bread, we sat back with jugs of wine and the occasional joint. Then the guitars came out. Some of us took our turn at leading the group in a song as we played together, singing harmonies. There was a black girl who had a great voice and a Latino guy who played Spanish classical guitar. Dee played her "hits" and I sang mine, while one guy who was in a Medieval reenactment group sat in a rocking chair putting his chainmaille together. When I later fell asleep on the living room couch, I did so feeling completely in sync with folk artists like Arlo Guthrie, John Hartford and Bob Dylan. And when I woke up the next day I was inspired to write two songs in the space of about 30 minutes.
It's one of my favorite memories; I miss that kind of evening. I miss sharing a living room
with a bunch of musicians, especially other acoustic guitarists. It was a great way to share new compositions and get honest, well-meaning critiques.
I wonder if this kind of get-together is now something of my past. I hope not. If I could spend this evening any way I want, this is what I'd choose.