In one week, I’ll be doing something I never would have imagined I’d be doing, not in 100 years. And I’ve done some things — some good, some wicked, some better left forgotten.
But teach a class? That was not on my “Do Before Dying” list. Visit Owl Farm in Woody Creek, Colorado? Yes. Shave my head? One of these days. Interview Springsteen? God willing.
But stand before a real class with real students, real people, people who have signed up for this class called “A Look Inside the NH Music Scene?” Well, that’s just weird.
When Phyllis Benoit from Granite State College in Concord emailed me in the fall saying that she reads my weekly music column in the Concord Monitor but doesn’t know what I’m talking about half the time, all I could say was, “Neither do I.”
Then Benoit proposed that I teach a class at the “Osher Lifelong Learning Institute” at Granite State College on Wednesday nights in the spring. I really thought it was spam at first, an email sent by some loveless friend with a penchant for mocking my ambitions.
Washed out on a Sunday morning, my head was in a vice. I couldn’t process any requests beyond letting the dog lick the night off my face.
So, I yelled to my wife, Flower, and asked her to read the email herself.
“It’s a joke, right?” I said, flipping the phone in her direction. “Has this woman gone mad?”
My wife knows my unsavory academic past. We met about 25 years ago at Plymouth State College at a beer bash off campus. She was the type that could buzz through a drive-thru study session 30 minutes before a test and ace it.
I, on the other hand, once turned in a full 10-page essay in a freshman writing class that I titled, “THE POETRY OF EMILY DICKERSON.” Not Dickinson. “Not a good start…” is what Professor Mary-Lou Hinman wrote before planting a big, fat “D-” on the cover page.
My best year in school, I dare say, was second grade. I killed it that year. I remember it well and still brag about my performance to those who care. Straight A’s. Great behavior, attentiveness, good attitude. I was on fire that year!
Of course, all that changed the following year and school remained a struggle for me until I was 23, when I graduated from Plymouth State after four-and-a-half years with a 2.3 GPA. I haven’t taken a test since. And you know what? I don’t plan on taking another test ever again. Torture just ain’t my thing.
But teaching a class? Giving a test? Running my mouth for an hour? That, I believe, I can do.
So, I accepted the position so gracefully offered by Benoit and next week somewhere in the halls of the college, I will be teaching about the music scene in New Hampshire. That is, what I know of it.
For the past five years, I’ve hosted somewhere over 200 musicians, I guess, from around the state on my weekly radio show called “Granite State of Mind” on WKXL and WMNH. The satisfaction I get out of interviewing and writing about these musicians goes far beyond words. To sit only feet away from and listen to the sweet harmonies of the Green Sisters or Senie Hunt or the countrified rock of the Rippin’ E Brakes brings me boundless inspiration and an unending devotion to these men and women.
I’d take a bat to the head for most of them.
So, I’ve decided to conduct the class much like I do the radio show. One big discussion about music, the life force behind it, the people who make it, where to see it played and all the “whys” and “why nots” and “should have dones” that you can handle. All this gets worked out in the hour-long session. We can ditch the formalities because I can barely spell “syllabus” without Googling it.
And naturally we will need a superstar to entertain us each week. After discussing which artist is better to fall asleep too at night — Elton John or Bach? — we will finish up with a performance and discussion with some of New Hampshire’s finest talents. They will play. Then we talk.
First up, Mr. Max McPherson Jr. This guy is a stallion, a creative wizard who has toiled in the blues for many years. Fingers flying, Max gets it done, always has, never won’t. He has played it, suffered through it, has lived off the power of music for decades.
Let’s get inside Max’s head. That’s a real good feeding zone.
So, next Wednesday night at 5 p.m. on Hall Street at Granite State College, let’s have a good discussion about the beauty of music and where to find it. See where it takes us. Wing it. Works out most of the time in music, anyways.
Course information can be found here.
Rob Azevedo from Manchester is the host of Granite State of Mind on 95.3 FM WMNH Fridays at 6 p.m. and Thursday at 7 p.m. on WKXL 103.9 FM. He also hosts a monthly series at New England College in Concord which features live performances by artists from around New Hampshire. He can be reached at email@example.com