silhouette of man holding guitar on plant fields at daytime

The Avocado JAMS! (The Musical Inspiration edition)

All right!  I think that first thread went really well, and now I face the daunting task of creating a follow-up hit.  I’m not ready to call Diane Warren quite yet, so what to do, what to do…

My original plan was to talk about home recording, but that seems a little too deep in the weeds for this second thread, so I think I’ll save it for next week. Instead, let’s talk about our musical inspirations. Not necessarily our influences, but other musicians that we admire and make us work a little bit harder at our craft.

Personally, I’m always amazed by the story of Django Reinhardt. I’m going to borrow a bit from his Wikipedia page:

Reinhardt was born on 23 January 1910 in Liberchies, Pont-à-Celles, Belgium,into a Belgian family of Manouche Romani descent. Reinhardt spent most of his youth in Romani encampments close to Paris, where he started playing the violin, banjo and guitar. He became adept at stealing chickens.

Reinhardt was attracted to music at an early age, first playing the violin. At the age of 12 he received a banjo-guitar as a gift. He quickly learned to play, mimicking the fingerings of musicians he watched…Reinhardt was able to make a living playing music by the time he was 15, busking in cafés, often with his brother Joseph. 

On the night of 2 November 1928, Reinhardt was going to bed in the wagon that he and his wife shared in the caravan. He knocked over a candle, which ignited the extremely flammable celluloid that his wife used to make artificial flowers. The wagon was quickly engulfed in flames. The couple escaped, but Reinhardt suffered extensive burns over half his body.During his 18-month hospitalization, doctors recommended amputation for his badly damaged right leg. Reinhardt refused the surgery and was eventually able to walk with the aid of a cane.

More crucial to his music, the fourth finger (ring finger) and fifth finger (pinky) of Reinhardt’s left hand were badly burned. Doctors believed that he would never play guitar again. Reinhardt applied himself intensely to relearning his craft, however, making use of a new guitar bought for him by his brother, Joseph Reinhardt, who was also an accomplished guitarist. While he never regained the use of those two fingers, Reinhardt regained his musical mastery by focusing on his left index and middle fingers, using the two injured fingers only for chord work.

About five years ago, I suddenly developed arthritis in the last joints of nearly finger. I’ve never been much of a guitar player, but suddenly I couldn’t even form an open C chord. It seemed like my guitar playing days were over, though the thought was almost too depressing to bear. But after working with my doctor to find the right meds, and with the help of my incredibly supportive and patient guitar teacher, I’m back at it, and honestly better than ever before. I may never be a master like Django, but his story is a constant reminder to me that our biggest limitations are often in our minds.

So, let’s hear from our other Avocado musicians! Who are the musicians that inspire you? Who are the people that make you pick up your instruments and play until your fingers are blistered or make you sing until you’re out of breath? (Or, you know, just feel free to tell us what you’re up to with your music or talk about whatever you want. I’m not picky!)

And next week we’ll talk about recording, home studios, and why I think everyone should be rolling some tape.

Photo by Keith Wako from Pexels