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FRED FIRST: My Wee Musical Man-Cave

Digital Tones and Frets and Reeds: Oh My!

Fred and Nathan, Goose Creek (literally) in 2000

A month ago this small room behind me was just my office. Now it is also my music room.

I see this as a way to make way more literal and cerebral space for music for what lies ahead. Music, I have always known, is necessary for my mental health and contentment. I want me some of that for this trip.

Music. My fingers will play it as long and as well as they can until I can only sing or whistle the tune. And beyond that, then I will listen as long as I can hear. Music is medicine, all the way through.

Music is a balm against the discordant news-cycle noise I overhear or read tangentially and unintentionally during the day. Music hath charm….

I have long allowed the slightest provocation to launch me into a baritone solo, often triggered by a single word or by a two-bar riff on the kitchen radio. And he’s off!

And on a six-hour car trip, I will sing most of the way. Ask our kids.


A guitar, an accordion and a keyboard form a tight semi-circle. If I spin my office chair around, there they are, out of their cases, at the ready and at arm’s reach.

And when I am in my music room and am not making something like music, I may be gathering lyrics, searching for chords, or reading about popular or classical music or musicians on my iMac. I am a solo act here in my mini Man Cave. To the bridge, Number One!

But in Columbia this time next year, there will be enough music for two!

Over the years, son Nathan and I have made sure we both brought along our guitars, any time that we have been in the same place briefly on holiday visits. But as often as not, there is so little time to catch up, and we are disappointed that we never even took them out of their cases.

Fred and Nate, Floyd Virginia, Thanksgiving 2021

But in Columbia, Nathan and I will live 15 minutes apart. We may write music together and record tracks just for fun. And there are likely to be other elder-dudes just down the hall that are as eager to jam as I will be.

I have gone so far recently towards playing with others that I put a mic pickup under the bridge of my classical guitar (circa 1968) and bought a Fender amp last fall. A stage mic and stand may be in my equipment future.

But for the past month, the musical tool that has put wind in my sails is a piano keyboard—a major upgrade over my old 76-key Yamaha EW300. Which is hoping to find a new owner now.

And therein lies at least one additional post to come. I am working my way through the manual for this most sophisticated piano-computer with 88 keys. And this seems like something that I will have the rest of my life to dive into and explore.

Somehow, it seems important to imagine; to travel, hopefully.


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