Last year I would deliberately pile new songs to learn onto our plate as we prepared for a performance, so we could get used to practicing under pressure, in particular learning how to spend our time most effectively. There were many times when it felt a bit nervous about a week before the show because our playing still hadn’t gelled—but then in the final day or so there was a wonderful feeling of everything snapping into place.

Inadvertently, we’re under the gun again. On Sunday we’re part of the entertainment for Carter Family Day at the Mendota Community Center. When we agreed to do it awhile back, there was plenty of time in our schedule, so we decided to do all Carter Family songs—not a big deal, but many of the songs we were only somewhat familiar with, and I needed to memorize the words for eight of them. And then the Boone Brothers came along, and free time has been hard to come by.

We’ve managed, though. A few times we’ve been able to spend an hour or more running through the set, and during the week I was driving around with lyric sheets close by. Last night we played for the family, and it still felt pretty rough, enough to make me nervous. But tonight as we practiced it all fell into place, and it felt like we were really playing music.

Good thing, too, since we’re about out of free time between now and Sunday. Tomorrow we play for a ladies’ luncheon (?) in Johnson City, a half hour away, and then tomorrow evening there will be a band practice at our house, the first one with both us and the regular banjo player. Friday evening we will be playing at 8pm in Bluff City, about twenty minutes away, at their RiverFest celebration. And Saturday we will be playing as street musicians between 6pm and 9pm in Gatlinburg, a tourist town about 90 minutes away (the town has taken to hiring and scheduling street musicians, so it is actually a paying gig).


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