Attended The Mediator Fellowship open mic, which I had learned about online somewhere along the way, on the collection of bus, train, and plane rides between Eugene and Boston.

Coming back to Rhode Island was deeply difficult. I was quickly feeling as if my identity as an artist were a sort of dream that I was just unhappily waking from. Driving through the rainy, darkened, streets of Cranston, Rhode Island, I was struck by how old and gloomy the place seemed. No doubt the time of day and inclement weather helped this, but beyond that, the narrow streets and buildings all seemed to me a relic of some other age; like a cultural container formed seventy years ago and now capable of doing nothing beyond slowly falling apart.

This was the world I never wanted to be a part of; and now it seemed as if it had been the real world all along. All the while I was driving, I was thinking to myself in circles, variations on the theme, who do you think you are?

When I finally found The Mediator Fellowship building, set in the sprawling old suburb where Providence bleeds into Cranston, the very shape of it gave me some sense of relief. It looked like an old church, set in among the houses and duplexes and apartments.

Walking into the darkened room, I felt instantly at home. A man I would later learn was named Ray Cooke was playing on stage with skill and subtlety and passion. It was like finding an oasis in a desert. With Dunkin Donuts and coffee in the kitchen.

I got on the list at #11, of 12. For some reason, the host arranged it so the first 6 people on the list played for the first three hours, then the last 6 were hurried through the final thirty minutes. In any case, I eventually got to play Dail Up and One Planet on the stage piano. My voice felt very weak to start; but I leaned into the weakness and found what strength I had.

All in all, it didn’t feel like a particularly good performance, but the people in the audience were appreciative. Sold a few CD’s. The host offered me a featured slot if I would come back.

As I was leaving an older guy who reminded me of one of my now-deceased Italian-American uncles told me to never stop playing and never get discouraged. It was good to hear.

Loci

Assorted Rhode Island towns

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