STAYING APART AND KEEPING IT TOGETHER
The Dirty Dog Jazz Café will remain closed until our jazz family can again safely gather in an intimate setting to hear live jazz. What makes the Dirty Dog and jazz so important in our lives is its ability to bring us closer together. For the moment we will have to stay close by staying apart. This necessary intermission will end, and jazz will once again leak out the Dog’s front door and smiling people will pour in. See you then.
It has been about a month that we have been in hibernation. The virus still lurks just outside our doors. There is real tragedy playing out in our city which overshadows our minor frustrations with social distancing. There comes a time, however, when we accumulate enough small inconveniences to make us enter a dark place. We get overwhelmed by simple tasks that we seem to do every day. I am suffering from self pity which isn’t terminal, but an overload of monotony can be harmful to one’s health. Getting a new task or challenge can break through our cloud of funk.
This week I got a call from Gene Dunlap who remembered that I took some photos at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café of Gene at his drum set. Gene and his band bring a joyously enthusiastic crowd to the Dog every time they play. They play with a freedom that is uniquely Detroit. They know the crowd. The crowd knows that they will be hearing some genuine Detroit sounds.The band knows that they will be among friends and will settle comfortably into their fans’ pocket of appreciation. Their demeanor on the stand reflects their comfort with each magical moment and shows up in the viewfinder of my camera.
Gene is a young soul in a little older body that is currently at risk to the virus. Gene will ben staying out of clubs for awhile. Meanwhile he is writing music and putting the finishing touches on a new CD. He needed some photos and called me, breaking the cycle of sameness that had come over me. I put on some music and brought my computer to life. Hidden in my photo library I found the photos that Gene had asked me for. On the way to Gene’s pics I scrolled through photos taken when life was more of an adventure. This took some time off a morning. The afternoon was spent selecting fixing and cropping each photo.
The result was that I had a chance to relish each image and appreciate each musician as I spent some time with them. Not everybody can be so lucky.
We all will be finding ways to expand our experiences while keeping a distance. It requires some memory and a lot of imagination. We will all find a way to keep it together even when we are apart.
When Gene called I didn’t think much of it. I didn’t realize how therapeutic the task would be until I started looking at the images on the computer screen. A casting director couldn’t have found a more interesting group of characters for a jazz film set in Detroit. I have on my computer maybe 100,000 images of jazz artists shot from the corners and edges of the Dirty Dog Jazz Café. Some are in focus, some you can barely tell who the person is, and then there are the remarkable few that invite you into the photo to meet that person.
When I went through the photos of Gene’s band there were enough shots that made me pause, take some time with these gentlemen, and slip out of loneliness for a moment. I know a lot of people with time on their hands might consider going through old photos. The photos take you back to a time that looks pretty good to us now.
Here are some of the photos of Gene and his band at the Dirt Dog on a warm night in July.
Gene Dunlap leads the band and in his words is the “The Humble Force That Drives The Band”
From these photos you can see that this is a band of good friends.
Gene Dunlap Drums
Carl Holmes Bass
Derrick Benford Keys
Nick Stone Sax
Marvin Crosson Percussion
Ronnie Rushing Keys.
Matt was the guitarist that night. He was sitting down behind his pals and avoided the camera.
Here are more images. They are small files and lack the crispness of the original images.
Below is the link to Gene’s new song “Motor City Flow”
Check it out.
We all long to resume gathering good memories. They come in handy when we need them. Now is the time to share them. I will bring my camera when the lights go back on at the Dirty Dog.
We will all find a way to keep it together even when we are apart.
Until then, be safe.