Finding Nemo

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Brief Moment

Nikki serenading the crew at Tiger Leaping Gorge
"I can definitely play fiddle!" Nikki announced.  Nikki was soft-spoken, so for her to perk up and make a bold statement like that left no room for argument.  She was a interesting girl, just finishing up her MD at University of Chicago yet also a real-singer songwriter (her website) and apparently also a closet fiddle fiend.

JP, aka Rasta-Mullet, raised his eyebrows.  "Really?!  Listen, see that Swedish girl over there?  She was going to play fiddle tonight, but she's gotten shy.  She doesn't think she play along to my bluegrass stuff."

Nikki and JP, blazing some bluegrass
"Bluegrass is what I do.  Let me ask her."  Nikki got up and walked over to the Swedish girl.  JP clapped his hands.  "This is gonna be good."  I wholeheartedly agreed.  A few minutes later, Nikki was onstage, Swedish fiddle in hand.  Alex and I sat up front, not knowing what to expect.

JP picked up his guitar and started banging away at that old standard Rocky Top, mixing in his ninja harmonica skills.  Nikki sat and listened for a bit.  Uh oh, maybe she couldn't back it up.  She played a tentative note.  Then another.  Then she plunged in.  The fiddle burst forth in song, the bow expertly gliding across, her fingers dancing on the strings.  JP's eyes opened wide.  Alex and I smiled at each other.

She was legit!

They played a little longer, JP solo'ed, and then yelled "Let's hear the fiddle!"  That's all it took.  Nikki sat upright and plowed into the violin, her fingers and bow began to blur from the speed, notes spilling off like a waterfall.  The crowd "yee-hawed" and hooted along, we started clapping and banging on the tables.  Nikki even begain harmonizing on the vocals... it was as if they had played together forever.  When two musicians meet who have reached a certain level of skill, a certain magic happens.  They assess each other as they play, and when the realization hits that they are playing with a true equal, a level of comfort and familiarity oozes into the music and the room that sweeps up the whole audience.  We could all feel it as it happened.  They played more tunes, more solos, the crowd sang and stomped and clapped along.  The songs were irresistable, even the hesitant Chinese couldn't help themselves and eventually joined in.

We were just a random bunch of strangers, thrown together into this room for a brief moment, here in a remote backwater of southern China.  Nikki and JP brought every person in the room, Chinese, Swiss, English, Irish, American, Canadians and more, together as one with their passion for playing.  None of our friends back home would ever be able share this experience.  Not really.  It was just for us.

Stompin' N Clappin'

Tomorrow, Nikki and Alex would go their separate ways, JP would stay here, I would move on alone.  But tonight, we were best friends sharing in the universal joy of music.

For a brief moment.