It started for my wife and I one day when Michael G, a new-found but ages-old friend, was chatting with us outside his Music School in Vancouver, Washington. He said that he was going down to Portland (“down” as in going south, not slumming) to see a long-time friend of his play at The Candlelight Café and Bar. “Really?” I asked. “Who is your friend?” “Jaybird Koder,” was the answer. I let out an expletive and said, “Jaybird Koder is in Portland???” “Oh, you know him!” said Michael. “Know him!” I looked at my wife, “He’s played with Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard, Buddy Miles, Jeff Lorber, Gino Vanelli, Victor Wooten and Arturo Sandoval to name only a very few!”
Ok, you get the picture. I was in! It was settled; the next Monday night, we were going to The Candlelight. And so we did.
My wife and I got there a little late and sat in the back. Michael G and his lovely wife Theresa were at a table close to the front. In between songs, Michael motioned us closer… and there we have stayed. We were introduced to Jaybird during the break and it seemed like another meeting with an ages-long friend.
Do heart connections really exist or are they just fantasy whims of our imagination? Whichever it is, my wife and I both felt the tug from the heart of a long-lost friend. His musicianship is truly incomparable but it is the emotion with which he plays that makes the world seem brighter and more hopeful. I guess the word to describe him is “inspirational.”
Steve Miller has said that Jaybird plays the guitar “with truth and warmth.” I would agree and would even add that he plays with “love.” It is not just love for the instrument or love for the music; he plays with real affection for the audience. I have seen great musicians play with great appreciation of the audience. I have seen them play with a true camaraderie with the audience. But affection? I have never, ever seen that.
This must be why Jaybird will walk out into the crowd 3-4 times during a performance. It is not showmanship. It is not killing time in the middle of a solo. He likes to look you in the eye and play for you. Right at that moment, right there at your table he will play for you as if you are the only person in the room.
So, the music is personal for Jaybird. There is a personal connection and a personal reflection of his heart when he plays.
As Jaybird always says, “We’re gonna join you for some cocktails then be back after a break.”
And so will I…
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