The spirit, the heart...well, the soul... of the SoulMates has created a community centered around a profound respect and affection between the band themselves and their audience at the Candlelight. That sense of community is spontaneous and widespread. The very fact that one is in attendance creates an opening for friendship and mutual respect.
There are people who are visible and memorable and immediately open. Peter and Traci are visible on the dance-floor and their smiles and bubbly good cheer make for quick rapport. Michael and Theresa are cool and welcoming to everyone present. You see them and you are drawn to them both immediately. Michael and Kris are like nobility with their poise and graciousness. You almost want to kiss his ring and she still looks like the Woodstock girl she was in 1969.
But then there are some who are quiet and calm despite the inherent connection of simply being in the audience together. When you finally connect, even in a small way, it is rewarding and heart-warming. It is like the still, small voice.
I mention this because just such a thing occurred on this Monday's gathering of soulmates and SoulMates.
Now it was during the third and last of the instrumentals that someone said to bassist Jim Satterfield that it might be cool to have a bass player with the SoulMates. Satterfield's response was clear. "When you've got a drummer like Reinhardt and Jarrod with the kicking bass and a guitarist like Jay "Bird"... a bass just gets in the way." Now when a bassist says that...
That point was well-taken and proven correct with the SoulMates' roll over Sly and the Family Stone's If You Want Me to Stay. Between Jarrod's kicking bass and "Bird's" bass playing on his lead, the room just thumps under your feet.
This was a rare night wherein nobody joined the SoulMates to perform. While there were musicians and singers in the house, no one sat in... and that was just fine. It started as a trio and finished as a trio. It was a night to remember the strength of that trio. And remember we did...
It was pure SoulMates with nothing to add or subtract from their music. It was their very own "soulification" of Gershwin, Paul Simon, and Steve Miller with nothing to distract. All that plus the original tunes like Man 4 U and Juniper Dreams done by the trio makes Mondays lovely no matter what the Boomtown Rats might say.
It's the kind of atmosphere that brings the regulars just a bit closer as everyone moves in tighter and the soulmate feeling thickens the air. I'm talking about mutual respect and openness.
Tim is a guy who minds his own business. He is a gentleman and he just wants to play pool and listen to the great music, mostly simultaneously, but sometimes pool is suspended for him to hear his favorite songs. When the SoulMates play All Day Sucker he appears from almost nowhere and pulls a chair up close to the front, drink in hand, and nods to whomever is sitting at the table nearby. It provided a warm sense for my wife and me looking up and seeing Tim look across at us and smile Tim's own smile. A slight raise of his glass to us and it brings to mind lyrics from the Bill Withers song: "Just one one look at you/ And I know it's gonna be/ A Lovely Day."
I know that I write a lot about this but it only goes to show just how inspiring and unifying music can be. It can create relationship where none existed before. It opens one to the possibilities of community and mutual respect and concern. Yes, perhaps I have become sentimental about it all. But isn't it an extraordinary thing to be pulled from one's own space and enveloped in the friendship of strangers? Isn't it beyond understanding to find oneself in a community of people who have very little in common except for the love of music and to begin to think of this community as friends, sometimes more like family?
When we don't see John Paul for several weeks we worry about him. When Rhonda is absent, everyone asks about her. We miss people who we only see on Monday nights and, when they are not with us, Monday nights are not quite the same.
I am fascinated and amazed by the connection that people can share. I amazed but not surprised that it the collective soul of a trio of musicans that has done such a thing. Especially when it is "Bird", Jarrod and Reinhardt, the soul is deeper than just the musical genre, it is the life that is breathed out and shared.
It is what makes Tim look across the room, smile and raise a glass in salute.