First Time Ever (On The Radio)—Richard Geller

It’s funny how things happen. Looking back, there seems to be a kind of inevitability to it, yet that’s probably the historical revisionist in me trying to impose order on something resiliently mysterious.

Last summer at Swannanoa, my friend Sally, a world-class dobro player, told me to “get off my ass and start playing out”—that I was unlikely to improve much just playing at home. (That’s a big part of our friendship—giving each other much-needed shit.) And so I started making the rounds of local open mics, which led to more open mics, and, recently, to an invite to be on a local college radio station this past Tuesday, during which most everything that could go wrong did. And it did not matter one bit.

We were barely into what was supposed to be a 35 minute set of songs and talk, when the power went out in Middletown. So we waited in the dark and, later, tried to follow the station engineer’s phone instructions to get ready if and when the power ever came back on.

In the end, three of us crowded into one tiny studio; we never did get the other studio working where I and Tim Sparks (who had kindly agreed to play along with me on some songs) were supposed to be. But none of it mattered. No nerves, we just had the most fun and if anyone was listening, I’m reasonably sure we sounded pretty good. Most importantly, we all enjoyed the moment.

So, I ended up having my first experience of being featured on the radio, got invited back, and realized maybe I had learned a thing or two by playing out—losing my radio cherry in the process. So thanks to everyone in an impossibly-long chain of encounters and events and, especially, Jennifer, Tim and Sally.

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