The Guitar Bar All-Stars at Mulligan’s, Thursday, November 10

That’s right, I’m a Guitar Bar All-Star now! I’ve been teaching “Sonic Uke” at the Guitar Bar, Jr. for almost a year. In that time I’ve meet some of the other mega-talented musicians who make up the GB family, and when Jim Mastro (owner, boss, all-around hep cat) mentioned they were doing an all-Bob-Dylan show I was eager to participate.

It wasn’t as easy as all that – I never made it onto the official e-mail list, if indeed there was one, and didn’t get clued in to rehearsals. Other stuff was going on so I kind of wrote it off, saying “I’ll do the next one.” But on Tuesday Jim texted me, would I be interested in doing “Subterranean Homesick Blues” at the show? I shot back an affirmative, before fully realizing what I lyrical nightmare I was in for. 48 hours to memorize four verses of Dylan at his wordiest.

I never found out just WHY I got the last-minute call to do that song… maybe someone else was scheduled to do it, but his brain exploded. Sometime on Wednesday, feeling a little burnt but able to sing the first two verses almost perfectly, I texted Jim. “My brain is full. Is this what the ’60s felt like?”

By Thursday afternoon I had three verses down but I knew I was never going to nail the fourth. So I printed a cheat sheet in a big font and sent a message to Jim to make sure there was a music stand at the show.

What can I say about rockin’ out with the likes of the All Stars? It’s a Bucket-List experience. Keith Hartell, to single one out, knows every every lyric to every song and can play them all on any instrument you care to hand him. He’s the organizer of the All-Stars and plays bass, mostly. Then there’s Boo Reiners, who can light a fire just by looking at a guitar, mandolin or fiddle. Not to mention Jim Mastro, 80s pop star, side-man to Ian Hunter and even Robert Plant. And there I was, fast-mumbling my way through an iconic Dylan classic with these cats.

“Subterranean Homesick Blues” doesn’t have a guitar solo, but wedged between Jim and Boo, how could I not step back and let ’em take one? That’s the kind of group it is, just point your chin at someone and he (or she) will rip into a solo that peels the paint from the walls, or lay on a harmony that makes angels weep. It’s rhythm-guitarist heaven, let me tell you.

Next up, a Neil Young night! I’ve already dibs’d “Harvest Moon,” maybe I’ll get to do another track or two as well. Can’t wait!

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