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Arkansas

My first trip to the capital of Arkansas was in 2010 to catch Robert Plant and the Band of Joy on their second concert together. I'd been at their first in Memphis, Tennessee, and I used the day in between to check out Clarksdale, Mississippi, for the first time. So Little Rock was just another stop on my tour that time around.

During my four-month road trip of 2011, a friend of mine across the country realized that I'd been staying near Little Rock, so he urged me to look up a 12-piece band called the Greasy Greens. They were this vaudevillian big band ensemble that had been featured in the Arkansas Times because they were Bill Clinton's favorite band.

When I checked in with the Greasy Greens, they were one day away from playing at the Clinton Library for the reception welcoming all the runners completing the city marathon. There would be 5,500 people at this event, but they needed a keyboard player. Bingo! I joined their rehearsal right away, and instinctively I listened.

Listened first, then played. This is what I tell people is a big part of being a well liked player. First and foremost, you have to be a good listener. This is what I learned while I was in Arkansas. When playing without a chord chart with a band that knows their arrangement and plays it consistently, you have to hear a lot of things and blend in.

Anyway, the Greasy Greens accepted me into their fold for the Little Rock marathon reception at the Clinton Library and told me they wanted me back soon. One of them even put me up at his lakeside cabin to ensure I'd have a place to stay in Arkansas! I came back to Little Rock and played again with them for a huge open-air Jumbo Gumbo Cookoff at River Market. The next time they wanted me, my road trip would be over and I would be back home.

Life has this way of making things come back around though. Some of the members of the Greasy Greens have been flying up to Massachusetts a few nights each year where they join the Building Science Boogie Band and me as the entertainers for an annual conference afterparty. It's always great to play with them again!
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