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This weekend was a whirlwind of being back in the world, performing three shows in three states with Shawn and Craig. Making music with the two of them… ahh, heaven on earth.

We’d been rehearsing for weeks, knocking the rust off. We drove lots of miles. We opened our hearts and leaned into the familiarity of the songs, and took some new chances too, all of which paid off. The audiences were groovin’ in their seats. From above and around everyone’s masks, we could detect eyes and faces crinkled into smiles of joy and gratitude.

Friday’s show was the first, in Bangor, ME. A perfect kickoff! Good turnout, lovely folks, fantastic sound guy (thank you, Torin!). Everyone was so quiet, leaning in, until the end of each song. The applause in that hall was thunderous and joyful every time.

Saturday’s show was in the Northeast Kingdom town of Lyndon, VT, in a congregationalist-church-turned-meeting-house lifted straight off of a postcard. It even started to snow, very softly, as we got into town. Picture perfect. The show brought out another lovely group of folks, one of whom immediately recognized our very non-Christmas encore and talked shop with us after the show about that song and about jazz and piano and Oscar Peterson and New Orleans.

At Sunday’s show – at the community church (and the invitation) of my beloved childhood piano teacher, Helen Davidson – one woman shouted from her seat at the end of the concert, ‘Thanks for the memories!’ to which I quipped, ‘We don’t know that song’ and everyone laughed. Immediately after the show, she made a beeline for me, saying, ‘I really do thank you for the memories – this music meant the world to me as a kid.’ Oh, I wanted to hug this lovely stranger! Instead, I smiled and thanked her.

At every show, at least one person told me that this was their first live music since before COVID.

As the three of us sipped tea together, holed up in our motel room on Saturday night, we talked about the shows, about life, about music… and eventually the conversation came around to the fact that eventually, we will do something, anything, everything, for the last time. And what if this had been our last show? So, we agreed – let’s approach every performance, every song, every lick, as if it’s the last we’ll ever play.

Like I said – heaven on earth with these two.

The last verse from my favorite Christmas song, the one we have been and will be singing all month, sums it up for me in this moment:

Christmas time is here
And we’ll be drawing near
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year