Ever get the urge to sing or play music with other people without actually having to be a performer? Me too. I spend plenty of time with a microphone in front of my face, but it’s nice to just play and sing for the fun of it. That’s why I was happy to hear that my friend Stacey Smith was starting a new Song Circle in Yachats. She and I enjoyed a former song circle in Newport for a couple of years. We even formed a band called Just Smith with circle host Kurt Smith (not related to Stacey). We played at the Drift Inn and elsewhere until life got too complicated and we disbanded.
This was in the years when my husband Fred was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and the music provided much-needed relief from the burdens of living with that difficult and always fatal illness. We made new friends and made beautiful music. The love of music stayed with Fred right up to the end.
So what’s a song circle? People sit around in a circle and take turns leading songs or suggesting songs for someone else to lead. They may sing something that nobody else knows, maybe even an original song, but most of the time people suggest easy songs that everybody can join in with their voices and their instruments. Sometimes we have words and chords on handouts or in an encyclopedic songbook called Rise Up Singing. Sometimes we just listen and watch each other’s guitar-playing hands and follow along. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and if you don’t feel up to leading a song when your turn comes, you can pass. You can even just come to listen.
We had eight people for the first session, with two acoustic guitars and a violin, and we sounded pretty good. Stacey is planning to continue the song circles once a month. I’m looking forward to the next session on April 7 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Yachats Commons, Highway 101 and West 4th Street, Room 8. If you’re in the area and feeling musical on a Sunday afternoon, come try it out.