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Authors: Pamela Warren

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BOOK: The Gift
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 Zak felt that he had learned a lot about Maggie after
seeing her with her family and in her home. He could tell that she was proud of
Boston and its history and culture in the same way that he was proud of Louisiana.

They returned to Maggie’s parents’ house in the late
afternoon. After showering and having a quick snack, they decided to head into Cambridge and Boston to drop off some cassettes with the booking managers of the clubs
where they were interested in playing. Then they would spend the night at
Maggie’s parents’ and get up early to start their drive back to Louisiana.

Maggie and Zak first stopped in Somerville to drop off a
tape at Jimmie D’s. Jimmie D’s had been one of Maggie’s favorite places to go
hear music when she was in college and she had enjoyed playing there with Lost Highway. Next they stopped by the Zircon which was on the Somerville/Cambridge line.
Maggie entrusted a tape to one of the waitresses that she knew and then they
drove to Harvard Square to drop off tapes at Jonathan Swift’s and Jack’s. They
finished up in Inman Square, leaving their tapes at the Springfield Street
Saloon and the In Square Men’s Bar. Maggie and Zak were a little tired after
all this driving around, so they were happy to be going back to Maggie’s house
to spend the night.

The next morning they got up early to start their long
drive south. They were planning to stop in Nashville on the way to drop off
some of their tapes at the clubs there and to go hear some music. Maggie’s
mother hugged them good bye as they left the house. Maggie’s father told Zak to
take care of Maggie and then walked them out to the U-Haul van. They pulled out
of the driveway and out onto the road, and Maggie gave a sigh of relief. She
put her hand on Zak’s knee and gave it a gentle squeeze. She was happy to leave
and start her new life with him in Louisiana.








Chapter 7


Maggie and Zak’s drive home to Louisiana was uneventful. Zak drove most of the way, he was used to driving long distances
because the Bayou Blasters played gigs all over the U.S. during the summer.
Maggie was happy to relax in the passenger seat and watch the scenery flow by.

They had decided to spend two days in Nashville on their
way home, seeing the sights and dropping off their cassettes at some of the
clubs there. They found an inexpensive motel on the outskirts of town and went
in to register. Zak told the manager that he and Maggie were married. The
manager looked unimpressed, but Maggie felt a little strange about it. Unlike
her roommate Vanessa who had been planning her wedding since sixth grade,
Maggie had her reservations about marriage. She realized the commitment that it
took to make a marriage work, and she wasn’t quite sure if she was up to the

The motel room wasn’t fancy, but it was clean. Zak put
the suitcase on one of the beds and opened it so they could get some fresh
clothes and the cassette tapes. Maggie was sitting on the other bed, tired from
the long drive. Zak sat down next to her, put an arm around her and gave her a
wicked grin.

“I demand my conjugal rights, Mrs. Robichaud,” he said.
Maggie laughed and let him undress her. Zak hurriedly took his clothes off too.
Maggie looked at his beautiful, muscled body and felt a wave of desire come
over her. She didn’t think that she had ever felt like this about any of her
other boyfriends. She pushed Zak down on the bed and sat astride him. She bent
over and kissed him hard on the lips and whispered in his ear, “My love, I’m
going to show you how much I want you.” And then she did.

An hour later, they had recovered enough to get up and
take a hot shower together. Zak liked showering with Maggie, washing her slowly
with a soapy washcloth and even washing her hair. Maggie found it incredibly
erotic and sometimes this culminated in another session of making love. This
time however, they dried each other off and then got dressed so they could go
out and check out the clubs in Nashville.

Maggie and Zak left the motel and got into the U-Haul
van which was parked in front of their room. They headed over to the Gulch area
of Nashville because Maggie wanted to go to the Station Inn. It was probably
the most famous bluegrass venue in Nashville and that night they were featuring
Earl Scruggs. They had trouble finding a parking spot, but finally got a space
on 11
Avenue, right around the corner from the Station Inn which
was on 12

It was 8 o’clock but Maggie and Zak could see that the
club was already filling up. The Station Inn didn’t take reservations so people
had to get there early in order to get a good seat. Maggie and Zak went inside,
paid the cover charge, and found seats at a long table in the center of the
room. They ordered a “thing” of popcorn and two Yazoo pale ales from the
waitress and then scanned the menu. They hadn’t eaten for hours, so they
decided to order pizza to eat while they were waiting for the music to start.

Maggie was thrilled that Earl Scruggs was going to be
playing, she knew him from the Flatt and Scruggs records that Spencer had
played for her. Scruggs was considered to be one of the founding fathers of
bluegrass as the originator of the three-finger Scruggs-style banjo technique.
This technique was an important element to the distinctive sound of bluegrass

Earl Scruggs took the stage around 9, and he was
accompanied by his two sons Randy and Gary. They immediately launched off into
Earl’s signature tune “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”, one of the best known
bluegrass instrumentals. Most people knew that tune from the soundtrack to the
hit movie “Bonnie and Clyde.”

Zak looked over at Maggie and saw that she was totally
enrapt in the music. He was happy to share this experience with her even if he
wasn’t a big fan of bluegrass music. The band’s next tune was “I Still Miss
Someone” which was a song that Maggie sang with Spencer. She whispered in Zak’s
ear that she would like to play that with him sometime.

The band played for well over an hour. They also played “The
Ballad of Jed Clampett” which was another tune for which Flatt and Scruggs were
famous. Most people recognized that as being the theme music for the television
show “The Beverly Hillbillies”. The music that Maggie especially liked though
was some of their more recent progressive bluegrass. Earl and his sons had been
a major influence on this style, something which didn’t find favor with some
traditional bluegrass purists. Maggie was in bluegrass heaven though, and even
Zak enjoyed the music more than he thought he would.

The Earl Scruggs Revue played until almost eleven which
left Maggie and Zak with enough time to drop by some of the smaller music
clubs. They wanted to check out the music and possibly drop off their cassettes
with booking managers at venues that featured blues and rock. A friend of Zak’s
that was working as a session musician in Nashville had recommended that they
go to Fanny’s Lounge and Muhlenbrink’s which was across the street from
Fanny’s. They had a drink at each club and listened to the music for a while.
Then they introduced themselves to the managers and gave them tapes.

Maggie was exhausted and a little drunk by the end of
the evening and glad that Zak was able to drive them back to the motel. When
they got up the next morning, she had recovered enough to look forward to going
out again to more clubs.

The manager from Fanny’s Lounge had recommended that
they take their tape over to the Blue Bayou. It was a blues/rock club and he
thought their music would be perfect for that venue. Sure enough, when they
went over that night, there was a blues band from New Orleans playing there.
They enjoyed listening to them, but Maggie thought that Zak’s guitar playing
was light years beyond what she heard with this band. While Zak sat at the bar,
Maggie went over to talk to the manager and give him one of their tapes. Then
he took her phone number and told her that he would call her to set up a date
when her band could play. Zak watched Maggie and laughed, he was amused to see
her use her sex appeal to promote the band.

After finishing their business, Maggie and Zak decided
to go over to a new club that Zak’s friend had told them about. It was called
Hickey’s Bluegrass Place and it had been started by some older bluegrass
musicians who were looking for a place to jam. Maggie was hoping to have an
opportunity to play the bluegrass tunes that she had learned with Spencer. She
had brought along her Harmony mandolin so that she could practice on the trip,
but now she was hoping to play it in the jam.

Maggie and Zak walked into Hickey’s and instantly
recognized that there were some excellent musicians playing there. The men were
standing in the back of the room trading breaks on their guitars, mandolins,
fiddles and banjos. Each man tried to outdo the next, the atmosphere was
definitely testosterone driven. Maggie and Zak hung out on the periphery just
watching, Maggie knew that she was out of her depth and didn’t think it was
appropriate that she play with them. But eventually one elderly mandolinist
noticed that Maggie was carrying a mandolin case and he invited her to play
with them. With much trepidation, she put the case down on a small table and
opened it and took out the mandolin. She knew that her Harmony wouldn’t be
taken seriously, most bluegrass mandolinists played Gibson F-5’s. But the
elderly man was sweet to her and said “Come over here little girl and I’ll show
you the ropes.” Zak went to the bar and got beers for himself and for Maggie
and then sat at a table where he could watch her play.

The old man asked Maggie if there was a tune that she
would like to play. Maggie thought for a moment and suggested “Big Sciota”. It
was one of her favorite instrumentals and Spencer had helped her learn it on
the mandolin. The group started to play the tune and Maggie just played chords
at first. Each musician would take a break in turn, and when it came time for
Maggie to play her solo, she was terrified. She tried not to let it show
though, and she was able to get through her break without making too many
mistakes. The old man gave her a small approving nod and then asked her if she
knew “Bill Cheatham”. Fortunately she did, and gradually she was accepted by
the group of men. When her turn came up again, the old man asked her if she
could sing something. Maggie suggested “I Still Miss Someone”, the song she had
heard Earl Scruggs play the night before and the song that she had been singing
with Spencer. When she finished, several men told her she had done a good job
and that she had a beautiful voice. Maggie looked over at Zak and he gave her a
big smile. She felt happy that she hadn’t disappointed him or herself.

She played with the group for an hour or so, until she
sensed that Zak was getting restless. She told the men that her boyfriend was
waiting for her and she had to go. They thanked her for sitting in with them
and told her that they hoped she would come back to play with them again

Maggie felt exhilarated after her evening of playing.
She had never played bluegrass on that level before and she really enjoyed it.
She found herself wishing that she lived in Nashville and that she could play
like that every night.

She went over to Zak and gave him a big hug. She sat
down with him for a while so she could drink her beer. Zak bent over and
whispered in her ear. “Did you notice what’s hanging up on the wall?” he said
and looked over at the back hallway to the bathrooms. The club was dark and she
could barely make out what looked like whips and a mace.

 “What is that?” she asked.

“I asked the waitress about it. She said that this was
an S&M club a few weeks ago and the new owners haven’t gotten around to
changing the décor yet. Finally, my kind of place,” he joked and laughed

Maggie laughed too because it had to have been one of
the most incongruous things that she had ever seen.


Maggie and Zak drove back to Louisiana the next morning.
They had a lot of fun in Nashville and on the way home, they talked about all
the music they had seen.

“I was really impressed with your playing, Maggie,” Zak
said. “I’ve never seen you play bluegrass music before. Maybe you should sit in
on some of the Cajun jams in town. You could probably improvise on your fiddle
as well as you do on your mandolin. If you can play bluegrass music then you
can probably handle Cajun music as well.”

“That might be fun, Zak. I think I’d like to give it a
try,” she said.

When they got back from their trip to Boston, Maggie
started listening to some of Zak’s records of Cajun and zydeco music. She tried
to absorb the style and learn some of the songs. Most of lyrics were in French,
but Maggie had taken seven years of French in high school and college so she
didn’t have too much trouble following the words. Then she tried playing along,
first on the mandolin and then on the fiddle. She felt that she was having some
difficulty with the fiddle techniques which seemed pretty foreign to someone
who was used to playing classical music. Most of all she was having trouble
getting the bowing rhythms down. Zak listened to her practice and suggested
that sometime she should ask Jesse, the fiddler in his zydeco band, for help.
He was sure that he would be able to give her some tips.








Chapter 8


About a month after Maggie and Zak returned
from their trip to Boston, Zak’s mother invited them over for Sunday afternoon
dinner. They were usually tired on Sunday because they were recovering from
their Saturday night gig, but they agreed to come over if she had dinner in the
late afternoon. When they got there, Zak’s brother Caleb and his children were
in the yard throwing a Frisbee for their dog Mojo. Zak went over to play with
them while Maggie went into the kitchen to help Zak’s mother prepare dinner. She
seemed to have everything under control, there was a turkey roasting in the
oven and potatoes and beans cooking on the stove. Zak’s mother gave Maggie a
brief hug and then conspiratorially whispered in her ear to follow her into the
dining room. Zak’s mother went over to a hutch and took out a large wooden box
from a bottom drawer. She laid it out on the dining room table and opened it to
display its contents. It was filled with silverware.

BOOK: The Gift
9.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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