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Panama, Hand-pans, Bands

The Amber Fresh Chronicles

Panama, Hand-pans, Bands

Andrew Ryan

I’m sitting in a field of dry weeds, many taller than my seated self, waiting for my old drummer to call from Panama.

A few weeks ago after my friend had her head shaved in the park I explained a game that’s like “rock, paper, scissors” but instead it’s “anything, anything, anything”. It’s a game I made up, but really what can one take credit for in this world, legitimately?

One of the rounds, out of anything in the entire world, I said “Panama Canal” and my friend with good arms said “river”. What are the chances?

When the wind picks up, here, now, it goes through the dry grasses and typically I feel an energy in the sound, a spiritual energy. See, one of the things I wanted to say is that music changes our bodies. But instead of making pronouncements I’ll keep telling stories.

I’m in a new band now, at least for a while, where I have to play guitar parts. I practiced for a long time, with an ache in my hand that was crushed by a load of soil and a trailer tray. I watched tv programs while I played the bar chords over and over, and after a while a little blister came up on my thumb. I took a picture of it, because that’s what we do now.

After the show I had practiced for, the people in the band were showing things they could do with their hands. Some could bend their thumbs all the way to their wrists, some had fingers as long as a tall grass in a field, and one could bend just the very last knuckles, keeping the other knuckles straight. I could bend the end knuckle of my ring finger on its own from learning flute in childhood, that one finger getting trained to do something it otherwise couldn’t. See, it looks like a skill for a horror movie, but comes from playing airy notes on a flute, like a fairy.

When I watch videos of my drummer playing his hand-pan, the ufo sort of thing with all the notes that sound like Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’, it makes tears come straight to my eyes. Sometimes before or after band practice or a show tears come to my eyes, but they’re a different sort. They’re hot tears that I have to banish by calling Peter Bibby or eating a Mcflurry. But the hand-pan tears are warm and full of spiritual energy.

In the videos I see my old drummer’s hands moving across the metal, and think ‘I know what his hands look like in real life too. One day they’ll be gone from the earth, but I feel like I’m going to see them again, if I’m going to see anything again. I wonder if we will all be planted under trees when we’re gone, and our bodies break down and get back amongst it, pushing up big tall grasses with the leftovers of us,’ or something like that.

When my old drummer calls, I’m probably not going to say that thing about him dying. But I’m going to stay seated here, among the weeds, crushing some a little bit with my hands so he can hear the sound.