Toward the end of my performance I picked up my guitar, which I hadn't had time to tune. My battery-operated tuner requires a quiet room to be effective, and I thought the white noise in the gym alone would upset the sound waves enough to make a tuning attempt moot. I also figured one hundred or so men waiting while I tuned might start to get antsy and begin to chitter chat, and the commotion would really throw off the tuner. But I choose to tune anyway thinking at the very least I might get it closer than it was.
Tuning the low E worked well. The next string, the A, also tuned well. As I moved on to the D, I snapped my head up for a quick scan of the room and noticed the audience was completely focused on what I was doing, they hadn't made a peep. I took my time as I successfully tuned the G and B strings. Still not a rustle from the inmates, not so much as an uneven breath. I took extra time tuning the high E to see if I could draw out any sign of discomfort from the inmates, but the energy the group possessed continued to be relaxed. When I was finished tuning, I lifted my head to the content group of inmates and said, "Here's a truck driving song."
A few bars into the song the entire room came alive. Criminals are more polite than the rest of us.
Rusty DeWees tours Vermont and Northern New York with his act "The Logger." His column appears weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com. Listen for The Logger, Rusty DeWees, Thursdays at 7:40 on the Big Station, 98.9 WOKO or visit his website at www.thelogger.com