When my first bass guitar teacher, Doug, decided to teach bass and guitar lessons from a music store in Fort Lauderdale called Modern Music, it was the third location where I went for my lessons. The first place was Mars Music, a large and impersonal music store that went out of business a couple years later, and the second place was a tiny place owned by a man named Pavel, who moved away not long after Doug started teaching at his music store. I had no expectations about Modern Music; to me, it was merely a place where I went for my bass lesson every Friday at noon. I soon realized, however, that Modern Music was vastly different from the other music stores where I had been, including those I went to as a child and during my travels (music stores are places I frequent!). Every Friday and, as I later learned, on a daily basis, there was a group of men, all of whom were professional musicians, who “did the hang” at Modern Music. The owner of the store, John (now deceased) tolerated all of these guys just hanging out, talking, and often, eating lunch inside his place of business. Customers came and went, music students had their lessons, all the while “the hang” was taking place. The regulars included employees of the music store, who didn’t seem, to me, to be working and friends of theirs who were just passing time. In fact, until I learned each person’s identity, I couldn’t tell who was an employee and who was just hanging out. For example, I once asked Tom, Diana’s late husband (please see my previous post), for help with buying new strings for my bass and he angrily told me he didn’t work there. I apologized for confusing someone who was standing behind the counter, a place usually reserved for employees, for help! Over the years, I enjoyed many happy moments while waiting for my lesson to begin. The guys in the hang (I say “guys” as there were never any women in the group) were always friendly and kind to me. They invited me to join them for lunch, to stay a while and listen to their stories about days gone by, and in general, to be their friend. Who knew “the hang” would be one of my fondest memories of the now defunct Modern Music!
Melissa tried to explain the hang to me when she first started observing it but it was difficult for me to comprehend. The more she told me, the more it reminded me of the 2000 movie High Fidelity staring John Cusack, which involved people doing the hang in a record store. But, it still seemed strange to observe it in real life. Especially the degree to which these guys took over the store, going as far as to cook lunch there! Having gone into that store as a customer (I bought Melissa’s 2nd Fender bass, “Pinky,” there), it seemed crowded with these guys hanging out. The store was small and full of gear, making navigating it tricky. But, I’m sure that was part of the charm for other customers who were more musically inclined than me. Where else could all of these musicians interact with each other? It might happen at gigs, but all of them had the goal of being busy at gigs such that they would not be able to interact outside of this environment. All in all, going down the rabbit hole of the world of professional musicians has been enlightening and mind expanding!