Coming Back Alive, January 18, 2010

At our January meeting at Abilene, Mark Grover, as promised, treated us to the full video “Coming Back Alive” which chronicles the recovery and return to performing of Billy McLaughlin after being stricken with Focal Dystonia, which virtually crippled his left hand. This documentary dramatically illustrates how devastating a physical or neurological disorder can be to a musician.

One of the most striking features, to me, was the incurable optimism of McLaughlin in the face of his disability. He finally reached the point of teaching himself to play left-handed! We were also treated to some extra features detailing Billy’s electronic equipment, and a variety of tunings that he uses, including DADEBA and DADDAD, his two handed tapping techniques and more.

Mark rounded out the meeting with his own entertaining performance of the McLaughlin tune, “So Long” emulating Billy’s unusual style. Mark had also prepared for us the sheet music and tab for this song. For more about Billy McLaughlin and his amazing story, follow this link:

—R. Taglieri

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