Harmony in a Box – #01-11

This is how the story appeared in newspapers across the country compiled and released by the Associated Press:

St. John’s NFLD – The situation for the missing passengers from the small sightseeing craft Angelica looks bleak. Despite all efforts there have been no sightings of the Angelica or its four passengers that left late Saturday night on a sightseeing excursion.   During a severe and unexpected storm, the Portuguese trawler DaSilva spotted the lights of the small craft Angelica fade out of sight in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Labrador at approximately 4:00 am on Sunday morning. The DaSilva attempted to make radio contact but there was no response from the Angelica. Local authorities fear the worst due to storm conditions and frigid waters. Rescue efforts started early Sunday morning and, for the third day in a row, search and rescue teams have been battling high winds and rough seas. The bodies of Captain Reginald Wiggins and crewman Len Waites were retrieved from the watery depths on Monday afternoon. Missing and presumed drowned are Jamus Wales, guitar player for band Psychic Blue, Neville Jittery, manager for Psychic Blue, Virginia Bliss, concert promoter and environmental awareness activist, and Herb Taylor, businessman.”

Harmony in a Box – #01-10

Gigs stopped here, a dramatic pause to see Johnny’s reaction to his last statement, to get his approval of sincerity before proceeding with the story. Then suddenly the silence was broken by the sound of the telephone. Johnny grabbed it, and a voice informed him, “”This is your wake-up call.” Quickly Johnny looked at the time: 7:30 am. “Your taxi will be here in fifteen minutes.” Shaking his head Johnny looked frantically around the room for what he couldn’t say. Half trying to get his head in gear to leave, another to figure out how to hear the rest of the story. “I can’t believe it’s time to go!” Johnny uttered to himself. “Well what happened?”

“Sorry John, there’s not enough time to tell the story,” Gigs eased onto the bed crossing his outstretched legs.

“How am I going to get the rest of the story?” Johnny asked, knowing that if he didn’t get it now, he may never get the opportunity again.

Gigs dug into his travelling bag and pulled out a disk. ”You got a computer or laptop? I had the tapes transcribed and put onto a disk. I happen to have one with me I can always make another. Do you want one?”

A smile came across Johnny’s face, “You’re the man Gigs, always prepared.”  Gigs handed him the disk, and they exchanged a handshake and a hug. Wished each other well, convinced themselves that they would keep in touch. They exchanged e-mail and website addresses for communication, then Johnny turned to go. Gigs remained in the room as Johnny made his way to the taxi headed for the airport. On the plane Johnny quickly set his computer up, slid in the disk and waited for the story to unfold on the screen.

Harmony in a Box – #01-09

“He wanted to tell his story but I had to leave to do the show. I gave him some writing paper. Then I gave him my hand held tape recorder, showed him how to use it, and left him some blank tapes. I told him to use it to recount his story if he didn’t feel like writing it. Leaving, I left him some money in case he needed something and told him I would be back in a few hours.”

Gigs looked at Johnny as he moved towards the bar to top up his drink. Johnny sat there motionless not knowing what to say. “My God, this is unbelievable,” Johnny finally managed to muster some type of response.

“That was just a tip of the iceberg,” Gigs replied.

“What happened?” Johnny asked like a child hearing a fairy tale when the reader stops to rest.

Gigs topped up his drink and refreshed Johnny’s, pacing the room as he continued with the story. “The show and tear down went longer than anticipated. When I got back to the hotel room all the tapes were used up and numbered but Jamus was not in bed.”

Listening to Gigs, Johnny remembered how meticulous Jamus was in organizing and keeping track of things in the band Psychic Blue, a carry over from his university days he once said.

Gigs continued, “I assumed he was with the others for some reason and anyway I wasn’t going to go door knocking at 3:00 am in the morning. I started to listen to the tapes and must have fallen asleep. Next thing I knew it’s daylight and there’s someone knocking at the door, I rolled out of bed hoping to see Jamus. To my surprise it was the lady doctor from the restaurant. She asked if Jamus was with me. I told her I thought he was with her. She informed me Jamus had told her that he would be sleeping in my room. I told her I would assist her with her search and quickly excused myself to get dressed. We searched various areas in the hotel and asked some questions at the front desk. The night clerk said someone, possibly Jamus, left around midnight. We informed the police, what else could we do? We exchanged regrets and good-byes. I never saw her or Jamus again. After they left I went back to my room. In all the commotion I had completely forgotten about the tapes. What I am about to tell you now is beyond your wildest imagination. I swear it is all true according to the tapes. I won’t alter a word. After you hear it you will think me mad for believing it, but I can’t help thinking he spoke the truth to the best of his recollection.”

Harmony in a Box – #01-08

“The house performer who had joined us at our table during the performance shook Jamus’s hand in a vigorous and appreciative motion and asked him, “Where did you learn that ending I’ve never heard it before?” Jamus closed his eyes then slowly responded it was a piece by the American composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk. The house performer inquired, “I studied North American composers in the York University Music program and I don’t recall seeing or hearing that piece.” Jamus’s eyes seemed to slightly shift and look into nowhere then came his reply, “Now I remember, it was taught to me from ear by one of his students recently. Usually Gottschalk played “Hail Columbia” and “Yankee Doodle” as a show closer, but when he played in Canada he closed the show with “Allouetta”, and “Camptown Races”, he meant to notate it but never got around to it.” 

“Puzzled but intrigued the performer continued. “The year is presently 2001, Gottschalk lived 1829-1869, even if the student was taking lessons at one year old, which is impossible, the student would be one hundred and thirty years old! Are you sure?” At this point Jamus seemed to get quite agitated and asked him “Are you calling me a liar?”

“No, not at all, just trying to make sense of it. I would be very interested in notating the song, maybe we can get together later and do it. It wouldn’t hurt me academically to stumble onto an unpublished work by Gottschalk.” The performer shook Jamus’s hand again, got up from the table, bade us farewell, and proceeded to the stage, becoming our sonic wallpaper. Saying nothing to each other, the lady doctor and I sat at the table basically openmouthed at the incredible and bizarre scene that had played before our eyes. “I need to lay down.” Jamus insisted rubbing his forehead with his hand. I told Jamus that I had a spare bed in my room. It’s Room 212. I had to get back to the festival set-up soon but he was welcome to use my room in the meantime for some R&R. The room was just down the hall from a couple of guys in my crew. Feeling it might do Jamus some good the couple he was with agreed to my suggestion and said they would check on him later. As I was walking Jamus back to my room he looked at me exhausted and said “It’s all coming back bit by bit. It is like some kind of incredible dream or nightmare, I’m not sure which.” When we got to the room he laid down on one of the double beds. “How long have I been gone?” Jamus asked me. I told him about a year and a half. He mentioned some names that were not familiar to me. I felt his hopelessness of me not being able to help him and the helplessness of not being able to help himself.”

Harmony in a Box – #01-07

Gigs took a long draw on his cigar and continued, “Apparently this man that I called Jamus was found in Labrador wandering in the barrens near Harp Lake. Some hunters who were traveling in that region found him near death, suffering from hypothermia and starvation. The woman he was with said he was flown to her settlement in a cargo plane. He has no memory or recollection of who he is or where he came from. Presumably amnesia. As a doctor scheduled to lecture at the University of Manitoba, she was traveling to Winnipeg and the police asked her to bring him with her. They felt there was more opportunity to find information on this man in the city than Harp Lake.” 

“At her request, I told them all I knew of the man named Jamus, who this unidentified person so closely resembled, except the for the striking differences in hair and weight. Strangely enough he looked much younger, almost like a younger healthier brother who bore a striking family resemblance. But the aloof personality and striking eyes seemed to be the personal characteristic traits of Jamus.”

“At this point the man I presumed to be Jamus was more interested in the musician playing guitar than in our conversation. The guitar was amplified through a small P.A. system with speakers elevated on tripods. This type of music acts as a type of sonic wallpaper, a background sound that’s non-offensive. You know, the rule of thumb playing in steakhouses is to play so quietly you can hear the knives cutting through the steaks. The person playing seemed a studied musician blending various musical styles and genres into a never-ending song bridged together by a series of complex chord arrangements.”

“So, the Jamus person rose from his seat and headed towards the stage. We looked on with curiosity. The performer and Jamus had some sort of conversation and the performer handed his guitar to Jamus. It was incredible. This wonderful music seemingly coming out of the soul of the man I called Jamus began to captivate everyone in the room. His head was slightly swaying to the music as his closed eyes were being guided by his eyebrows. The audience was instantly taken to another level of consciousness and appreciation. His fingers moving along the fret board seemed to caress the melody with a balanced dishing of tension and release form of musical foreplay. Then, like a conscious building of an intricate musical melody, he broke into a musical joke! He played the French Canadian folksong Allouetta and American Steven Foster’s Camptown Races simultaneously! At the highlight of the rendition the energy was so stimulating it immediately transcended into a round of applause and a standing ovation from everyone in the room. The person I believed was Jamus slowly stood up, took a shallow but sincere bow, and headed towards the table.”