The First Longest Day

The first time I played a “Longest Day” was June 21, 2019, in Sundance Square in Fort Worth. I was excited to get to be up on the big stage right downtown. It was a Friday, so we had to keep the music low until after 5:00. If memory serves me, I had planned to play for eight hours that day, trying to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association because they are working toward a world without Alzheimer’s. At some point during the day, one of the ladies who works with them started telling everyone I was playing for ten hours. I didn’t argue or correct her, because it was for a good cause, but I was a little concerned as I was already exhausted by that point. 

My friend, Brad Thompson, came out to play some songs with me but for some reason we couldn’t get that worked out, so he and his family ate on the patio by the stage and cheered me on. It started to get hot around 3:00 PM and the sweat was really rolling. One of the things that sweaty hands do to a guitar is make the strings gritty and they can start to rub your fingers raw. I had been taking a ten-minute break every hour (50/10) to hydrate, eat, or whatever, but now that ten-minute break was being used for something else.

As my fingertips sweat and my calluses from playing started to tear off, it was causing some pain. My friend, Mark Stevenson, brought me some super glue to put on my fingertips when my next ten-minute break started so I could blow on them in hopes they dried by the beginning of the next set. Also, I don’t remember if this was due to string breakage or just needing new strings, but my friend, Caleb Hailey, changed the strings on one of my guitars so I could have some fresh. Even as my body was wearing down, my mind was still able to come up with words and chords to perform songs I had not played yet and perform them all from memory without the aid of sheet music. 

A little later, the heat and natural fatigue from singing that long started to wear on my voice. It’s a well-known fact that a little whiskey and honey is incredible for soothing laryngitis and helping get your voice to go just a little further. Well, I asked my friend, Christine, if she would get me a little whiskey and she came back with the biggest bottle of whiskey I have ever seen. Other people were bringing me smoothies. I don’t know how many smoothies I drank that day, but none were left behind. 
Sometime in the evening, someone from the Alzheimer’s Association announced that I was playing for twelve hours. Twelve hours!! I still came up with music I had not performed, kept up with the super glue and whiskey, and played for twelve hours with ten minute breaks every hour. I learned several things that day. I learned people will come together to help someone accomplish a goal. I learned there are hundreds of people who are personally affected with Alzheimer’s but I never knew it until this event. I learned that the brain is so much stronger than the physical body. As my body broke down, I stayed mentally sharp and we raised somewhere around $12,000.00 that day.

On Thursday, June 20th, I’ll be doing it again. From 10:00AM to 10:00PM I’ll be on Peace Plaza in Grapevine, TX to raise money to create a world without Alzheimer’s. We will live stream the event and I’ll make sure to share the link for that. We’ll take donations in person at the event, online through a donation link, and at satellite watching parties. I am only one person, but I have many friends. Each of you are only one person, but you have many friends. If my friends, and your friends, and their friends all donate, we’ll get to reach the goal. When we reach the goal, we get closer to a world without Alzheimer’s. When we reach a world without Alzheimer’s, we won’t have to live through what so many already have.

http://act.alz.org/goto/alzthesongs

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