“Q” was not for “Quiet” on April 30th, when we descended on the Q Cafe for the 2011 Spring Coffee Shop Jam. The show featured my guitar students, and the students of my friends Brady and Mark, who teach bass and drums. The Coffee Shop Jam is always incredible, and this was no exception: Moments of epic grandeur, quiet beauty, terror….

ConnorSamJackClairePhotos by Seattle photographer MKM Photography

I played on about 30 of the songs, and rehearsed many of them just a handful of times, so I had my own moments of terror. One came halfway through the second show, when I realized, with about four bars to go, that I’d neglected to sufficiently practice the solo to my student Jack’s cover of Green Day’s “Holiday.” It was in a different key than I was used to, and in the heat of the moment, I blanked. Is it in 8th position? 9th position? What key is this song in, anyway? This is not what you want to be thinking when you’re on stage.

Despite my occasional “jazz chord” and “avante-garde improvisation,” I was happy with my performance, and the students were in their typical fine form. I usually feature the younger kids on this blog, since their skills and passion are so striking. But today I want to share two performances by older students that stand out in my mind:

Here’s Claire doing a gorgeous cover of the Avett Brothers’ song “Shame”:

And here’s Gary singing “Pilgrim” by Steve Earle:

“That’s great Rob, but where are the kids?” you might say. Oh, OK, here’s Jack rocking that Green Day song. No making fun of my solo. Musicians are sensitive people.

“Dude, this music is lame,” you say. “How about some metal played by an overcaffinated 11-year-old and a student drummer pulverizing his teacher’s jazz kit? And let’s have the kid freak out at the ending and use a mic stand as a slide.” OK, you asked for it…

You can see all the Jam videos here.

And here are some great photos taken by my wife, Meg.