Monday, March 17, 2008

Home Fires Burning

Lounge Times Magazine: "Johnny Velvet, what is your philosophy about music?"

JV: "Get the gig."

A colleague was talking today about a recent gig. There, while he was on stage performing, the next guy up was in another room rehearsing so loud that it ruined what he was trying to do.

"Didn't the guy realize what he was doing?"

"No. He's just so egotistical that he was wrapped up in what he was doing."

We spoke further about similar experiences with dickhead club owners who always tried to blackmail the band with a slew of veiled and not so veiled threats of pulling the plug on the gig.

My co-worker expressed a great truth:

"It got to a point where I'd say that we're going to pack everything up right now and leave you without a band tonight. That sure changed the club owner's attitude." He said once he had the freedom to say that, his whole attitude changed about playing live music forever. Double hell to the yeah, brother.

After a week of feeling a bit under appreciated in certain circles by a dismissive and arrogant individual, I started reflecting on what obligations were necessary and which were not. Playing in a band is one of those unecessary things.

By and large, I have quit the band-club scene for a number of years now. By God, never say never, but I am happy to be free of all the bullshit that inevitably comes with commercial music ensembles. I like making music, but I want to do it on my own terms. No dickhead club owner is going to act like I just stepped off a turnip truck and order the band around like they own them. Man, that was infuriating.

My foray into band world was relatively short, but it was enough to burn me out. It got so bad, that during songs, I would catch myself looking out the window of the club. Watching people out on the street, I'd think, "Please help me. I'm trapped in a band." The very last time I played in a club, it was horrible. I hid in a corner and tried to disappear. Whatever joy for this type of music making I once had, had dried up and an empty shell sat there with a guitar in its hands.

Some of my old band mates still play out in various groups. I see their pictures in the weekend where-to-go sections of the newspaper. I marvel at their enthusiasm, their smiling PR pictures, and for still playing in nightclubs and other venues. More power to them.

I thought about them while lounging next to a fire-another wonderful evening spent at home. No crowds, drunks, being shouted over and no dickhead club owners.
"My hypocrisy only goes so far."

Do I still play in a group. Yep. But it ain't the night clubbin' kind of gig group. It's a small electro-acoustic ensemble. I'm happy as a clam in it. No more torture, just music.

This weekend, my flautist buddy and I have a wedding. Is this hypocrisy? Yep. Money making liar? Yep. My hypocrisy only goes so far.

But the bullshit factor is down below detection.

Besides, friends can always come by. And enjoy the fire.

[Sir Charles Dickens is always good company and currently resides next to the fireplace.]

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