Thursday, July 23, 2009

It's Just a Damn Gig

"A practical difficulty with presenting systems of explanation to the head is that, once the head knows, it believes itself to know." Fripp

Every gig is a trial. Every one a test.

Last night, packed into the tiny local restaurant, Lisa and I played for a few friends and some lonely looking customers. People are not quite sure what to do with live music in a restaurant. Hell, I'm not sure. It's background, pure and simple. No problem, but still it's nice to have some familiar faces at any gig. That always helps.

She was a bit nervous. I told her that there was no reason at all to be nervous. We have playing together for decades and that experience always comes to bear in uncertain circumstances. We were a bit more "on stage" than our usual invisibility. I think we did ok. The purpose is always to prove that you still "have it," if to no one but yourself.

After reflecting on my 38 years as a guitar player, one thing's for certain: I am far more relaxed about the proceedings. I let the music happen and try to get my head out of the way; leaving the ear and fingers to guide me. The conscious mind sometimes gets in the way, trying to direct every move, over evaluating every little flaw. Relaxation has a very profound effect on music making.

When she and I began to play in the late 80's these long and lonesome gigs out at Coonskin Park's "restaurant" many moons ago, I was just learning how to handle jazz and schmaltz. After all, I had been a classical guitar purist for about 8 years. They didn't teach me that in school, people. I can't imagine how stiff my playing was at that time playing ballads like God Bless the Child or a swinging My Favorite Things.

After I had had enough of bands and playing in clubs in the 90's, I took a sabbatical. The joy of playing had just up and left. I was sick of it all and just let it go. That happens more often that people would believe. Like anything, being a musician is full of struggles and sometimes you get fried, tired of the constant bullshit and the little voice in your head constantly whispering, "See? I told you so. You're just not any good. You know it. I know it. Quit faking like you can play." The thought of playing repulsed me.

Slowly, I have made my way back. I am well aware that all this is just local and I'm never going to grace the cover of any magazine nor win any award. Never getting past weddings, clubs or he occasional restaurant. And all that is just fine for me. I just want the respect of my peers and an audience that won't throw tomatoes at me.

Some groupies would help as well. I mean, shit.

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