Define the space;
organize the space;
protect the space;
hold the space. -RF
Space is the place. -Unidentified stoner.
If Fripp could see the average Velvet setup, he would hold that chaos only breeds chaos. He would be so right, but how do you get eight guys on a small stage not to feel like they are on an NY subway at rush hour?
Defining and organizing the space is crucial. One bitch about being in a band is when you set up all your stuff, and then you are told to move. I swear to you that in one band in particular, no matter where I set up, it was the band leader's hidden sadistic intention to always wait until I had everything up and running, then to tell me to move it all. Near the end of my rope and just about the time I was getting ready to drop out of the scene, one request was met with a few sarcastic remarks. I think he was very surprised to hear me verbalize my anger as he seemed a bit shocked. But, to be honest, he had to know of his intention and frankly I was sick of it. I had done this cheerfully for years before I had caught on to the little power games that musicians play.
Protect Thy Axe. At the V-gig, I tried to sit quietly and warm up. Some kid with blond hair instantly started asking me about my guitar, do I play any Carlos Barbosa-Lima and could he play it? For fuck's sake, this was my time. While normally, I politely decline loaning my instrument to anyone whom I do not know, not to be a dick, I let him play. He went through the usual variety of start-stop, half classicalish, half jazzish fragments while repeatedly telling me that finger style was not his thing. After this diversion, I asked for my guitar back and just when hands were being warmed up, it was show time. There went crucial time spent getting nerves under control.
True story: I was standing outside talking to a student right after a lesson. This older looking student came over and started talking to us and the conversation got around to guitars.
"Do you mind if I look at your guitar?"
"Yes. In fact, I have to get going."
"But it's only going to take a minute. What kind is it?"
I was in no mood to see yet again someone take my beloved guitar into their untrustworthy hands. I wince at the thought.
Finally he kept pushing me and pushing me:"Sir, by the time we have spent talking about this, you could have shown me." Pushy bastard.
Don't push me. Ever. I dig my heels into the earth so deep you won't get them to move. "Listen, I choose who I let see my guitar, you don't decide that for me, ok?" I am sure my face and eyes were sending daggers at that point because even my student clammed up and a most pregnant silence remained.
I don't know how all these Fripp entries affect you, oh gentle readers, but they have a profound effect on me sometimes. Last night was a good example. The Bistro gig is a three hour guitar marathon with master Kennedy. It was superb last night on all levels. I would say that the first two hours were magical. The third hour, I could feel a little wear and tear. Fatigue is inevitable and the resultant lack of focus, but still, it is a joy to play with someone so good. We communicate almost telepathically. It is really freaky when it all comes together.
These Fripp words of necessity and sufficiency were full in my mind as we played. Don't overplay-keep it simple. What is necessary? Only do that. Or in common parlance: lay back and keep a simple groove.
Come to relaxation.
This is of great value for a player like me who must go through a time of settling before the quality of playing becomes reasonable. Relaxing is a conscious action. Letting go can only happen when we are aware that we are not. Kind of a pickle, ain't it? Last night, I ran those words through my mind and found areas of the right shoulder and arm being tense. It is so easy and unnoticeable for tension to come into our bodies.
Attracted attention - energy is sucked out of us; eg at newstands.
Hostility and ill-will: an inevitable consequence of public life.
Hostility and ill-will are a part of being in public. The Bistro is not a place where I have found either. Certainly in bars, there is always the drunken moron who tries to challenge or belittle the band while setting up: "I still ain't heard a goddam note yet!" Or the classic: Do ya'll play any Skeenerd?" Then shock and disbelief that this is not part of the set list for the evening. Usually these clowns are so juiced that they call it an early night well before the band plays.
Certainly the radio work has been a source of this. People have many reasons for being hostile assholes, but none of them matter. This is not personal, radio is just a service-entertainment for the masses. We have one flaming asshole who relentlessly criticizes my work and sends his bitter, caustic emails, which border on personal attacks, every six weeks or less. I cannot imagine how horrible it must be to be him. He is a toad. A snipey little toad. He seeks my attention like a child.
Attracted attention - energy is sucked out of us. People like that have no more purpose in life than to make everyone as miserable as they. I have no energy for it. I have made my peace with it and have moved on.
Cultivate goodwill. Plainly put, you have to. The mind goes places that the body never wishes to go. Attention must be fluid, but focused and not drifting (the monkey mind), but of all these, one's emotional center must be concerned with: people are not out to get you. Though this may sound corny, a great man stated it and it is one of the wisest ever written:
Love bears all things.
At the center, must be love. This will bring us through.
Even though the drunken buttheads, the nasty emails and the constant shadow of doubt.
So, thanks again, Bobby from Dorset.