what to do when the dog catches the car?
it’s been a crazy week and the week that’s about to follow won’t get any less hectic. it’s great to have multiple shows in a week, something that regular artists may be used to, but the cusp-artists (you know, on the cusp of leaving the regular 9 to 5 and being a full-time musician/artist) live something different entirely.
there’s always things that we wish were easier. we wish that we had more time to just focus on the craft and not worry about the grueling, technical side (business side) of pursuing your art. the making sure the rent is paid. making sure the bank account isn’t getting into the negative. the making sure that upcoming shows are promoted. so, then all of a sudden you not only have the job of an artist but also an accountant, promoter and booking agent.
and quite honestly it becomes easy to become cynical. so, on thursday oct. 14th when i had to go to black mountain, nc for the LEAF festival to perform with my bros the Secret B-Sides, i saw the show as a much needed emotional vacation. the drive is about 2.5 hours and making the trip alone can be frustrating (especially when there’s a shortage in the wire connected to your ipod making all the music come out of one speaker).
while on my way there i was in a shitty mood. shitty because it costs about $50 to fill my tank, shitty because i can’t hear the music properly and shitty because i have to drive there alone (after scheduling conflicts prohibited anyone from joining me on the trip). all i had to accompany me was an ill advised late breakfast of bojangles biscuits and bo rounds (yea, that’s never something to be proud of).
i get there and meet with the band and i go through the usual performance jitters. not nervousness but an anxiety to hurry up and get me on the stage. and then something happened: while on stage with the band, i realize that we aren’t just friends. we are doing something that’s sacred. something that is beyond our consciousness.
fela kuti said that people that “play music die young” and that “musicianship is the profession of the gods.” while on stage (ironically re-creating “water no get enemy” by fela” with the horn section, this extreme calm took over me. it became clear that aside (or as well as) seeing a child born and seeing a life pass that being involve with live music is the closest thing we will get to being near God. i had what alcoholics call a “moment of clarity” (like the ‘pulp fiction’ reference?) at that moment, i finally got it. whatever that it was i realized that the power of it and finally lost the anxiety of trying to single handedly cultivate it because i know that i have help. call it help from the most high, the ancestors during middle passage or what, but i know it was there.
suddenly mr. cynical became mr. optimistic. i look forward to the next day. hanging with lead singer (and like a brother) juan holladay and his two younger sisters made me feel like a big brother. something that i never was able to feel growing up (i’m the youngest). after a show where we played longer than scheduled (because the crowd wanted us to keep going) and getting some damn good coffee we just hung out and i felt something that i hadn’t felt in a while: peace.
i wasn’t clamoring for the blackberry to check any facebook messages or twitter mentions. i truthfully didn’t give a fuck. i was where i needed to be.