A wise old professor once said to me, when everything in my life was crumbling to shit, "Don't worry. This too shall pass." A month later when everything started to click perfectly, I ran to his office to tell him all my great news and how I just could not believe how incredible everything had become, he listened patiently then looked me straight in the eye and with a poker face I'll remember until my dying day said, "Don't worry. This too shall pass."
The point was not lost on me. But I did notice a few distinctions in this theory. A few blogs back I remember writing about how I was going to take this easy job with a low end trucking company and supplement my income with money I was making on the side playing music. It seemed like a viable plan at the time, but a few things took place since February that changed how I felt about that. Regardless of the mechanics, the overwhelming reason to change that approach came to me the day I realized that I had to give a certain amount of my time to somebody everyday in order to make a living, why not give it to the highest bidder? In other words, if I have to be away from the house 11 to 14 hours a day anyway, doesn't it make more sense to come home after earning $275 instead of $160? I mean this is the kind of difference we're talking about. Granted, there's quite a bit more work involved in the higher paying job, but once again, if you have to be away from the house for that long every day anyway, why spend that time on your ass when you could be shaking your thing and making your family happier in the process? Besides I sleep better when I work harder. So-blammo!-a decision has been made.
We tend to bandy about words like decision without stopping to truly ponder their real meanings. The etymology of the word decision is not too far from the word incision. It comes from a German term which essentially means to cut away all other possibilities. So when I told a truck driver friend of mine that I passed the drug test and the background check and I told my current job it was my last day, he proceeded to lecture me about how short sighted that was. "You should've just taken a leave of absence from your job and made sure everything was kosher with your new one. What if you don't like it? What if you can't handle the work?"
I felt a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach when he brought those things up, but as I continued driving down 84 near Hartford, I remembered what the word decision meant. There is no going back. I want that money not this money. I left myself no out on purpose. Once I became comfortable with the reality of that, I felt a wave of euphoria wash over me. I am striving. I am achieving. I am pushing myself into uncomfortable places and forcing myself to grow. That is where I find the juice of life.
For the past couple of years, my M.O. has been to play a few band gigs at the start of winery season to create a stir and get my name around. I like to find the best players I can and make as big a splash as possible before settling back into my solo work. This year, as anyone who knows me can attest, was truly special. I decided to ask the greatest Jazz organ/piano player in NY, "what would I have to pay you to play this gig with me?" He threw out a number and I came up with it. I mean sometimes you just need to do those things. In addition to that I was also able to get one of New Paltz's hottest rhythm sections and I booked a gig at The Sloop Brewery in Elizaville for Mother's Day. Then I asked MK from WDST if I could bring them onto Locally Grown to promote it (I could gush on and on about how wonderful MK is--I've been grinding and grinding for decades and she has given me more exposure in the last year than anyone has in the past 20--so she said "sure!"
Long story short, you can't miss with a band like that backing you up. But something no less than magical happened after the band left the stage. We still had an hour and a half to fill and I figured I'd keep the crowd happy with my winery repertoire. I opened with a rendition of Me and Bobby McGee where I could feel myself not only hitting all the notes that Janis would hit but the textures were very damn close. So close that I could feel electricity charging off of me and slamming into the crowd and then zapping right back at me. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing straight out. Then a grunged out version of a Stones song. Then a hyper speed version of Me and Julio.
The energy exchange between me and everyone in the room was intense.
I bring this up because at one point in my life I felt utterly uncomfortable playing to a room with nothing but me, a guitar and a harmonica. I felt like I was trying to penetrate a dark room with a thin treble and people would just ignore me as they waited for the rest of the band who wasn't showing up.
Once again the same story held true. I faced those uncomfortable situations and I left myself the choice of becoming really good at it or just not doing it anymore.
Now I am leaving out the part where I worked really hard for years and I bought myself a sick sounding Gibson J-45, a nice PA, a few little extras here and there--and all this stuff helps a lot--but it was those countless hours of singing the same song over and over, taping it, listening back and then building up a set of 50 of those.
Striving. Achieving. Pushing myself into uncomfortable situations and forcing myself to grow.
Sloop Brewery Mother's Day 2017