Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Work Hard, Play Hard

Well, life with (Lonnie) Brooks has brought me over the pond and back.

That's the Atlantic Ocean, for those of you that have yet to have that first cup of coffee.

The tour was a blast. Spain is a glorious country, and Madrid is high on the list of places to live in the (near) future. It's very relaxed and low-key, there are a lot of musicians, and seemingly many places to play.

Plus beer is cheaper than Coca-Cola.

The trip was also a lot of work, as overseas tours usually are. There are flights to catch, customs officials to deal with (the U.S., by the way takes the cake in terms of jack-booted thugs. No shoe removal necessary in Barajas International), mediocre sound guys and gear to "work" with, and promoters to please (one more song? sure. why not? we've only been on stage for 2 hours and it's 90 degrees outside. dinner's still not for another hour you say?)

Sleep is usually at a premium (5 am pick-ups in the hotel lobby are the norm.)

That being said, coming back is always a culture shock. Not only does it suck to have to come back from fantasy land, but it's gross and disgusting having to change your clothes in a bathroom stall in some crappy bar.

Like I said, it's work.

I recently got an email from a fellow pro and scribe, Steve Hashimoto, one of the best bass players in town. Perhaps you know him. He writes the weekly "News from the Trenches", his own little platform for rants and raves and songs and praises (and looking for gigs like the rest of us.) I wanted to share this with all of you who might be working while I'm playing:

"...perhaps a reason why people see what we musicians do as play rather than work is that we make music for pleasure, or for no payment, as often, if not more, than we do for compensation. To paraphrase, “You don’t see plumbers having jam sessions”, a concept that I found highly amusing. Which, of course, begs the question, why don’t musicians (or all artists, for that matter) get paid BETTER than any other trade, or skill? We artists, whether in the fields of music, visual arts, literary arts, dance or acting, generally work constantly to improve our skills, practicing, rehearsing, experimenting, working on new techniques, honing old ones, and yet people get all bent out of shape when we try to charge what a plumber or doctor or electrician charges for a comparable amount of billable time. As usual, my belief is that it all comes down to culture and education – if all of America’s schools, whatever level, were a bit more forceful about teaching the sheer work ethic involved in the arts, maybe we’d have less artists (scared away), but better respect for those who stick it out. Because I do think that America, for all of its cultural shortcomings, does respect hard work. And maybe this is as good a reason as any to call what we do work– it is, after all, work, and hard work, and maybe we do ourselves a disservice by trying to pass it off as being easy, as it being something that just “comes” to us, mystically."

Well said, Steve.

We keep on keeping on.

So it goes...

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