A MUSICIAN’S HISTORY – SOME OBSERVATIONS

 

PULLING THE BIRDS? SHE MUST BE PULLING MY LEG

 

As I am heading out to our gig tonight I have been thinking, my how quickly the time slips past. This year marks the 50th year that I have been involved in performing music, either playing in bands or performing solo. It certainly doesn’t seem that long. And although I was in bands throughout high school and college, and after that in the 1970’s, it wasn’t really until I moved to Europe in 1980 and paid my dues busking and doing weekly blues sessions that my musical endeavours really became semi-professional in nature.

I have never been more than a mediocre guitar player when viewed from a technical aspect. I never was able to cross that fine line where I could get the ideas in my brain to move in a fluid and coordinated manner into my hands. That has been so true in many of the things that I have pursued in my life. I always have the inspiration, the feeling, the vision and the creativity, but fall short on the technical know how and the discipline that makes a good musician. Fortunately the training ground that the street music, the blues sessions and later on various jazz projects provided in the 1980’s helped me to develop my voice into the instrument that it has become today.

I find that the hardest thing to do actually is the Doors tribute program. Whereas I can really remain myself in interpreting blues songs or doing my poetry and jazz project, performing the Doors material requires that I become someone else on stage. It is not always the easiest thing to do, trying to tap into the spirit and the flow of Morrison’s music. Most of the times the mask fits, but sometimes I do wonder. Basically I am a very private and shy person. Dealing with being the center of attention as a lead singer these days is never a comfort zone for me. After a gig, when I would rather just melt away into the shadows, I have to deal with the positive and negative criticism, thank people for coming, and generally open myself up in ways that I never quite feel comfortable with. The last gig was a good example. While standing in the narrow hallway leading into the venue, a bloke was chatting me up about wanting our band to play at some sort of occasion he was planning while a rather rotund woman was babbling away about something I never did quite grasp as she pushed up against me repeatedly as people tried to pass by. At the same time that was going on another nice young woman was asking me about doing my portrait from a photo and various and sundry people were commenting on our performance. When I finally gathered up my equipment and managed to get up the stairs and outside to leave, the drummer’s lovely wife started telling me about how I was pulling the birds that evening, and how all the women were looking at me with wide eyes. Yeah, right. She’s pulling my leg, I thought to myself. Hell, I’m over 60, fat and quite gray. I didn’t want to hear or deal with that. I don’t go there anymore. It had been a long night and I just wanted to head home. Ah yes, the trials and tribulations of a being rock musician.

On the whole though, I am grateful to have been able to perform all these years, and thankful that I am still doing it. I did a post here last week about how one is never too old to still be doing this. Deep down I really do believe that. Inside I am still 29, trapped in this over 60 year old body these days. And after a concert, when my energy is completely drained, because as any good musician knows, you always have to give it your all, it is a wonderful feeling to know that you have given the audience a night of entertainment that they really enjoyed. No amount of money can give you that feeling. It’s the appreciation that makes it all worthwhile. And so I’m headed off now to tonight’s concert. Outside it’s started snowing. That should make things all the more interesting…

000 Brst83-3One of my proudest performing moments, opening for Richie Havens at Dingwalls in Bristol, England in July 1983.


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