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Some months in the life of a musician… #1

I’ve been reflecting on my life as a musician and an artist. It’s not the ONLY thing I do, but it’s a big part of what I do. For example, I’m a husband. That’s full time. I’m a father of three. That’s beyond full time.

Then I’m involved in various capacities teaching and consulting and pastoring. I don’t need to go into all of it, but I think of myself as all these things together, not exclusively divided up into hours of the day. But if someone asked me what I do for a living, I would say I am a musician because my understanding is that it encompasses all these other things. I spend a lot of time performing – both as an entertainer and as a teacher (you have to perform as a teacher nowadays) – as well as creating stuff. It’s a way of life, and it’s busy.

But that’s not a general view. In fact, far from it. Some people think that being a musician is easy. I asked them. They used phrases like “Lots of green stuff”, “head in the clouds”, “feet up all day”, “strumming a guitar”, “arty farty”…

Others just roll their eyes. They think that musicians are “needy”, “emotional” and class them as “Divas” (even the chaps).

There are, of course, more nuanced views. Some people think “Eye of the tiger”. “Moonwalk”, “Meatloaf”… “Long hair… Sweaty lips touching the mic.”

Then there are those biased views: “Handsome (if your name is Ryan). Absolutely stunning – if your name is Tammy.”

And thank the Lord – there are the insightful: “Passionate. Frustrated. Free-range. Busking. Undervalued. Hoping for a lucky break. Soulish. Confident.”

Then, out of the blue, I get this:

“Conflicting mind sets;
Passion and pointlessness at war.
If following passion yields pointless results, then what is the point?
And pointlessness fogs out vision.
Will it ever return?
The point is passion!
If passion be allowed to win the day
The pointless arguments as to why it cannot be done,
should not be done,
will not be done…
These; they have to give way.
Scuttling into the corner,
Let them stay there
As I pull out my dusty guitar
And work blisters onto my finger tips.
Let them stay there as I slowly tickle the ivories,
Wrestle with the ebonies,
Recollecting something of the long lost dream…..
So long ago hidden behind the taunting voice of pointlessness.
As tentatively I test out my vocal chords,
Passion burning yet pointlessness raising a voice from the corner,
Questioning…..
Will anybody still listen?
As words come and get put to paper,
Accompanying them a tune,
So what to do with them pointlessness would say.
Well frankly I don’t know…
Passion however, may you have the final say!”

Just breathe that all in for a moment.

Okay, now carry on…

If you ask an actual musician what their life is like, they’ll say something like this:

“Late nights of learning music parts in your room, looping various sections of the piece to make sure you get it right… stuffing gear into the smallest car you can find (P.S. No vehicle will ever be big enough!)

“It’s all worth it though. Nothing beats the excitement of performing in front of people who have no idea you practiced four weeks for a 45-minute slot.”

And as I reflect on my own life, I have to smile and consider the mysterious truth in these words.

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A new trend in music

Ask my fingertips. The evidence is all there.

I think I have played more music in the last 8 weeks than I have in the last 5 years. Steel string guitars don’t lie to your fingertips… especially 2-3 hours at a time. (Sometimes four.) But besides that, I’m puzzled. Why now? Why suddenly the flash flood of gigs?

My wife reckons it’s because Continue reading A new trend in music

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Joburg and back

What an epic weekend it was. I survived the altitude change, I wasn’t hijacked and best of all… I got to play music! The last time I was in Joburg to play music we were gallivanting around Pretoria with Southern Gypsey Queen and the back end of Richmond with Newtown. Good times.

I love being on the road. Don’t get me wrong – there’s no place like home: I mean, I get woken up by my kids and hauled out of bed on cold Autumn mornings (before sunrise), the lawn has to be cut, and my dogs bark (read: yap) at everything that moves. Continue reading Joburg and back