Feast or Famine?

All of a sudden after what has been a steady two-three years of regular gigs I find myself looking at March and April and wondering what happened. At the moment there are two gigs in March and one in April. It’s a little hard to get used to since playing music is what feeds my soul. And that soul has been well fed for some time. So what’s changed? I used to do a lot of gigs at the Aeolian Hall as part of their jazz series. Sadly, the audience for live jazz is dwindling and based on the majority of the audience demographic that attended the Aeolian Shows or other events like Jazz for the People the audience might actually be dead soon as well. The result of that is that the Aeolian did not do a jazz series for this year simply because the Hall has to make money off of shows. My friend Chris Norley says that jazz isn’t dead it just smells funny. Maybe it is dead. I wonder what we’d have to call a ‘live jazz’ show that would sound interesting to folks looking to spend some $ on local entertainment. And pay the musicians.

Granted, the frequency of my shows may be down but the quality of performers and musicians that I have had the pleasure to meet this last year or so has been amazing. You might hurt your back picking up the names I drop (Jian Gomeshi quote) but recent shows with Emm Gryner, Coco Love Alcorn, Colleen Brown and Twilight Hotel have been highlights in this fledgling, late bloomer career. Just last week I played bass for a Neil Young Tribute Show with Catherine McInnes, Claire Danaher and Liam and Brent Titcomb. It was really great to hear father and son Titcomb play music together and listen to their banter. I asked Liam how often he played with his Dad and Brent was quick to add that it was never enough. They are both lovely humans and Brent also gives me hope for a much longer career playing music. He’s 70 and sounds fantastic. I think music does keep you young. I certainly hope so.

Although that’s part of my problem with coping with this lull in shows and bookings. Sure I’m only 45 and have gone grey early in life. Running a company for 20 years without a high need to win will do that to you. But in some ways I feel that my time is limited. Maybe it is and I just don’t know yet. I remember when my Dad turned 50 and how old I thought he was at that time. Now he’s 70. He’s been through a lot but spending a month in Florida sounds good to me. And then he’s off for two weeks on a boat in the Caribbean. When did my Mom and Dad become Snowbirds?

As 2010 took off with all kinds of interesting opportunities I was conscious of the fact that it could be a fleeting thing but was comfortable with the idea that if I did not end up working outside of London on a regular basis that I would always have the local scene to fall back on. It seems the local scene has dried up a bit for this bass player at least. Although I have no doubt I could be playing in bars every weekend but then I might not be able to take gigs that come up with some of those dropped names.

I watched a great interview with Simon Cowell this weekend. I’ll watch it again since he had lots to say that is useful for the industry as well as life in general. He said something at the end of the interview that really struck a chord with me as well as my other half Holly. He talked about his level of success and all that has come his way but how that when something finishes it’s not very long after that he’s wondering what’s next. To the rest of us it probably looks like he has some kind of Midas touch but clearly it’s all hard work which may or may not end with a successful result. I’m no Simon Cowell, although perhaps I could be less diplomatic sometimes, but I get what he’s saying. I did a show on the weekend and there were lots of compliments and validation from the folks I was working for as well as the audience. I’m sure we all love that when it happens. But the next day I’m asking what’s next and getting a little bit panicky about my ‘career’.

The other thing that Simon talked about was patience. That’s what I have to work on. As well as being grateful for the opportunities that have come my way rather than worry about the ones that didn’t. Besides I have a a hallway that needs to have ancient wall paper removed and painted.

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4 thoughts on “Feast or Famine?

  1. Steve,
    While the compliments and accolades are very nice, sometimes you realize that they don’t put food on the table. Every gig should network into another. Good luck and keep doing what you love, as they say, the money will follow……….eventually, or so I have heard.
    Best wishes,
    That Old guy that takes lessons from you.

    Like

  2. It’s always hard to know what gigs to take. I’m trying harder and harder to only take higher quality gigs. It’s really hard sometimes though.

    There have been many times a really cool opportunity has come along and I’m already booked to do something I’m not thrilled about. But I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than being home with nothing to do after turning down a certain gig hoping for something better.

    It’s really not an easy life.

    Like

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