Well it’s nearing the end of the year. This has caused me, as it does every year, to do some reflecting. It’s been quite a year. Up’s and down’s. I’m sure many of you have felt the same. The world has had quite a year. Horrible things happened. Some wonderful things happened. I’m not sure if it’s the season or what but I usually get a little wishy washy this time of year. I was inspired recently by an acquaintance in Toronto, Danny Marks. Danny was waiving the positivity fflag online and I must confess, I needed to see it.
I made a new album in Clarksdale Mississippi.
That album, “The Shack Up Sessions”, has been hanging out on the Canadian Roots Music Report top 40 (around 25) for a few months and more recently landed on someone’s top ten best Canadian Blues albums of 2012. I’m proud of the record so I’m happy to see it do it’s thang. I look forward to touring it across Canada in 2013. I performed in Mexico.
I did two more tours of Canada this year, with my band. Both successful. Played some great festivals including another memory filled, amazing time at Harvest Festival rubbing shoulders with my heroes and getting props from their bands.
All very gratifying.
As with everything though, there is what I call perceived reality and true reality. This means in a nutshell that what you see on the surface rarely is what is really going on. I can only assume this is how it is for all. We often put on a great front for our friends, families and everyday people we come into contact with. It’s tough. I’m not saying we’re all fake but we certainly hide our struggles from most people. Giving the appearance that everything is fine all the time. Myself I struggle with duality daily. On one hand I have a wonderful career/life that is filled with blessings and gifts daily. On the other hand executing this life is extremely difficult and causes me great anguish. Ups and downs are extreme. Times of great opportunity and work and then the next day drought. Not to mention I struggle with the duality of the person I am (or want to be) in everyday life and the person I am (or want to be) on stage. They’re different people and I try hard to keep them that way. This year was also really rough. I had to piece my band back together with line up changes. I worried people wouldn’t like it anymore. Very difficult for me mentally. Before I go on I want to just say that I chose this life so please don’t misconstrue this as whining. I’m not. I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m just saying these things because it helps me deal/feel better. Talking about it helps. Contrary to popular consensus. AND i promise there’s a point coming…
Lately I’ve been super stressed out because we’re getting ready to record a new album. Yes we’re going to Louisiana to do it and yes it’s going to be with an artist I greatly admire BUT…organizing it is extremely hard. From the arts side: Material. You have to have something to record right? We have 15 tunes which is more than enough. Some are new some are old tunes we’ve not recorded and some are tunes I recorded solo that I want to record with the band. Sometimes I worry that people think I re-record too much old shit. I tell myself that doesn’t matter and to do what I feel is good and right for the record…but still…there’s that little voice waaay in the back of the head. Rehearsal: you’ve got to rehearse a LOT. This saves time in the studio and that saves money which leads me to the other side of planning. Business: you’ve got to be able to pay for it. We’ve been fortunate enough to get a grant for the album from NB that will cover about 30% of the cost. We’re raising money on our Pledge Music site to cover another 25-30% but of course that still leaves 40% to raise. Some costs immediate, some later. Hard not to think about it. Sometimes worry that people think we’re just asking for handouts. Of course this is not the case once you investigate our pledge site but still…you feel these vibes out there. Then there’s the travel, making sure there’s food, and staying healthy! This is a big one. It sucks to get to the recording studio and be sick. Stress is a killer and avoiding it can make the difference between a cold or not. I’ve been worried lately about it and I know that doesn’t help so I’m trying to think positive as I can.
One might ask why I would do all this and go through it. Well the short answer is life is tough and to get what you want you need to work hard and overcome obstacles. The long answer is this: I’ve done many different jobs in my life. None of them kept me happy. It wasn’t until I was in my early thirties that I realized you can do what makes you happy if you work hard. So that’s what I’ve been doing. You see, the greatest feeling in the world for me is a good night on stage. On a bad night I still get to rawk but on a good night….on a good night the band is floating. We’re playing as one. A musical Muscle. I don’t have to think. My hands seem to work on their own. My voice feels powerful and I have no struggle to hit the notes. The dance floor is full and moving as one. EVERYONE is sweating. As I look out to the audience (almost in an out of body feeling) I can see the faces of the people in the crowd. Some of them familiar. Some strangers. I see people are there with us. Sharing in the same experience of what I’ll call Joy for lack of a better word. None of us are thinking about our bills, our school work, our jobs. We’re all just being taken by the music. A journey to peace. Even if it’s only a moment. This moment is what I strive for every single time I put on my guitar. It is the best feeling I’ve encountered in 38 years. I know I’m not alone in this feeling. People tell me, unsolicited, that they feel that way. That the music HELPS. It does help. It has saved my life 100 times over. I’m sure of this. I’m sure Music has saved tens of thousands of peoples lives. Music saves lives. That is powerful. This is the reason I work hard at my job. Why I spend so much time online/phones trying to book tours. Why I freak out and put my health in jeopardy from stress. Why I write music and record albums. So that I can go out on the road and play these songs in bars, coffee shops, living rooms, festivals. ANYWHERE. Because it makes me Happy. It makes other people happy and that makes me happy too!
The world is in rough shape. Tragedy after tragedy is reported. It seems no good news is on the TV or in the paper. People online are hateful and hurtful. I’m stressed and a little depressed from overwork and exhaustion but I’m going to pick myself up today, put myself back together and go into the world again and try and love more and make people feel good. We have that power folks. YOU can make people feel good by being nice. A kind gesture. A random act. It can happen all year round too. Not just during the holidays. It’s hard sure, but do you know what the best part is…When you make someone else happy or help them, you also help and make YOURSELF happy. It’s true. I’ve tried it. So I encourage everyone to try and suppress the negativity. Don’t give in. Look. For. Love. The world needs it badly. I need it badly. and I bet, so do you.
I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty or anything with this post. I just needed to unload. it feels good. It’s a little embarrassing opening up but you know what? This is my reality. I’m human. I break down. I get up and go again. I don’t think I’m any different than anyone else out there except that today I’m telling you how I really feel. If you’re feeling like this, or have felt like this or even need to get something unrelated off your chest drop me a comment. I’m here for you. I may not have answers but I can listen. No one is alone except by choice.
Be safe. stay warm and love hard.
yours in music,