There was a point in my musical life where I decided that I’m committed, with no holds barred. Not long after that I stopped taking bookings where I was supposed to draw an audience.
Drawing an audience is a big distraction from playing. If I have time to spend on preparing for a gig, I want it to benefit people’s ears – things like practicing, working on the set list, improving my equipment. Quality is hyperefficient. I have limited resources. The music is the best place to invest them..
Also, drawing a crowd is a con game. Making It In The Music Business is not what I’m about. As much respect as I have for people who make this game work, they are vastly outnumbered by people getting fleeced.
So I direct my attention to pre-existing crowds in need of music. Parties, for example. Problem solved. But then there’s a new problem – the music isn’t what they’re there for.
So last night I happened to play a gig for an audience which was there for other reason than to listen, and it was awesome. A quiet room. Comfortable seats. Ability to follow the phrases back and forth. I felt like they were disappointed when the big dumb songs arrived instead of relieved that the pointy headed stuff was finally over.
Maybe I can find a way to achieve both goals.
There’s a Corey Harris gig in NYC on January 14 that I’d go to if I were still back east, which relates to an incredible video I posted a while back: Sittin´ On Top Of The World – Otha Turner & Corey Harris
Those guys both excel at the African roots of American music, which were buried as far as possible because of european looniness WRT Africa, like Heart of Darkness. Otha’s thing is pretty much straight quills AFAICT. Harris’ playing is creative and beautiful in a genre (blues) that is mainly formulaic machismo. Speaking as a musician with a related creative strategy, I have a lot of respect for where he takes it.
More awesomeness in the tradition of americana africana:
(1) Ali Farka Toure and Corey Harris play a Skip James tune. (2) From way back in 1961: Sid Hemphill & Lucious Smith – Old Devil’s Dream. (3) A short documentary on Otha Turner at FolkStreams.
Credit to my college friend Anne Wallace Allen, who posted this to Facebook, saying:
Bottled in Idaho, I guess. Eric keeps finding whiskey bottles in an 1890 house he’s renovating.