originally published in Sound Waves Magazine January 2019
It has come to my attention, because due to certain circumstances I have been forced to actually pay attention to people – listening to what they are saying – casually observing them – caring about them – instead of worrying about my dogs all the time, that there are a boatload of closet musicians out there. You know, dudes who only play in basements or their bedrooms – some even with other closet musicians. It’s like a secret society of maestros and geniuses who don’t play in bands, don’t play in bars, and basically just shy away from spotlights all together. They timidly ask to try out a guitar in a music store and proceed to shred like some reincarnation of Stevie Ray Vaughan or Hendrix, in their own world, with pure joy on their faces, while the rest of us struggle to not keep our mouths agape at what we are seeing and hearing. Screams from onlookers ranging from “Oh My God!” to “Who are you?” to “What the heck are you doing in a dump like this?” ensue. I have just been informed that some of these people actually change their guitar strings, repair their amps and polish and preen their instruments just to get together with other like-minded folk – FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER than to play in the same key with others. It’s like those guys at the end of “Titanic” who continue playing while the waters rise around them and the leader calmly states, “Gentlemen, it has been a privilege playing with you tonight.”
Yes, these people exist. And there are a lot of them. Any attempt by me or anybody else to urge them to share their awesomeness in a public venue is answered with various apprehensive responses such as, “Oh no, I couldn’t play like this in public,” or, “I don’t like the bar scene,” or, “That’s not why I play.” What the heck is wrong with these people?! It’s sort of like how Heaven’s got one hell of a band, but it’s right here on earth, in somebody’s old broken-down barn.
And then there’s me – complaining complaining complaining about band practice, the drudgery of the load-in and the load-out, the blank stares from the audience, the pains and pitfalls of booking gigs, the haggling over money, song choices, writers’ block, band drama, and so on and so on and so on. Where’s the joy? Where did it go? Am I doing it all wrong? Why can’t I bottle up that joy oozing from those guys’ faces and have it emanate in a performance setting? What the heck is wrong with me?!
Maybe the closet people really do have it all figured out, and I just don’t yet. Maybe it’s because I don’t say enough – “Gentlemen, it has been a privilege playing with you tonight.”
Okay, I’ve said it. Whew! I feel better already! So, rock on people (wherever you’re hiding.)
I wrote a book about this stuff! “They Made Me Play a Polka” is available here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1725534584/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0