I've been wondering, for the last week or so, if people who are really good - and I mean really good, at their instrument, are actually in some way insane. Wouldn't normal people baulk at the thought of all those hours of practice every goddamn day? Wouldn't they, you know, get bored?? Isn't being obsessed with something to that degree a bit odd?
The only slight hole in this theory is that it doesn't appear to be borne out by reality, but I'm working on that.
And, if you're wondering if I'm using this to justify not practising, then I say "Be quiet oaf! You know not of which you speak".
My recent bout of despondency has shifted, due to playing two more gigs with The Storm in two days, at the Leith Festival and at OOTB. Nothing like a bit o' live action to cheer one. The Leith Festival one in particular I enjoyed, it being with Matt Norris and The Moon, and Caro Bridges and The River, bands I like very much. I was idly thinking that a "Geographical forces and objects-themed" (or something) tour with those guys would be fun.
I think The Storm's sounding more together these days, starting to blend as a unit. When playing percussion, one inevitably notices timing more, and possibly, when one is playing a melodic instrument or singing, timing can sometimes take a back seat to melody. Which can be fine, as long as everyone else understands, and does the same thing. If not . . . then the results are there for all to hear. Subtle differences in people's appreciations of timing need to become aligned. It's called "getting tight". Which isn't a reference to mythical Scots parsimony (which I have never found to be true, incidentally).
So, the gig carousel cavorts and wheels, and turns it's gaudy splendour to the slightly stranger one on Saturday, where we appear to be supporting a wind band. Usually at these affairs, lilac-rinsed septuagenarians form the mainstay of the audience, so I will be curious as to the reaction.
Had a cracking gig with The Storm down at Fondoo on Saturday night there. It's held in the Eastgate Theatre in Peebles, and it's a well run night, run by a very pleasant man called Ken.
The sound system and sound person are good, the audience are appreciative and attentive, and Ken ensures that only good quality acts play on the bill. On Saturday, it was Paul Gilbody, us, Augustalia, and Hoochie Fig. There was a dressing room, and a rider. Heady stuff.
On top of all that, Ken very kindly purchased Peter and I a beer afterwards. I left with a warm glow, which wasn't entirely due to my enthusiastic consumption of the rider and Ken's gifted Peroni.
I don't know about you, but I'm starting to tire somewhat of certain parts of the media trumpeting that "it's never been a better time to be a musician". The basis for this argument is that the means of production and distribution of music has now become reasonablyaffordable. This then, has liberated musicians from the evil shackles of the music biz, and our hero/heroine rides off into the sunset, reaping adulation and rewards as they go.
As has been noted by other commentators and myself previously, it doesn't really work like that, mainly due to the lack of a large enough PR machine on the side of the muso.
The other difficulty is that just because you can record at home in your bedroom, doesn't mean you've done that very well. To do that, you'll need to invest some time researching recording techniques, reading up on microphones and their placement, recording software, buying mics, mixers, and sundry other bits of equipment. So, along with musician, add the hats of recording engineer, producer, and studio manager, acoustic engineer, whatever.
Then, once you have your digital files, you might want people to actually hear them. So, maybe make a CD? Add the hats of graphic designer/photographer. Or just download them? Wouldn't it be a nice if we had a website? Add the hat of web designer, and optionally, if you want people to actually find the website, the hat of SEO Bozo. (Search Engine Optimisation).
Ooh, and what about all that fancy "social media" stuff? Let's do that too! Add another hat.
So, all of that stuff can be rewarding at times, and often downright frustrating at others. But the point is that the modern musician, if they want people to hear their music, must engage with all of this in some way. And, it all takes time and energy.
And, ultimately, that means less time for doing music.