This really can be a great way to live, out here, on the road. The endless travel becomes a meditative state, at once lengthening the week and contracting the month. August; it is One . . . Tour. But so far I’ve travelled by City.
Each night is an adventure riddled with terrible promise, astonishing beauty and the supreme mental anguish of a life of leisure. It is so easily soothed with a bike ride though Americas new gardens, down by our rediscovered rivers and streams.
But the real adventure is in the music, sometimes an epoch of only 45 minutes. But the story is harmonic, not linear, so it can go all the way in in any moment. And hopefully stay right in the pipeline of the waves of our Jungian subconscious. Amen.
And once you do it, live out here like this, with the freedom and adulation and limitations and relentless scheduling and re-scheduling, I guess you can’t get away from it. It’s like the mafia, or a cult, they can never let you go, you can never let them go. But my god it beats working for a living. I’ve been thinking lately that it’s a calling, like a priesthood or something.
Anyhow, I once went on a job interview, after my first lucky break, working for AKG Acoustics Digital Products Division - well they closed our shop, so I was interviewing as an engineer, but I was really only a tech, and had gained a whopping nine months of professional experience. I was super nervous, I knew the gig I was interviewing for was way over my head, but I determined to make the interview, with one of these whacky brilliant CEO/scientist guys, well, just kind of enjoy it, and learn what I could. Which I hoped would be a calming strategy but probably wasn’t.
So, the second interview would be the technical test, probably some written, so I was like Jesus, no way. But kept on with the ‘getting to know you’ thing, with this guy, hair just starting to turn white, and super intense, peering at me and asking questions like, “what’s your ideal work environment” and crap like that.
I’m like, “I love to be challenged!” trying not to sound like the tripe it was.
Then he hit me with, “Describe your perfect day.”
I tried to tell him about my love for the “unique challenge” again, but he was like, “No, describe it. What happens?” And I’m still struggling with that question.
He didn’t mean that day on the beach on my honeymoon, or really vacation at all. (I’m sure he never took them unless his wife forced him and then he worked the whole time.) So . . . yea, well, I was thinking the other day, walking across the parking lot, watching the trucks unload, “yea, this is it.” I mean - professionally, work wise. It would be a damn sight better without all the travel, but the day is superlative when you’re on a big tour like this Slightly Stoopid / Steven Marley thing.
The main reason it’s cool is that it’s filled with focused expertise and a common goal.
But let me lay it out for you - apocryphal interviewer - a perfect day out here:
I wake up and there is a catered breakfast and clean facilities for the artists. Sometimes it’s the things you take for granted, like indoor plumbing, god bless it.
After breakfast the crew is building the stage and our gear is still packed so it’s off I go on the folding bike. Bikes that fit under the bus are a real lifesaver for me. It’s always been one of my favorite pastimes. I do some of my best thinking on bike. I love to get around the venue, and the neighborhoods. So many cities are re-discovering their rivers and streams and waterfronts. So perfect in the summertime.
After a goodly exercise the mind is clear and full of ideas. Then a moment of communication and codification on the computer, writing even, emails and such. Of course the venue has great wireless connectivity.
By this time I can build my bass - and I promise to blog more about the folding bass - there are several essays on that brewing in my head. But then I get an hour or so of private quiet playing and warming up, practicing even. This is a rare commodity on a club tour, but out here, in the loving embrace of our more successful brethren, I can breath with my bow, and play Bach real slow.
When the PA is up it gets too loud to practice, and the fellas are at catering for lunch. I like to cook at home, but having a spread of food prepared for you every day makes you feel special.
Perhaps there are some phone calls or email follow up, but soon enough comes sound check. There’s a continual challenge of noises and gear and rooms and their quirks. I’m so psyched to have a new giant rig - two Ampeg Pro 7s - at a thousand Watts each! Yikes. (I guess all that deserves a post at some point.) But we rehearse a song or two, G is always got new stuff, plus I’m trying to catch up on the back catalog. It keeps the brain fresh. I’m trying to bust a groove or two too.
Then, it’s quiet time. A proper catnap is a beautiful thing. Though you should only sleep twenty minutes or a half hour, you should take ninety minutes or so to unwind and maybe read or meditate.
Then I like to wake up, get dressed, make a cocktail and hit the stage. And I feel it’s my obligation to throw down, no matter the circumstance. Sometimes it’s really easy, sometimes it’s a tricky drop in, sometimes you’re just in the mud, but you keep working it until you get free. But after the show there should really be nothing left. Breaking down the bass is a pain in the ass, but it actually takes me away from having to continue to perform, and helps me unwind the mind.
Then it’s a party of new and old friends and colleague’s lovers and strangers that feel like they know you. And as soon as it gets weird the driver comes and starts the bus and everyone is momentarily broken from the fantasy. And those that get off can hopefully make it home before they return to the mythical land of Rock and Roll.
What was it? My day, as I climb into my bunk to be jostled asleep by the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System. It has it’s pleasures and can enjoy the debauchery. And every night we celebrate Dionysus or Bacchanal or one of those wine gods, who are - in their ideal yet not perfect state - they are the result of a goodly day’s work and collective action and inspired artistry. Sure everyone loves the party at the end, but thats only because that's where the Ghost of Rock and Roll makes the dreams come true.
Charlotte NC, Sudden storms relieve the intense humidity.