People keep questioning me—it’s happening so frequently I dread hearing it again, but perhaps the message has not resonated at the proper frequency, so I hear it and hear it again, growing louder with each ask. First the prefacing question: When are you playing? And then the ONE, the inevitable follow-up question:
Why aren’t you playing?
I don’t know the answer today any better than I did when I moved here last September. Austin has been a potpourri of party and allergies and friendship and poverty and ungodly heat. But one thing I know for sure. We haven’t really made music together. Not much, anyway.
Why aren’t you playing?
I’m trying like hell to answer that question. And here are the theories. Like the unruly thoughts they are, they spring to mind in no particular order…
It certainly doesn’t feel like fear. The thought of performing doesn’t induce hot sweaty palms or cold feet feelings. I really enjoy performing, yet I haven’t sought it out. I’ve done a few performances (when asked) here and there and many impromptu practice sessions in the park. Why haven’t I pursued bookings or put together a band? I really don’t know. But I think I can eliminate fear.
I can’t decide if it’s indecision. When you move to a new city, you have the chance to reincarnate but when so many things interest you, it’s hard to know what form to take. I’ve got a few style-irons in the fire and am not sure which project I want to be the primary focus. I’m not sure where—or even if—I fit in here. Does that even matter? The bands I’ve been watching/following here are a mixed bag of honky-tonk, country, blues, newgrass. Few of these bands make me swoon, blow my mind, rock my world. If I was judging strictly on musical style, Denver is much closer to my soul.
Maybe I’m looking for a different kind of gig. Maybe playing in the average small to mid-sized club doesn’t really appeal to me much anymore; so much ego and tiring bullshit for such little pay. Maybe I’d rather play/host house concert parties—as I did back home in Minneapolis—busk on the street, put on more theatrical/experimental/illegal shows in a warehouse space or old church. Still, I’ve been here for 10 months and have done exactly none of those things.
Perhaps I’m tired of playing solo. I miss having a band. Having said that, it’s kind of like missing a disease that will permanently disfigure and/or kill you. It’s the best and worst of things, a band. A 45-minute original set zips by at 95 mph; but you’ve got to prep for the race, drive an unstable car at high speed and clean up all the debris afterwards. Sometimes you win, though, and then there’s lots of heady camaraderie and bubbly champagne and addictive endorphins. Enough to almost make you forget your bleeding head wound.
Maybe I’m distracted. I’ve HAVE been writing more posts/improving my writing, learning about Victorian funeral practices and watching King of the Hill with renewed appreciation. Practicing guitar. Looking for work. Going to shows, lots and lots of shows. Battling fleas. Practicing ukulele. Really watching films for the first time in years. Hanging out with my dogs. And yes, there were a couple of brief, mean stints with corporate America because I need to pay bills.
Probably I’m lazy. And need to stop or severely cut back on smoking weed. This is highly likely, pun unintended. I’ve written a few new songs since I came; most are not finished. And I haven’t finished the unfinished material I came here with, either. You’d think with all the tears I’ve shed since I moved here, I would have written at least 3 blues albums worth of material by now. I have not.
OK, maybe I’m being too hard on myself. Maybe Austin’s not through with me yet. Maybe I’m not through with Austin. It still doesn’t feel like home—but I’m not sure I did enough to make it my home. My feet are tapping again. Is it for want of music or because it’s time to hit the road?
I’m not sure what comes next. Colorado, Tennessee and California have been reaching out to me; each has its charms, all have better weather. I feel disconnected, un-tethered. Nothing much is keeping me here, except a friend or two and my half-worn expectations.
The landscape of the city continues to change daily, and every day I’m trying to change, too. Trying to go with the flow and figure all this shit out. Should I stay or should I go now? Hopefully I’ll recognize the path when I clumsily stumble upon it.
No doubt I’ll skin a knee or two in the process.