I know it’s a cliché, but dammit, can’t help myself – rock n roll saved my soul.
I quit my day job. Wasn’t my intention to do so, didn’t have a better job waiting in the wings or a diabolical plan for global domination waiting to be sprung at the proper moment – just had all I could stand. I don’t mind overly much being underpaid, just as I don’t mind overly much being under-appreciated and under-utilized – I just can’t handle being disrespected week after week while being underpaid, under-appreciated and under-utilized. After a particularly stressful encounter, I came to the conclusion that since I couldn’t change the conditions of the situation, I’d have to remove myself from the situation before I said or did something I’d regret professionally – I turned in my notice, did my job for another three weeks, and bid the place “Adios.” As far as my mental health goes, it was the right move – the work environment had gotten completely toxic; as far as my finances are concerned, however, it was not my brightest idea – while there are positions out there in my career field, there are still ten qualified applicants for every job listing. Putting off vacating the work premises for another year would have been a far smarter play – just couldn’t do it.
First week of not having to force myself out of bed to plaster on a fake, plastic smile and pretend I have no pride was sheer bliss, and after the second week the bad ju-ju really started to fade away as I stopped having arguments with people from my old job while in the shower or alone in my car; it was the third week that I started second-guessing myself. “Should’ve just lodged a complaint – didn’t have to go nuclear so soon. You’re never going to find work again, it’s too soon to start pushing the music path – you’re too fat and you don’t have enough talent.” And that was the one that hurts most – I haven’t been eating and exercising the way I know I should, the way I’d planned when I started this blog; and I don’t care what anyone says about not judging books by their cover, appearances matter. Doesn’t matter that the Dollar Menu is packed full of delicious possibilities, or that the gas station has steaming-hot coffee and iced donuts that rival the major chains – overweight people are seen as lazy and lacking discipline, period. In the age of MTV and YouTube, to be in the music industry – even as just a street performer – you need to be thin, if not fit.
And if the “you’re too fat” comment is true, then the “you don’t have enough talent” comment must be true, too – right?
Thank the sweet baby Jesus I’m in my band.
Played two weekends in a row – May 25th and June 2nd. The first gig was at our new favorite hangout, Chasers Lounge – still pays a little over diddly-squat, but we love the vibe of the place, we love the clientele, and we love Teresa, the hot owner. Pauly decided he needed inspiring this particular gig so he invited our buddy, keyboardist David Fox to come join us. David is soooooooo good at what he does, he basically just shows up, plugs in, and here we go, ya’ll – he knows every song under the sun, and the ones he doesn’t know he can get through just by watching Super Dave’s chording hand. If that wasn’t awesome enough, David sings as well – a bright, clear tenor with a baritone’s lows that can carry leads while still completing the bottom harmonies beautifully. And if it sound like I got a bit of a man-crush on Fox – yeah, I kinda do. Talent out of every pour, yet still one of the nicest, most humble musicians I’ve met.
With David’s keyboards filling in the holes in our wall of sound, the only downer of the evening is we didn’t have our full-time drummer adding that fifth voice in the harmonies. Patrick started a new day job earlier in the month, an entry-level position with good benefits and actual advancement opportunities – been pulling 60-hour weeks to get up to speed ever since, which left no time for rehearsing. Our buddy, JC Mendoza, stepped up to help us practice the Saturday and Sunday before, and Pauly being the man he is couldn’t see having a guy put in that much work for free and not get a gig out of it – JC sat in the next two weekends. JC’s got an amazing can-do attitude and is one fabulously talented drummer who is only going to get better with time – it was great having him there; at the same time, he’s got a different playing style than Patrick and doesn’t sing, so the feeling was a little off for me both nights – I kept missing Patrick’s fills and Patrick’s voice during the songs. I really began to understand why Pauly waited so long to invite Super Dave to join the group: it’s comforting to know what’s coming next because everything sounds familiar. Object lesson learned – to keep from getting thrown when events aren’t optimum, I have to practice being out of my comfort zone more.
We’re all still waiting to hear what Patrick’s life is going to look like – don’t want to lose him from the band, he’s a key component to “our” sound as well as being one hell of a nice guy and friend. We should get word in the next couple of weeks.
I was very happy with my performances both weekends. Still need to work on finding something to do with my free hand, still need to find more to say when Pauly’s switching out guitars, but that’s just Stagecraft 101 and will come with more research and practice. As far as my singing goes, I’ve never been better: phrasing has improved by leaps and bounds, tone quality is great, notes sound easy instead of forced – I’m where I should be to be a B-list cover band vocalist playing biker dives and VFWs. I’m no longer the weak link of the group; better yet, I’ve still get room for improvement and the potential to get even better – learning to trust my voice and ease into certain notes instead of forcing them, giving me more control and more phrasing options; placing the microphone rather than just standing in front of it; choosing new notes instead of blindly following the established melody so that I can avoid screaming myself hoarse to hit all the notes outside my chest range; and more.
In the midst of all this awesome, my peeps made it to my shows: my adopted brother, Bobby and our old friend, Loretta, made it out to both shows along with my parents; and at the Chasers Lounge show, I finally got to sing for one of my oldest friends, Michelle, and my high school sweetheart, Kim, neither of which I’d seen on well over 20 years. Michelle and Kim had driven in to spend the weekend with Bobby, and they’d all made plans to come party with me at my gig. Even if the night had been a complete disaster, I’d still been on Cloud 9. They all assured me they had an awesome time, that my band was every bit as good as I’d been bragging, and we hugged as if we’d never see each other again. As soon as my work situation rights itself, I’m making plans to travel out and see Kim and Michelle, who both promised they’d be back.
I can fix being out of shape, and that starts immediately; I can fix being out of work, and that starts immediately; but I don’t have to fix not having enough talent – I’ve got all the talent I need. Just need to start cutting, trimming, buffing and polishing that diamond in the rough to sparking perfection.