Sunday, September 19, 2010

Numbness and the Act of Reciprocation

There is a numbness that follows a CD release. After months of continuous work, driving, pushing, progressing this creation, you stand on stage with hands held out offering the gift to an audience that is grateful to receive it, only to realize that once you leave the stage you are in the same place you were months ago, in this case 5 months ago. I assume it is similar to a convict chipping away at cinderblock walls with handmade fork axes and spoon shovels. When you finally break through, you are confronted with the disconcerting reality that that was just an inner wall, beyond the six inch gap is another, thicker, wall reinforced with rebar.

In the past this feeling has lasted for weeks, but not this time. Tuesday, as I had settled into day 3 of Numbfest 2010, I received the best e-mail ever. Laura from Playback:STL had a cancelation for the annual Play:STL music festival, and she wanted to know if we could fill it. I believe my “Yes” reply took 37 seconds.

We submitted to play the Festival and were originally rejected. This is something I seriously struggle with, much like the recent review our CD got from the Riverfront Times. Apparently, whatever these panels and critics want, I am not giving them, but the real struggle comes when I check out bands that were selected and, to my ears, they aren’t doing anything that dramatically different or better or more interesting. It leaves me feeling confused and frustrated. I would LOVE to be a media darling, love for them to get it, to love what I am doing like I do, but in the 12 years I have been chasing this dream that has not been the case. Various projects have had a smattering of positive press, but no one has ever championed my bands or my solo efforts. The closest I came to that was with a review by Laura of Playback:STL for my 2nd CD Lost Angel.

I was grateful for that review, and I was grateful for the opportunity to fill a vacant spot for this festival. To show my appreciation, I reciprocated and made as much noise as I could about the festival. There was a steady stream of Tweets coming from me and the band feed. Really the entire band reciprocated. There wasn’t a night where one of us wasn’t participating, and on most evenings of the 4 day festival (3 days with a kickoff party) there were at least 3 of us showing our support. Mind you, we are all still putting in 40 + hours a week at our 9 to 5s, but we are rockstars, we can party until 1 and be to work by 7. When it came time to play our set, we played like we were the headliners. We gave every bit we had, made sure to pick an appropriate set length, and stripped the stage quickly to ensure we did not eat up the next band’s time. We rocked it like the pros we are.

Our friend Irene was there to watch us throw down, and she took some great shots.

¾ of So Much Closer

Ghosts of Midnight you take me down…

PE doing his closed eyes thing…

Two Tweeds and some Fiji...

Swan feeling it…

Now, where I may fail with critics and panel participants, I do extremely well with club owners. The Booking Agent from Market Pub House was eager to get our contact information to schedule a repeat performance. He shoots…he scores. Ultimately, as much as I want to be adored by Music Critics what is most important to me is remaining authentic.

I don't work for anybody but the muse -- Neil Young

This act of reciprocation is something very important to me. It is something I have practiced since I started performing. Musical communities are built on this concept. If you are in a band and have an off night, go see the bands that you dig. In turn, hopefully, they will do the same for you. If a venue is supporting you, support it. Get people to go there, spend time up there yourself. Recently we have played a few shows with Rhum Boogie, and they get this concept. When they had a show at 2720, we were there. When we had our CD release, they were there. There were even members of the Boogie at our Play:STL set, mutual respect turned to friendship and we ended up kickin’ it with Ryan all night long. So, when it came time for us to book a show for 2720, what was the first band I contacted, Rhum Boogie. So, put October 8th on your calendar because it is going to be A…wait for it…MAZING!!!


  1. Your set on Saturday was great. You really did play like you were the headliners. I was thrilled to see Ryan from Rhum Boogie at the show. Those guys are as good as they come. I'll definitely round up some friends to see the show on the 8th. If you guys are half as good as your last show with Rhum Boogie, it'll be epic.

  2. Thanks Mom. I love you too. Meredith, always a pleasure to see you out. The 8th just got better now that I know you are gonna be there.