Just back from the road! If you followed the Fan Flare page on Face book you will note we traveled to Oregon the last 2 weeks covering the Wallowa Mountains to the ocean beaches of Lincoln City and back to the forests of beautiful Bend.
It felt like 3 trips in one! We are back home and barely acclimated but I wanted to take the opportunity before delving into “being home again”, to write. This is the space that I love. Breaking away from the things you think you “have to do”. It’s difficult to be creative when you feel the “fork” of obligations “poke” you in the side.
I don’t have any of that going on at this particular moment. I don’t have the weight of the world at this time. Sure there are still the things that will eventually call me: mowing the grass, paying bills, checking e-mail, cleaning all the sand out of my car, appointments, etc. All these things are still there, but they are not taking up my minds energy.
We came home a day early, so today feels like a “skip school day”, remember that? A free-bee!? Most people could certainly look at our lives and call it all a freebie. But I would hope those close to us know better and how much it does take to make this musical wheel go round.
Mo has tried for years to land some of these shows this tour and for some reason the Universe aligned finally. Salishan Resort in Gleneden Beach was a hard “fish to catch” for our anchor gig. As luck would have it, the manager of Salishan attended a house concert we did last October and invited us to come perform. It was kind of like an audition really. Fortunately we passed the test, and got to enjoy playing at this fancy resort, where staff and fans alike had a great time! The place was packed on Saturday. All folks from prior years of building relationships and ‘showing up.’ We were asked back again which always feels good, but there’s a likelihood that new management can slip in, and then you have to start all over again. So you love the gig, when you have the gig, cause it could always be the last time you play there, even if it’s your first time. So we had a most excellent adventure!
Music has shown me how to let go and just allow and this trip was no exception. We had 4+ of our VIP members join us for the first leg of our Joseph/Enterprise show; a brewery Friday, Pride celebration Sat. at Wallowa Lake; a club in Enterprise OR on Sat. night, all of this after the 5 hour trek to get there. Our folks seem to understand how driving the long distances can knock your energy. They couldn’t believe we had the energy to play the last show. 2 of them cut loose and couldn’t make our last gig and I completely understand and encouraged them to just relax. It was exhausting! I saw our friends so tired and thought, “How do WE do it?” Ha ha!!!
Poor sleepy loving faces all in the audience as I completely adored their efforts to show up. But then “Bobbie McGee” came over me and the energetic song of “Looking Out” by Brandie Carlilie jumped from my guitar and out of my vocals to end this marathon of shows in this beautiful region. We try our very best. My heart felt like it was beating out of my chest and I had a dizzy feeling (with no alcohol consumption mind you)…could this be utter exhaustion? How many times can I push through this? How will I keep this up in my 60’s/70’s…my thoughts come up and skirt under the carpet of the final chorus, “Someone Loves Youuuuu!” The Bar cheers, they all want another one. We’ve gone into over-time and it’s done. That is all you get Enterprise, until the next time.
Sustaining energy is another aspect of this lifestyle. That’s why, when it’s good…you take it in…get rid of the guilt…enjoy the whole ride. Because when you are called on and expected to perform, expected to lift heavy equipment up a steep flight of stairs after a long drive and then expected to lift people up for 2-3 hours, then tear it all down again, down that long flight of steps and into a strange bed to wake and do it twice the next day, it helps to not resist a thing. Just allow. Resistance of ANY KIND brings weariness. We need our energies for the notes, chords and people.
That is why when we are in the middle of this beautiful mountain range with our butts handed to us, let’s take this tram up 8000 feet and check out the view! Finding “Joy in our Ride”, we treat ourselves now and again. If we didn’t do these things to rejuvenate we couldn’t do it. I think our members are the only “public” that really know this private side, the “flip side” of what I referred to last month.
Flip sides occur and you never know what the venue will be like until you get there unless you’ve been there before. The re-occuring theme that kept happening on this trip in particular was “little time”. These “big time” shows of which my mind prepared for, as if I was going to step into an arena filled with 1000’s of people, were really “little time”. Small. Still wonderful and a “big” deal for town musicians, but not nearly what my mind had prepared for. I had thought “Joseph Pride - big stage”, it was small, intimate and great but in its own way. Salishan Resort, fancy…still small…very classy, wonderful…a glorified 365 Bar back in Boise, posh! 4th of July was BIG SOUND, medium stage. The audience gathered around and a truck with speakers bigger than me aligned out to the shore to blare our music for about 1000 people, yet the sand dunes covered all hopes of eye contact to have with those folks. We were LIVE RADIO to those folks on the beach. There was no pressure, which was great as we played in a “bareeze way” from the park to the beach. “What an interesting set up?” I thought. My solo’s were spot on for that show and in my head I closed my eyes and saw thousands, again in an arena.
Our last show in Bend, at a beautiful Lake, much like our home at Red Fish Lake Lodge, was surrounded by beautiful Ponderosa Pines with Mt. Bachelor and the Sisters Mtn. peeking upon us! This show took the cake as the flip side. The environment was glorious! We were supplied with sound equipment and a sound technician. Sounds great right? Boy, this was one of the roughest times for sound in most of my career. I have had some doozeys. Typically men looking at me from behind the board shrugging their shoulders not knowing how to fix a horrible feedback, static, clipping, a resonating annoying note or buzz.
This particular sound guy was capable and compassionate, yet ill equipped. He had a monstrosity of speakers which probably gave him a minor hernia to hump down to the stage. More speakers than what we needed. The venue supplied these speakers and the notepad to run the whole set up.
He couldn’t get the hot-spot wifi to connect to the mother board. It sounded great during sound check and when we went on, in front of about 300-400 people we sounded like we were in a little tiny band-aid box. My inner-ears went south through his system too and I had to fish through 3 different cords to make my loop pedal work. It was a big cluster and the audience waited. They were SO patient!
We sang a 50 minute set out of this little “band-aid box” and I had had it. I was like, “Dude, we have a perfectly capable system in our car and can have it set up in 10 minutes! Let us sound like professionals here…this has amateur written all over it!” I didn’t say it exactly like that, I was very diplomatic but I was peeved! I just now had to remove my sweatshirt cause it makes me hot just thinking about this.
Terrible sound can KILL YOU! Truly! It reflects so poorly on a new crowd. We sounded like we were a little AM radio station back in the 50’s! It was noticeable! Believe me! The audience noticed. Half of them probably thought it was on our end, the other wondered if it was the sound guy. What was really wrong was faulty equipment.
I sang these powerful songs and they chirped out of these BIG fat speakers with NO volume. Several audience members approached the sound guy. He fibbed and told them that he was only allowed to have it a certain decibel, which was true but not why we sounded this way. The venue designed their speakers to only allow for a specific volume level. Like a governor on a rental car…you can only go so fast.
Why have music, when you don’t want to hear the music? We play for some venues here at home that cap our overall volume and it is always stifling. I have managed to move beyond this as my inner ear gives me my own BIG AREANA sound that I so long for and crave. I am a ROCK STAR in my own ears! Ha ha!!! It comes through perfectly! But my inner ears weren’t working with his system either.
The sound guy knew it wasn’t just the governor on this system. He could not adjust anything. 10 minutes before the end of the first set (and 30 minutes too late in my book) I halted the music. Told the audience we are definitely experiencing some technical difficulties and let the sound guy go get HIS notebook as he was INSISTENT to use his own stuff before allowing us to break out ours.
I get it…it’s his job on the line. But we also had a job to do…and that part sucked! I let him mess around with his notebook and try to get it right…but that wasn’t getting a signal either. I said “fuck it!” (naughty me swearing in my mind of which you are right now privy to, ha ha!)
I knew he wasn’t gonna get it and I stopped and started walking towards the car to get the Bose. Scott, our dear old friend who used to live in Boise and the best drummer we ever had, was in the audience. I said, “Scott, can we use your muscles?” And he said, “Sure!” So 200 yards away is our car and he schlepped the sub woofers, I took the posts, Mo grabbed the bass stand and 10 minutes later we were back in our own “shoes” again.
The audience clapped hard! They were patient, yet half of them took off. How deflating and frustrating?! That took the wind out of our sails, we are used to people staying, not taking off. But without “power”, you have no sticking power. We drew on our unplugged/campfire feeling, but that wasn’t enough as the audience was large enough to be far away. It would be like playing unplugged in a loud coffee shop and people were mostly quiet and trying to hear at this gig.
Once we were back in our skin with our Bose system, we could feel the connection being made. I could feel the power of the song seep into the audience’s ears. I could feel hearts opening and enjoyment being had. But I will admit, though you wouldn’t have been able to see it, I was rattled a bit. It was a waffle and not the best way to leave the last leg of a great tour. But it seems you have to roll with both the good and bad, cause it can’t always be gravy!
Interesting though, my thoughts, like morning dew would seep in and I would try my best to step around the dew but it was everywhere. (“You are so little time”, “Is this all we are destined for?”, “What a joke?”, “If I were a guy, would that sound dude have made us wait so long to switch out our equipment?”) These thoughts are horribly untrue as I know this, but they still come. The mind races with uncertainty, inferiority, insecurity, and like a meditation, I just watch the thoughts and point my heart in the direction of doing my very best for this audience that is still there, that STAYED!
The sound guy has NOTHING to do. The Bose is simple. We are dialed. It sounds great! He comes up once to turn the whole mix down a little. I look at Mo and smirk. At least my ear buds work and I am in my big arena again in my mind. I push all that “little sound, little performers, not good enough shit” out of my mind and end on a request from an audience member in which we are 300 miles away from our home town, “Life is Beautiful”. I honor the original request. I find my gratitude again. The song leaps out with its first chord, a familiar rhythm I’ve played a million times!
I look back at the lake and Mt. Bachelor. The lyrics pull me into a truth. I stand in the middle of myself with all my faults, all my “littleness” and become “big” again. Whole. Simple. Appreciative.
This music is medicine. Maybe the whole world doesn’t know it. Maybe they never will. Maybe just a few. My corner of this great big world. But I hope that I’ve made “my corner” better for trying. I sing the song, I flash back to Juno fetching her ball within the waves, the crab that I got to eat, the amazing views upon the mountain top, all of our friend’s smiles along the way. My heart swells as I look at Mo with that huge bass around her little body and the big grin on her face.
“Life IS Beautiful” – even through flip sides!
Thanks you guys, it’s good to be home. It’s good to have an outlet for my inner thoughts, and have fans on the “inside” of what looks to all be a bed of roses. Every life has some thorns yes, but that sweet smell gets us through the scratches!
Much love to you all!!!