When I was 18, I tok a big step. I had posted some music on Reverbnation and it led to me getting a gig offer. A farmers market in North Plainfield for $50. It was my first gig, ever. I would've taken it if it wasn't paid. A chance to take my music out of my bedroom, out of the classrooms, out of my friends basement, and onto a stage.
A stage can be anything. Just like art can be anything. What decides art from a splat on the wall, as Frank Zappa pointed out to me in his Real Frank Zappa Book, is a frame. What decides a stage from a spot in the grass? Some kind of distinction. Just as this webpage has become the stage to my thoughts and stories in the form of a blog.
Your bedroom becomes a stage as soon as you turn on the webcam and stream live. So the distinction is the willingness to put yourself out there. To get up, and say, HEY, SOMETHINGS HAPPENING HERE THATS NOT IN THE USUAL SWING OF THINGS AND YOU SHOULD CHECK IT OUT. In my opinion, the best art says this without actually saying anything at all. It's existence alone is enough to make it's own statement.
That first gig was a positive experience. I made friends that became a family to me that would help me weave the coming years, and support my growth musically and personally. That $50 is nothing in comparison to the experiences I've shared with these amazing people. That gig set me on an unimaginable path that I still walk today. My story is typical with it's struggles inside and out, to find the truth of expression within. But without that first step, without that first experience of being on a stage, doing my shit, I wouldn't have grown to be gigging consistently and growing into a place of tentative comfort inside the uncomfortable nature of what I do. But it must be 'uncomfortable' if you want to break new ground into the infinite cosmos of music. Pain isn't a requirement, it's just what happens to us. How we process is what matters. What we learn. Can we bend without breaking? 'Be humble, Take it the slow way, as I'm allowed' - some words I've taken to heart from John Frusciante's "The First Season" off of To Record Only Water for Ten Days.
When I was 19, I went to see The Band Called Fuse at The Old Bay in New Brunswick, NJ. I couldn't get into the club so I watched from the window behind the stage, off the street in the November chill. I didn't care. Their energy was fire to warm my bones. There passion for their craft and dedication to their community inspires me still to this day.
Now I'm on the stage at the Old Bay, living my dream, one gig at a time. One song at a time. One note at a time. And I play my heart out so that one day, when another young musician is watching from that window, he too can know that it's worth it to not give up. To keep on keepin' on, in the words of Clark Terry. Watch that documentary. It's awesome.
I leave you with a song by Silent Knight of The Band Called Fuse. Stayin' Busy. An anthem to myself and anyone who finds themself grinding for a dream.
Thank you everyone for your unbelievable and unwavering support, and I can only hope that I offer the same.
Love to all.