At my solo show the other night in Chicago, my voice sounds like a combination of a goose with vertigo and a lost baby goat calling for its mother. I’m tired, sure, and the Chicago dog/vanilla shake combo an hour before doors probably wasn’t the best call, but goddammit I’ve been working on this shit and, whelp, evidently there’s a ways to go.
Oddly, though, I’m stoked. Rather than retreating into a noxious cloud of half-belief, I set down my guitar and start riffing on the first thing that pops into my head - Babe Ruth’s alcoholism. The crowd laughs (thankfully), my confidence returns, and I sorta limp to the finish line vocally while, by all accounts, genuinely entertaining people. This is what actuaries - aka those who gave up on their dreams - call a “net gain.”
During the set, I allow my mind to wander to a particularly lonely time in Seattle when I decided to quit music. I’d played a string of abysmal gigs in shit holes to nobody and I’d had enough. I actually applied to real jobs and everything. Mercifully, friends tolerated my emo bullshit for, like, three days before staging an intervention at Bimbo’s Burrito Kitchen on Capitol Hill. The next day, I got a call from my buddy and favorite guitar player in the country, RL Heyer. Would I be interested in subbing for him in a band called Vintage Pink at the Sea Monster Lounge on Sundays? Instrumental funk jams, super low pressure. Sure, why not?
In that band, I’d meet and jam with all past and current members of the Allen Stone Electric Ensemble, be formally referred to the group by road warrior brother Brent Rusinow and, just like that, my life changed.
The universe has a way of flicking you in the ear just annoyingly enough to agitate you back into your right mind. On stage the other night in Chicago, it’s just me, my guitar, my songs, and a sense that I’m right where I need to be.