I just played two nights with the Just In Time Band at the Sand Bar in New Port Richey (on Friday and Saturday). Both nights went fairly well. No one was injured. None of the songs were total train wrecks. And we got paid. So, no complaints here.
But the reason I’m writing is because of a young gentleman named Rich, whom I met at the club. He came up to me and said “Can I ask you a question?” I said “sure”, and he offered me $300 for my Alembic. He was joking, of course, and told me that he couldn’t believe it when he realized I was playing an Alembic.
We talked at some length about music in general and Alembics in particular. He stuck around until the end of the night, when I let him play the Alembic. He seemed genuinely excited to hold it. I watched him and marveled at the wide-eyes, simple joy. It was like watching myself. I’ve become so jaded and numb to much of life that I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to be excited by a random moment like seeing someone in a bar with a nice bass. Was it really so long ago that I would have walked up to somebody and asked, “Dude, is that an Alembic?”
I know if wasn’t his intention, but this young man has reminded me of some of the reasons I wanted to make music in the first place. It wasn’t just to pocket a little money from playing a gig. It wasn’t for some fleeting moment of glory that come from being on a stage. It wasn’t because music made a good excuse to hang out with my friends and pick up chicks. It was because at one point in my life music represented this amazing intangible force that filled me with wonder. It’s something that’s sadly lacking from the musicians I’ve played with in the Tampa Bay area.
I don’t know. Meeting this young man and getting a glimpse of myself in his shining eyes has made me re-think… well, everything. Beside this random meeting of this stranger in New Port Richey, the gig itself fades into insignificance. And beside the other issues he prompted me to take another look at, the new band I’ve just started playing with seems dramatically less important. As the members of that band wrangle over names and one member in particular tries to bulldoze everyone else into agreeing with him, I’m rather surprised to discover that I don’t even want to do it anymore. I’m tired of wrangling over details.
I owe that young man for reminding me what it’s like to live when the world still holds some sense of wonder. I find myself aching for that. I’ve let other people take that away from me. Or I’ve willing set it aside in an ongoing effort to make peace with the cards I’ve been dealt. But at the moment my heart is full of hope and my rotted old brain is crackling with mischief. I don’t want to go back to being that resigned old dinosaur who only plays a bunch of songs he cares nothing about, in the company of musicians who couldn’t give a rat’s ass if he’s alive or dead. I want it to be fun again, and I want to regain some of my sense of wonder about the world. If I can’t move forward while making music with friends, I’d rather just go it alone. I’ve wasted far too much of my time making music with people who were not my friends.
This is not at all what I sat down to write. But it is what it is. I am most grateful to that one young man who asked me, with shining eyes, “You brought an Alembic to a bar gig?”
You know what? On consideration, it seems rather absurd to have done so. And if I can allow myself one small indulgence and think of myself as the Alembic and ask the same question again, it does seem rather wrong that I would use this instrument, this vessel, to do such banal things. Surely I, like my Alembic, am more wondrously made, and was meant for greater things.