Another unofficial view from the stage…

David the Tree Trimmer has received no new emails. I think they finally realized that I am not, in fact, the person they should be calling if they want to have their trees trimmed safely.

Well, not if they’re sane…

If they’re not sane, I’m pretty much exactly the person they want to have chopping down their trees! With that many skee ball tickets, I can buy the missus soooooooo many spider rings! So many! I can probably even get her some temporary tattoos and they have a much coveted switchblade comb!

I’m not sure if it’s my lack of skee ball skills or if it’s that I give most of my tickets away to any kids that happen to be in there – but I never seem to have enough for the switchblade comb. It’s one of many holes in my life and, one of these days, it’s going to be mine! And probably some snap bracelets with skulls on ’em! Gonna earn ’em with my new tree trimming business! You’ll be so jealous of my snap bracelets.

Moving on, lest we get too deep into absurdity…

I am pretty sure my spleen didn’t rupture in my sleep. I actually don’t feel too shitty today. I suspect that’s the double dose of opiates, but we’re gonna pretend that’s from keeping a healthy diet and getting lots of rest.

Man, those two or three people who wished for my untimely demise are gonna be so disappointed! That’s okay, they’ll still be sad when I’m dead!

Moving on again, lest I take that one too far into absurdity…

Today, I am in a band. Ain’t nobody even going to remember the name of the band, who I am, or even what we played. Strangely, there will be lots of people – but they’ll be there early and enjoying the day, waiting for the more popular acts to come on later. But… That’s actually a good thing. In fact, it has a great deal of potential!

It’s a very, very short show – but they agreed to our rates, no questions asked. A lot of times, they’ll say that they’re only paying x-amount. That’s not an option with us. My band makes x-amount, no exceptions – and it only goes up from there.

I don’t do shit for exposure and the band is no longer in a position where getting gigs is difficult. I’m pretty sure I can get a twice-a-month, maybe more frequent, show at a venue that I like.They absolutely love us in Greenville.

They’ve asked, multiple times, if we’d be interested in being much the same as what one might call a ‘house band.’ Except, we’d come in for one weekend night and cause permanent hearing loss. They really, really like us there.

Twice a month means the band can actually eat. Every weekend means they’d live very well for musicians in Maine. Twice a month and other gigs, and then doing four to six yearly shows at rented halls? That means they’d live very nicely in Maine. (Assuming we can put asses in those seats. I won’t know until next year. With the project now pushed out even longer, I get to be even more selective and careful with our image.)

So, today’s gig is just a very short one. We’re not even allowed to play an encore. As we wind down, the second stage turns on. There’s a very small chance that the band that follows us has some mishap and we’ll be asked to extend our set. The best part? If we get to play an encore, it will mean they’ve asked us to play more than what we agreed to – and the contract says they’ll give us extra money.

Damned right, I’m in it for the money. If you go way back to the very start, you’ll see this and understand why. My involvement with this project has not a damned thing to do with “art.”

Nope… My involvement with this project is so that I can mentor a younger generation and give them the tools to make their living exclusively from their musicianship. It has never been about anything else. It will never be about anything else. The rest of it is just gravy. At the end of the day, my goal is to teach them how to get paid.

The missus is not going to this one. She hates doing this work. Dunno why? It’s pretty awesome! Her reasons boil down to, “I don’t do anything but push the buttons you folks told me to push and push them on time. EH does most of the work anyhow.” She mostly drinks coffee and glares menacingly at drunks.

We really do need someone better on sound and that’s actually maybe going to happen – but, for now, it’s good for the eldest hoodlum to learn and know what’s going on out there. Sound can make or break you. A performing musician should have a good understanding of what they do and why they do it.

I’ll elaborate on that ‘maybe going to happen‘ when I know more. I’ve had one meeting with a sound engineer and he has a project he’s working on. It’s supposed to wrap up just prior to the holiday season. He’s young and works for a radio station – but he’s actually a qualified sound engineer and finished college. It’s also an old-school radio station, so he’s got his hands on the board with great frequency.

The funny thing is, he’s probably less expensive than the missus and today can actually help teach the eldest hoodlum what the hell (and the why of what) she’s doing. She does just fine – but she’s doing fine because she’s following rote directions. “Bring up mics three, four, and six at this cue.” Or, “Cue song 12 and press this button on the laptop. Move sliders two and eight …” etc…

But… See… The good news is that the missus isn’t coming. She’ll be out of the way!

I should probably elaborate! She doesn’t read the site, but she might start! It’s really actually a good thing that she’s not coming.

See, even though there are two stages, there’s only one booth for sound. Inside that tent will be a dozen people, maybe more. They’ll be doing the sound for the other bands. They will have lots of downtime and they’re probably (don’t really know) pretty good at their job.

I know some of them will be very adept and will be using similar kit. Not only that, some of them will be using much better gear and some of them will be using much older gear – which means a vast array of different understandings.

See, here’s the thing… I can’t teach her to do sound on my own. I don’t have those skills. Most of what she knows thus far comes from the band members – who are more familiar with the more modern equipment than I am. I’m 100% positive that our gear does things we don’t even know how to use. There are buttons that I don’t actually understand.

I don’t actually know how to do the sound. ‘Snot my job and I was retired for a decade. Much of our setup is digital and there are ports to hook up everything from laptops to mass storage devices. I know what most of the knobs and sliders should do but I have not so much as done more than poke at it until someone shooed me away before I broke something. (I do love me some button pushing.)

I know what they do out there in sound. I have no idea how exactly they do it. None. I can go out and listen during soundcheck, and tell them that something is off – but I don’t know how to actually fix it. ‘Snot my job to know. That’s distinctly not on the List Of Shit TheBuddha Is Obligated To Do©.

All of these things combined means she’s going to get some very, very good exposure to some very talented people. I’ve even cheated. She’s written a list of questions and she’s going to try to get answers to them from the other people doing sound. She’s not just tasked with our sound, she’s also tasked with observing and asking questions.

Ha! I didn’t even ask permission for this! She’s an attractive young lady and has already grown tits! We all know damned well they’ll be stumbling over themselves to help her. Shit, she could stand there and play dumb – and they’ll do it for her. She’s got tits. That’s how that works!

Ah, life lessons with TheBuddha… (Ed. Note: It’s not like I was actually gonna get syndicated by Rolling Stone magazine anyhow!)

However, she’s not allowed to rely on her tits and looks. She has to do the work herself and she has to learn from them. I’ll speak with them and let them know my plan and I’m 100% positive that I’ll get buy-in, ’cause we’re all in the same industry.

I’ve explored a lot of different industries, and I have to say that the subset of the entertainment industry that is performing musicians is probably one of the most helpful. You may think it unusual for me to be so confident that she’ll get help – but the truth is that she’d get help, even if she were an aging fat guy with bad teeth and body odor.

I’ve not only been the guy who had some guitarist ‘show me something, real quick’ backstage, but I’ve been the guy who did the showing. I’ve helped other bands do their setup. I’ve opened for acts and had their guitar tech come help me out in a rush. I’ve had their sound fill in for our sound. The list goes on…

I have handed someone one of my guitars and said, “Use this.” Their guitar had been in a bit of an accident and I don’t recollect the details but the result was that the neck was broken. I’ve even just let people borrow one, because they wanted to try it on stage.

It’s sometimes easier/faster to just let the next band use some of your gear – but that’s not really why we do it. We do it because we understand. We do it because we know what it’s like to have malfunctioning gear, sound that didn’t even consider showing up, or troubles due to inexperience. We do it because, at the end of the day, we’re all a part of a very small group of people with similar interests and goals.

Other than a few large acts, and those are probably for publicity, we actually are pretty helpful to each other. The number of people who make their living from their musicianship is vanishingly small. We know this. We end up having some sense of kinship. I won’t say we’re like a giant (dysfunctional) family, but we certainly have some bonds.

Anywhere I go, anywhere on the planet, I can find musicians. Everywhere I go, this is almost universally true. I’ve played guitars handed to me by people with whom I didn’t even share a spoken language. I’ve done the same in reverse. I have jammed on borrowed equipment and with people that spoke a language I don’t understand – sometimes playing music I’ve never heard before, and returning the experience by playing/showing them music that they’d never heard before. The only language we shared was music.

Which is to say, she’ll get a good education today. If I’m feeling well enough, I’ll extend our time there. I’m pretty much only obligated to be there for about two hours. I may extend our time at the venue, just so she can learn more. It depends on my physical condition and it depends on how much she appears to be learning.

If I can get her some time on other boards (unlikely, but possible) that’d be worth any physical discomfort I may have. Worst case scenario means I get a chair or leave her with one of the band members to supervise her and get her home safely.

I’m pretty excited about that. She’s pretty excited about that. She’s got a whole list of questions and a notebook. I had her write the questions out over the week and they look like good questions to me. Don’t really know if they’re good questions – because that’s not my domain. Ol’ Buddha isn’t actually an expert in everything. I have limitations and I try to know those limits.

Because the other sound folk’s (not all are actually qualified to be called sound engineers) time is valuable, I had her try to answer two questions for each question on the list. For every question she wants to ask, she must ask herself two things:

  • Have you tried to answer these questions yourself?
  • Do these questions have likely answers that will help further your understanding?

So, they’re probably good questions and worth trying to get answers to – if she’s able to answer affirmative to both. There’s no reason to not take advantage of the situation and it’s potentially a very, very educational setting. The experience has a wealth of potential.

Anyhow… That’s another view from the stage. I’d write more but I have shit to do. I think I’ll actually submit this today, as I have another few hours before I have to leave. Still, those are some of the things we think about, some of our concerns, some of our goals, and some of the experiences we have.

It’s quite different than I find most people expect and trying to share those experiences is the point of this series. This series is predicated on trying to show you what it’s really like from our eyes, what we experience, and maybe explain why we do some of the things that we do. Y’all seem to enjoy ’em and I’m happy to put them down in text. My giant ego says they’ll someday be important!

Finally, this is the last outdoor show of the year. Winter is rapidly approaching and there’s not many outdoor shows in the winter. There is one that I know of but I haven’t gotten us into it yet. I’m working on it – ’cause I can bribe them with a stage. That’s not until 2019, however.

They do it every year (it’s a winter festival) and bring in a giant rented stage and a bunch of heaters. I just so happen to have a stage, a few heaters, and know the members of the board that make such decisions! ‘Snot nepotism if we’re not related! (Ed Note: Yes, yes it is. I looked up the definition, just to be sure. Guilty as charged. Don’t care.)

I’ve been trying to get into that show, but it looks like this year’s lineup is already selected and all the contracts signed. It’s nice to be in a position where we’re selective about gigs! It’s also nice to know people who can help us get into the kinds of venues/events that we are aiming for.

I do know that said show pays exceptionally well. They have a set payment, even for the headline act, and pay absolutely no more than that – but it’s a very, very nice amount. (I know, ’cause I know the organizers! I told you, I’ve got friends in low places!)

Every music act makes exactly the same amount and only the same amount. It’s paid for by local businesses, donations, and proceeds from the year before. They have snowmobile races, snow sculpture contests, delicious food, and even have snowmobiles doing flips in the air and stuff! (No monster trucks, however.) So, I’d like to play that festival! What kinda weirdo wouldn’t want to play that festival?!?

I’ve made this article long enough. I guess I’ll submit it – ’cause I’m pretty much ready to go. I need only carry a duffel bag and garment bag to the car. The hoodlum will take care of the rest. She’s even packed her guitar saying, “Just in case I need it!”

Gotta admit, an emergency guitar is probably sound logic – though she’s not getting any stage time today. I’ll giggle if she cons her way onto another band’s stage. I could see her trying that. She really seems to love her stage time.

I doubt she’ll be able to, but I could see her trying it. In fact, I’d say that’s a very low probability event. Sure, you might scoff – but you what you should be doing is taking a lesson. See… What she’d be doing is keeping the dream alive and working towards her goals, even though the odds are against her. 😉 (I’m a horrible influence.) Until next time…

Shut up and play us a song!

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