Yesterday was my last live performance at the Daily Brew for what is likely to be a long time. With the new state restrictions came the edict: No live music in restaurants. Ugh. I guess it makes sense on some level but I defy anyone to prove that even one case of Covid-19 can be linked to a musician playing in a restaurant. I know in the grand scheme of things this is no big deal. After all, I have my health as does the rest of my family and for that I am very, very grateful. I’m hoping that my age plus a documented “heart incident” about 15 years ago will get me toward the front of the line for one of the vaccines. In discussing the new rule with Joni, the manager at the Daily Brew at the conclusion of my gig yesterday she said they are fearing a closing of restaurants in the near future or at the very least, curbside delivery of orders only. So she has a lot more to worry about than me, even though it will hit me pretty hard in the monthly bottom line. But Joni was quick to say that the moment the no-music restriction is lifted I will be back doing my weekly gig. I am still teaching at the Brew, upstairs where no customers are allowed right now, after closing time. And for that I am also very grateful.
I’m going to start doing my live sessions from my studio via my Cape Cod Acoustics Facebook page as I did all last Spring. Not nearly as much fun as playing at the Brew but at least it will keep me learning new songs and practicing. I had fits with getting good sound for my live sessions, both in my studio and at the Brew but at least in my studio I have more control of the sound and there won’t be any background noise of people talking and the smoothie blender doing its thing. If you haven’t “friended” my CCA Facebook page yet, please do so you’ll get a reminder every time I go live. I’m hoping that at least some of my listener/watchers will chip in a couple dollars via my Venmo account. If you have yet to use Venmo I recommend it highly. It’s free to download the program and a great way to pay someone or a business. My Venmo account is:
An email I always look forward to comes from classical guitarist and teacher Allen Matthews. His writing is always interesting and he often has some great tips for all guitarists, not just those who play classical guitar style. His website is www.classicalguitarshed.com and I recommend it highly. You can request getting on his email list for those weekly emails, too. I had a wonderful little back and forth with Allen when I asked him if he minded if I quoted him in this space and he kindly said yes, which is why I wanted to pay it forward.
In a recent newsletter entitled “Duke Ellington on Choosing the Right Music to Play,” Allen quotes Ellington: "The wise musicians are those who play what they can master.” This is fantastic advice and it took me a long time to come to the same conclusion. As I think I’ve mentioned here before, in my dreams I am a great jazz guitar player. But alas, after struggling with that style for a couple decades I realized that was just never going to happen. So for the last 15 or so years I’ve been working very hard on styles I do know I can play pretty well for my students’ sake but also my own. I think in a macro sense the underlying message of Allen’s letter was that with our limited time on this earth it is much more gratifying to see real progress in a style you know well rather than beating your head against the wall trying to conquer something stylistically that takes away from your gratification in playing the guitar.
But….I’m not saying you should only play the easy stuff, regardless of the style. We must all challenge ourselves if we hope to progress. I still dive into jazz stuff from time to time, especially after hearing my idol, Martin Taylor make it sound so emotional, effortless and exciting. My jazz chops have improved but I know pretty quickly when a piece is beyond me and probably never will sound as good as I hoped it would. I let go of those kinds of songs pretty quickly. Maybe if I had a friend who was a great jazzer to play with I would begin to see more rapid progress. Maybe not. But I’ve gotten past the idea that simpler kinds of music cannot be as gratifying as playing a Charlie Parker tune note-for-note. The upshot of all this is that I’m more pleased with my playing now than ever before, most of the time anyway!
I’m sure you saw the news of Bob Dylan selling the performance and publishing rights to his huge catalog for a reported $300 million+. Good for him! I’m assuming he put in a provision that allows him to still perform his songs. Dylan has always been very savvy about the business side of music. But the funniest quote I read by people reacting to the news went something like this: Man, are they going to be disappointed when they find out he can’t sing! (ha!)
Many famous musicians were not so savvy in the early days of pop and rock music. John Fogerty is the most blatant example of that. His entire Creedence Clearwater catalog was purchased by someone back in the 1980s (without his knowledge or approval) and for about 20 years he was not allowed to play ANY of the songs he wrote for the band. He eventually regained control of his catalog. But some were not so lucky. Sly Stone had signed away all his rights at the peak of the Family Stone’s popularity and I read a very sad story recently about him living in an old beat up van that a friend of his allowed him to park in his driveway.
I hope you and your family are holding up as the pandemic rages. I just read online that the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine will be headed out for delivery to hospitals today, but for most of us it will a while before we have access to it. Some people are very nervous about taking the vaccine due to its possible side effects. I get that, but it won’t stop me from getting the shot (or shots) as soon as I possibly can. The nut cases who won’t get it because they think it’s a government mind-control plot can refuse it if they want; I’m guessing most of that group don’t wear masks either because they don’t want their “rights” trampled on. Fine. If some of them get the virus and go to the great Trump Rally in the Sky that just means I may move up in the line to get the vaccine!
Wishing you and yours a happy, peaceful and safe holiday season.
Peace & good music,