Thursday night gigs can either be great, or a drag. Most musicians walk that tight balance between day job and passion, and much too often, the day job takes away so much energy and joy. That Thursday night hit at 11 is something you look forward to all week, but you know that your 6AM wake up call is looming in the not too distant future, and that no amount of coffee is going to help you recover from four hours of sleep. That’s the truth as I write this!
So, how do you get excited for a drag of a show with a small crowd at a bar that’s charging too much for cover, in a part of the city nobody wants to venture to on a 5 degree night in Chicago?
You play. You play your frustration. You play your emotion. And, you play for those 15 people who happen to be there.
I had this type of gig with Four Star Brass Band last night. I was admittedly having a not so great day.
Looking for full time employment is tough, the rejection letters are coming in (finally some word – it’s frustrating when you’ve applied for over 200 jobs and had zero feedback!), and I’m finding it hard to see silver lining in my current hunt and frustration.
However, the truth is I am doing what I love. I’m playing music.
I wasn’t in a great mood when I got to the bar. I was tired from a late night rehearsal/lack of sleep from the night before, and honestly just looking forward to playing the set so I could go home and sleep. But then something amazing happened. I pulled out my saxophone, warmed up a bit, and walked up the stairs to the stage. There was an energy that changed from that top step to stage. I went from dragging my feet to smiling ear to ear. From those first warm-up notes to the last fortissimo fermata I was totally entrenched in the music, the crowd. People were smiling, dancing… I was smiling and dancing, and singing from the depths of somewhere I’m not sure I knew I had in me.
And now I sit, despite four hours of sleep, riding the high that comes with those flashes of energy, beauty, and the purest way I know love and life exist. Music is my answer.