As a solo troubadour for nearly thirty years, I guess there's stuff to say.
Will anyone be interested? I don't consider myself a very interesting guy.
Is there something other solo musicians can learn from me? I've never considered myself much of a teacher, least of all on expert on anything...especially music.
But, I've managed to make a decent living at singing songs over a lot of years, despite being mediocre to the core.
How? Read on....
Man, as a kid and adult I LOVED playing baseball. When I was sixteen years old, I switched to a better league with a coach and players that I still love twenty-five years after leaving the game.
It was at one of our year-end banquets where I first saw what a solo, acoustic guitar wielding, songster could do. He brought people together. He made them smile. He made them dance. And in the immortal words of Billy Joel, he made them "forget about life for awhile".
What an honourable thing to give people! I was intrigued.
Throughout the years me and my now wife (Natalie) would see Pat Hewitt often. People lined up around the building to get in and soak in the volume, and sing along. I was now even MORE intrigued, bordering on enamoured.
Through series of very fortunate events Pat and his wife Karen have become close and life long friends of ours and the rest is history.
Pat helped me so much. He was so giving of his knowledge and his time. His energy was contagious and it simply became something I HAD to do.
Take advantage of little moments that make you feel something. Ask questions of people that are turning your head. Believe it or not, we all learned from somebody and most of us are happy to pay some knowledge forward!
A LITTLE DESTINY NEVER HURTS
So this guy shows up on my ball team after I'd already been there for a couple years. I knew him from playing minor hockey. Michael Graham. He was/is a very accomplished player with a natural knack for rhythm. He brought his guitar to one of our baseball tournaments and proceeded to entertain a bunch of drunk dudes in a hotel room. That was my "aha" moment. Later, Michael and I would go on to form a duo called "South of Sixty" and I learned so much from him.
I promised myself that after completing college I would buy a starter guitar and take lessons. I enrolled in the Royal Conservatory of Ontario and strummed my first chord, an E Minor, sometime around 1990. I was hooked! Have you ever really heard an E Minor...so dramatic and so easy to play!
I'm not sure what was coming over me, but I was SO driven to learn it and also to start singing. Failure simply was not an option. I'd never sung a note in my life. Can I even sing?
Was this going to work? I was gonna MAKE it work!
I was still living with my parents during my engagement to my highschool sweetheart Natalie. Whenever my parents would leave the house I would pick up that guitar and sing at the top of my lungs over and over again until I was (somewhat) satisfied with what I was hearing. I just kept doing it until I found my voice.
Never in my life have I ever been so laser focused on something. Well, I was very focused on baseball but I knew, ultimately, my baseball days were coming to a close...learning the guitar saved me from the sadness of that transition.
Somewhere inside of me, I knew this had to be my life. It had to. It's the only job I wanted to do.
Would it make me rich? Maybe not in my wallet, but in so many other aspects of my life, yes!
There are a lot of divorced and single musicians out there. Thankfully, I am not one of them. My wife and I met on a baseball diamond when I was still 15 years old. I think I loved her right away. Infectious smile and laugh. And she loved me...which was not really something I'd felt before. The subject of my wife could be a whole 'nother blog. I call her the Hardest Working Woman in Country Music. She has rolled with so many punches. She is my life force. She reels me in. She defends me. She helps me. She picks me up. She dusts me off.
What's My Point?
I guess, to scratch the surface, my point is BE REAL. Find what it is you're good at and what turns your crank, and DO THAT! Find a place for yourself. Will you fail? Hell yes. I still fail often....More than often! But, I feel like if people trust you and you can make them feel something, then they will embrace you.
You will feel the love and you will spread the love.
And what's better than that?