On Saturday Night during the Fourth of July holiday weekend, I got to play in my hometown with my childhood musical heroes, The Dean Brothers.
The crowd was overwhelming. The Skaneateles Village Po-Po estimated the throng to be around 2,000 strong, an all time attendance record for a concert in Clift Park.
I'd like to say I was hitting musical homeruns all night, but that wasn't really the case. I'm rusty. I was just hoping to contribute and be in support of these guys. They have given me so much over the years, and I'm extremely grateful to have a shot at giving back to them.
Still, after all these years, the one impression that I always leave with after seeing or playing with The Deans Brothers is this: These guys just aren't nostalgia. They have a lot of creative gas left in their collective tank just waiting to get ignited. That's pretty inspiring to me.
There were little moments in the show where there was a slight indication that maybe I could help to function as a spark.
Perhaps when I signed on to play with them on this night, I was seeking the answer to that. "Can you still be a spark, Little Georgie?".
Because if I still can, there would be nothing better in life than to provide it to friends who I truly love. I have stood on their shoulders my entire life. I'm not related, but they are a huge sequence in my musical DNA.
How gratifying it would be to have them stand on mine a little. Maybe just enough to fire up that unused go-go juice in their tank.
If that creative tank does ignite, I want a ringside seat. If any of you trust even a little of my musical judgement, I gaurantee that you will want one too.
But I am pretty hyper critical of my own performance as a rule. I could have done much better. I forgot just how much preparation and discipline it takes to get over the standard bar that I have always set for myself. I shook the rust off eventually, but I should have never showed up with rust at all.
As mentioned in Part One of this little manual labor musing, making that realization isn't a bad thing. You always can be better. All you have to do is analyze the system, make an accurate assesment of past performance, de-construct it, re-calibrate to make improvements and adjustments, and always seek the flow in any future situation.
Don't think I'm beating on myself. I'm not. I left that show fired up and inspired to play again, and play at the level I know I'm capable of.
After packing up my gear, I headed to the Sherwood Inn to have a celebratory night cap with Holly and the whole crew.
Long story short? A lot of nightcaps appeared in front of me like magic, in the form of Absolute vodka and club sodas with a wedge of lime. So many caps that I could of opened a hat store, and having scarcity issues, I made sure that not a one went to waste.
Holly and I stayed up until 4:30 in the morning in his kitchen.
His lovely wife Patience would come and go as we yakked into the morning speaking of Michelangelo, and the conflict between creation, art and commerce. I finally swooned and crashed in their guest bedroom.
I awoke feeling like a pair of ragged claws were scuttling across the floors of silent seas that were sloshing in my skull, having achieved a state of abject brain cell genocide the night before.
We hung for awhile, and then I limped back home to Syracuse, and back to a reality to be experienced in hung over pain.
All hail the idiot conquering prodigal son and hero. What a dumb ass I is.
The apartment was an unholy wreck. Crap and clutter everywhere. Mail in the form of unpaid bills spilling from vertical surfaces. My gear was all torn down and in the car, so there was cabling and the residual gear from my practice rig strewn all about the music room. I had to bring everything up two flights of stairs and then re-wire the whole rig.
Maybe its my Catholic upbringing, but when I'm hungover I feel I must do pennance. I also was still excited about re-dedicating myself to hunker down and do some real wood shedding. The decision for what to do with myself, was obvious.
I channeled my inner Carlo.
I left the gear in the car for the day, and I cleaned. I sweated out the toxins in an un-airconditioned apartment until 10:00pm. I vacuumed and scrubbed and got all obsessive compulsive. I got on my hands and knees and stuck my head in the toilet until it was clean enough to serve fruit punch out of. I detailed the baseboards with a tooth brush. I moved all of the major appliances in the kitchen, cleaned under them, and then moved them back into position, the results of that work undetectable to no one but me.
I analyzed every organizational system in the house and then re-organized it. No cupboard or drawer was untouched, or unchanged. I got to projects around the apartment that I had been ignoring for over two years.
I drenched myself in the juice of meditative hard labor. Sweated it out.
Jumping into manual labor serves as metaphor. If I can physically clear out the obstructions in my living space to achieving flow, I can then see how to go through the same process in the space between my ears.
That's a harder task to execute, but the manual labor leads you to the real important work. The path gets cleared.
I cleaned house, let go of any unnecessary attachments, and threw them out.
A ton of crap and clutter hit the curb on Sunday, both physically and metaphysically.
Finally, I pulled all the keyboards and attendent gear out of the car and lugged all of it up the stairs.
I made an assesment of my practice set-up and made the call I had been making all day. I can design this better, for maximum flow. I dismantled what was left mantled, wrapped every cord and cable, unplugged everything, and started from scratch.
I tore it down, and then I built it up again. That's the process, no matter what you decide to tackle.
I finally got it up and all wired by midnight.
The slate is clean, and the system is improved. I'm ready to get to work, and to be that spark, for myself, for my friends, and for the people I love.
The stage is set, the pathways opened. The dust has cleared and it's time to dance.
Let's Roll Up The Rugs And Crank It.
(Live performance photos by Jack O. Bocchino)
"You may shoot for the stars and end up in a back alley behind Pluto, beaten and bloodied, but at least I dare to dream, and that’s better than being Earthbound, mired in the muck of mediocrity.
I judge my forward progress and success by the crushingly epic nature of my failures.
The more epic the crash, the more I’m convinced I must be doing something right"
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THANK YOU KINDLY,
COLONEL BEAUREGARD "IRON THIGHS" JEFFERSON, A.K.A. "THE MANAGEMENT"