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What Does It Take?


I'm a songwriter and a performer, and have been now, for more of my life than not. If you are reading this, maybe you are too. I think that more people on my FB page are Creatives than Fans. Maybe you are both. But what I find myself most interested in exploring lately is LIVE MUSIC, since the Pandemic.

A wee story comes to mind, one that has nothing to do with music-making.

Yesterday, Emma came over. Emma is a professional pet sitter, and she came to see Henry James. Now Emma is the least intimidating of all people. She is thin and blonde and sweetness oozes out of her. But you know? Henry James would have none of her. He ran as soon as the door opened, and he heard her voice: he hid under the bed.

This is nothing like Henry James. It wasn't until later that I realized no one comes into this house. Any person would be seen as a threat. Henry James has been Covidized.

I have performed a few times since Covid. It all started with making small performance videos that could be uploaded and shared, along with other musicians, and much thanks to Dolly Ramirez and JJ Schoch and Terry Paul Roland for taking "The Roadhouse Presents" online.

Later, The Roadhouse returned to the Backstage Coffee Gallery in Altadena, and with success. I couldn't believe that fans were willing to pay $20 to sit in a small space that offered no refreshments, to listen to music for nearly three hours. Each of the Roadhouse shows is a Tribute to a well-known and celebrated band or performer. The performers were not household names, but they were seasoned, worth a listen.

Venues seem to be rebounding, as we get boosted, or take chances, or simply push on. Big name performers are back on the circuits. Emmylou Harris played The Disney Concert Hall, and Dylan is back at Pantages. Coachella happened. You can see music somewhere nightly in Los Angeles, whether it's Ireland's 32 Pub, The Troubadour, The Baked Potato, Zebulon, The Shrine, The Forum. There are downtown clubs where you can dance until at least 2am. And smaller venues where you can catch local blues and rock and Americana acts, as well as jazz and Latin music. Now, even the tiny Kulak's Woodshed, a venue held together by one tenacious Paul Kulak, is offering its Open Mic Mondays.

We want to get back to "normal."

So. Are you going out again? Are you performing again? Or are you very well-meaning, but, at the end of the day, unable to commit, and a bit guilt-ridden about it?

As usual, I have more questions than commentary. Who is going out these days? And why? What are we looking for? How much will we commit? What do we want to see?

Are we more and more reluctant to leave the couch, the telly, the computer, the ipad and the mobile phone?

Personally, I still feel like I am readying myself. Getting fortified. Planning my coming out party. Planning my social activities. I am like Henry James. I too want to run under the bed at the suggestion of going out, hanging with people I don't know, even taking in a musical act. I can say I get tired at the end of the day. I can say I don't have the money. I can say I don't like driving around LA at night alone. But am I being lazy? Resistant? Did I get too comfortable in my jammies, assuming that staying home is safer and better?

I know I don't want to be this way forever. I know I am missing out. I know that it is one thing to write and make music in small spaces, releasing it to God knows who, when, what where?

The question for me now is: How do you get the cat to come out from under the bed?

I am that feline. And I am still tricking myself out of a reality that feels less legitimate every day.

Stay tuned. And please comment, feel free.

photo: Kathleen Kinmont











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