Say Cheese!

I performed at a dude ranch in Arizona. This ranch had it’s own helicopter fleet, and tourists who were visiting Las Vegas, NV, who chose to take this “Old West” get away, would take the one hundred – eighteen mile flight out to the ranch, which was located at the time, close to the west rim of the Grand Canyon.
This ranch job gave me the experience of singing for people from many parts of the world: Russia, France, Japan, Ireland, England, Norway, Australia, Denmark, Holland, Scotland, Brazil, Germany – these are the countries that immediately come to mind.
In performing in this capacity, I found out quickly, that in order to break the ice, and actually entertain these folks, it was a must, that I play what I like to refer to as “The Greatest Modern Folk Songs Of America”, which included “Take Me Home Country Roads”, “The Gambler”, “Proud Mary” – and many other songs like these; the “Mega – Standards” if you will.
These are also the songs that I find, tend to fill up my tip jar in any pub or bar type gig.
The one curious thing that stands out for me in performing at this ranch is something I never saw coming. There were always a few of the tourists who wanted to take pictures with us cowboy performers, dressed in eighteen – eighties period western garb. In having pictures and video taken of us by people from so many places around the world, I found it very amusing, that no matter what part of the world folks were from, and no matter what language they spoke, just before the click of the camera button, they would almost always ready us subjects with a hearty “Say CHEESE!!” In very plain English!

Friday Evenings At The Casino!

I’d play there every Friday evening. It was a four foot high stage in the back of the
casino. I’d start at four in the afternoon, and play until eight ‘o clock.
Every Friday during this time, construction workers in the area would come in to cash their checks, have a beer or two, and request Johnny Cash tunes. The majority of these construction workers were Hispanic, and the only thing they could say that I understood was “Johnny Cash”, and as far as I knew, “Johnny Cash” was the only thing that I could say that they understood, in my speaking English.
I thought it was awesome that we all spoke “Johnny Cash”, and that’s all we needed to communicate and have a good time! They liked Johnny Cash tunes, and I liked Johnny Cash tunes. For those few hours every Friday night, Johnny Cash tunes were all we needed to break through the language barrier and know we were all good buddies.
With every Johnny Cash tune I played, they sent up beer, shots of whiskey and tequila, and at such a rate, that I would have to line up those drinks behind my P.A. mixer until I could drink them without falling off of the bar stool I was precariously balanced upon. A good time on those Friday evenings were a given, as long as I sang Johnny Cash tunes!
On most Friday nights, there was one buddy in particular, who would come in with his girlfriend and sit at a table close to the stage. Usually at one point in the evening, my buddy would get up from the table and approach the stage. That always made me a “Happy Camper”, because he would come up to the edge of the stage where I was singing, and with me tapping my foot to the rhythm of the song I was playing, he would stick a small bag of weed under my boot on the upbeat! I would then refrain from tapping my left foot until after the next break. The best that I can remember, Friday nights back then were always Awesome!

You Had One Job!

I have been seeing this quote lately:
“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want, and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.” ~ Albert Einstein

I can’t be sure if Albert Einstein really said this, but for me, that doesn’t diminish the power of this statement. Though this has been an elusive thing throughout my life, I would be lying if I said I have never experienced this phenomenon.

From the time I was focusing on a city track meet as a second grader in elementary school, to coming in contact with helpful people when I was dead set on learning how to play the guitar, or those times when I worked toward a financial goal, I can truthfully say that I have experienced this phenomenon, and it has always been when I had built up the most belief that I could have, and deserved whatever it was that I was after.

When I was a kid, It seemed that I would naturally focus my efforts on what I truly wanted without questioning myself (Working at matching the frequency), and more times than not, when I had that kind of wholehearted focus, I would get what I was after, or at least a satisfying version thereof. Don’t get me wrong, I never realized anything off the charts, or outrageous, but where things that were, for me, realistically attainable given my status at the given time are concerned, I can testify that I actually did receive those things. I can’t help but wonder now, that if I had maintained continual focus over the years, if those things might have grown into something outrageous.

I recent years, more times than not, when I have landed a good gig, it was also around the same time that I was practicing the songs that I needed to be practicing, and working on guitar riffs that I needed to be working on, and being all around mindful of what I needed to do to be prepared to play a good gig.

Through high school, I would spend three or four hours a night in the utility room of the house we lived in, practicing playing guitar, and learning songs. I made it a goal to know at least fifty songs (enough for a four hour gig) by the time I got out of school. I did this from eighth grade through high school (yes, my grades took a hit!). Also, anytime there was an opportunity to perform in a talent show, school program, or whatever, I would perform.

During my senior year in high school I was working a few evenings a week in a grocery store to get rolling (gas and insurance for my VW van), but I still practiced and performed when I could. During that Winter, a theater in Branson, MO (Close to where I lived at the time) held a talent show for the local amateur performers in the area. There were approximately sixty acts, and this show went on for four hours! I did not win. I don’t even think I came anywhere close to the top ten. During the show there was an intermission, where I was approached by a local business owner who struck up a conversation with me about Country Music, The Grand Ole Opry, country music stars, and the music industry in general. We traded phone numbers, and would talk on the phone occasionally during that year. Two or three months before getting out of school, I got a call from my business buddy who told me that I needed to call the manager of a small restaurant / lounge there in Branson, as she was looking for someone to perform for the coming season. I gave her a call, then auditioned for her one evening. As it turned out, I quit my grocery store job right out of high school to go play the little lounge for that season, and the next season also.

I performed a solo acoustic gig, four hours a night, six nights a week, and I was paid three hundred dollars a week (Not bad for a kid just out of school in nineteen eighty one!). During this time, I knew just about every hit song on the country charts, and I had listened to patrons telling me about their favorite songs. I learned and played those songs, and my tip jar would fill up to the tune of usually one hundred, to two hundred dollars a week, on top of the three hundred I was already being paid.

I have had various experiences like this since, but the “matching the frequency” thing has been elusive to me in regard to certain goals I have had throughout the years. As far as there being any interference in this principle, I know it has been only me getting in the way of myself. I have had a hell of a time, especially as I have gotten older, just buckling down and doing the work I need to do, in order to be prepared for, and stay prepared for the jobs that I would like to land. Also, making the ongoing necessary adjustments that I need to make, given my age, and where I am at this stage of my life, have been a challenge. Off hand, I guess it’s probably because I sometimes let negativity creep in, and I start thinking that I cannot entertain anymore because I am getting too old, even though I know that this is Bullshit, as proven by the likes of masters like George Burns, God Bless Him! I sometimes have trouble hanging on to the belief that there is in fact a butt for every seat, and if I am serious about entertaining, then I have to seriously acknowledge where I am in my life, accept my age, and do the kind of work it will take in order for me to entertain an audience. Also, I need to take a good look at who it is that I need to be marketing my product to. Sometimes, instead of just having faith and getting to work, I’ll wander here, there, then to, and from my various interests in potential businesses, not focusing and working on the thing that I truly want to do, in order to get to the place to where I am doing it in more of a constant manner.

One day I wouldn’t be surprised to be standing in the presence of my creator, being berated, and having it drilled into my spiritual head, that I only had one job! “YOU HAD ONE JOB! I GAVE YOU ABILITY MAN! YOU ONLY HAD ONE JOB! ONE JOB! THAT’S ALL YOU HAD! ONE JOB!! WHAT STOPPED YOU FROM DOING YOUR ONE JOB?? Kid, if you would have just done the one job I gave you, then I could have helped you get along just fine.” Thanks for reading, but please excuse me, as I have to get to work!

If Folks Come Out To See You, Or Your Band, And They Drop $50.

This is my post in reply to a thoughtful article written by: Chris Robley (cdbaby / diyMusicians) “Your friends ask to get on the guest list for all your shows, even though they’ll each happily drop $50 on drinks” – My Reply: Isn’t that the point of being paid as a musician? If your band is good, and entertaining enough that patrons show up, stay, and eat, drink, dance, and listen, and spend more money in the establishment because you, and, or your band is performing, then any smart club owner should realize that this is the value of effective live music, and pay you accordingly. Even on YouTube, it is about being entertaining enough to draw consumers to your content, thus the ad for some product, that will generate revenue for you when that product’s ad is clicked on. The only difference is, of course, live music is physical, and the YouTube stuff is virtual, but it is still the same principle. If you are entertaining people in a club, and they drop $50 on drinks because your band is there, then any club owner with a brain will pay you a part of that dough. Check out the markup on booze and food. That which you are, or should be helping to sell with your entertaining act. This isn’t any different than a sponsor deal would work.
P.S. Wow! I posted this reply ten minutes ago, and I just went back to check the link, and wouldn’t you know it? My reply has already been deleted! Interesting :-) Musician folk these days, including myself over the last thirty five years, are more concerned with being a “Star”, than they are just plying their trade as a customer service orientated “Musician”.

“Chicken Surprise”

My wife and I were out to eat one night in one of them fancy restaurants. Bein’ that I ain’t had any hits, we were immediately sent to the bar. While we waited, I overheard
a man say that he had to get home! He said his wife had made him some
“Chicken Surprise”. Now I got to thinkin’ that this guy had better not be in too much trouble, for say, hangin’ out at this bar too late, or too often, without his wife, ’cause
“Chicken Surprise” could be just about anything! If there was a can of dog food dumped out on a plate, I imagine some folks might eat it if some other folks told ‘em it was “Chicken Surprise”! I wrote a song in honor of that man who might have gone home and ate God knows what! I just hope he wasn’t in trouble!

Ladies’ Man, Or Lonely Guy?

I got my first lounge job right after I graduated high school. It was in a little place called the “Draw Bridge Lounge”. This place only held about fifty people. I was doing a single act. It was just me sitting on a bar stool with my acoustic guitar, and a small P.A. system. I’d sing and play on a little stage in the corner of the place. I had learned the top twenty country tunes via the radio to my cassette recorder, after many hours spent waiting for those songs to be played so I could capture them on tape. I was playing six nights a week, and I thought I was riding high. I had even developed a bit of a following during the two seasons that I played this gig. This brings back the memory of one evening in particular that definitely stands out. This instance would be the time that I was confronted with a major dilemma in my first attempt ever, at being a “Ladies’ Man”. I can’t say that I had what could be called a serious girlfriend during this period, but I definitely had girls who were friends. A few of these girls and I were the type of friends that would be called “Friends With Benefits” today. Most every night I would play my gig, and once it ended, I’d throw my guitar in it’s case and go home a lonely guy, but every now and then, one of my “Friends With Benefits” would stop in, and any night like this was what I considered to be an “Awesome Night”! One night however, the planets must have lined up just right, or on second thought, really wrong, when all three of my “Friends With Benefits” came in at the same time. They all sat at different tables, which was definitely a distraction to say the least! In thinking back on it now, if they had been sitting at the same table, that would have most definitely been a disaster! I didn’t take a break for four hours as there was a seat saved for me at each of their tables. By the time I got done singing that night, my vocal chords were fried, and it felt more to me like I was squeaking rather than singing! I could have taken a break and went and sat at one of those girls’ tables, but at that time my brain seemed to be too much at home were it had taken up residence as an eighteen or nineteen year old male brain, that is, living in the wrong head! My main mission that night was to do my best not to destroy the precious network of “Friends With Benefits” that I had built! I continued to play song after song until it was time to go home. When I had sung the last song, I said goodnight, and did my best to give the impression that I just wasn’t in the mood to do any partying, and that I only wanted to go home and get some rest. That night I went home a lonely guy, and on the way home, I questioned the true worth of being a “Ladies’ Man”. Unfortunately for me on that night, I felt totally had, and I also felt totally not had!

Ulterior Motive

A long time ago, back in high school, our music room had a closet full of acoustic guitars. This was great! A couple of friends and myself would go in there, grab some guitars, and jam after lunch, or breaks, but mainly when we should have been in study hall. Sometimes other kids would join us. We were always thrilled when this one senior girl (We were sophomores) would join us. We got all kinds of credit for being really cool in giving this girl guitar lessons, which would be better described as just showing her the chords we knew (“Stairway To Heaven” comes to mind). Anyhow, this girl thanked us up and down for teaching her how to play guitar, but if the truth be told, the pleasure was all ours as she had major boobage, and when she held one of those guitars on her lap, one of her “Girls” would hang into that curve on the topside of an acoustic guitar absolutely beautifully. Me and my buddies thought that was AWESOME!

Right Brain Left Brain

In using my left brain to create and sell a necessity based product, I secure the consistent funding needed to introduce the original and unique product created by my right brain, to a new, and ever expanding audience of potential customers. This qualifies me as my own promotion company.