Hey! Yoooooooo what just happened….what is happening in my life?
In the month of May alone, I’ve signed hundreds of autographs, washed myself in both the waters of Lake Huron Canada and the Gulf of Mexico, and now we’re driving from Silver City New Mexico through the night to Las Vegas to hit a soundcheck at noon tomorrow. How did I get here?
It’s been a blur since I decided to come on board with The Ghost Town Blues Band, but it’s the best kind of blur – a busy, creative, hustle-now kind of blur. A traveling band – a mythical group of heyoka riding into your town to shake your blues away – it seems like a thing out of a dream. But this is exactly what we do! I get to shake people out of their tired routine by providing my best musical performance with a group of cool musicians.
Again, how did I get here?
To make a long story short, it’s come down to three things for me:
1) Be Patient
I ran into Matt Isbell, the lead singer and guitar player of Ghost Town Blues Band when I was at the post office, of all places. We had played together maybe once or twice before (A common experience in Memphis TN, as most everybody plays with everybody), but it had been a while since that day. He was shipping something for his Cigar Box Guitar business, and I was trying to arrange a PO box so I can get my Retirement Home gigs checks mailed to a business address. This was my third visit to the post office that day, and I was just hearing (from the same people) that I needed yet another sheet of paper. I’m usually very patient, but at this point I was absolutely appalled by their egregious incompetence (if it wasn’t downright dissidence for common decency!)
I was at the point where any normal human being would have been totally justified in yelling at these post office workers, I decided it wasn’t worth it and said something curteus, and stepped away.
I played with them after a while – I liked the group and they liked me too.
But it was only later that I found out that my display of patience at the post office was a top reason why I was called upon to play keys with this group. (Another reason is that my criminal record is spotless and Canada requires spotless records for entry, and for some reason it’s rare to find a keys player in Memphis whose record is as such. Ha – what does that say about keys players, i wonder?)
2) Taking an inventory of all my opportunities
My homie Jack Simon swears by magic boards. What are magic boards? It’s showerboard from Homedepot, cut or uncut. Add 2 or 3 dry erase markers, and a rich imagination. Viola!
I use magic boards to keep track of my ideas, and one night when I was feeling overwhelmed (by the pressure i often put on myself), I wrote out all of my opportunities.
This is recommended – often times we can take for granted the opportunities that life presents us. It is up to us, though, to tune out perception to see the opportunities available to us. Ask yourself:
How can i contribute? How can i better serve with my gifts? What service can i perform that brings me the most happiness?
and lastly… What opportunities are available to me right now?
I’ve learned that sometimes life doesn’t let you wait…sometimes life rewards the go-getters and the red-veined adventurers who live for risk and glory.
I wish I was this type of person. i really wish i was! But I’m not. I’m cautious, and I approach inter-personal relationships very gingerly.
But sometimes life will wait for you to decide what you want and who you are, and equip you with the confidence to take advantage of your best opportunities.
And how will you know what your opportunities are if you don’t write them down? Just do it – once you have 5 you’ll probably remember even more.
I wrote down 5 or 6 income opportunities on my magic board that cold day in April. I was working 10-14 hour days at the Juice Bar and on my own hustles…I wouldn’t change it for the world, but it was hard. I was hoping to start a Facebook Ads agency – I was so hooked on the implicit promises of wealth from expert internet marketers that Matt Isbell’s invitation to jam was the last thing on my mind. But i still wrote it out.
Over the next several days I would look up at these opportunities casually, thinking little of them.
But I was over at Jack’s again, and Preston (of Ghost Town Blues Band) called Jack to chat about something. I asked to speak with Preston, and the rest is history: we secured a time when i could sit it in on a gig in Memphis. Interestingly enough, this was the same place where i played a gig with them about 7 years ago!
3) Consistent playing and practice
Musicians! Just do it. I know I’m a terrible example…I’m super (perhaps overly) consistent for some time periods, while others I have to check out and NOT play and practice consistently. I’ve been in bands for more than half of my life, and it’s always been this way. Be consistent, but be flexible. The bottom lines are this: You have to practice and play to get better, and you need to balance that consistent playing and practice with period of rest. Why? Because this isn’t a goddamn cog-in-the-machine, mindless, worker-bee occupation. You are a human being that the music and the audience benefits when you take time to be and grow your soul. This isn’t a “hustle now and relax later” kind of job. This is life. Playing music is the kind of thing that retired millionaires spend all their time trying to learn, only to (sometimes) learn that it’s not as easy as it looks. You have to be good, so practice!
My consistent playing and practice has made me a good musician. Maybe not great, but good. How to get to the next level? Woah, i’m not getting ahead of myself here…My good friend who is a martial artist and dances and performs with the Memphis Ballet Ensemble says this: Learn the form. Master the form. Forget the form.
Right now with The Ghost Town Blues Band I am learning the form. It’s humbling, but I know that it’ll be worth it.
Opportunities. The more you learn to look for them, the more you’ll receive. Or perhaps the very act of looking for them is what creates them! Either way, you won’t know unless you do it. Make a list of your opportunities, and be grateful. This is clutch! Do it, my friends – you won’t regret it.
Until next time,
P.S. I’m on the tourbus on the way to Las Vegas right now. Haha – cool.