After my daughter Lilee-Jean passed away, I knew I wouldn’t be able to concentrate or be bossed around at a ‘normal’ job. I had too much anger and negative feelings festering in my mind. (I’ll dive deeper into these subject in some other blogs i’m sure.) I needed to play music. I needed something I could enjoy doing that would provide an emotional outlet for me. So for the last few years I’ve focused on making a career out of playing music, not becoming famous, just paying the bills.
I’ve always wanted to be famous, I'm sure thats no surprise to any of you. My first choice, if I’m being honest, would be becoming a professional athlete. I’m really not ready to admit that the PGA tour is out of reach for me, but I enjoy drinking beer on the golf course too much to pursue that dream. A very close second choice would be performing at arenas all over the world singing songs that I’ve written to inspire and help people of every kind. I’ve been working on that dream since I was in high school, albeit not too seriously. A few years ago, I realized being famous isn’t the most important thing to me. I just want to make a comfortable living doing something I love to do. So I started focusing on building a sustainable business that I can count on to support myself and my family.
Unless you reach that ‘next level’ you just wont make a living playing original music. Getting to that next level takes A LOT of hard work, and A LOT of time, unless you catch one of those ever-elusive ‘lucky breaks’. I’m not scared of the hard work, but I wanted to start a career as a musician right away, so I put my hard work into learning other people's songs. Popular songs that people recognize, enjoy, and singalong to, is what I thought would make me money. And I was right! As my repertoire grew from alt/rock to country, to classic rock, to pop, even hip-hop, or rap I was able to present myself to different venues confidently, knowing I could entertain the crowd I would be infront of. I’ve worked for cheap and often for free to get my name out there and support causes I believe in. I’ve played shows for only a handful of people, and sometimes I still do! I’ve probably called or emailed almost every pub there is from Agassiz to Vancouver asking for an opportunity. I’ve definitely put the hard work in! One summer I was working almost full-time on Granville Island as a street performer with very few pub/restaurant gigs, and by the next summer I couldn’t find a day to get down to Granville Island because I was too busy with weddings, private parties, restaurants, casinos etc. I have a few great weekly gigs (check my schedule) and word of mouth from weddings/parties spread like wildfire. In the last few months I’ve turned down over 20 gigs for this summer because I’m completely booked. Don’t hesitate to ask though on the off chance there is a cancellation ;). I’m constantly learning new songs, every week, or trying them off-the-cuff on stage when people shout out requests. I bring my iPad along, connect to the ol’ inter web and BAM, every song, that I know the melody of, is at my fingertips to keep the crowd happy! With so many regular gigs at the same place, for a lot of the same people I need to be learning new songs to keep people engaged and entertained. If I don’t, there's a good chance I’ll be out of a job!
“What is this guy getting at?” you may be asking…lol. Hold tight!
I’m making a living doing something I love. I’m so thankful for that. What i’m trying to get at is: succeeding at making this living has taken away from my DREAM of playing my own songs for everyone. I spend so much time learning other people's songs and booking/organizing/promoting gigs that I’m not finding time to write my own music. So this is my public profession that I WILL be writing more original music. I WILL be recording more original music, and YOU will be hearing more original music. Feel free to call me out on this if a few months go by and I haven’t shared a new song with you guys. You might also be thinking ‘why is he wasting this time writing a blog instead of writing a song?’ To that I say - you might have a point, but this blog is a good warm up for my writing.
How did this all come about? Why am I so determined now?? WELL, Last Sunday I got to play an original showcase at The Roxy Cabaret, Vancouver (video below). I shared the stage with one of my mentors, Trevor Mcdonald on electric guitar and we played all my own tunes except for 2 cover songs. As always, Dylan Weightman joined me on drums, and killed it. My usual bass player Adam Coleman couldn’t make it, luckily Adam's dad taught him everything he knows, so his papa, Stu Coleman (stu-nami) slap-a-da-bass all night long! Hearing my tunes come to life with a full band hit me so hard, I was electrified on stage. It was the most fun I’ve had playing music in a long time! So I need to write more songs! Better songs! And start playing more shows that show who I really am as an artist.
I’d love to tell you more about the night at the Roxy, but it really turned out to be a blur after my performance. Partially from the corona+tequila special, and partially from pure adrenaline! I do know for sure though it ended at ‘Fritz’ poutinery as per usual!
I love working as a full-time musician. Sometimes of course, like any job, even if you love it, it can still feel like work. But that Sunday at the Roxy it didnt feel like work at all. And I want to feel that more often!
And that's the way the cookie crumbles...