Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Songwriters, Bars, Drinking, and Not Smoking

I’ve never spent much time in bars.  When I reached legal drinking age I was already a self-described “country hippie” with no money, and not much of a palate for alcohol. The stringbands I performed in from 1972-83 occasionally played in bars, and by then I enjoyed a few beers in the course of an evening, but generally found the drunks who hooted and hollered and sometimes got belligerent as the evening turned to morning to be obnoxious and not the kind of people I wanted to hang out with. When I was dating between marriages, I started frequenting the Empty Glass, a Charleston live music, liberal, social watering hole, but that didn’t last long. The fact is, I don’t like drinking too much and waking up tired or feeling sick and don’t like spending twenty to fifty dollars doing it.

But, I’ve started going out to a bar on Tuesday evenings where a couple local singer/songwriters have started what they call SongwriterStage—a “songwriter in the round” format (though it’s not in the round, it’s three songwriters on stage taking turns), which is common in Nashville for showcasing the wealth of talent available there. I’m finding, as are the 10-20 who have been showing up with me on Tuesday evenings from 7pm-10pm at Timothy’s, a basement bar beneath the Quarrier Diner on, you guessed it, Quarrier St., that the Tri-State area has a wealth of singer/songwriting talent as well. Last night I enjoyed listening to TimBrowning, Mark Cline Bates, and Jeff Ellis.

Singer-songwriters are a pretty needy bunch; that is, they need to find people to listen to them. If you know any, you know that they are likely to sit you down and ask you to listen to their latest song. That’s what they need—at least one person to listen. Here in the Internet age, they might record their new song and throw it up on the web for the whole world to hear, and who knows, for awhile two or three people a day might actually click on it to listen, and if it’s good, maybe twenty, and if it’s great and they’re very lucky, maybe thousands. Maybe they’ll get so well known they can go on the road, get gigs, wake up in a different place every day and almost make enough money to live on.

Anyway, I’m not sorry I didn’t make it as a singer-songwriter back when I had several dozen songs about love and loss and made my CD called Lessons Life’s Taught Me, letting my girlfriend at the time take a picture of me with a cowboy hat on, leaning reflectively against a tree. Continuing as a teacher until I had 25 years under my belt and a pension equivalent to half my salary was a much better outcome.

Tonight, after Timothy’s wound down, I strolled over to the Boulevard Tavern where some friends who play celtic music were playing for tips. Okay, it’s not just songwriters who need to be heard, I guess. I had my third drink there and was feeling pretty good, chatting everyone up about the fundraising event July 3rd that has been consuming my life lately.

A handsome young bearded fellow responded that he’d heard about it, and even been invited to sell his art there. As we tried to figure out why we looked a bit familiar to each other and whether in fact I had invited him to show his art, it was revealed that he’d gone to high school where my daughter had and knew Hannah. A heavy set girl in the next stool turned to look at me and said, “You were my 5th grade teacher.”

About that time I started feeling a little old. So here I am at 4 am writing my blog, because I’m somewhat prone to insomnia anyway, and while I fall asleep easily after drinking, I don’t sleep that long.

Thankfully, I don’t smoke anymore and they don’t allow smoking in bars in Kanawha County, which makes the whole experience so much more pleasant, and means I don’t smell like an ashtray and hack and cough because drinking used to be accompanied by chain smoking.

All this to say what Larry Groce says at the end of every Mountain Stage show, “Go out and listen to some live music wherever you are.” Yes, socialize, talk (as long as you’re not near the front of the room), but also, spend some time listening carefully. You might be amazed at how talented the folks you’re listening to are, and that's what they want, for at least one person to listen--even more than money, but drop a generous gift in the tip jar, so at least they can pay their bar bill.

My 2-Day Diet Progress Week 32, June 16, 2014 
Beginning weight 11/3/13: 209 lbs.
Height 5'8" Age: 62
Goal weight: 165 lbs.
Total loss goal: 44 lbs.
Beginning waist size: 43 in.
Current waist size: 37.5 in.
Weight end of this week:  177 lbs.
Gain/Loss this week:  +2 lb.
Total Gain/Loss:  -32 lbs.

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