A different outcome

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Doing the rounds of recruiting performers, organizing rehearsals, negotiating with venues, carrying equipment (if roadies can’t be afforded), dealing with sound checks, waiting for the audience to arrive, doing the beat group thing, dismantling equipment, carrying equipment (again), making one’s way home. These are the bare bones of a gigging band leader’s job. A moment came when it felt like one was running around in circles, not seeing any appreciable difference in the outcome of expending the effort.

I have always worked in a wide range of performing arts modes, so I had other models of how to function that I could compare with the much vaunted lifestyle of a being a musician in a band. Several of those processes were more attractive to me. Preparing to present a classical song recital is something I enjoy doing. Working in theatre productions, whether it is with actors, dancers or other singers is also a more satisfying way to work, in my opinion.

It took me a long while to wean myself off the need to appear on a bandstand. I can’t say I miss the wooliness of being involved in that side of things. I guess I would need to work with a very cerebral group of band members to derive much joy from going down that path again. The very nature of playing in bands that perform in clubs or private functions lends itself to a distractive type of communication. I prefer to perform in situations that are focused.

For a long time, I had disagreements with folks who enjoy that lifestyle, because there was a basic area of misunderstanding that it has taken me a long time to unpick for myself – I am not really attracted to escapist forms of communication. I should be investing my energies in encouraging people to face reality.

Anyone who comes to see my new performance work – Afonja’s Minstrel will hopefully come away from the show with food for thought. That’s the way forward for me.