Saturday, January 8, 2011

For Passion not Pay

Earlier this week, we had a couple of traveling, performing songwriters couch surf with us. Our town is one of several stops they will make on their winter tour.

They were playing at one of our favorite watering holes, Eichardt’s. We stopped in to introduce ourselves, and to listen for a while.

Burke, stage name Church Mouse, writes and performs tunes of a darker nature. He uses two vocal mics, which give his voice a haunting, almost forlorn feel. Tunes that make you think.

Adam is idealistic and innocent. Everything about him feels happy. He uses the base of his stool to tap out rhythms with his feet – sorta like a toned down clog-dance - while playing the guitar, singing and smiling. Cool!

Musicians, songwriters, creatives of any sort really, love to talk to others who share their passion. So despite their long day of driving, setting up for their gig, playing, tearing down, packing up, and driving to our place, Burke and Adam wanted to talk (and so did we).

We talked about what inspires our songwriting, how we get started, what blocks us, what sets us free. We talked about our fears and our joys of performing. We shared stories of the road - our best and worst gigs. And, we swapped the names of venues that attracted appreciative audiences.

The best venues often can’t afford to pay, so you play for tips. Many times you play and sing your heart out, and the people walk by as if you weren’t even there. So why do it? Why drive over mountain passes in the middle of winter? Why spend time, gas, miles, and money to play? Why pack the gear in and out of venues and drive through the night to the next gig?

Ask Adam. Ask Burke. Ask the guy in the grocery store parking lot who plays his sax and gives it all he’s got when it’s only 27 degrees outside. They will all give you the same answer, “because we have to.”

When I wrote Man on the Corner I was thinking about the buskers who play in the rain, and snow, and the heat of the day. I was remembering the artists who bare their souls in the dim corners of bars, or noise filled coffee shops. I was writing a tribute to all the players who probably didn’t even cover the cost it took them to get there.

Dawnya Clarine
Soul Appeal