The arts – unmasked

Early Salish Carver

Did read the recent Twitter run about Geoffrey Owens? He was that guy from the Cosby Show that someone photographed working at a Trader Joe’s.

Or what about those local bands that have yet to go huge and end up on Jimmy Kimmel?

Like that relative you have you is still writing the same novel?

Isn’t talent meant for just those you see in mainstream media?

Ok…by now you might pretty much realize where I’m going here…the answer is no. ☺️

We’re all Geoffrey in a way. I work as a cleaner and I’ve worked behind multiple counters as well. For a year I did go full time thanks to some funding, but that didn’t stick as rules changed (I swear, and yeah, it sucked).

While being a bassist and writer I have been lucky in one way though, and that’s that I consistently have interacted with other creative people and seen what they have been doing, getting a taste of what’s out there, even if it’s just here on Vancouver Island.

From Native artists like Roy Vickers and Alano Elzerza to the Black Angus band to the Eighty Sticky Fingers show in Colwood BC that represents local artists and potters I have consistently been surprised by what’s out there and of course with the very medium you’re reading this from, I have uncovered more.

And it isnt… here’s the thing…”not as good as it’s not famous or whatever”. It doesn’t work that way. It’s like espresso. Someone tamping a perfect shot produces a better drink than…brace yourself…the machine that does it fast at your local Seattle giant chain. The latter just has gone that direction with it. It’s like when I was young and I (embarrassing..) asked a local jazz horn player why he didn’t put out an album like Kenny G.

I don’t have the hair..

Alano Edzerza of North Vancouver.

And that’s not to run down Ariana Grande or Ed Sheeran… they’re excellent at what they do too…truth is the arts is just that…it’s a craft and these are the craftspersons. The very doing of it is part of the joy and beauty as is the fact that it is not easy, that it is not necessarily lucrative involving a Hollywood tycoon with a cigar.

Victoria Jazz Festival

So I suppose the take away from the Geoffrey situation is to see what’s going on in your own home town. Got some extra white on your walls? Make them pop with local art where not only will you have some nice color but you might have a story of actual interaction with it’s creator. That’s one of the best parts. When we do a Cookeilidh gig we end up answering questions about things like Woody’s Irish flutes that are handmade from African blackwood which is incredibly dense and are cut precisely from an old original.

While we are discussing local music, I can only wrap it up with this example. This is the late George Essihos who I did take a lesson with once and his bassist who was pretty much the most influential teacher I probably had. Don’s pretty good too.

πŸ˜‰

Listen here … https://youtu.be/2u4AEvgFDcc

And yeah, see what’s happening in your local arts community. From stage to film, visual arts to music and beyond I can strongly say you will be richer for it.

😊

Tom

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Stage fright, comparing yourself and other frets

Me with Cookeilidh at a new bridge opening show

It is very easy to get nervous about going up in front of people, and even more frustrating when you see someone else seemingly do that like no problem, doing stuff you never thought of. So what to do?

Have I been nervous in performance recently? Yes of course! Do I compare myself? Oh probably that too, but that’s just natural. You see someone doing what you never thought of and well, now it is thought of and you can choose to slueth it out later. Truth is we all have such different tastes, approaches and physicality so naturally that other guy (or girl) is going to do things you’re not. Like if I see someone who is slapping and popping all over the place or playing complex Bebop patterns on their bass…on one hand it’s like “I can’t do that” but on the other hand, would I actually want to study that music for hours on end? With what I listen to…is that stuff present? No? Well that explains that…

Not to be flippant but it kind of goes into the heart of the other bugaboo of stage fright.

You don’t have to explain anything, feel bad or apologize for anything. What you do (which could be musical or not) comes from your soul, your heart, your study, your world and it’s you. That isn’t going to change so why be nervous. You are doing your work up there so it’s better to be the most relaxed you that you can be.

How do you get there? Practice is the obvious one, but then there’s how to do that. I have lots of different things to work on so I like zeroing in on certain rough parts daily and repeatedly working them until I’m satisfied. I never practice the day of a show on the instrument I’m playing (got that from, of all places…Anne of Green Gables)

“promised I wouldn’t open a textbook so I wouldn’t get the jitters!”

So instead of playing my bass, or opening any textbooks respectively, I’ll go for a walk, play piano which I actually started really getting into between sets at a big Christmas gig last year, or even meditation. For the latter…yeah, yeah, get the Calm app. I have the subscription to that one and it’s totally worth it. Going for walks is my magic cure all. I take, oh lots of anxiety in my tummy and so walking is just the best for settling that and if you feel bloated or what-have-you it’s really calming. And for weight loss it’s great as your target range isn’t very high so you can keep healthy while you get centered. Walking to music has been my thing since decades ago. Find music that puts you in a calm (not pump fist in air) state. Or go the other way with it. Before a show, like on the way there, I listen to stuff that’s fun.

Do the practice. Be slightly early. Now just have fun with it.

“Out the door…thank you very much..”

Just having fun with it πŸ˜‚

Cheers ,πŸ˜‰

Tom

Show must go on

image

With lucky socks and left hand shoe
string tie smell the curtain singe beneath
searing red lamps

Piled together, motley freaks clammy
in off stage nausea that’s
when I text her x’s and o’s
It’s all break a leg or not
And I switch off.

And I switch on
to that creature born
of makeup, smokes and stale coffee
pacing thin leopard

I will pull up the boards with my friends
Raising each riser and rafter
to each conceived end

With plastic stars in our eyes
and blue camera flashes

Tungsten tears and sweat
without ceasing or backing off
We rise and challenge as to battle
to fight for other sad clowns

Our pulse rising to heights of curtain falls like an angel’s blaze in flight

On with the show.

—-
Poem in memory of Wolf Rick Patterson, dear friend and passionate showman.

Created by TomPogson.com