Why Musicians Don’t Like Going to Concerts (Unless They Are Performing)

A co-worker of mine knows I’m a musician. This morning, she asked me if I heard about the Lollapalooza lineup that was just announced. She seemed surprised when I mentioned that I generally don’t go to concerts.

Giving you an accurate and well-rounded answer deserves a long conversation but here’s a bunch of thoughts. Basically, the biggest reason is… I don’t enjoy them. I love live performances (theater, obviously) but the concert format rarely pays off for me.  I’m not the only one, either. A guitar teacher of mine quoted a famous musician (whose name I forget) that goes, “Concerts? I wouldn’t cross the street to see myself play [a concert].”

blurry concertThere are a myriad of reasons why I don’t enjoy them as an audience member (correlation with drinking and smoking, lots of standing, crowds, waiting in lines, not being able to talk, not being the center of attention, subjecting myself to OPC (other people’s cleverness)).

The polite and true answer is I genuinely prefer to be a part of music making. The impolite answer is, in most cases, you end up judging the band for their shortcomings in skill/style/approach/equipment. If the act does somehow exceed the impossibly awesome vision a musician has of themselves, it would no doubt be a depressing experience. Of course, I wouldn’t know. It’s never happened to me.

Either way, once you’ve been the one up there, it’s kind of ruined from the other side.

I tried to deny the reality of how I felt about going to concerts for years. I’ve been to hundreds of concerts. I’ve seen big name festivals and artists I admire, even musical heroes. Spent thousands of dollars, collected ticket stubs and road tour t-shirts. My feelings about who I really am were just confirmed with every attempt. Of course, not everyone is supportive. People assume I’m agoraphobic or a cranky old man. As I’ve said though, it’s not all events. Just concerts.

I do make rare exceptions though. The size of the venue or crowd is inversely proportional to the likelihood that I would willingly attend. In other words, the smaller the better. Second, if I personally know someone in the band. I will try to support people I know within reason (and reasonable distance).

So, I’ll close this post the same way I closed the email wrote to my co-worker. I’m glad she asked and I hope my readers can enjoy an honest answer.

10 Books I’ve read and enjoyed recently

10 Books I’ve read and enjoyed recently (per Eve’s request)

“The Energy Bus” by Jon Gordon

“The Golden Age of Advertising: The 60s”

“What to Eat” by Marion Nestle

“The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg

“The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor

“Story” by Robert McKee

“PHP & MySql: Novice to Ninja” by Kevin Yank

“The Icarus Deception” by Seth Godin

“Taxi: The Harry Chapin Story” by Peter Morton Coan

“Potty Training Boys the Easy Way” by Caroline Fertleman

“Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football” by Rich Cohen

Anyone else who’d like to recommend some books to read, please do.

“Old Man River” on Instrumental Acoustic Guitar

Ol’ Man River – Instrumental Acoustic Guitar

I have to admit: I love the song, “Ol’ Man River.” Always have loved it, even though the subject matter leaves me a little unsure of whether I’m allowed.

It’s an old song from Show Boat made famous by bass vocalist Paul Robeson and his version is my favorite. Read the wiki for the details but, without knowing much about the context, you can pretty much guess that there is some exploitation involved and white guys probably aren’t the good guys.

Anyway, about six weeks ago, the Robeson version came up on random shuffle on my phone during the walk to work. Listening affected me in a way I didn’t want to end. The way good art delivered with unavoidable pathos puts you in the performer’s shoes. Feeling their desperation.

So, I put it on single repeat. Listened 5 or 6 times in a row. Each time, I rode the wave of emotion as the melody builds into the minor 8 section, resolves back to the main theme and roars into the final notes.

Afterwards, I decided I wanted to do something with the song. I wanted to recreate the emotional connection as the sender instead of the recipient. Really make the song my own somehow. Of course, I realize it may not be received as a sincere tribute to a beautiful song but what the hell. Can’t let how someone else might interpret it from standing in my way.

So, I decided I would learn to play it. I googled for the lead sheet and found it  on Political Folk Music. I learned it as written first, then started to arrange it as an instrumental.

Initially, I thought of doing chords on guitar and the melody on a bass guitar. I tried it on banjo and mandolin too. Any of those could have been pretty interesting but I eventually opted for this single guitar arrangement.

In the month after I decided to learn it, I went digging for other versions and found a bunch of white guys singing it. Frank Sinatra, Jim Croce (very good version) and more so I don’t feel so bad now. Still, I like how my little arrangement turned out. A beautiful song, entirely inappropriate for me to perform. Sounds like the start of a series.

Replacing Front Concrete Steps in Buffalo Grove, IL

Heather and I are looking to get our front steps redone. Current state is pretty sad. Anyone have ideas or recommendations on how they would approach it? We’re thinking new concrete with a safety railing in metal or wood but we’re open to ideas.

Here is a current shot and a few photoshop mockups of what we might do. I’ll add more to the pinterest wall here.

original stairs
Original Stairs

replacement stairs

What a Strange Way to Say Happy Father’s Day

So, I spent some time tonight catching up on some personal emails. Sorting through stuff that I recognized as non-emergency stuff but didn’t want to delete.

I was coming to the end of my inbox when I came across this message. What I saw definitely caught my attention.

My real estate agent works for @Properties, who are a big player here in Chicago. She did a great job but I often felt it was despite her company affiliation, not because of it. As a digital marketer, it seemed their online presence was way behind the times technology-wise.

Anyway, they clearly have some kind of automated email nurturing campaign going on and, in the case of last weekend’s fathers day, it produced this gem of an email.

My "Happy Father's Day" email from At Properties.
My “Happy Father’s Day” email from @Properties.

Too weird to not share. Here’s what the rest of it looked like.