It’s ok to stop
This is an odd post to re-open my account with.
It probably escaped your notice that I haven’t posted anything here in a while. I’ve not been idle, but neither have I been forging an amazing musical career or managing to dedicate as much time to writing and recording as I would like.
In my last post over two years ago I wrote that my musical activities were taking place late at night. That was fine for learning tunes and practising for gigs, but when you’re a parent short on sleep anyway, burning the candle at both ends is not the way to do good creative work. You need a fresh brain for that! It took me some time… but it was after listening to interviews with some of the artists I respect and hearing again and again how they make sure they get their sleep that I realised that I have been missing a trick.
Since that last post I came to the conclusion that, at least for the time being, I need to stop the covers gigs. I was enjoying dep function gigs less and less… and jam sessions too – the same old tunes, or for anything modern, tunes that sounded like the same old tunes. And for the dep gigs it increasingly felt like little return for the work put in… I was doing it because I thought I should. So in the end I stopped taking on most offers of gigs.
And that was ok.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be a regular dep for a lovely band B-Funkt, who play funk, soul and rare groove covers… and I’ve joined them regularly enough that it’s been like that familiar pulling on a jacket feeling of playing tunes you know well with a regular group. I’ve really enjoyed it most of the time.
…I’ve realised I need to get some sleep and in the summer when the younger child starts spending a bit of the week at preschool, I will suddenly have a bit of time in the day to myself, so I’ve finally said for now I will pull back from depping altogether.
And that’s ok too. It took me some time to get there, but at the start of 2019 I’d reached the point where I really needed to stop and think about what I was doing and why I was doing it. I didn’t completely down tools, but I’ve just waited for my musical curiosity to come back and allowed myself to spend time on other things.
This month I started transcribing one of Dr John’s tunes… something I’ve meant to do for a long time. I’ve been fascinated by his piano stylings and his distillation of the New Orleans sound since I first came across it nearly 20 years ago. Prompted in part by his passing last month, I started listening again to his solo recordings and seeking more of them out.
In trying to work out what he plays and improvises, it’s fascinating putting yourself in someone else’s hands… so far I find what he does very unfamiliar.
Incidentally… in the past I have used the scoring function of DAWs (Cubase and further back, Logic) when transcribing. This time, wanting to see what was available if I stayed in the Linux environment, I discovered Musescore… which I find much more intuitive and I can’t believe it’s free! I’ll share the transcription when I’m done and you can judge the end results for yourself, but in terms of both power and ease of use I’m really impressed.