WRITING #10 Chisels to Drumsticks; my Art and Music nuance
If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician…” Einstein
“O.K. Picasso, mix up a bucket of mortar, reddish-brown tint, and carry it up the ladder.” My job-site foreman liked to “raz” me a bit about being an artist. Most of us were recent college grads just seeking cash as we transitioned from college to the “real world.” Carrying clay tiles up a ladder for Spanish style roofs could not have been more labor intensive, but like many young artists, construction and the hospitality industry provide avocations to pay the rent while we crafted our plans for a life of creative entrepreneurship.
With art degree in hand, some found shelter, staying on the academic bus and headed straight to graduate school. My bank account was running on fumes. That was not an option. Several of my college friends migrated to Minneapolis-St Paul, the largest metro area closest to St. John’s. I joined that wagon train. And for the next few years took on a series of construction jobs, while pursuing my other creative passion; music. While I loved sculpture and art, and continued to keep a foot in that world, I felt now might be the only time to follow the musical side of my right brain. Drumming had always been in my life. From banging on pots and pans, to junior high marching band, and jazz improv, the intangible spirit of music has always taken me to worlds beyond the limits of this one.
Following in the footsteps of an older sister who played flute, Mom and Dad, may not have been prepared, but somehow braced themselves for child #2’s infatuation for percussion. Not only did they accept the 30-minute a day practice time, but somehow endured the weekend jam sessions in their basement, forcing them to turn up the volume on their television those evenings.
High School’s Blue Earth Band was named after the county we grew up in. ( I think we got through most of Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” and the Stone’s, Jumping Jack Flash) that band became Trader Vic, named after the Tiki Bar. Vermin and Mr. Hyde, (as in Dr Jekyll’s other half) were heavy metal cover bands where cymbal crashes and distortion pedals ruled the day.
Chubby Boy was my first, truly experimental art band, drawing influence from college radio; REM, The Smiths and The Cure. That band morphed into Twelve Tribes, leading to a first-time stage appearance at the famed 7th Street Entry, the “rookie” stage adjacent to legendary “First Avenue,” made famous by Prince. The Tribe settled into Roman Circus, the pinnacle of a short, but thrilling ride as a musician. At one-point MCA Records in Los Angeles took a liking to our “demo tape” and we were the warm-up band for the Jayhawks at First Avenue.
“I walked around among the people and the trees, I brought the book of life along to guide me; the people laughed at every word I said, tore my heart to pieces, left my soul in shreds, I said master, I did just what you said, I spoke of peace and love and happiness, but he shook his head at me and he spoke up from above, he said you can love the people, but the people don’t have to love” -Lyrics, Dan Larkin, Twelve Tribes
And that was it. Game over. There comes a time when rock and roll, kind of like athletes, eventually leads to hanging up the cleats (or drumsticks) Families, jobs, and aging bodies can only be fueled by alcohol and fast-food for so long.
Tempted is the word…glitter is a harness and it takes you prisoner… you can satisfy your hunger but your hunger will return…I’ve been to the well maybe one too many times, Lyrics Tracy Sattler, Roman Circus
Music was a good run, with no regrets. It’s still my best friend in finding flow each day in the studio. But time came to take the long view, a hard look at making art again. I needed a new plan. It arrived in a timely invitation to New England. Next week’s Writing #1, Boston, MASS.
“Time and time again I see that spirit looking over me, I’m playing cards , I’m losing sleep, drinkin’ gin and I am in too deep….I know that my will is weak…I gotta get up, get out, get back on my feet again, I got find a way to be a happy man again” Lyrics, Mike Peterson, Roman Circus