Forest for the trees
One of the questions I get asked when people find out I am a musician is, “What band are you in?” My answer is usually something about not being in any particular band. I’m what some people call freelance. Some musicians play in one band with a few friends, some play in several different groups or projects. Since I started playing bass again in 2004, and gigging fairly regularly in the last few years, my mantra has been that I want to play music with people that make me smile. I’m trying to experience as much music as I can before I can’t anymore. After all I’ve got a lot of years to make up for when I wasn’t playing.
For the most part that mantra seems to lead to exactly those types of situations. Good musicians playing good music with egos checked at the door. It might be playing with my friend Mark Henning at his annual event for the London Food Bank. Or playing with a Choir like the Karen Scheussler Singers. Or maybe just throwing the bass on my back and heading for the blues jam at the London Music Club on a Thursday night. More often than not just being able to play music is a pleasure all on it’s on regardless of whether I’m getting paid or not.
But sometimes there are bumps along the road. I now understand why successful groups break up or take time off for their solo projects. You wonder how it’s possible that succesful groups end up not touring or recording together any more be it The Beatles, The Stones, The Clash, or a local cover band playing Middle Eastern music. Perhaps it’s a creative difference in a group writing original music or maybe it’s a debate about what will be on the setlist for a bar band playing covers that leads to something going wrong. But as with anything in life be it our families, friends, work life it takes a certain amount of compromise to make something work. And that’s where the trees come in. It’s amazing how some musicians have great ears for music but tone deaf for hearing what others are saying.