This was every bit the challenge I thought it would be. I caught a cold as I expected, had a bit of important work to distract me early in the month, but the goal was met. Generally if I set a goal in reach, I take it seriously enough to get it done. And really, if I was getting worn down and not getting much sleep, I just reminded myself that I could be a band manager or on a road crew doing everything I am doing along with dealing with equipment, clubs, driving, other tired people, and all the rigors of what touring bands have to do. So no whining, or whinging as they say in the UK. Still here are some impressions that either arose or were strongly reinforced.
1. The value of doing so many shows is that it forces me out of my comfort zone. That has always been the case doing 3-4 shows a week, but it was obviously more so this past month. I took in more hip hop, went to a couple new venues. This was good reinforcement for me to keep an open mind in my scheduling and not always play it safe.
2. It is a reminder that I can be negative. A friend of mine accuses me of being too positve. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, this is a live show put on by people that want to lay out some good music for (often) very little money. There is nothing to be too critical of, much of the time. It may not be dazzling music, but if the band is sincere and laying out some nice sounds, I am going to enjoy that and respect it at some level. Second, I am not assigned to these shows. I choose them and generally choose shows that I probably will like. This pushed me a bit and had me going to some that I never would have gone to otherwise. There's no Rolling Stone editor assigning me to the Guns'n'Roses show, so I can avoid those types of negative reviews. But I will continue to try to stay positive, but call it like I see it with criticsim that is at times constructive when I think the effort and sincerity is there.
3. Keeping up with the Pitchforks of the world is of no importance to me. I have at times been embarrassed at my lack of knowledge at some of the 'hot bands' in the last 10 (even 20) years. I keep up better than I used to, but I really don't know much of the music of the hot bands until I see them. However, I am no longer going to worry about this at all. I will still go to see someone if I believe I will like them, but I won't try to catch them all. Much of my annoyance is caused by the people that go to these shows. They pay so little attention to the bands and are so self absorbed being part of the 'cool scene' or whatever you want to call it. We had enough of the posers in the punk days, and it is no different now.
4. There is even further need to cover the local scene and the smaller bands touring through. This has been a 'discovery' for me shortly after I started the blog. And as I have stated, I feel pretty stupid for not having this in mind since Day One, based on my experience in the punk era. In the City Paper article, I discussed my appreciation for Michael Musto's work effort at covering fun things. Even more than that, I really model some of what I am doing after John Peel, the late fantastic BBC DJ who had a great ear for all the great bands from the 1960s on. But what was really amazing to me when I listened to his last year of shows, was how at age 60, he was driving around for hours to go to shows all over the UK and take 7" records and tapes of anybody he liked to play them on his show. He simply never lost his desire to hunt out good music and share it with the world. Yes, some of the bars with lousy PAs and house shows will not always be as comfortable as the Birchmere or the Black Cat, but I will try to continue hunting out more interesting music as opposed to adding my voice to some band selling out the 9:30 Club.
5. Marathons are fun. For whatever reason, I have always liked throwing myself into a project that is intensely time consuming with an end in sight. I used to have all-night psychotronic movie parties with contests and William Castle gimmicks. I have enjoyed the first weekend of the NCAA Basketball tournament back when I was into that along with major tennis tournaments that have wall-to-wall matches going on. Musically, the marathons that I and many others have done are the festivals. They are fun, but have a grueling nature to them that will wear on you. You either take a break or they are over soon enough. This style of marathon was steadier and not nearly as intense. It was akin to being under house arrest where you are stuck in something, but have some freedoms. Well, this was a lot more fun obviously, but there was more psychological challenges than physical challenges. The ending was a bit far away, but it was always there, so that helped.
6. Space in between shows is needed. A few people asked me what my favorite shows were. I had no answer as it was all kind of a blur with what I have seen in the last three months. I saw a lot of old favorites and enjoyed discovering Shark Week, Cigarbox Planetarium, Denison Witmer and William Fitzsimmons, etc. But space helps keep a clarity of the bands in my head. I also did not do as much theater and movies as I usually do which creates a bit of an imbalance. And of course, my cat enjoys having me around at night once in a while (even though he gets me most days). I think other months would have been easier, but this one did work out with no major negatives elsewhere in my life.
As always, thanks to all the bands and the people behind the scenes. Music has always been an essential part of my life, and only going deaf could change that. And since Motorhead and Dinosaur Jr. did not come to town this past month, I am still managing to keep my hearing.