Monday, March 3, 2008

Time Overthrown - What I've Learned part I

The beginning of the Time Overthrown Tour has been a trip.

The 3rd week of January I traveled by mySelf for two days and played three Community Venue shows in the Greensboro area.

The following week Tom Proutt traveled with me. We stopped at Golden Living in Martinsville, VA for a show on the way down to Greensboro. Golden Living is a skilled nursing facility.

This past weekend, the 1st one of March 2008, the fine duo known as Tom & Emily traveled with me. We made the Martinsville stop again, then traveled on to Greensboro where we played one show Saturday afternoon and another on Sunday afternoon.

What a blast!

The message of the Time Overthrown Tour is pretty simple - Time is yours, to do with as you please. Time does not control you.

It began with local musicians in Charlottesville, where I have been busy Making Music More Accessible since 1994. The idea is ridiculously simple, to me anyway. I am one of those songwriters who has something to say, something I'd like the world to hear. I am not unique - there are millions of us. Hundreds of us in Charlottesville, each with something to say, looking for ears.

The idea is simply to create and share my music. Wherever and whenever someone would like to listen. (It's deeper than that in a way - it's about "being" the music, "living" the lyrics, for me. But we don't have to get into that now...)

For ten years or more I have been inviting Charlottesville musicians to come play in these Community Venues I have been credited with creating. (Actually I discovered them. They've been there all along. There are many more waiting to be realized.)

For ten years or more Charlottesville musicians have been telling me they do not have Time. Ten years. Not one hour. Damn. That, my friends, is a bummer.

Musicians without an hour to play for an eager, appreciative audience. My heart aches for these musicians. Hence...

Time Overthrown! Give Time back to the musicians. Help them remember. Help them wake up to the truth that Time is theirs to do with as they please.

The Tour of course is a learning experience - I knew that going in. I know I don't know it all, just this thing Alice told me about Time. So I am going in with an open mind.

Yesterday, we played at a place in Greensboro, a very well-appointed senior community that has retirement living as well as assisted living and nursing care. After the show one of the younger residents came out to chat - I'd guess early 50's, maybe even late 40's. He's in a wheelchair. I don't know why. Early in the chat he sort of stopped the conversation in that awkward way when someone said "How you doing?" in that generic greeting sort of way, and he said that he was doing okay, but "really didn't want to be here". He meant the senior home I reckon, and likely the wheelchair.

But I was struck by the commonality of the phrase - the sentiment. "I'm doing okay... but of course I'd be better off if I wasn't here."

That would describe most of the musicians I know who don't have Time to play in Community Venues. They long to be elsewhere and are miserable in their "here-ness". "Here" to them, is a town with hundreds of "other musicians" with whom they "compete" for very few performance slots at a very limited number of "legitimate" music venues. The competition is of course to become "the next Dave" or something, by following a dated and clearly floundering traditional music model.

Then this nice gentleman told Tom how much he liked his guitar playing, as a lead in to "I used to play guitar", and went on to imply that the wheelchair coincided with the end of guitar playing as he knew it. Awkward again, for none of us knew if it was a direct physical disability that kept him from playing. Of course we all wanted to encourage him to play if he could.

Then he said the magic words... "I suppose I should pick it up again, but..." He shrugged, and his voice trailed off in that sort of "what would be the use" direction.

On the way home I brought it up in the van. I told Tom and Em that I wondered what he did with his Time. He obviously can play the guitar if he chooses to - he told us that. He led us to believe it would bring him joy. We'd witnessed the joy that our music and sharing had brought to the residents, and I cannot help but think that if he'd learn to play and share music with his friends at the senior home, and even others, well... what then? For him, I mean. Would he want to "be here" if that was going on?

And this morning I woke up recalling that I personally have never seen a guitar player in a wheelchair. Seems like there'd be an opening in the market, for sure. Then I wondered if they even make wheelchairs that would accommodate someone holding a guitar, which opens the possibility of another product/marketing niche.

Anyway, Emily told me that I did not know what his situation was really like, and maybe I shouldn't just assume that his attitude has something to do with his situation, or at least his attitude towards it.

She's right of course. I don't know everything there is to know. But I know this.

He has lots of time on his hands. He is physically able to play the guitar. He doesn't want to be where he is. Music allows him to transcend where he is.

I can't help thinking of the musicians in Charlottesville, somehow. They don't even have wheelchairs, but they tie themselves down with dozens of reasons why they cannot play music, and why they do not like being where they are.

I can't help thinking it's time that all sorts of ideas are overthrown. Mostly alot of the ones I've held for a LifeTime...

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