I’d go see live music — even if I never met and married a working jazz musician.
Music is living art. I grew up with it. I knew my parents were in a good mood when they’d blast Led Zeppelin, Connie Francis, and Tom Jones on the stereo.
My mom would sing to the Carpenters. My Army Sergeant dad whistled military marches. When times were really good, before the divorce, they’d cha-cha-cha to Latin jazz right in the middle of the living room.
My first record was the soundtrack to “Music Man.” My second was Donny Osmond’s Puppy Love.
There’s something infinitely cool about going out to see a band perform live: the onstage dynamics, the pulsating beat, the molten unpredictable relationship between performer and audience, the celebration of man and his music… There’s nothing like it.
In 1990, I married a jazz musician, who gigged constantly, morning, noon and night, weekends and most holidays.
In 2009, I began covering jazz for Examiner, then AXS. Earlier, my first published music review appeared in Seattle’s infamous “Rocket,” now defunct.
That’s when I really appreciated all it took to put on a show: the thankless schlepping, the political schmoozing, the collective coming together, the climax when a solo hits all the sweet spots, the discovery of new, rising talent in a hidden show-and-tell, the blood, sweat and tears of pouring your soul into every note, putting your heart on the line for any random stranger to break.
That’s when I also noticed the disconnect with working musicians about The Gig.
My husband’s musician friends would talk a good game, but when it came to walking the walk — going to one of his gigs — they almost never showed. I know one guy who makes a big show on social media about praying for his family and friends when they’re ailing, or going on and on about the best bass players and drummers, check my band out, blah-fucking-blah.
But where is he when it’s not his gig?
You’ll never hear my husband outwardly bitch about this one-sided affair, but it bothers him in private. He’s always going to other musicians’ gigs, simply to enjoy their music. He’s not there to sit in, or make contacts to pad his own shows.
In fact, I have to push him to put himself out there more. Most of his non-musician friends don’t even know he can play piano like Bill Evans. He won’t say a word. As far as they know, he’s a mild-mannered software tester somewhere in Amazon country.
I’m the same. I love going to other people’s gigs, even if I’ve never met them before and they don’t have any connection to my husband. Especially.
The biggest thrill of my life is meeting the jazz musicians whose music I’ve reviewed. I’ve met Grammy-winning artists at Jazz Alley: drummer Antonio Sanchez (“Birdman”) and his vocalist wife, Thana Alexa (Ode To Heroes), and saxophonist Donny McCaslin (Blackstar). When Kavita Shah (Visions) and Helen Gillet (Tephra) hit the Royal Room, I was there like a fan girl. Art Farmer-mentored flugelhornist Dmitri Matheny (Jazz Noir) and I became fast friends after I caught his gig in North Bend a few years back.
There’s no equal to experiencing live music. You gain such intimate insights into people — the very best parts of them. It’s like walking into their world, and watching it open up before your very eyes — in technicolor sound.
I’m excited about going to all kinds of gigs, big and small, in an amphitheater or a hotel lobby, because the music is what drives and compels me.
I don’t understand people who can’t or won’t make time in their day for live music other than their own, those of their immediate clique, or to further their own career.
The ones who make a show of shaming others for not coming to their gigs are especially shameful. These are the very ones who tend not to practice what they preach. They’re the ones who are all about supporting live music, so long as it’s their live music you’re supporting.
You’ll never catch them going to anyone else’s gigs if they’re not a part of it somehow.
It’s the same with certain members of the audience.
These so-called music lovers — the brand-namers — will only show up if it’s their favorite pop/rock/indie/mainstream Top 40 appropriately hip stars. Then they’ll brag all over the place.
Some of them will insist on being the center of attention at the very shows they attend. These attention whores will slum it occasionally only if they know the musician or singer. Then, they’re stealing the spotlight, dancing, carrying on, as if this show were about them.
The lead singer came down and sang to me! I think the guitarist just made a pass, is he married? My brother’s band is awesome — they played our favorite song, so we could dance right near the stage! Look at me! Look at me!
I’ve tried every which way to coax people to shows, including my husband’s. Nothing, and I mean, nothing works. I think I could pay them and they would still find some excuse to beg off.