It was a Facebook message from a friend of a friend that sparked me to write this blog. That and looking at the van and trailer outside the Red Roof Inn just now in Kalamazoo, MI.
“gotta tell ya what ur doing has many ppl crossing their fingas and holdin’ thier breath till YOU think you’ve made it. personally, u made it a long time ago. keep on keepin on. ”
The question of whether or not you’ve “made it” is one that you turn over in your head from the get-go, I think. When you start out in this business, you have some unrealistic expectations. But you know you’re supposed to be humble, and so you are. I think I’ve always held the belief that there really is no making it, at least not in the usual sense. It’s all about the journey, etc., etc. You don’t just become rich and famous one day or night and say “OK! Everything is perfect now.” I think most people know that.
But the question of when I think I’ve actually made it is very interesting to me right now. I’m going through some sort of transition in my confidence as of late. It’s weird and maybe contradictory to say this, but at times I think I’ve sort of been humble to the point where it can affect me and my career negatively. I get wishy-washy in my fight for people’s ears. It’s a fine line as a performer. You need to practice humility, but you also need to be the man up there, you know? You need to believe that you’re good. Damn good. Otherwise, why are you doing this?
So I’ve been trying to “find my feet.” I’ve been trying to stand up straight, to stand up tall. Hell, just standing up in general has been a big deal for me. Two weeks ago I played my first gig ever where I didn’t sit down the entire show. It’s liberating. I stand all night every night now. I do a little goofy dance here and there, I move around. I observe the crowd and I sing out as strong as I can. Everything is starting to loosen up, and this is a much needed transition.
OK, a little off topic there, but some factors popped into my head tonight that make me think I’ve made it. One is the vehicle we’re traveling in. We bought a great, huge, new van in the fall. Early this year we pimped the hell out of it with a leather couch and amazingly comfy seats and bunks to nap on in the back. We pull all of our gear in a trailer. This is such a far cry from some of the vans of years past, I tell you that’s making it.
The guy who built all of this in our van, and the guru of the trailer is also the guru of our sound every night. His name is Luke Milanese and he’s the next reason that tells me I’ve made it. I can’t really imagine a better sound engineer. Luke is special and has a special way of identifying weaknesses and making things better and better and better. We also travel with our own soundboard now and Luke wields that thing like a powerful weapon. We stream the shows online every night. We offer pristine recordings right after the show. We have a serious operation going on here.
And I will take our guitar player over anyone’s. And our bassist. And our keyboard player. And our percussionist. And our drummer.
And I mean that. Seeing a bunch of professionals assembled around me night after night, kicking ass at their jobs, showing years of hard work on their instruments paying off– that’s the real stuff that tells me I’ve made it.
I have to go to bed so I won’t even get into the other thousand reasons that I think I may have made it. But I’ll leave you with one:
You just financed a record of mine that no one has heard. And then some! There is no adequate way to show my gratitude for that, there is nothing I can say except…
I can’t wait for you to hear it. And I can’t wait to make another one.