Who remembers Kindergarten?? Let’s see those hands. Criss-Cross-Applesauce to sit down, Duck Duck Goose (seriously, though, who came up with that !?!) Yep, that’s what we usually remember. That and any tadpoles we watched turn into frogs and such. However, that’s not ALL we remember. Those are our memories but our actions show the world what we learned. We are brought into this world kicking and screaming, totally selfish, but also totally dependent on others. Feed us NOW, change us NOW, that’s MY toy. Of course, parents never really allow that. Yes, the basic needs are met immediately but that ego? The selfish part of our brains that doesn’t want to share? Nope. We are taught from the time we have some understanding that those things must go. Kindergarten is normally our first experience playing in large groups, learning to be silent, attempting to make friends. We are given examples of how to act but we also had other kids going through this with us at the same time. Kindergarten is usually held away from the rest of the school, an isolated bunch really, but as we grow we are put into bigger systems, with basically the same rules – just learning bigger ideas. Middle school happens and they start to change things again, move around the people you are used to. Your best friend is in another home room. You have to decide…do you sit down and shut up and stay apart because it’s new, or do you reach out and adapt to the change in your surroundings? I think some of you see where this is going.
“Forever ago” musicians were great celebrities. They have always lived this slightly off the beaten path type of life, always had stories surround them, too many parties, too much booze, too many women, but always good people to their fans. Always appreciating their social status, teaming up with newcomers to help them in the business. Trying new things and adapting. Somewhere along the line, they went off track. The music became more wild and energetic, persona’s were born to reflect that and the lifestyles became so extravagant that some of them just…well…died. Literally. Suddenly they saw the real face behind the musicians – what I call Beautiful Madness. The most creative artists of any type are touched with madness, tempers, confusing thoughts that wouldn’t make sense to so many. My temperamental musicians is how I think of them. So angry but so in need of love and understanding. (Cue Sarah McGlaughlin “In the Arms of an Angel”….Just saying..) But a funny thing happened when this side was revealed – the fans understood! They finally got why they felt so caught up in the music because they had been there too at times in their lives! But then came the ego’s again, those things we were taught from Kindergarten, if not before, to let go of. A generation of music was born again, this time still wanting THEIR TOY. Ridiculous clauses were put into contracts for all green rooms to have a large bowl of only blue M&M’s, 1003 yellow and pink tipped roses and someone to fan them as they were fed grapes. The egos went unchecked, the demands and lifestyles became so ludicrous that one day someone looked at the demands and said…No. Of course, by this point they were lip synching to songs to save their voice (though I don’t know what they were saving it for), and they worried more about dance routines in undergarments than lyrics. And this is what the nation saw. An entire generation of music that somehow forgot what we were taught in our formative years. Suddenly music was a joke. One song-writer wrote for country, metal, and pop bands, it was all watered down to try to save the image. Poor promotions in the way of “Win this music battle and we will make you a star” were televised. Do you know I get people from other countries contacting me because the world thinks that in America as long as you don’t suck horribly they will make a star out of you? I can’t convince them otherwise. Now there is so much mechanical engineering that you can sell millions of records and not know how to carry a tune. “I’m a musician on stage but not in real life” is being sold to the entire world!!
So, what can little old me do, right? I mean, we are just one city. Just a few hundred bands in the world. Just a handful of promoters and venues.
Well, we don’t have to change the whole world. We just have to light a fire under our own butt !! Let’s get this down to basics and start it over. Remember, you were taught to share (the spotlight), you had to adapt to the new rules (promoting others, giving credit to others, building up others, changing the way you’ve been doing things). I really am not certain when this will be published but I was inspired to write this today. I issued a “challenge” of sorts to the music community to share other bands pages for likes on Facebook and I was NOT disappointed. Some simply shared one or two. Others spent their free time posting pages every few hours, more stated they plan on making this a regular thing and one guy even listed 30 bands in one post !!
I told you there was a movement in this city. I told you it is the simple things like finding a station playing local music, sharing bands. I’ll tell you another thing – this isn’t over. Not by a long shot. We are going to change this music scene and we are going to let the public have their Beautiful Madness minus throwing egos around. They crave what you can give them, not perfection but feeling. You need them to hear you. Guess what…sharing your fans is ok. Sharing that spotlight is awesome! You talk about others who in turn talk about you….and we watch the tadpoles turn into fully developed musicians in a high functioning music community. We meet new friends, new contacts, and we adapt…..because when you hit it big you will be FORCED to adapt. So start now. Stop telling everyone how you hope one day you might get seen and be a gleam in the eye of a national act, and begin grooming yourself for when YOU are that act. If you have decided you’re happy being Pittsburgh Famous, that’s fine, but support the one’s getting started. Show them the monkey bars you already climbed and give them tips on getting to the top. Like it or not, this is happening. If you are mired in the old ways of thinking, if you are guarded and jaded….look at your kids. What lessons are you wanting them to learn? And why aren’t you acting the way you want them to? This doesn’t begin with the next generation of music. It began the day you were born with the ability to make music. The moment you heard those first chords and were hooked. The things you need to make this scene great are already inside of you – get back to basics isn’t just an idea. It’s the thing this scene needs the most. Beautiful Madness and a love for each other will bring this whole city to a new level.