Focus on the Craft

I drove up to Osceola, Wisconsin yesterday evening to see my friend Justin Roth open for John Gorka in the "Music In The Park" series. It was a great drive. It's only about 45 minutes or so north of where I live and the drive is right along the St. Croix river. The show was excellent. Justin played and sounded great. I hadn't seen him play in some time. It was good catching up a bit. John Gorka was great as per usual. Each time I see him perform, I'm always inspired by his performance. His songwriting really makes me want to practice more and more. His between song banter is great as well. He doesn't talk to much. He has a fun sense of humor. He lets the songs speak for themselves. It's a bit like going to class when I see him perform. I always try and remember aspects of his show to bring into my own. I should start taking better notes. Justin had just returned from the first annual storyhill festival out in Montana. I thought about going out for it, but never very seriously. There was a day when I would have been first on the list and probably working on the crew, but I feel like I've changed somehow. Chris and John have been hugely influencial on me as a guitar player, songwriter, singer, and performer. They've allowed for me to open countless shows and be a part of their journey. I owe much of the success I've had to them. I'm hoping my lack of involvement lately doesn't appear like a lack of interest or ungratefulness. I'm not sure what the change is. The pendulum has been swinging pretty far in each direction for me musically of late. On the one hand, I'm really excited about the music I'm working on right now and I'm motivated to get out and play as many shows as possible. On the other hand, I consider hanging up the solo performing end of things all together. I've been doing this for a long time. And, I enjoy playing shows all over the midwest. However, there's a balance to be struck with the purely business end of things. Is it really worthwhile to perform hundreds of miles from home? Financially, the answer is no. But, I've never really done this for financial reasons. Sure, making a little money is nice...breaking even is fine. I'd like to think I'm doing this because I believe in the music I'm playing. I think a refocus is what I need. I get too caught up in what other people are doing. Maybe this is the reason for detaching from the scene I used to be so entrenched in. I need to start focusing on making the best possible and most honest music I can. And, then, let the music call the shots. If it's honest and real, the rest will follow. This is hard to remember and focus on. It's easy for me to get caught up in the frustration when shows don't go well or no one comes out to gigs or I can't get the gigs I want to get or think I should get. I have so many friends that are doing this music business too, and it's easy to see their success' and feel like I'm not really making any progress. I know they all feel the same way. It's a weird business for sure. I'm hoping by focusing on the music more closely and keeping that focus tight, those other things will follow. Watching John Gorka last night throws into sharp relief the importance of craft. That is where the focus should be.

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