4:45 pm: My cell phone tells me I have a voice message. It is a fellow band mate from "Windfall" (my trio which has been playing in the Triad area of North Carolina for almost 12 years now) giving me the latest weather update. You may be asking yourself why. Well, it is par for the course during the summer when many of the gigs we play are outdoors. Jimmy's (Jimmy Gatewood) message tells me the owner has checked the local radar and things look good at, or around the time we are supposed to perform, so I continue my preparations. Those preparations I just mentioned are but one of many things that potential clients/employers and even the general audience rarely considers when they think about the "work" a musician does. But, lest I digress, I will stay on topic and share more about that in another blog. Suffice it to say for now that tonight's gig will last from 8 - 11 pm (3 hours), but... by the time all is said and done, I will have put in probably 6 hours.
6:15 pm: My Lady and I are in the midst of some stimulating conversation about the future we are shaping and ways to broaden and enhance our independent careers as well as ramp up our collaborative ventures. At the same time, my mind is already visioning the performance and I am in mental planning mode. Merging the van on to the expressway, we progress through a list of potential web based scenarios. Melody (that would be "My Lady") is excitedly describing her vision and I am listening intently while watching the road and thinking about what the first song selection of the night will be. It's almost a 45 minute ride to the venue, so the dreaming, intermingled with my mental note making keeps us so focused that neither of us are totally aware of the ever darkening sky. By the time we are spotting the "Asheboro City Limits" sign, we are becoming aware of rain drops on the windshield. And, as if cued by the director of a film, we both turn our heads to look at each other with that UH-OH look on our faces. By the time we are off the expressway and approaching our destination, the bottom has fallen out and rain is coming down hard.
6:50 pm: It's maybe 20 yards to the front door, but still plenty of distance to get amply soaked before entering the building. The keyboard player who is sitting in with us tonight (Bob Spencer) is already talking to the manager. With lightning flashing and thunder rumbling soon afterwards, amazingly, there is still talk of performing. Melody and I stare out at the looming clouds and assess the torrents of rain coming down and again look at each other with what is now a NO-WAY look. As the chatting goes on the four of us all begin to scan the sky anew. One can almost see the expressions on the faces change and feel the eminent decision being considered. Finally the manager accepts the fact that THESE clouds have no intention of moving on soon, or letting up on the pelting raindrops.
7:05 pm: The manager has graciously told us that she regrets having to cancel us tonight (and, by the way, or last scheduled gig here ended up being cancelled due to excessive heat outside... what are the odds?) To show her understanding of the fact the we have driven a good ways and will go home empty handed, she tells us that we can all enjoy a meal and a couple drinks. This is quite a pleasant surprise and takes a little off the sting out of missing a gig (making much needed money). Still, in my mind I am thinking "If there had been a signed contract in place, there would have been a clause stating that we would receive some percentage of our guaranteed pay in the event that we could not perform for reasons out of our control". Unfortunately many places balk at signing contracts for reason such as this, so musicians acquiesce in order to play.
Lesson to you, oh reader, The CYA policy (cover your ass, as in protect your potential income any and EVERY way you can) should be way up on your priority list. This episode has me thinking yet again about my own efforts, or lack there of. Musicians deal with such situations constantly. We are at the mercy of the weather year-round. There can be a whole list of events which affect our ability to perform over which we have no control, even though we show up ready to go. Rarely do such dates get replaced, and often cancellations are at the last minute, so there is little or no time to seek other alternatives.
8:10 pm: With bellies full of food and drink, we all make our way to the door and said our goodbyes as a now much lighter rain falls. Considering the time and effort spent and the income lost, it could have been a long quiet ride home. And, I DO catch myself wandering into negative thinking about these "sacrifices" that musicians are wont to make. But, I am fortunate to have my lovely companion along to "steer" me out of that and we pick up our "vison quest" where we left off before Mother Nature changed our plans.