The Comets Tail
A while ago while my band was back stage before a performance, the conversation came up about when we first picked up a musical instrument, or tried to sing. Virtually all of the musicians there started when they were very young, some as early as 4 years old. Some of my earliest memories are sitting at the piano with my father and playing the “chopsticks duet” with him. (It seems that almost everyone who tries a piano eventually gets around to that one)
When my band and I went out to perform that evening I was really intrigued as I looked at each of the stellar musicians that I was sharing the stage with. These musicians are stunningly talented, fantastic performers. All of us get together and seamlessly meld our separate instruments, voices and beats, into one complex and detailed sound, and we do it on the fly. Everybody listening for the blend, when to play or sing louder, and when to hold back into the mix and more. All awaiting the subtlest cues that we are taking the song in a different direction tonight, eyes and mind in deep concentration and yet completely free to explore the music.
As I looked around the stage and saw all these musicians who were in their 30’s and 40’s I thought about the journey that brought them all individually to this night. I pictured them all as when they were just children carrying their instrument to school, or the thousands of hours we all did doing scales, and trying desperately to get better. To get better. Always striving to get better. To pursue and accomplish something today on our instruments that we couldn’t do yesterday. Actual evidence at our fingertips or voices that we were growing. This pursuit continues to this day because wondrously and happily it never ends.
After rehearsing for a period of time the desire for some to perform on stage in front of real people grows. Some do this and discover they don’t like it. For others like us, it lights a fire that we follow into the stage lights of our musical careers. We don’t know why but we are drawn to those stage lights with a searing need to perform. I used to say that I would chew through a wall to get to a stage. Any stage. I just needed to sing. Most musicians I speak with felt the very same way. The thousands of performances over the years dance in my head. Some terrible, some were so great I can barely put them into words. So many load ins and load outs. So much travel. Performing 6 nights a week, 52 weeks a year. Performing while sick. Singing with Laryngitis. ( I don’t recommend that) The difficulty for our loved ones as we work at night and weekends in a 9-5 world, and much much more.
I went from a little boy playing piano (see picture) to years later having Pete Townshend of The Who standing 5 inches in front of my face saying “You’ve got a f*****g great rock voice!” and even being hired by him.
That brings me to the performance we did that evening with my band. I’d say the average age in my band is 35. If we surmise that they started playing their instrument at 10 years old (Most started younger of course) this means that when there are 10 musicians performing for you on stage there is cumulatively about 250 years of experience. Think about that!
As we perform for you, at that moment we will bring to you the sum total of all we have accomplished in our lives as musicians. We will use all of our skills and abilities, all the lessons learned from live performance from 2, or even 3 decades to become one seamless musical entity, and to put on a show that you and your guests will never forget. Yes, the actual performance is only 4 hours, but as you can see, like a Comet, the tail leading to that performance is very, very long.