The world works in funny ways sometimes.
I was walking home from my girlfriend’s place, and because I used to live in the neighbourhood I happened to take a particular route to the bus stop. Passing by a bar called The Pint, I noticed with moderate interest the fact that they had an open mic on a Tuesday night. Attending that open mic some weeks later introduced me to the guys from the Gastown Royals, who were regulars there. One of their members invited me to play fiddle on a project he’d been working on, which I happily accepted. That, in turn, led to me meeting Tom, who is the bass player of a group called The Sheets. They just happened to be looking for a fiddle player for a regular gig they play at The Blarney Stone, a popular Vancouver club.
And so it was that I found myself on stage a few weeks ago, jamming alongside The Sheets and their blend of rock and reggae covers. I was invited to join the group for their Thursday gig on an ongoing basis, and after giving it some thought I eventually accepted. Now you’ll be able to catch me Thursday nights at The Blarney Stone, as well as Friday nights a The Coppertank with my band, Even Handed Odds.
As one might imagine, having two weekly gigs requires some ‘give’ somewhere else in the schedule, so I am putting most of my solo project on the back burner for now. I will no longer be pursuing solo gigs, and once the busking season is done I will putting solo stuff on a fairly comprehensive hiatus. I will continue to write and occasionally record my own solo songs, but otheriwse the solo stuff will run pretty quiet for a while.
For any of you who might be disappointed by this decision, there are a couple of practical matters to consider. First, while I really do enjoy solo performance, it’s quite a bit more work than ensemble performance. For every 3-hour show I might play, there are countless hours spent promoting and preparing new music – these are now hours that I can redevote to songwriting and recording. Indeed, many of the days that I have spent busking this summer are days where I had to decide not to work on turning a growing number of music fragments into coherent songs. Less time out on the streets, at open mics, and in bars means more time in my apartment working on producing new stuff for you.
The other silver lining aspect to this development is that this gig with The Sheets isn’t a volunteer position – I will be making a decent amount of money. It is a well-known truism in the world of gigging musicians is that steady work is better than flashy work. 100% of the money that I make performing is funneled directly back into music, meaning that this gig will allow me to pay for equipment upgrades (I very badly need a new viola – I’ve had Dennis since I was 14 and I outgrew him by the time I was 18). More importantly it will allow me to pay for studio time, which means I’ll likely be able to release an EP within the next year.
For my own part, I am mostly happy about this turn of events. The guys in The Sheets are really talented, and The Blarney Stone is a huge room – it also has an honest-to-Hendrix dance floor, which is a feature much appreciated by live musicians. It will also give me an opportunity to try something new, and to sharpen my fiddle skills. At the same time, I am obviously conflicted about arresting the momentum I’ve been building with my solo project, and curious about what this will end up meaning for Even Handed Odds. On the whole, however, I’m very optimistic about this new direction. I hope you’ll come along with me!