Tuesday, September 7, 2010

'The Winds of Change'

Tomorrow will be a week from the final performance of 'Under the Desert'. Contrary to having the blues from its departure, I am simply relieved. I've been sleeping more than normally, but not from depression, more from just being tired.

I've been busy charting my next move. I've been furiously writing e-mails, to see if I can find a place to land with my show, a music gig, or even a job slopping hogs. At this point I'd be happy with just about anything. Actually, that's only partially true, I have had three paying music performances since the closing of the show. Last Friday, I played once again at The Cowboy Blues in Escalante, and the next night I played in Torrey at Entrada for a Utah Arts Council event. Both were very satisfying, and then last night I played at The Hell's Backbone Grill. In the grill, there was a couple from Holland there, who seemed perplexed that I was not 'world famous', (I think he'd had some wine) but he was great. He told stories about the war, and was warm and appreciative. After the grueling experience of doing the show, it was really great to get back to playing music and entertaining by myself.

Last night, you could really feel the 'fall' in the air, I stoked up the stand-up heater for the first time since early spring, and the feeling is definitely there. People are still talking about the play wherever I go, and even if it was not a play exactly to their liking, Boulder people are still so appreciative of the event. Hopefully, next time, I can get a grant to produce, instead of having to produce with box office advance money. Even though I was able to find material and paint I didn't have to pay for, the show still lost money. Feeding the actors, keeping them in gas, and housing them cost money. The show made fifteen hundred dollars in ticket sales, but it was gone before it was even added up. I lost a month of money I could have made singing, and so my debt continues to pile up, and I can't seem to get ahead. I am not alone. In talking to different folks working here, the cash flow is simply not there like it used to be even a couple of years ago. The seasonal workers are beginning to talk about what they will do this winter, so I don't feel so bad when I talk to them.

To pay some of my debts, I put my guitar up for sale. It is the one I had from 1983, and because it’s a martin, it increases in value. I bought it new for $1200, and now its worth between $2000 and $3500 dollars. It has a storied history, (lots of musical wear) and is the only thing besides my computer I have left of any value. I put the ad on The Community Alliance e-mail list, and suddenly I was approached about all the musicians here doing a benefit concert so I don't have to sell my guitar. It is a humbling gesture, but I don't think there should be a benefit for someone selling their guitar because they need to pay back a debt. If I was sick, I would understand, but apparently, my guitar has some value to the community. I suggested that instead, we do a benefit to establish a fund for musicians to get paid for playing music. I don't know what will happen, I only know that since I left that steady job two and a half years ago, I've never worked harder for less in my life. As I look back at my life, however, whenever I started on a new path, (about seven to ten years) there has always been a couple of transitional years which were tough.

I was talking to another artist here (whose name I won't mention) who was down to his last thirty dollars. Now that was humbling, because this man is a world class artist of long standing. I think it was at that moment I realized that, Wow, times really are becoming increasingly tough. Artists are used to going through periods of tough times, but usually, there was enough money rolling through the economy for them to find a project or a way through. That 'trickle down' money has dried up. On occasion lately, when I do peruse the news, I wonder about all of us, artists or not. While in Cedar, I read in The Salt Lake Tribune that the Deseret News, (the other paper in Salt Lake) was laying off a hundred and something journalists and newspaper workers. I wonder what will happen to them? What happens when your whole career has been tied to one company and you are suddenly without the support, the fellowship, and the paycheck of that company? What happens when unemployment benefits run out and there still isn't a job to be found? Luckily for me, I don't have a family to support. I know that this has been happening for awhile, still, it seems to be getting worse and not better.

I should feel fortunate that I made forty dollars last night, and that for now, I have some food to eat, and that fall is coming and it is beautiful. The gardens here are beginning to harvest, and so I know there will be corn, tomatoes and squash in abundance for a time. I'm still very fortunate, despite the wind of change.

2 comments:

Gerry said...

Good to hear from you, son, and that you are still eating. I hope you don't have to sell your guitar! Yes, I think the economy is squeezing people a little harder this time, but that just means that more people have to reach out and share what they have. People in here are buying cigarettes and rolling tobacco instead of a pack and more are hungry, so we have to be more aware of whether our neighbors are really hurting. My new neighbor just lost her job. But as always, when the squeeze is on more awareness is necessary. My $100 is still there when you really need it. Now don't go scouting any more ledges for ledge theater. From the Edge to the Ledge, well it figures in Boulder. See, you created an event that WILL be talked about and now more people know the Raymond Phoenix knows, the director and playwright who will stop at nothing when it comes to staging a new play or musical. I wanted Utah to get to know THAT Raymond! Good summer's work! Can't wait to talk to you and hear all the details. Dan is supposed to come today or tomorrow.

kanyonlandking-annk.blogspot.com said...

Jason said he might have a job parking cars! That's a possibility. No telling what you might do to stay alive. He is cracking jokes about it already. Material comes from life. He told them to save it for him.