The setup of low expectations…

08 Jul

I’ll be honest. I had really low expectations for the gig at Arsaga’s last night for a number of reasons.

It’s the middle of summer. It’s hotter than a firecracker out there! Who wants coffee? Who wants to sit in a coffee house on a Saturday night and listen to me play music?

The coffee house has been experimenting with a new system for paying the acts, and it’s been biting everybody in the ass. The new deal is that the house needs to take in $x and then the act gets paid whatever they take in over that at the drawer. There’s no cover ever, so it’s all dependent on 1) People coming to the show 2) People spending money on drinks.

I’ve been hearing for a number of weeks, Arsaga’s has been really slow and nobody has got paid much from the drawer since instituting this new pay plan.

I didn’t do any more publicity than usual. I took two posters to the store earlier in the week and I sent out a regular email inviting people to come out. So, I really didn’t expect many, if any people to show up.

So, in addition to thinking 1)Nobody’s going to come out which means 2)I’m not going to get paid anything, I’m also in a weird, conflicted state about this being my last Arsaga’s gig for awhile. The thing is, I’ve been playing this gig for maybe 5 years now.? And although I’m usually playing new covers just to see if I can pull them off, and people still seem to enjoy and request my originals, new originals come few and infrequently. To me, it feels like about the same gig that I’ve been doing for a long time. The fact is that if I were writing more, it would stay way more interesting to me. The fact is, the gig kind of bores me a lot of the time and especially when people haven’t shown up lately, my brain assumes that any crowd/following/friends must be bored with the same old thing, too.

I start my new career as a 7th grade Math/English teacher in about a month. This means that I’m not going to need the little extra income I usually make from playing Arsaga’s, and I can back off from playing there every couple of months to mayble playing once a quarter or maybe even once every 6 months. It’s good that I’m going to be able to put some time between gigs. Maybe I’ll actually write some new songs. Maybe if I’m playing more infrequently, people will be more interested when opportunity comes to come out and see me.

At the same time, the arsaga’s thing has been the last vestiges of my life as a “professional singer/songwriter”. Even though I’m excited about teaching and getting a real paycheck and not depending on music for my livelihood anymore, there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to let that go. Whenever somebody asks me “What do you do?” I’ve always just answered, “I’m a musician.” I’m tremendously proud that I have been able to say that I’ve made a living (not a great living, but a living) for the last 13 years of married life as a musician. Now, I guess I’ll have to answer, “I’m a 7th grade math/english teacher.”…? I guess when it comes down to it, I’m still a guy and find a lot of my identity in what I do. And even though I strongly believe that teaching is a very important, admirable profession and career, I’d still rather see myself as a “professional musician.” That’s hard for me to get over.

So far, the way I’ve dealt with this has been to try not to think about it. And I’ve certainly not spoken it out loud to anybody. But it’s there. And thinking this was my last (for awhile) Arsaga’s gig was bringing those feelings up to a ragged edge.

Also, my friend James will be moving soon. Not only does this make me sad personally, this is most likely the last gig that I’ll have James backing me for quite some time. He’s good, doesn’t like to practice any more than I do, is willing to wing it every time, and he tries not to let me pay him. How am I going to find another lead player like that?

And to top it all off, I haven’t played out for like 2 months, have been healthy that whole time, and earlier this week I get some kind of cold or something! My head is full, I’ve been achy, and I just feel like crap. On Saturday I was feeling better but playing any gig, but especially one that you’re not sure you want to play in the first place, without feeling 100% well REALLY sucks.

So, like I said, I was really just hoping to get last night at Arsaga’s over with and hoping that I’d make out with more than $5 for the effort.


Posted by on July 8, 2007 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “The setup of low expectations…

  1. Bill

    July 10, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    Shack! I just found your site again, and its great that I can keep up with you guys now.

    I get part of my identity from my work too, but since my job has never been a useful one to society (computer programmer) I’ve always gotten that identity from how hard I work at it. Now that my current job has little work to it (I’m lucky to squeeze out 40 hours) I find I don’t have ANY of that identity left.

    It just makes me wanna scrap it all and go live for Jesus in North Korea or something. But that’s just crazy talk….

  2. Brandon

    July 13, 2007 at 3:59 am

    I will always think of you as my “Singer/Songwriter-friend-Shack-who-teaches 7th-grade-kids-math-and-english”

    In fact, that’s how I have your name in my cell phone address book.

    …, it doesn’t fit when you call me…..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: