The arrow doesn’t know
The target or the bow
It’s born in air
It flies a faithful arc
Through skies light and dark
No promise it finds its’ mark
But it flies anyway.
From “Arrow” ©2022, Gregory Hoskins
Let’s say you have a good notion of what you’re supposed to be doing with your life — some use the term “a calling”, I don’t — and let’s say that you’re lucky enough to have been supported in a myriad of mysterious ways to do that thing. Fine. Now let’s say that because it has the thumbprint of a certain kind of meant-to-be-ness, you find yourself with one foot in the ethereal world of assignment and the other in the more recognizable grind of keeping up your end of the day-to-day deal: a collection indescribable tasks I’ve come to call the Gig Mechanics, the tending to the invisible parts of the machine that allows the Gig to exist.
How you relate to the Gig Mechanics is a choice, somewhat based on your natural inclinations towards detail. Personally, I see it as a dance. Thing is, I’m not a very good dancer. I often end up looking like someone in a dance marathon who has hung in to the bitter end, like a barely-there shell of a person, a ghost leaning on an unfortunate partner. It isn’t pretty.
Get close to someone who is in the thick and thrall of such an endeavour and you are certain to see someone with all the beauty scrubbed away, all the elegance, grace, and assuredness so readily seen from a distance now burned or bleached off of them. Recently, I passed through UK Customs in Heathrow and caught a glimpse of myself in the photo that is snapped as you pass through an e-gate. It was shocking. I looked like I’d been dragged behind the plane across the Atlantic, the toll of the pandemic years’ worth of record making and film making and finally prepping for our tour in the UK and Ireland as the world lurched awkwardly out of plague mode resulting in a mountain of worrying and second-guessing every plan…all of it in plain view in that official photo. I’m not complaining (as my friend SJ says) I’m remembering.
But it was a rewarding tour, by most accounts. No one got Covid; the response from the intrepid folk who helped and /or attended confirmed that there is still a place for something called a Night of Grief & Mystery; and we sold out 8 of our 10 Nights. Mind you, we did those 10 Nights in 11 days, thus this post you are reading. Here are a few things I learned:
- 10 gigs in 11 nights isn’t heroic or quixotic. It’s stupid.
- Booking a venue based on a picture from the internet is playing sonic russian roulette.
- You can lean on people, but lean too hard and they will understandably crack.
- Weather systems in a van are like those on the coast: they change every five minutes.
- Eating a burger in a gas station parking lot after midnight can be a life affirming thing.
- While the previous statement is true, having nutritious food at the gig would be nothing less than an act of love. I seem to have forgotten this.
- Sometimes you need to remind yourself that you are part of a ceremony, not a concert performance.
- It could be that The Hands that guide these things occasionally see your blind spots and provide a Justin Bonnet (road wrangler) or a Charlie Scaife (sound man) to help smooth the way.
To the band – Lisa Hodgson, Colleen Hodgson, Adam Bowman – and to my compañero SJ, a thousand apologies for the pace, a deep bow for being unwitting but willing partners in the awkward dance with the Gig Mechanics, and a thousand thanks for the glimpse into the possibilities.
This could be good.