A little boy and a little girl are staring. They turn their heads to look at each other, smile, and start dancing. Its a sunny warm saturday morning at a farmers market in Los Angeles. Their mother watches patiently, (through three songs), and waits with a calm happy expression on her face.
In the lounge of the nursing home, a modest gathering of residents are being served punch, wine, and snacks. Its Happy Hour. They greet each other, and chat, until the music starts. They become focused on the music, looking relaxed. One lady, dressed in animal print pants, a flamboyant patterned blouse, and a very Hollywood scarf is swaying, turning, and treading the light fantastic in a world of her own.
Stage right, on the chair at the front, i see memories and thoughts appear across another womans face, and then a tear which is carefully and discreetly wiped away.
Its 12:45pm on a sunday at Sunbanks Festival near Grand Coulee Dam in Washington. There's a Seahawks game on at the lodge, and few signs of life around the RV laden campsite. The sun warms the lake behind the stage which seems to add to the "Monet vibe". As i set up my unusual looking solo kit, (vintage suitcase front and center, wooden tambourine foot pedal, and a bunch of harmonica's), a handful of curious music lovers are dotted around the seating area. Happy that my equipment is set up well enough, i sit down to make a little noise. More people appear. Off stage i grab a bottle of water, Just moments before I go on, a sound tech guy manning an audio recording set-up says something about tracking the show. He then asks me to sign off on this which I promptly do.. What he said didn't really register in my brain, as i'm deep into the pre show world of anxiety, adrenaline, set list thoughts, personal expectations, and tunnel vision that always occurs before going on stage. Billy, the festival organiser and MC introduces me. The crowd has grown a bit more, and peoples interests are piqued in anticipation of what this TJ & THE SUITCASE thing might sound like. Now seated, i pick up a harmonica, close my eyes, and my right foot drops on the suitcase drum pedal ... Boom, boom, boom ...
As time slips to the end of the second song, and the applause dies down i hear myself saying thank you.
Happy faces look up at me. I'm a little surprised and very pleased more people than i expected have come down to the stage area.
I open my mouth and this comes out: "Its getting warm. Almost feels like day time. What are you all doing awake at this time on a sunday? You didn't stop drinking did you? You've been up all night"
A sweet voice to my right replies: "We came to hear you".
The Little Things ... These are the words that resonate with me when i'm alone and have had time to process the different scenes after putting on a show.
Playing music for people, performing, is a strange mix of moments.
My focus shifts continuously, especially when multi tasking as a solo artist.
There's a lot going on with my body and brain at the same time, so my attention shifts from one thing to another ... AND THEN ... for a moment... everything stops, In that moment I notice someone lost in the music dancing, or witness the emotions changing on someones face as if I can read their thoughts, or I finish a song and there are split seconds of silence just before the applause, Or I watch a 5 year old child studying me while I am playing as they smile in wonder.
These are moments of beauty.
These are moments of clarity.
These are the moments that connect us.
These are the little things.
These little things remind me why i do this..
They show me some very simple truth.
They remind me of the point of it all.
They are the answers to the questions that fly around my head every day.
How much more technical knowledge do i need on harmonica?
How much do i need to practice to be a lot better?
Is this solo thing working?
Do people really like it?
How much better should i be as a singer?
How do i make the whole thing better?
How long is this all going to take?
Its a BIG list... which goes on and never seems to ends ... I push ... Artists push. To be better. To be more creative.
To make people happy. To make ourselves happy. To see what we can create. To do bigger, better things.
But here's what i'm reminded of in these moments of beauty.
Its all about connection.
BIG things are just a bunch of little things joined together.
Connect the dots.
I started with the wish to play a train rhythm on harmonica, so i bought one harmonica.
A wish is a little thing.
A harmonica is a little thing.
Taking one step is a little thing, but the biggest journeys start with one step.
Taking that first step on a journey always leads us to moments of clarity, connection, and pure beauty.
So once again i'm reminded, its all about ...
THE LITTLE THINGS
P.S. That recording guy at Sunbanks Festival captured one of the best shows i've ever played.
So if there's enough interest i'll release it as a live album. ... What do YOU think about that?
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