Do you ever have two people in your life who have never met, they come from two totally different worlds, but you know they’d hit it off? …they have so much in common but would have never met without your intervention?
Baseball and Opera are these two “people” in my life. They have so much in common, but couldn’t be farther apart.
Both are a three to four hour diversion from my busy, anxious life. Both have heroes and villains that wear costumes, set on an elaborate stage. Both follow an old, strict, comforting format. Both take years of training, persistence, grit, and a bit of divine intervention to allow the performer to even set foot on the field. Both can be listened to, but the listening is a pale representation of actual attendance. Both existed before I was born and will thrive after my inevitable demise. Most importantly, both take me on a blissful journey and ennoble me.
This is baseball and opera.
If you’re a baseball fan, please attend an opera. If you’re an opera fan, get out to the ballpark.
When my idea was in the Dream stage it was exhilarating. I’ve been coming up with some solid ideas for the last couple years and this was no exception. Then I put wheels on my idea and started think about specifics and with those came some concerns.
Let me back up. As I wrote in my last blog, I have decided to play a concert this Saturday night. I will play the concert at my home but will use a laptop with a webcam and microphone to transmit my performance to a free website that will allow anyone with a computer, a strong internet signal, and the ability to play audio to watch my performance live. This practical use of technology intoxicates me and I can’t stop thinking about it!
So what am I nervous about? I wasn’t nervous opening for Jackson Browne in front of 3,000 S.F. Bay-area socialites. I wasn’t nervous singing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” on the pitcher’s mound during the very last seventh inning stretch of the very last Padre game at Qualcomm Stadium in front of 65,000 fans. Why should I get the jitters this time? Perhaps because I’ll be playing my original songs for people who know me, some whom I haven’t seen in 30 years.
I have invited about 1,500 friends and acquaintances to watch the streaming performance and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. One fellow I vaguely remember from high school, who now resides in Montana, says he’s going to get his family around his 42″ HD flat screen and watch and listen in surround sound! A former student says that she and her husband will be watching in Venezuela.
Only five or six people will be in the room with me but thousands around the world will be watching! And here’s where the fear creeps in, what if they don’t like my songs, or my shirt, or there’s those little, annoying lags in the feed.
All of a sudden a huge group of people who only know my name or remember me from high school or college are going to get to hear my innermost feelings poured out as original songs. Compounded by the fact that I won’t be able to see their faces. I’ll be sending my love blindly up a wi-fi feed into cyberspace like Voyager or some experimental communication of friendship into to the faceless cosmos!
There will be a Stickam/Twitter chat feed on the site so I can take requests and give shout-outs. But how am I going to react to them? (Whew) I need to breathe and stay focused. I need to play my heart out and expect the best. Fears will not contribute to a better performance so I need to rid my mind of any negativity or anxieties. However, I’m really nervous about Saturday night!
Over the last few weeks I’ve been fretting over the apparent malaise that seems to be resting upon and stifling American music. Okay, let me specify. I don’t mean American Classical music; the one-two punch of Ned Rorem and Phillip Glass exhausted that genre 30 years ago. And I don’t mean Top 40 American music either. That substance-less train wreck is alive and well. I’m just thankful that Top 40 and Country have finally merged, made sex, and begat American Idol. Now if WWF and NASCAR would kindly do the same, our country can get back one more modicum of its dignity.
Friends, I’m talking about Rock n’ Roll. I’m talking about American Black music interpreted and recreated by angry people of all colors, cultures, and flavors, their one common denominator being a frustrated bird flipped at the status quo and the antiquated powers-that-be.
My concerns were briefly assuaged last week when I heard the new release, “Wasting Light” by Foo Fighters. I immediately found it edgy, compelling, and musical. I was delighted to learn that it was recorded software-free on analog tape in a garage. But this past weekend I was truly relieved and soon enchanted when I began watching the YouTube-streamed Coachella Music Festival from the grapefruit and tangelo-stand known as Indio, California. The intensity and urgency of some of the acts restored my faith in the musicians and the genre that helped raise me. The Friday evening performance by Lauryn Hill captivated me. She dealt with audio problems and complacent band members and crystallized the moment drawing everyone on stage into urgent awareness. The Foals, Cage The Elephant, Jack’s Mannequin, Mumford & Sons, Yelle, and so many more bands seemed to be immune to the dulling cacophony that bleeds through our TV’s, radios, cell phones, iPods, and satellite stations. They seemed to say to me, “Hey, I hear you! I’m not a robot either! Let’s make this moment real and beautiful! And screw you Status Quo!”