Wendy’s Perspective: Take Care of Your Local Musician

The huge tour bus was not going anywhere. The long road ahead would have to wait. The next gig’s promoter would have to worry a few hours more. Eager and giddy, the women in the next town would have to hang on. The luxury road-liner, a sleek, efficient hotel-on-wheels might as well be a tree house. That famous band backing the reggae superstar, with so many #1 chart-toppers, was not going anyplace, because we could not find the bus keys anywhere!

It was 4:30AM and the exhilarating high everyone gets after a great performance on stage was long gone. I was bone-tired, having been going at full speed since, well, three weeks before the show, promoting the show so that we would have a big turnout. The band was exhausted; they had driven from last night’s gig to my town of Fresno, and given us a great show on little rest. The musicians had long said good-bye to that night’s women they had just met or with which they rekindled past friendships. The club’s employees were tired. Night after night of someone’s favorite live music, this was just another night for them. The club was finally clean, ready for the next night’s show. We were all ready to climb into our own beds and go to sleep-me at my home, the musicians on their tour bus in the 10 curtained bed berths, the few last fans helping us search, home to their own beds — but NO KEYS! Everyone was very cranky. We had searched everywhere in the club with the lights turned up, exposing in that harsh bright light of 2:30AM the debris of a big crowd of people, but NO KEYS. We had looked outside between the bus, the club, back stage, the stage, the bathroom, the bar, the alley, carefully scouring the ground in the darkness and in the half-light, looking for those two keys on a rental key chain. NO KEYS.

Discouraged, finally I climbed up into the tour bus. The famous music makers were arguing amongst themselves. It was loud. They were all testy and cross. It was getting ugly. I asked the driver what happened to his keys? Let’s trace backwards, I say to all. “Well,” he starts, “I gave them to the lead singer…”

Years of working at shows and festivals, I have dealt with many musicians. I exploded in shocked amazement and I blurted out, “You gave the only keys to –(gasp)! –a lead singer????” The fierce tension in the bus broke into laughter from all around at the look on my face … and right then, almost like a planned skit on TV, the world-famous reggae artist pulled his hand out of his tight leather pants that he had worn on stage and in his palm there were the lost keys! “I thought I looked in my pockets…?” He mumbled as our laughter rose ten octaves higher!

We all laughed because we knew — myself, the musicians, the seasoned road manager, bus driver and super star — that musicians are DIFFERENT from the rest of us.

And now I have the proof positive. It was in a national newspaper in an article printed a few weeks back. “RESEARCHERS SAY MUSICIANS’ BRAINS WORK DIFFERENTLY” the headline read. I guessed that all along. Now I had the scientific proof. Musicians are here to create works for all the rest of us that have no beautiful voices, talented hands, no flair with the brush or the lyric…as humans of normal talents most of us do not have the ability to express the innerselves we all feel inside and the Artist does that for us eloquently, satisfying a need deep in us all for expression.

An artist can move you to tears, but do not expect to move a musician out of bed before he wishes, or into any role that society expects from all the rest of us, just to keep a day-job or to fulfill our culture’s way of living. Do not expect a music maker to have the same rules or needs as the rest of us. In fact, that very abundance of emotion that they must have to create music, ensures being something different from all of us. The newspaper article stated that researchers, using brain-scanning MRI machines, discovered musicians’ brains are uniquely wired, with intuitive skills nonmusical people were unable to match. Dr. Zatorre of the Montreal Neurological Institute says, “It offers a window into the highest levels of human cognition.”

So that is what musicians have, “…the highest levels of human cognition,” the doctor says. We knew that. That’s why Jah Message is there in this sweet reggae music… That is why a musician can get on stage in front of thousands. It also explains the different time-telling system that most musicians seem to have, “Soon Come!”

Maybe that explains why the sound system is never loud enough for a musician–they must hear differently too…

With much Respect to the Musician!



About Wendy Russell :

Wendy Russell, ex-promoter in Fresno, CA for 15 years has been a Festival volunteer, organizer, writer and photographer, and also editor of the Reggae Festival Guide. She is a radio DJ on Satellite Radio Bilingue nationwide, worldwide at www.radiobilingue.org. | View all posts by Wendy Russell

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About the author

Wendy Russell, ex-promoter in Fresno, CA for 15 years has been a Festival volunteer, organizer, writer and photographer, and also editor of the Reggae Festival Guide. She is a radio DJ on Satellite Radio Bilingue nationwide, worldwide at www.radiobilingue.org.

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