Live Between Us: The Importance of Live Music
I consider myself to be a pretty good, strong skier. Five years of ski instructing on top of years spent ripping around Moonlight Basin and Bridger Bowl makes me feel pretty confident. But for some reason the day I spent skiing at Fernie was one of the hardest days of skiing I'd had. I went back to the house and showered, trying to rinse off the defeat and rip my hair out of the dreads that had formed from sweat and a lack of a hair tie. The next morning I was tired and sore but excited to still be waking up with some of my best friends in such a beautiful place. We heard there was a good band coming into town and playing at their community arts center. That night we trekked through the icy hilly streets of Fernie to the center. We arrived only to find out that the band was stuck on the highway on the other side of the mountain pass, something about a semi sliding off the road, blocking it, spilling it contents and maybe something about it catching on fire too? So there we were, some fresh local beers and a solid crew ready to listen to music. A couple spoke up and said they have their instruments in close proximity and hey, some one has to drink this beer, so let's jam. They started playing some folksy, Americana type music and putting on quite a show. There maybe 20 of us in the room listening, all double fisting the local brews. What got to me though (besides the beer) was when a couple of younger adults, around my age, got up and joined them. The boy started playing a tune I recognized and I thought to myself "oh really?" waiting to see how he was going to pull it off. It was one of my favorite songs and as soon as he started singing it I was blown away. He nailed that first "I'm gooooin' out on the hiiighway, listen to them big trucks whiiiiineee." I sat there listening to these locals singings my favorite Townes Van Zandt song next to my best friends and to top it off I was in Fernie. Some tears may or may not have been shed. It was at that moment when I decided to see more live music, even if I didn't know the band.
I think I have always had great taste in music. I was raised around a diverse set of music. I was even named after a Mother Love Bone song. I danced on stage with George Strait as a toddler. I might have been the only 10-year-old Tom Waits fan. In the past few years, I have made it a point to see the artists that I love and experience as much live music as possible. I've gone to a Steve Earle concert solo where I was momentarily adopted by a biker gang, three James McMurtry shows in three years, saw The Tragically Hip in Vegas right before Gordy announced his incurable brain tumor, moshed with a bunch of hype beasts at Travis Scott and have gone to countless smaller local shows situated in venues from the pines of Paradise Valley to the dingy dive bars of small town Montana.
The way I look at it, seeing music live is like seeing an art piece hanging in a museum. You are graced with the magnitude and beauty of the piece. You notice the details and experience the scope and impact of the piece. When you see music live you are watching an artist at work. They have probably performed the song a thousand times and you've listened to it at least that many times but it is different and amazing every time you hear it. You can see and feel the emotions emulating from the artist and the crowd. The dynamic of emotions between the artist and the crowd is one of the most intense you'll probably ever experience, emotion is drawn out of you from the depth of your consciousness and memories and you are bonded to the others in the room experiencing their own versions of the song.
I recently saw Travis Scott perform in Boise, Idaho. His show was electrifying. Now, when I hear certain songs of his I instantly am taken back to the concert and the energy in the stadium. Whenever I need to feel inspired for art or writing, I listen to more lyrical artists like James McMurtry or Tragically Hip. Gordy has an eccentric stage presence, unpredictable dialogue and a lyrical genius that makes for an energetic and nostalgic mood. McMurtry has a serious demeanor but a penchant for making ordinary American life sound romanticized and beautifully harsh. It is amazing to see how music can affect your emotions and outlook on the world. I have created drawings, painting, photos based off of songs or verses that resonated with me.
I am lucky enough to have some incredibly musically talented friends. Many of them perform in the symphony, orchestra, and other musical groups. Though I am not musically gifted I appreciate their talents so much. It is amazing to sit, listen and watch them all blend their individual sounds and personalities to create a group piece. It is inspiring to see and hear what can be produced by people who are passionate and talented about the same things. I have never regretted seeing people play music. I never thought of myself as someone who would like the Opera or Broadway Musicals. But sitting in the theater listening to the Intermountain Opera perform classic tragedies or watching Kinky Boots live are among some of my favorite and most enriching memories.
I learn so much from the artists and the experience of the show when I am seated in the audience. My homework for you now is to go and see live music. Buy that ticket you've been thinking about. If that is too expensive, go to your local dive bar and listen to your local or traveling troubadour perform.
If you want to hear me talk about Mexico with out referencing the song "La Bamba" check out my post on the magical land of Rancho Las Cruces here...