Tag Archives: music

the loudest bar in alabama

I am so over this not drinking in the 2ww bullshit.

Last weekend I was in Alabama for a music festival.  Unfortunately my “career” (I use the word advisedly) is such that the festivals I’m invited to tend to take place in very small towns.  This creates a problem for us musician types, who require both strong coffee and strong liquor.  Actually the problem really is food–most of us are ravenous after we play, and it’s sometimes really hard to find a place that will serve us after our concerts.  We always end up in bars, which is fine, but sometimes it’s hard to find a bar that will serve us any food at all.  When that happens we end up scarfing down stale pretzels in our motel room.  Not very satisfying.

So there we were, Friday night, 15 or so starving musicians looking for some food at 10:30 p.m.  The first place we tried was cash-only (did I mention we’re all broke too?) and served only…get this…deep-fried pickles.  I wish I was kidding.

We bolted.

The second place we tried had already closed their kitchen, but when they saw how many of us there were they agreed to open it back up.  Hurray!

It was a little surprising to all of us, being yuppified snobs and all, that it’s still legal to smoke in bars in Alabama.  It had been a long time since any of us had been in a smoke-filled room, and that took some getting used to!  We were all coughing by the time we got out of there.  Makes me wonder what we all breathed in back in the good ol’ days when you could smoke in bars in my home city!

Also, the band that was playing at this bar* was very good (sort of rock-country), but their sound was turned up just a little too high.  Conversation was impossible, and so we insufferable snobs kept shouting back and forth at each other about how these guys should move it down by about 5dB.  After a while I started to wonder why everyone but me seemed to be having a good time despite the smoke, the too-loud amp, the terrible service, and the strangely sticky floor.

Then it hit me.

Everybody but me was drinking.  I was just short of CD1 and had that irrational hope thing going on–you know the one.  The one that’s not even any fun and is actually more like an extra scoop of guilt.

“What if this is The Month?”

“You can’t be too careful.”

“Do you want to RUIN YOUR BABY’S LIFE by having a gin and tonic in the Loudest Bar in Alabama?”

So I did the right thing.

I guess that proves that I have not in fact ceased to believe that I’m capable of pregnancy as I stated in a previous post.  Hope is a funny, fucked-up thing.

*And where, exactly, were they going to eat when their set was finished?  That’s what I’d like to know!  We should have stuck around and followed them…


this is going to be loud

My ensemble is heading to a festival in the Chicago area this weekend to play a concert.

See you later!

what happened to the last 15 years? (or, filthy lucre)

This is going to be long and complainy.

I graduated high school in 1995.  Went to college, then grad school.  Finally came out the other side with 3 degrees in 2005.  Got an academic job overseas; sold all my stuff and went for it.

After 2 years the reasons to come home outweighed the reasons to stay.

Came back.  New city.  Grad school for the husband this time; that means I’m the one with the day job.  But I haven’t stopped trying to be a performing artist.  My resume is actually rather impressive at first glance, with orchestra gigs, international festivals, teaching experience, guest artist recitals, collaborations with composers, good reviews, etc.

The problem is I’m not getting paid for any of it.

I’ve got grad school loans that I’m still paying off (yes, I had an assistantship; no, it wasn’t enough to live on), I’m trying to support my husband through his studies, and I’m becoming less marketable as an academic with every year that goes by.

So here I am, 15 years out of high school, making 13 bucks an hour as an administrative assistant, scraping by to make ends meet.

My performing ensemble has been invited to be featured artists-in-residence at a major festival in Asia next summer.  Hooray!  But we have to find the funding ourselves.  Boo!

What that means is that any income we make from concerts we play over the upcoming season is going into the pot for the trip.  It means that after work, in addition to teaching lessons, practicing, rehearsing, and playing concerts, we will be working on grant applications and soliciting private donations.

It means that I don’t really have a performing career.

I have a very expensive hobby.

so that’s what i needed

I’m back from the conference.  What a difference a few days can make!

It was really astonishing:  as the car moved north, out of the city, it was like the sun got brighter, the weight was off my chest, the knot came out of my stomach, and I was having fun for the first time in months.  I suspect that 7 hours in a car does not sound like fun to you…but it was so great to get out of here and my job stress, IF stress, negative energy, etc.

Once we got there I just had a blast.  It was work, and it was hard, but it was also incredibly fulfilling and entertaining.  It was like a reminder that there are things I’m good at.  That new and exciting art is being created all the time–and that as a performer I’m part of that.  The piece that we premiered went really well, and the composer received his award (yay Composer Friend!).  I heard a lot of electroacoustic music, which of course is kind of a niche, but one that is DEFINITELY worth exploring.  (If you’re interested, download “Kuxan Suum” by Paul Rudy from iTunes.  That’s a good place to start.)  I had long heated conversations about whether the concert hall is the appropriate space for fixed-media works, and if not, what would work better.  I argued about pedagogical methods and whether or not new media should start to supplant some of the standard literature in early performance training.  In other words, I totally geeked out for 4 days.


I so rarely get to do this–mostly I just go to my admin job, come home too tired to clean, and squeeze in just enough practicing in between rehearsals so as not to embarrass myself.  This whole experience was just a wonderful and much-needed reminder that I am competent, that I am intelligent, that there are things about life that are just wonderful, that maybe I’m not a total failure and an insufferable bore.

I am just giddy.

I know this is temporary:  depression doesn’t just go away after one great weekend, and all of the things that were wrong with me last week are still wrong now, but I am going to enjoy this feeling for as long as I can.


I am leaving tomorrow for a conference in Minnesota, where I will be premiering a new electroacoustic work.  I’m really excited about it, as this is a major conference and one I’ve never been to before, and the piece I’m premiering is really innovative and very well-crafted.  I’m going with the composer, the other members of my ensemble, and another composer.

I am going to play, I am going to hear lots of great music (and probably some not-so-great music), I am going to drink lots of gin and tonics, and I am going to spend 5 days away from the usual sad hurlyburly.  This is going to be fun.  Fun, dammit!  Do I remember how to have fun?

Maybe I’ve got an instruction manual around here somewhere…

Fun, the gingerandlime way:

Step 1.  Get the hell out of the city…as far as possible from my office!

Step 2.  Focus on playing–you know, that part of life I’m actually good at!

Step 3.  Hang out with really great, interesting people.

Step 4.  Try new things, meet new people.

Step 5.  Did I mention gin and tonic?

Step 6.  Repeat steps 2-5 as necessary.