Rock Religion

I had a thought related to THIS last weekend.

My country band, DRIVEWAY THRIFTDWELLERS, was performing an awesome show at the Victorian Village Tiki bar in Elkhart Lake, WI. We were rocking hard, totally “in the pocket,” as they say in the vernacular. The sound guys were making us sound awesome and the audience was compelled to dance in bacchanalian abandon. The weather was perfect and everything gelled. I remember having a sort of out of body moment, where I said to myself, “Joe man, this is what it is all about…this is why I rock out my heart and soul, regardless of money or fame.”

The truth is, at heart, my calling is performing live rock-n-roll music. I can’t pretend it is something else. I am a decent writer, and I enjoy it, but that skill mainly pays the bills.

When I am playing music though, I am totally in my element and in the moment. There is no past, no future, only NOW. For me, that is a very zen-like religious experience, which may explain why I do it religiously and don’t really care what other people think or if I am getting paid to do it. When I don’t do it for a period of time, I get angsty and stressed out. I am compelled to rock and I have often considered it to be something of an addiction, in as much as it sometimes causes me to avoid certain responsibilities and neglect important relationships. But as addictions go, it is still a fairly health one.

Sometimes rocking can be frustrating. Often rocking involves collaborating with other musicians to create quality rock-n-roll. I cannot expect other musicians to share my passion for rocking for its own sake. One example is the open jam that I like to attend at Funk’s Pub in Fitchburg WI on Sunday nights. The venue provides a sound system and a full backline for the guest musicians to use, so it is really convenient to show up with my bass, plug in, and rock. It is ironically my weekly exercise of my rock-n-roll “religion,” as I alluded to above. It’s a good outlet to satisfy my compulsion to rock often. While I would prefer to play a full rock-n-roll show on a Friday or Saturday night, these are not easy to come by because venues are not cooperative and my bandmates have other totally understandable commitments. So the Sunday jam is to my rock addiction like methadone is to a heroin addict…not the same as the real thing, but it gets the job done. My band mates find the weekly open jam to be somewhat inconvenient, for some very valid reasons (working on Monday morning, for one thing, even though the jam does not go particularly late at night). So I don’t always get to perform fully in my element with my pwer trio rock-n-roll band GUPPY EFFECT, and satisfy my urges by guest bass playing with the house band and other available jammers on any given night. I respect my band mates’ desire to do the jam less often and do not judge it, though I do not understand it because of my own biases and the fact that nothing could be easier than showing up at a local pub with all the gear provided and rocking out 4 or 5 songs. Not everyone is the same as me though, and I appreciate that fact. But it is frustrating, because I love rocking songs live in front of people with my band as often as possible, and the Funk’s jam is just like shooting fish in a barrel in that regard.

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