One Month Warning Bell

One month from tonight, I am performing a rare solo acoustic music show as CACTUS JOE, my punk rock singer/songwriter alter ego. It should be an interesting performance for a peculiar reason...

I am about halfway through my clinical marriage and family therapy graduate program, and I'll start my internship in late May. As part of our training in this program, my cohort of fellow grad students has run a number of different role play scenarios, where we practice our therapeutic skills on each other in various pretend situations as both therapist and client. It's a great way to practice the theories, models, and techniques we are textbook learning in our MFT classes. This has had the indirect side effect of training me to transition more smoothly between perceived roles in my personal life, like my musical personas. As such, I feel like I am more readily able to completely dissociate from my everyday persona as a slightly above average Joe and become, whilst on stage, the lovable punk rock singer/songwriter that is CACTUS JOE.* That's not to say I am not a lovable average Joe too, but the identities are situationally specific. On stage, I am a narrowly defined performer persona who gets on stage and entertains. The hours of rehearsal, travel, and the business of music are not a part of CACTUS JOE's persona. As far as the audience is concerned, CACTUS JOE simply stepped out of a transdimensional wormhole fully prepped and ready to rock, thanks to all the behind-the-scenes hard work of his personal assistant (me).

I suppose when musicians become famous enough to have the business side of music handled by someone else, that's when the trouble starts...because then they have to be the rock star both on stage and off, and the off stage side of the persona is underdeveloped and susceptible to societally imposed templates. I don't expect to ever get that famous as a musician and I am not sure I want to. But if I do, I want to make sure my off stage rock star persona is well developed enough to stand alone, immune to social influence (the very nature of "punk rock" is unconventional non-conformity, as I see it). I think my clinical MFT training has given me the skills to "fake it till you make it," if that makes any kind of sense at all.

Anyway, that was a wordy way of getting to the main point of this post, and if you are still reading this, bless your heart! To wit, on Saturday May 12, I will literally and figuratively don my punk rocker hat and head over to the Common Ground coffee shoppe in Middleton WI to pound out 30 minutes or so of fun, catchy tunes, starting about 8:30 PM. This will be followed at 9 PM by a set of tunes performed by the acoustic duo incarnation of my band, GUPPY EFFECT, with me on bass and guitarist Stefan on guitar.

*Note: There is a fine line between alter egos and multiple personalities, and the similarities are many. The main difference is pathology...that is, if the switching between personalities happens in an unhealthy way that disrupts individual, social, or occupational functioning, it may be a mental disorder. However, if you are a professional actor or musician, totally healthy. This is a gross simplification of course...

KEYWORDS: lifestyle coaching, punk rock, rock-n-roll, alter egos, mental health disorders

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