I love my internet service provider, LMI. It’s in Berkeley, and I can call them up or go there in person, talk to someone right away, and that someone is usually someone who’s band I’ve seen, or whose self-published comics I’ve read, or who went to school with a friend of mine. A couple of weeks ago I went there and said “I have a website. A student set me up with it fourteen ears ago. I haven’t visited it, let alone updated it, in over six years. I want to try again. I think, I hope, I can become the sort of person who has a website, that lets people know about where and when he’s playing, recordings he has made, and (some of) what’s going on in his head. I need LMI’s help.”
And so here we are. Another attempt by me to be OUT THERE in the (digital) world. To care a little about my relationship with people who are interested in my music. To organize and give shape to the messy jumble of activities, interests, and people that make up my musical world.
Obviously, this doesn’t come easy for me. I can’t sit in front of a computer for more than about forty minutes without getting restless. My typing is painfully slow, and so full of mistakes that I typically have to do each sentence a couple of times before it’s right. I don’t have a cell phone, am not on Facebook, have never read a “tweet”, don’t have cable TV, MIDI, or use any music software other than Finale, a notation program. I don’t even own a camera or a way to record myself playing guitar! I do, however, have a computer, and there are a number of websites, mostly by musicians or fellow travelers, that I visit often, and have really enjoyed, really benefited from. The concept of sharing, so basic to the internet, is very dear to me.
I guess I hope that this website will do two things. I hope it will inspire to me see my musical self as multi-faceted, but also WHOLE, in some way. That all my disparate activities – teaching, practicing, performing, studying, listening – add up to something. Too often I feel fragmented, incapable of focusing on anything for very long, too pulled apart by wildly different interests and goals – Country Blues! Figured Bass! Lester Young! Stefan Wolpe! This is mirrored in my activity as a guitar player – I’m a sideman! A bandleader! A teacher! I need to practice Jazz! I need to write songs! I need to learn more fingerstyle! Flamenco! I often feel like a perpetual dilettante, a poor man with too many mouths to feed.
I also hope that this website will help me cultivate and enjoy a relationship with you, Dear Reader/Listener. I know that my aversion to my own website in the past has stemmed from a profound discomfort with anything that reeks of career-building, of self-promoting, of putting more time into the “brand” than into the music; of staring too hard at the narcissistic pond of self-reflection instead of the faces of my friends and family. But friends and family – in the largest senses of the words – are always telling me they wish I would let them know when I was playing, and how much they enjoy reading my infrequent announcement emails, and why don’t I update my website more often?
So here goes. As Beckett famously wrote: “Fail again. Fail better.”