Hey, we LOVE your music!

Never trust people who are too effusive about your talent. They’re probably preparing to shaft you. I’d hesitantly accepted a gig offer from a man I met in a bar while doing another gig  (that’s life at the top for you. ) He was “Something-To-Do-With-Art” – big on dramatic gestures and statements, small on details. Naturally he LOVED my music. I was to play for a soiree at the obscure art gallery where he reigned supreme as creator, director, coordinator and all round bigmouth.   Eccentric patrons are par for the course in Berlin, and it should have been good fun – but this guy gave me the creeps.

Relax!…. Before I could even open my guitar case, I was ordered to ‘RELAX!” In a room with no chairs, with him leering at me.  He meant “Start drinking”. I didn’t get drunk. Only bored. Fast forward 60 minutes – I just – as ever – want to play a good show. People are there. People are interested. But he was hellbent on wrong footing me…….

There was the drawn-out “testing, testing” soundcheck routine – in  a room not much bigger than my living room -which could have been done on arrival. (see  My Thoughts About Soundchecks)  Then, the interruption of the first set, mid-song, with a blast of Hawkwind.  Artistic statement? Next, the “veggie meal part of the deal” …. While the visitors were happily tucking into to generous portions of Chile con Carne, inconvenient non-meat eater here gets a last-minute unbuttered bread roll with soggy tomato slices.

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Guten Appetit

But head and shoulders over these minor woes…..NO!  NO! NO! You DON’T have to embrace the performer and give her a sloppy kiss at five minute intervals because people are clapping. Throughout the entire evening he was drunk, overly gushing, and all over me. As a feminist I wanted to kick him in the nuts. As a performer I wanted to do my job. Couldn’t find a way to do both. Cue BURNING SHAME AND INNER CONFLICT….a real fun night out.

Adding insult to injury… Later,  preparing my exit, I get hauled into a toe-curlingly embarrassing public debate about what I should be paid and whose pocket it should come out of. The resulting underpayment was buried so deep in bullshit that I only realised on the way home. But hey – we LOVE your music…..

PS: The whole sorry experience was worth it because it inspired me to write this song, which features the amazing Chris O, queen of the Australian blues scene, playing some devilishly good slide guitar.

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You Don’t Rock No More  by Kathy Freeman   For a free download of the studio version with drums and contrabass, join my mailing list (download available till June)

Behind the songs: You don’t Rock no More

“Now you don’t come out to play – Girlfriend threw your toys away   Ain’t got time for all that jive –Work your butt off nine to five…”

(from “You Don’t Rock No More”)

For a free download of this song, join my mailing list (download available till June)

If you play in a band – or do whatever your special thing is – you may wake up one morning realising the fun’s over. Some people’s priorities change with age. The fire that  once burned so brightly gradually morphs into some kind of  minor inconvience and reminders of it are removed from view. Till one day some chance occurrence triggers off the memory and you wonder what the hell happened to your dreams.

Here’s the choice: reclaim what you had, or act like it never happened. Neither is an easy road. Reclaiming your old dreams means confronting why you dumped them.  Drowning them seems  simpler on the face of it but there will  always be an uneasy feeling – even if it’s buried six feet under – that you sold your soul overnight.  Or in tiny pieces as the years went on.

 I made a conscious decision not to live with that, and I’ve turned down more than one “safe” job offer over the years.  People are sometimes surprised that I choose a chronically insecure lifestyle  But when I have a rent-panic, I remind myself that I will never, EVER have to answer company mails on a Sunday to ensure I can escape to Isla Whereva once a year.  And when I face the final curtain I’ll be entitled to have a certain special song played at my wake:

My Way  (or Sid’s Way )