Sunday, January 15, 2006

Year of the Buzzard

The holidays were kind of a drag for me this year. Despite all my efforts to eat healthy, get plenty of rest and occasionally exercise, I ended up getting sick for Christmas. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, since nearly everyone at my office had the flu. But for the past two years I've been pretty good at avoiding whatever's been going around. Finally, it all caught up with me. Christmas Day I woke up with a stomach ache and a fever and I was pretty much out of it for the next week or so. I did crawl in to work between Christmas and New Years to take care of a few "urgent" projects, but that left me exhausted and bedridden for the next long weekend.

As if that wasn't bad enough, I went back to work the next week where the two lawyers I was working with basically coughed in my face all day long. Thanks guys. By Friday I had another sore throat. This had me especially worried because Saturday was the biggest Buzzard's gig ever: our CD release party. We've been putting the final touches on our debut CD for the past several months: mastering, sequencing, creating the cover art, finding a manufacturer to duplicate the CDs, etc. Not to mention rehearsing with our new guitar player and trying to find a new bass player. Now it was time to unleash it on the public. We booked a gig at a local club with plenty of room and even a little counter in the back to sell our "product." I even made up some Buzzards T-shirts and completely redesigned our website to reflect our new lineup and our new CD. Everything was coming together -- except my throat.

By Saturday morning I had a full-on sore throat. I gargled with echinacia and garlic and drank soup and slept all day. By late afternoon I decided I was all better and got ready for the gig. I put on my black jeans, black cowboy shirt and tuxedo jacket, filled up a duffel bag with T-shirts and hauled my gear over to the club. I was actually feeling pretty good by now, especially once I started setting up my equipment. We ran through a couple of songs as a sound check and we sounded great. Everyone was really psyched. When they opened the doors, we had a pretty good-sized crowd. In fact we packed the place. When we kicked into the first number, I felt great.

The show was amazing. Everything went as well as we could have hoped. The music was tight, the audience was awesome and we sold about 30 CDs. And somewhere during the course of the evening, a change occurred. What started out as a gig to hawk some CDs turned into a communal ritual of transformation. The music was flowing from the band to the audience and the energy of the audience was flowing back into the band and infusing the music with a kind of spiritual vibe. I was sick, I hadn't eaten all day, I was sweating gallons, I should have been in bed asleep, but something was keeping me going, making me aware of everything that was happening and allowing me to focus on what I was doing. Perhaps it was the fever. But it felt more like a surge of positive energy generated by the collective electricity of everybody in that room. The lines between the band, the music and the audience were erased and what resulted was a communal experience that elevated all of us to a state of inspired harmony. And all this without drugs.

They wouldn't let us leave the stage. We played all of the songs from the CD plus two new songs, plus one more song that our current bass-player-for-hire hadn't even rehearsed with us before. They gave us a standing ovation and stayed around to talk and buy CDs. It was the beginning of the Year of the Buzzard.

After the gig I met the band at Canter's Deli a for a late night breakfast and then finally dragged myself home and collapsed in bed. I was exhausted, but still wired with energy. It took a while to finally get to sleep. The next day I woke up sick again. I went into work on Monday feeling like I had swallowed a handful of razor blades. I went to the doctor and got some killer antibiotics, even though I am philosophically opposed to them. I went back home and back to bed.

We got a lot of positive feedback from the gig. The band is very psyched and everyone has ideas about what we should do next. We have another gig coming up in a few weeks and we are planning to sell more CDs and shirts there too. And of course we need to find a manager and a record company and book more gigs and learn more songs and find a permanent bass player... But all I could think about was sleeping.

I think this past year I must have burned myself out. My job was pretty stressful. The band went through a bunch of changes. And I wrote another screenplay and have now started working on two more at the same time. I had my yearly evaluation at work the other day and I got the usual comments about lack of prioritizing (I do what I think is important, not what they think is), lack of a sense of "urgency" about the job (I don't care), failure to submit administrative paperwork on time (also don't care), and failure to meet my billable hours requirement (I've been sick for the past three weeks). It occurred to me that this job is making me sick. I told them I'm going to need to take a long break pretty soon. I didn't tell them that it might be a permanent one.

I'm actually starting to feel better now, and I'm really looking forward to this year. One way or another, things are going to change this year. After so much time spent putting energy into the band, we actually have a product we can point to and give people and say "this is what we do." I believe that people will respond to it once they get a chance to hear it. If the concert we gave the other night is any indication, people are going to respond to it in a big way.

If you want, you can check out the website at There are a couple of links on there will take you to other sites (like MySpace) where we have some full-length samples you can listen to. We have to be ready for anything -- this is the Year of the Buzzard.