The Feminists: These Days I Stare Back

We drove all day to get to Sault-Ste-Marie. We have been trying to force ourselves to cook our own food outside in the rain and wind instead of buying restaurant food. I care less and less about spending money to sit indoors and eat. So what if my greatest daily pleasure is a few cups of hot coffee and perhaps a bracing bowl of oatmeal? I don’t feel that guilty, even though I can’t really afford it. If it keeps me from bursting into tears of frustration and smiting my rhythm section, so much the better.
When the weather has been fine (i.e. not raining very hard) we have been enjoying Belland’s Breakfast Hash. Whereupon we fry thinly sliced potatoes with butter, paprika, salt, pepper, onions, sausage, eggs, and sometimes cheese together in two frying pans on our coleman stove. It’s very tasty, and goes good with hot coffee. We’ve started putting the tarp up whenever we cook, because it usually starts raining soon after we start chopping. There’s just enough room for all of us to stand ramrod straight shoulder to shoulder and eat furtively while the rain pounds and the wind blows. Such is the glamor of rock and roll.
We parked outside the club and made soup and hot dogs. People walked by and stared at us, but I am long past caring about what strangers think of us. These days I stare back until they drop their eyes and hurry onwards. To their warm houses with indoor plumbing and electricity.
I am losing faith. This is the sentence that pops into my mind whenever I am undistracted. I am losing faith. Not just in this tour, or this band. I am losing faith in music, in being a musician. What is the point of all this work? All of the training (and subsequent massive student loan debt), the years of my life spent alone with a piano practicing until my fingers were bruised or until I fell asleep at the keys, putting together a band, rehearsing, arranging, producing, recording, hustling for gigs, playing shows, the endless heavy lifting, scrambling for interviews, agents, promotion, marketing the band, sending out hundreds of cds and packages that get thrown in the garbage and ignored. And now, driving in the rain and cold day after day, getting sick, sleeping on a piece of plywood to receive the princely sum of $12.50 after (some) shows. I’ve been working hard at playing music for 10 years, and what do I have to show for it? Can I support myself financially from it? Nope. Do I have a place of my own? Do we sell records? Do we get paid to play shows? Does anybody listen to the songs? No. No. No. No.
Trevor, the guy who owns the Downbeat Lounge where we were playing, took us back to his house after meeting us at the club to load in and set up. We had time for showers and there was even wireless internet. Ferdy went back to the club early to hang out, even though he had a fever. Like I said, that guy has stamina. Soon enough it time to go and sit in another bar and watch drunk people interact.
The Downbeat Lounge has a very, very tiny little stage. It’s tucked into a corner right by the front door. It’s so small that Ferdy has to rock vertically in place and Keith can’t flail his arms around without taking one of us out. We played really well. It was a concentrated dose of rock and roll because we were jammed in so close together. Felt sort of like being in the van. The people were really into it, and for the first time the crowd left after we played, instead of before. There was a photographer running around taking pictures and Dan, the documentary filmmaker we met last year at the Downbeat was there filming us again.
After the show, we sold a couple of cds and collected our $40. Then we went downstairs with Dan and did another interview for his documentary. The Downbeat is closing down, so now Dan has an ending for his film. Too bad to see another live music venue in Canada bite the dust. Possibly it’s as frustrating owning a small club as it is trying to be a musician. Probably club owners do not sleep outside as often though. After a few hours of coughing on Trevor’s couch as quietly as possible so as not to wake my band and the other band crashing at his house, it was time to get up and make the drive to Sudbury.