Not long ago I wrote this article for the Inlander, Spokane's finest alternative newspaper.


Being In A Band In Spokane

What is it like being a musician in Spokane? Well for starters, it means you wont be living on Rockwood Boulevard any time soon. As a musician you are in the business of providing entertainment. And so you must compete with more conventional forms of entertainment, such as television, movies, hockey games, symphonies, dancing, gambling, cruising East Sprague, etc.. Therefore the number of people available to be entertained who would choose to listen to live music is small at best.

To compound the situation, most people who enjoy live music prefer to listen to songs they hear on the radio on the way to work or songs that were popular when they were in high school. If you are in a band that plays songs that do not fit these categories, then you are at a severe disadvantage, especially if you are not cute like Brittney Spears or the Backstreet Boys. In fact if you are performing unusual music in public, a casual observer will regard you with the same amount of enthusiasm that they would a large mechanical puppet singing on stage at Chuck E. Cheese. Contrary to popular belief, there are no large crowds of screaming teenagers in the audience and seldom does anybody throw money onto the stage. Also, Burger King refuses to market action figures of our band members.

Some people I know are surprised to learn that I play music in a band. Sometimes they buy a CD out of pity, perhaps. Sometimes they even listen to it.

I play for the Occasional String Band. We have released two CDs. The first one (Balding Men With Day Jobs) made our parents proud, since they always knew wed amount to something. Some people raised an eyebrow and said You did what? Our second CD (Grey Dust Hits) generated no noticeable reactions in human life forms at all.

So why do we do it?  Why do we rehearse obscure songs for hours and hours that were written by the band? Why do we spend countless hours coming up with thought provoking lyrics that hardly anybody will ever hear? Why do we perform difficult musical maneuvers that would pose a formidable challenge to even the most seasoned professional musicians? Why am I writing an article that hardly anybody will ever read? I do not know. But I do know that I need to sell two more CDs and then I can afford to put a new roof on my cardboard house.