This "news" page normally offers some events that I am excited to share and some info on what I am cooking up. These are particularly difficult times for the full-time musician and the experience has been something we never imagined could take place. Many musicians, like myself, have chosen to explore different ways to make some money. Playing music is not exactly easy, but once you know how to do it and communicate with an audience it's not so difficult. Being a handyman is a lot different.
I spent some time helping my friend Les replace siding on his house. Installing siding is easy, actually. The hard part is dealing with what is BEHIND the siding. In an old New Orleans house you never know what is back there until you get into it. Sometimes the wood behind the siding is rotten, sometimes it is uneven and crooked, and sometimes, as we discovered, there is nothing back there at all! Working with Les I also came to appreciate the clouds and sudden storms that turn up in the hottest part of the summer day. You may have to scramble to gather up tools and materials, but the drop in temperature makes it all worthwhile!
I also did some work at my in-laws' house in River Ridge. I shoveled a lot of dirt in the back yard, hung some doors, replaced a faulty breaker in the electrical panel, repaired some fencing, and got into some painting. Fixing a roof was a real thrill because I had never done roof work before. Thanks YouTube!
When you replace someone's disposal or hang a ceiling fan for someone, they often act as if you have done something amazing. I am so lucky to have a dad who knows how to do these things. I didn't always pay attention when he tried to teach me how to do fix things, but he showed me how to approach things with a methodical and curious mind. He says there "is an art" to everything, and a tool for everything.
This summer I bought a pressure washer to clean patios and driveways. I trimmed trees with a pole saw, and built a custom closet in a luxurious apartment. I surprised myself by successfully floating wallboard in a twelve-foot ceiling. People often ask me if I miss playing music. I certainly miss playing for people but much of my joy comes from making people happy with my work, and doing home improvements was rewarding in a similar way. There are lots of people who need someone to help with their houses and most contractors don't want to accept such small jobs. I went to a retired man's house just to replace the bulbs in his kitchen light. It meant a lot to him because he didn't feel safe climbing up a ladder. I ran into to problems with scheduling, when one job took longer than expected and it upset people who were waiting for me to get to their projects.
Being out of work has been driving musicians crazy. I get emotional when I go to the French Quarter and see the music venues shut down. I pray for the business owners who are trying to pay bills when they can't even open their doors.
I always wondered what my life would have been like if I had not chosen to be a musician. The answer is that I have many gifts, some I didn't even realize I had. Some musicians I know have left town to pursue something different. It is probably a good thing. Learning to perform takes more training, time, and dedication than most non-musical jobs require. Putting that kind of effort into other types of work is more rewarding. Many musicians better than me struggled to feed their families even when times were good. Now even successful musicians are learning that there is very little security in being an artist. I hope my friends who are changing careers find prosperty and job security, maybe even paid vacations and sick days!
Now I have decided to work for Pelican Paint Group. My job will be to meet with potential customers and create proposals based on their painting needs. I loved not having to dress up and making my own schedule, but sooner or later I fear I'm going to fall off a ladder, make a costly I mistake, or chop off my fingers in the saw. I'm fine with negotiating with people and then letting a very talented crew come in and do the job right. Don't fear that I am giving up music! I am excited to return to Bourbon Street and Fritzel's . I am also looking forward to having evenings free with Anita and enjoying weekends camping with my kids. Like I said, we never imagined this could happen. Now I am using this time to imagine a more balanced, smarter, and more dependable life. We all can use some life planning, and I hope when this is over, you too might discover new things you can do and apply the lessons you have learned to realize your own dreams.