Randy Granger

Randy Granger
In the Chihuahuan Desert near the Organ Mountains, New Mexico

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Dancing to keep the lights on. Illinois gig travelblog.

“I’m just one little Indian/Dancing to keep the lights on
One little Indian/Singing to light the sky
Just one little Indian/Dreaming of the old ways
One little Indian/Looking for the Red Road home”—Randy Granger

I’m back in New Mexico from a Midwest gig trip and appreciating the drier climate, bigger vistas and Green Chilie. This trip took me up to South Elgin, Illinois to perform at the World of Fairies Festival with stops in Oklahoma City, St. Louis and Albuquerque. Being a musician in the southwest USA means you travel quite a vast distance for paying gigs. In the Atlantic northeast area, west coast and some part of the south you can book shows where you only need to drive 90 miles to the next town and sometimes closer. It is about population density and out west cities are far apart meaning you cover hundreds of miles—ah the things we do for fans…

Having just completed a tour up to Wisconsin I wasn’t too excited about a repeat 23 plus hour drive but a traveling companion agreed to come along up until Bloomington, IL. It helped having someone to talk to and laugh at how there seems to be a black hole of time between Amarillo and Oklahoma City that slows down time. Maybe it is the largest cross in the Western Hemisphere along I-40 that warps the space/time fabric. Whatever it is it is one of the longest 260 miles known to human kind. St. Louis is quite nice. I stayed in the Soulard District with its brick buildings and streets. I imagined how St. Louis must have been so beautiful in its heyday. I will say it was so hot and humid there that the word sultry didn’t suffice. The next morning I walked over to take a photo of the Archway to the West the famous landmark. It was so smoggy that only the top of the Arch peeked above the haze giving a creepy, surreal quality to the morning. I-40 through Missouri has giant billboards about every twelve miles advertising XXX Video Arcades, Stores etc. They are invariably located next to churches with or without steeples. One XXX is right next to a billboard for a church and a giant Bowling Pin. We looked and looked for a bowling alley or something but didn’t see one. What the enormous bowling pin is doing there is still a mystery. The XXX Arcades usually adversities free trucker parking and have names like The Lion’s Den, Pleasure Palace and Big Louie’s Too. Too funny. I was in too much of a hurry to explore them further.

I did visit Abraham Lincoln’s tomb and his home in Springfield, IL. Climbing the stairs and gripping the same handrail he and his family touched was moving. He had so much weighing on him I imagined he paced quite a bit. His tomb is gracious, austere and understated. Much like the man.

The World of Faeries Festival was mostly beautiful people in as beautiful setting along the Fox River west of Chicago. People drifted along in canoes and the crowd was dressed up in costumes somewhere between pixies and Middle Earth. I met some really wonderful people including The Gypsy Nomads and Knotty Bits. I heard some excellent music and got a chance to see other performers which is always a wonderful privilege. My own sets went really well and I was just awed at times thinking I’m bringing my music, my stories, and my culture to people 1500 miles away. I debuted a new story I perform with Indian Buffalo Drum where I tell the story of how Wind brought the first flute to the people because he was lonely and didn’t have a voice. It was fun. Playing the Native American flute and Hang drum for total strangers and winning them over is a tremendous amount of work and also a real honor. If there had been more people in attendance I would have sold many more CD’s—enough to cover the new Struts my car needs….yikes.

Such is the life of a working musician. We need to be paid for the work, investment, energy, rehearsing, preparation, travel etc. that we put into our act. We bring an intangible quality to venues. What we need from venues is to advertise and get the word out as much as possible. I usually send out my own press before gigs but the promoters get touchy about that so I stopped doing that. I’m not complaining about any one in particular mind you, just some thoughts in general that the outdated adage of “Well at least you made enough for gas money..” line we’ve all heard from bar owners for years is an attitude that leads to mediocrity and lack of professionalism. It’s like me saying well there weren’t many people out there so I just gave 40%. You know what I mean? Hey 2 or 2000 I’m giving all I got regardless. I, like many others, work really really hard to make sure when you come to my show that hopefully something transcendent will happen. You know, those moments when we all feel connected and know that an unseen inspiration is at work through this unlikely goof on stage. That requires a commitment and willingness on my part to get out of the way and bring all my training, gifts, talents and inspiration into focus and give give give everything. It is hard work. It is exhilarating and draining and it what I do everyday. And sometimes I make enough for gas money and sometimes I don’t…….ha ha ha. There is a line from one of my songs that goes, “Are you one of those legendary souls/Who hears God’s whispers?/I said I really do not know/Right now I’m living at my sisters….oh oh oh.”

Here is a video of various people dancing and a fire eater I made between sets. I love any festival where people feel free enough to dance. The song is Hang Jig from my 2008 release The Roswell Incident.

Be Well and thank you for reading these blogs.


1 comment:

Valerie Meachum said...

Hello from "Larkspur the purple fairy"! :-D Happened across this post from a Google Blogs search.

I wish I could have just sat and listened more, but duty called! At one point I had a great time dancing in a ring with the gaggle of little girls in your video. Of your other dancers, the two guys were fellow cast members, and the tribal belly dancers were local friends of mine. So this really brought a smile to my face!

Thanks for traveling so far to add your wonderful sounds to the weekend!