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The Wort Hotel, in Jackson, Wyoming, was the first place I began to play music and actually get paid for doing it. Years before, John Fahey and Leo Kottke had sat together on the same stage, under the same lights, playing music that would shape decades of guitarists. Playing there felt like sleeping with a textbook under your pillow, hoping to absorb something through osmosis.
That was in 1990, and after five years of living out of my van and playing shows in the western US and Canada, my hair is shorter and the lines on my face a bit deeper. I'm a single parent, working on a PhD, and I live in a town in Alaska that has no road access. I have a different approach now to writing and performing music. I no longer record CDs, as I want to reduce the waste headed to our landfills, and I don't charge money for my songs as a deliberate movement away from the bottom line that seems to govern so much of our daily lives.
Every now and then someone asks me how I am ever supposed to make a living as a musician when I don't make CDs and I give my songs away, since most performers make more money on sales than concert fees. I confess: I have no idea! Footsteps in the dark.
So I keep writing my songs, and I sing them when I play a show, and I give them away to anyone who wants them. My graduate work takes me to interesting places on rather short notice sometimes, and I try to plan concerts around that travel, although the short notice can make it difficult.
But if I don't make it to where you live, or even if I do, the Downloads page on my website is full of little digital penguins waiting to march their way across the world, leaving no footprints in the snow.
Posted on December 19, 2009 at 4:00 — 2 Comments