Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fame: An Essay On My Fifteen Minutes

Just last Wednesday (March 9, 2011), the following picture of my long-time bandmate, Judy Musleh, and myself appeared in our local paper, the Regina Leader-Post
(Roy Antal/photographer).

And here is the accompanying article on our band, The Grand Trunk Troubadours.

Regina's 'community-service band'



The Grand Trunk Troubadours aren't your average band.

"It's not like on a Friday, I'm phoning a couple band members to go partying," said 59-year-old band member Neil Child.

The band is comprised of eight musicians who play at local retirement homes and hospitals, like the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre.

They get together in September each year, practise on Thursdays for a month, and start playing gigs each Thursday from October until midJune.

"We set up in a common area, do sound check and give 'er," said Child, who has done "hundreds of gigs."

"We're not professional musicians," he said. "It's self-serving and it's what we give to the community."

The "community-service band" got started eight years ago. Child said they mainly play 1960s rock and '60s to '90s folk music.

It wasn't always smooth sailing for the band. The first few years were "nerve-racking," said Child.

"You don't know what to expect," he said. "You don't know how to behave or what to say to the crowd."

Child said the first while was spent begging for gigs, but now lots of places are approaching the band to play for their clients. Child said the band is booked right up and the work they do benefits both parties.

"It's very self-serving," he said. "But at the same time, they appreciate it."

Child, a guidance councillor at Cochrane High School by day, sings and plays a 12-string guitar and banjitar, a type of banjo with six strings (a regular banjo has four or five).

The band has vocalists, fiddlers, hand and box drummers and guitar players.

Child said he has received lots of praise and the calls for performances keep coming in. He said people line up after "concerts" and tell the band they're awesome.

"Nobody has ever said we sucked," said Child with a laugh.

"It is altruistic in a sense," he added. "But it is also very selfish of me to be able to do this. I am in a band and I can play whatever songs I want and I can go wherever I want, whenever I want."

© Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post

*Fellow buskers, it is with a kind of conscious awkward oblivion (referring to world crises, especially in Libya and Japan at the moment), and a blushed humility that I am writing my blog entry for this week. *

Immediately following this Wednesday morning edition, I've had praise from friends in the music community, former and present colleagues at work, and other folks just wanting to book our band. (We have even been contracted for a Fall television production!)

And so, fellow buskers, a reminder that during your off season, such gigs as described above, can be fillips of joy and stimulation to many shut-ins, seniors, and selves on Wint'ry nights. Performing in such venues (retirement communities and hospitals) is a constant reminder that life is ephemeral, the lesson being, fellow buskers -- Make music while you can!

Thank-you, Taylor Shire, for such a well-written and well-received newspaper article.
And thank-you, Taylor Shire & Roy Antal, for giving me my fifteen minutes!

In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes
(Andy Warhol). In my mostly middle-class and misadventure world, I was last Wednesday, famous for fifteen minutes.

Many people die with their music still in them (Oliver Wendell Homes) ...

I hope not to be one of them!

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