Thursday, October 20, 2011

Too Long, Blues Junior, Craigslist, Connections

It has been too long since I posted, yet my totally lame explanation is that I started a new job and I'm trying to ensure that I don't lose said job.  In case you weren't aware, we are in a global recession.  Being unemployed means you're in deep trouble these days.  Three of my best friends - including two current band members and one former - have been laid off in just the last few months.  Two other current band mates are back in school at night to learn new skills - to add value to their resume and show their employer they are valuable employees who are serious about their future. 

My new job entails, among other things, learning how to run a fairly complex software system which is used to forecast performance in a loan portfolio.  The better I do my job, the better able my employer is to lend money to people who need it.  At least, that is what I tell myself.

As Grandmaster Flash once said,

It's all about money
Ain't a damn thing funny
You gotta have a con
In this land of milk and honey

So don't go getting high and mighty on me.  I am doing what I gotta do to make sure my wife and 3 kids can eat, can have a roof over their heads, and can live with a relative sense of comfort and security.  If the whole world comes crashing down, well I'll deal with that as it comes and trust God has my back.  I find the Sermon on the Mount to be most comforting when despair sets in... Take Mathew 6 for example.  In verses 26-29, Jesus says,

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
In other words, Let Go and Let God.  So that's what I try to do when it comes to worrying.  Just give it up to God.  God gave me my talent; God gave me my wife, and my children too.  As my wise Capuchin confessor Brother Ron has said to me, "God got you this far."  Letting go isn't easy.  But I'm trying. 
I allowed myself a treat upon getting the new job.  I wanted to get a new amplifier.  For the last 10+ years, I have used a 1975 Fender Twin Reverb, which weighs about 70-80 lbs.  Many a night I have hauled that thing up and down wet fire-escape stairs at various venues.  And being that it is so old, it behaves like an old woman.  By the end of gigs, it coughs out notes like a chain-smoker after a jog around the track.  So the time has come.
First I looked at a Vox AC15, and found one for $500.  But those are made in China.  A big no-no there.  The British made ones are over $1200 each.  Too much money.  Then I looked at the Orange.  They look cool, but who uses those?  So I settled in on a Fender Blues Junior.  My friend Kieran turned me on to BillM, a real electronics pro who has a famous website showing folks how to upgrade Blues Juniors so they achieve much better tone with more power while keeping the convenience & light weight.  So I priced it out.  A new Blues Junior runs $500, and the standard BillM mods are about $200.  Total $700. 
Then, my friend Sam Starr heard I was in the market for a Blues Junior and turned me on to a Craigslist posting.  Some guy who likes to tinker posted his Fender Blues Junior, which he had just completed BillM mods for, at $300.  So of course I just saved myself $400 by picking one up.  It sounds amazing - I can't wait to use it next Friday at the next gig. 
I think that in the new era we are entering, friendships - connections - are becoming so important.  I got my new job because a friend I know works there, and six months ago she and her husband were over for dinner.  I told her I was desperate to get out of my job because my company had been sold and I would probably lose my job.  She said she'd help.  Six months later, someone asked her if she knew anyone who could do this job, and she gave them my name.  Now I'm here.  The guy who hired me used to work on the same floor as me - over 9 years ago. 
Everything in life, for me, seems to come down to friendships and developing a large network of people you can trust in all walks of life.  Whether it's a plumber you can trust to fix your overflowing toilet and not totally rip you off, or the mechanic to change your brake pads and actually replace them with new ones, or your booking agent who gives you a great gig and makes sure to get you that nice bar tab comp'd, or your doctor who decides not to prescribe you a drug because he thinks your body will heal itself.  If you want to survive, you have to take care of this. 
Two days ago I met a woman from a marketing firm who I used to work with at the company I just left.  She brought a guy with her who she works with now.  It was essentially a networking lunch - they do business with my company, and we were just getting to know each other.  Turns out the guy lives in Philly and plays in a band (I think called the Tall Boys).  In addition, he is personal friends with the owner of the Princeton in Avalon, NJ.  His band plays there all summer long.  So he says he will introduce me to her and help us get summer gigs.  Can you believe this?  It felt like Christmas Day when he told me.  I've been trying to crack the Avalon bars for 10 years and got nothing.  My parents have a house there so the band has a place to stay.  Suddenly I meet the right person and I'm in - those will be the band's highest-paying gigs by far.  They regularly pay bands $1000+ down there.  Connections...
Mahalo ;=~

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