‘You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’
..sang Joni Mitchell.
Being forcibly ejected by COVID from my never-stopping 42 year roundabout of gigs tours TV shows and recording sessions has finally given me some perspective, some distance, the ability to contemplate a life and career largely spent on the road. 6 months without a gig after what seems like 42 years without a break. No foreseeable prospect of being back at it any time soon. I miss my musical mates, I miss the income, I miss the feeling of being on the road heading to a gig but more than all that, much more, I miss the experience of being on-stage, (or on-floor), in a club, arts centre, theatre or village hall playing to an audience between 50 and 300 in number. Warm-hearted appreciative kind folk who would shake my hand vigorously or hug me on their way out of the hall and tell me ‘I always feel better for seeing and hearing you’ or entreat ‘you will keep coming won’t you?’ thereby confirming that I’d done my job, fulfilled my self-defined role as a ‘lifter-of-spirits’ (I’d much rather it said that than ‘musician’ on my passport). I miss them with a palpable ache in the pit of my stomach and I fear for their future. Already some have been forced to the wall. Others will doubtless follow.
Now I’ve always valued them, these small gigs, and looked forward to being back at them when I’m away playing stadiums or concert halls with the stars who sometimes hire me, but lockdown has really blindingly face-smacked me with the realisation of their huge value and importance, they changed my world and shaped my career and I desperately hope they will survive, rise from the ashes and be there for future generations of young artists.