Making Music in the 21st century, you gotta be pure and you gotta not care about success. There are simply too many great musicians doing great stuff out there. And there are so many ones who don’t really cut the cake who make it to the place where they get to eat it and have it both ways. I’ve listened to musicians in Ireland, Cuba, Japan who blow away anything on the big stages now, but they are respectively playing in little pubs for a pint, on the street for a dime, or actually paying a club for the space to which they have to drag their own friends as audience. In Japan the number of truly talented musicians is staggering. The Pagans recently played at the Takastuski Jazz Street where we have played for the last 5 years. And not getting our favored spot, 8pm, we happily settled for 5pm at Bird, so we could enjoy some of the hundreds of bands. The festival boasts 600 bands playing on 40 different stages over two days. Like most Jazz festivals there’s a lot of bend to allow for bands like, well like the Pagans, who touch on Jazz the way a lot of 60s bands did, via blues, roots. There are funk bands, gospel, Dixie, blues, bluegrass, big band, swing, and jazz standards, acid jazz, gypsy, jumpy, scat bebop and just jazz. Solos, duos, trios, quartets, quintets, I swear I even saw quintuplets. While the streets sadly aren’t closed to traffic, they are full of people; the entrance fees are free, and the beer is plenty. People are happy. The music goes from sloppy to divine to down right brilliant. No one is paid. But we are singing our hearts out and there is a electric happiness in the air. The electricity of appreciation and hearts happy with the energy of music played for music’s sake. And most of these musicians will return to day jobs. They prostitute themselves for survival, but their music is pure and their talent is expansive and ever expanding. It’s hard in this day and age with never ending influx of information, contact with everyone around the world, to keep centered in self, to keep clear and believe in your self in the face of infinite competition. The only way, and it doesn’t matter what you do, but the key is don’t compete. Just do what you love to do. Do it your best and don’t worry about the rest. Oh listen for new ideas, keep open, support other musicians, but find your thread, and follow it into the labyrinth. Get in touch with your beast, your minotaur. Don’t slay it. Treat it well. Bring it out with you. Harness its strength! Let it sing its heart out through your lungs. Let it bellow. Look at the sorrow in Picasso’s minotaur. Sing that sorrow. Sing your truth, no matter how hidden and dark. Bring it to the light so it need no feed on negativity. Kept inside it festers and sprouts in an ugly way, like a catholic priest’s sexuality. Use song to purify yourself. That’s what I do, I sing to purify the darkness I see all around, to cleanse the world. I hope my songs help to clear your head and heart. Listen deep.

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