This is the home stretch; we are on I-70 bound to St. Louis, to BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups, one of our favorite venues from last January's tour. It is strange and fun to see the same places we last saw framed in the depths of winter now recast in summer's haze. Although we do stay in some fine hotels we also sometimes end up on floors and couches. Last January we all recall the wind whistling through old houses, thin blankets and ice and snow. Now, it's all sweat stains and no AC. Like always, touring is about extremes.
The best of the tour is up to debate, here in the van; Chicago American Music Fest at Fitzgerald's, Ottawa Blues Festival on the inside stage at the Canadian War Museum, the second night in NYC at The Rodeo Bar, taping a live show for XM radio in the swamp that is our nation's capital. Ont he other side of the scale is Williamsport, where nobody told the sound man that we were coming (despite our picture in the window), or last night's show in Terre Haute, where we played for about five hard core music lovers and against 50 or so drunk college kids. The music was good, the band kicked ass (as they always do), but the music was just another kind of noise to drink and breed by.
I think about this a lot. Without the endorsement of mass media, music (or any art) must compete with all other input, which includes all advertising. To the unprepared, uneducated and undefended mind, the tools of advertisers are well tuned to play upon our most vulnerable instincts. Self image, sexual repsonses, and desire are all manipulated to maxim effect with a surgeon's precision. Some of the best minds of our generation work over time to create desire, invoke a response, and get you to spend your money on whatever product paid them to pimp. Over time, in order to survive in this environment, we must develop a filter to protect us from this constant assault. Any art that you come into contact with must also deal with this filter, and I would like to think that the message that we are trying to communicate in our music is more complicated than a deodorant ad or beer commercial. And I don't want to have to tell you that you're stinky or need to get people drunk to get laid.
When we were monkeys living in the wild (and we were monkeys, still are, and God loves monkeys) in order to survive we depended on our senses to warn us of danger and to help us find food and other monkeys. The finer our senses were the better the chance we would survive. Now, if we are open to our environment and respond to all stimuli we encounter, we quickly spend all available money and end up living under an off ramp. We depend on our ability to discern what is good for us and what's not. But the media gets louder and louder, and we find its reach expanding every day, flashing lights at little monkeys, flat screens over urinals, computerized calls to cell phones, ads everywhere you can look. So, for millions of years we have honed our senses, but no longer! Now our survival depends on our filter, what will we allow ourselves to see?