Low End/Ren Pen Hybrid Post: Gig Report – J.O.B. @ The Pour House, 9/15/2012

Originally I was going to save the ‘Red Pen’ designation for posts that had something to do with the craft of editing. I’m still finding my way in that endeavor, and I’m not really ready to delve into commentary on it yet, so I’m changing things up. I’ll now be using the ‘Red Pen’ heading as a heads-up that something is irritating me and I’m going to get good and bent out of shape about it for a) your entertainment and b) my own catharsis. With that in mind, I give you…

An Introduction to Event Planning and Management By Way of Counter-Example

I must beg my readers’ pardon as I diverge from my normal linear style of reporting for a bit. It is my earnest hope that the details of last Saturday night shall be revealed in the process of the perusal of this guide, itself intended to edify and illuminate.

Part I: In which we discuss the duties and responsibilities of the venue…

Dear Sir or Madam, I see you have entered the field of event management! Congratulations! Yes, I know you merely sought to purchase a bar and capitalize on our nation’s eerie fascination with communal viewing of sporting contests, but in making the decision to also feature live music, you have, in effect, become an Event Planner. Concerned? Fear not, for I have over a decade of experience in this very thing. Let us dissect your most recent efforts and see what might be learned.

  • You decided to reserve tables for a party to watch the LSU game? Spot on! Recognizing an event that is likely to be a draw and planning for significant attendance is a shrewd business decision.
  • You booked a band for the same night…and the two large TVs upon which the LSU game will be broadcast are, in fact, on stage? Excellent! I can think of no conflict resulting from this. Surely the spectators of said football contest will tire of the droll sportscaster commentary and will appreciate a musical accompaniment to their viewing.
  • You specified a load-in time close enough to kickoff to guarantee that all the reserved tables (in front of the stage) would be filled to capacity with both fans and their children? Well done again! What better way to foster friendly banter between sports fans and band members maneuvering cartloads of equipment from trailer to stage?
  • You want both the opening band and headliner to wait until the game is over before playing? Capital idea, sir! Zero overlap between entertainments means the party can, as the kids, say, go all night long. I’m sure the bands won’t mind starting a few hours late and/or cutting down their set lists as necessary. Nor will their fans, who arrived prior to the originally designated start time, mind cooling their heels.
  • You scheduled precisely one-half of the number of servers needed to effectively maintain prompt order and distribution of drinks and foodstuffs? Superb! Customers and staff alike will appreciate the air of frantic excitement and anticipation.

Top marks all around! But the success of any event is determined by all the participants, so let us turn our attention to those other necessary, but no less important, components.

Part II: In which I clarify some shit for everyone else…

For parents, sports fans, and other customers:

  • Know that I am making every effort to create as little interruption to the enjoyment of your evening as possible. I have no problem setting up the stage during commercials and stoppages of play and/or crawling across the stage while running cable so as to maintain a clear sightline for you. In turn, I might ask that you make even the slightest effort to get the fuck out of the way when I and my bandmates are loading in a bunch of heavy, unwieldy shit. This speaker cabinet is getting to the stage whether it goes past you or through you. Your choice.
  • About those speakers: they’re heavy! And instruments are expensive. Yes, I know the stage also doubles as a putting green and there’s even an assortment of golf balls for your children to play with, but seriously parents, now is not the time for your rambunctious spawn to occupy the stage. Let us set all this stuff up and get these potentially hazardous cables taped down and then your children will be more than welcome to not come anywhere near it.
  • And to the dear lady who beckoned me over during the second song of our opening band’s set, placed a hand on either side of my head, and patiently explained that it was necessary to turn the instruments down and the vocals up to facilitate proper comprehension of the lyrics, I thank you for pointing out such an obvious solution. Do call on your vast reserve of live sound reinforcement experience again and point out where one may find the volume knob on a drum set.

Which brings me to…

For gigging musicians:

  • If you’re the opening band and you arrive before the headliner, please hold off on setting up until the headliner gets there unless you’ve made other arrangements beforehand. This can save a lot of extra effort if stuff has to be shuffled around. If there’s room to bring your stuff in and store it offstage until everyone arrives, by all means, go for it, but otherwise, please leave it in the car for now.
  • If you’re a guitarist and you want people to hear all the lovely things you’re playing, do not cut all the midrange from your sound with your equalizer. I know that sounds awesome when you’re three feet in front of your amp, but here’s what happens in the intervening distance between your amp and the audience: The low end gets swallowed by the kick drum and bass guitar and the high end is eaten up by the cymbals. I can put some midrange back in with the EQ on the PA, but it’s always preferable to start with a more balanced signal.
  • Drummers: In a small it may not be practical or even possible (depending on time and equipment constraints) to mic up your whole kit. What this means is that I, as the sound man, have no way to adjust your volume.  If you overpower the rest of the band  I can turn everyone else up, but only so much the acoustics of a smaller room start raising feedback concerns. If I ask you to dial it back a bit and you tell me ‘sorry, I can’t help it’ what I hear is ‘I don’t care enough about being part of a group to work on my own dynamics.’ Not to worry, I’m sure there are plenty of gigging opportunities for solo drummers who play too loud.

And Finally…For the Sound Person:

  • Gain and Pan are two different things. Do not confuse these knobs.
  • Be cognizant of your own familiarity with the music you’re mixing. If I’ve heard a song enough times I have a tendency to treat the vocals like a melody and mix them accordingly, which doesn’t necessarily translate into intelligibility. Not every person in the audience will have heard these songs before. In fact, if everyone has done their job and the stars have aligned, hopefully there will be a lot of new people in attendance. Make sure the vocals are forward enough in the mix to be intelligible.

In Sum

By and large, restaurant owners are not event planners. That’s not a slight, it’s just a simple fact. Event planning is a whole field unto itself. I know because I was part of that industry for almost a decade. It’s left me with higher expectations, but also the understanding that not everyone has the wherewithal or the inclination to become an expert. In the end, you just roll with it and do what you can to make things better the next time around. Saturday night was a first-rate cock-up, but nobody died, and we got to play our music. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

See you next time.

-J.

Low End: Gig Report – J.O.B. @ The Camel, 8/15/2012

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I suffer from chronic  depression and sometimes find it difficult to prop myself up enough to accomplish anything productive. We all have our struggles. That just happens to be the one I pulled out of the sorting hat. Perhaps I’ll start a new blog to chronicle the ins and outs of my ups and downs.

Now, about the gig. This was a little out of our normal wheelhouse,  a midweek slot opening up for Indianapolis-based band The Last Good Year, who are currently on tour and were swinging through Richmond. The Camel has its own PA and sound person, and we’d use most of TLGY’s backline (drums and bass amp, for those unfamiliar with the jargon of live sound). Guitarists are notoriously picky and often have a relationship with their amplifiers that borders on the disturbing, so we’d bring J.C.’s guitar rig, including his pedalboard, which, if you put legs on it, would easily accommodate six for dinner.

In short, an easy low-risk, low-reward, hi-fun gig. Wednesday nights are traditionally a tough sell, but if a band is coming through the area anyway, it makes sense to book something and hope for a little extra income than to write the day off completely.

Upon our arrival the guys in TLGY asked if we wouldn’t mind if they opened and we closed. They’d been driving the night before and up early for an appearance on a local Richmond morning show and were, in a word, exhausted.

Not a problem.

Road-weary or not, the lads of TLGY accomplished something very difficult: they played a tight, energetic set to a crowd they almost outnumbered. A crowd gives off an energy, whether they like you or not, and even if it’s a negative vibe, you can still channel that into your performance. An empty room just sucks all the energy you put out and gives nothing back, so kudos to Joe, Josh, Darren and Steve for turning in a killer set. Also, Steve currently looks a little like Ron Swanson, which studies show makes you 36% more awesome than comparable un-Swanson-esque bassists.

After a quick changeover we got up there and did our thing. I felt a little off my game, but the double-edged sword of being a bassist is that it usually takes a clam of truly monumental proportion for anyone to really notice. The folks in attendance had good things to say, as did the guys of TLGY, so it goes down as a success in my book. I wish TLGY all the best on the rest of their tour and hope we cross paths again.

Tech Notes: The Camel has evolved a bit since I last played there a few years back. They have an actual stage now and the neighbors didn’t call the cops to complain about the noise, so…win-win. The stage is small, and enclosed on three sides, so sound tends to get channeled forward and I felt like the drums were pretty far in the background, even though I was standing only a few feet away. That could speak more to the monitor mix than the acoustics of the stage, but my overall impression was of feeling disconnected from my bandmates. Still, it was workable and it’s nice to have an actual stage.

Bass Notes: Steve was kind enough to let me use his Ampeg stack. I’ve never been a huge Ampeg fan, though the name is virtually  synonymous with rock bass. I’ve always found the tube-head-into-sealed-back-8×10-cabinet to be a bit muddy, but it has certainly gotten the job done for generations of bassists. Having the cab rest directly on a hollow platform stage is a recipe for boom and/or mud as the stage effectively becomes a giant passive subwoofer, so I turned the Bass EQ down a bit to keep the low end from roaring too much. I thought the overall sound was a little harsh, particularly in the mids, but in my experience that kind of sound rounds out nicely by the time it blends with everyone else and reaches the audience. And I didn’t have to cart it around, which was a major plus, so thank you again, Steve, for letting me plug in to your rig.

I used my Benavente 5-string again, and I’m on the fence. It’s a beautiful instrument and it sounds great, but the 35″ scale might be more than I’m comfortable with. I’m sure I could get my hands used to it over time, but with so many great 34″ scale basses on the market, I don’t know that I really need to retrain my fingers, particularly when my other bass, the beloved Stambaugh fretless, is a 34″ scale. We’ll see.

Low End: Gig Report: J.O.B. @ The Pour House, 6/16/2012

I meant to get this out the morning after the gig, before my wife and I left on our first vacation in about ten years, but obviously that didn’t happen, probably because the morning after any gig I’m usually going on about three hours of sleep and am rarely good for anything more labor intensive than drooling on myself. It’s a big Internets, I’m sure you were able to find a suitable distraction in my absence.

Now then…back to business:

Roughly twenty minutes west of the center of Richmond lies the testament to suburban sprawl and white flight known as Short Pump. It’s the kind of generic 21st Century Anytown that could be picked up and dropped (preferably from a great height) just about anywhere in America and fit right in. It’s convenient and affordable with all the character of a shiny new mini-van. I tend to think of it as a wasteland of chain…well…everything, but the slightly less pretentious side of me does acknowledge that it’s not without its redeeming qualities; the first and foremost of which is…parking. Richmond proper has a number of charming and often historic buildings which seem to have been designed to foil working musicians in the same way that Washington, DC was laid out to repel an invasion by land. It’s not as bad as some of the more major metropolitan areas, where one is usually dependent upon taxi or public transportation, neither of which lend themselves to the transportation of a full PA system, but parking the trailer and loading in up a few flights of stairs in the middle of the dinner rush isn’t without its challenges.

The Pour House, on the other hand, was pretty painless. Nestled in the middle of a one-story strip mall, it presented to parking challenges, and there were even some folks on hand to help us with the gear. I especially want to thank the guys from opening band The SeeDZ for lending a hand when they had all of their own stuff to load in as well.

The interior of the Pour House is…uninspiring, as if the owners aren’t sure of their concept for the restaurant. There’s a bit of sports junk on the walls, and a couple of TVs over the stage (which itself doubles as a putting green), but I would think any serious fanatic would prefer the mult-screen madness of somewhere like Buffalo Wild Wings. With a clever name like “The Pour House” I was hoping for an interesting selection of beer.

Nope. Standard bar offerings. And if you’re thinking the food was the saving grace, well, let’s just say Guy Fieri won’t be featuring this place on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives anytime soon.

I like to support local businesses, in the same way that I like to support local music, but if you’re putting out a substandard product in either case, I’m not going to endorse it just because it’s local. That’s not how this works.

If you advertise, say,  a burger it should be as good or better than what I can make at home. The staff was super nice, and the manager was very excited to have us back in a few months, but I don’t think the place will last that long without some kind of clear direction.

All of which has nothing to do with our gig, but as someone who is a) a bit of a foodie and b) starting his own business, I’m noticing I tend to evaluate every establishment we play against the other offerings out there in terms of quality and sustainability.

The gig itself was a blast. The SeeDZ have a ton of energy, a tight set, and enough patience not to rain down fury upon my head for improperly labeling my mic inputs so it took me a minute and a half into their opener to get the lead vocals up to an audible level.

We’ve gotten into the habit of just playing one extended set instead of multiple sets with breaks, and I think we’re hitting our stride. Tempos were consistent, transitions were clean, and though there are a few tunes I think we could stand to rotate out in order to better balance the set dynamically, that’ll come as we write more songs.

The post-show improv jam that has become something of a staple for Antonio, JC and I was a lot of fun. I love playing bass under well-constructed songs, but I also enjoy the chance to throw random ideas out to the guys in a live setting and see what sticks. It’s something we do purely for our own indulgence, but people seem to dig it, and that’s always a bonus.

Tech Notes: For all that I’ve criticized the Pour House, the interior configuration actually makes for a decent acoustic space. I had a few folks who have seen us multiple times tell me they could hear the vocals more clearly this time around, and I wasn’t doing anything dramatically different from the normal corrective EQ and a pinch of compression on the vocals.

I cannot overemphasize the need to watch one’s stage volume. In a small room like the Pour House, there’s the very real possibility that I’ll reach a point where I’ve pulled the faders all the way down on a given instrument, but because the amp is turned up so loud, the overall mix is still unbalanced. And at that point, there’s not a whole lot I can do mid-song.

Bass Notes: This was my first gig with my new (to me) 5-string, made by Chris Benavente of Benavente Guitars & Basses, and I think you’ll be hearing a lot more of it. I’ve been concentrating mostly on fretless bass for a while,  and I still rely primarily on my Stambaugh fretless 5 in the studio, but in a live setting where I’m singing and playing at the same time it’s just much easier to play fretted for now. There’s also a particular clarity and attack to the notes on a fretted bass that I can really get into, and the Benavente has that in spades. I’ll post a full review once I’ve had a bit longer to get to know it.

Low End: Gig Report – J.O.B. @ The Republic, 5/19/2012

A really good, thorough journalist would research the location at the corner of West Broad and North Allison streets and find out what was there before The Republic Restaurant and Bar. But a brief Google search didn’t turn up any answers, nor did a cursory review of their blog going back to June 2011, so in lieu of proper research, I’m just going to assume whatever was there before wasn’t important or iconic enough to warrant mention, which saves me the trouble of coming up with a clever intro tying the old into the new.

The J.O.B. played there this past Saturday night. Our show was almost derailed by an accidental double booking, which is a fairly common occurrence on the bar and restaurant circuit. These are small local businesses and having a dedicated booking manager just isn’t a luxury most are either willing or able to afford. It’s irritating. No one likes loading the trailer and then arriving at the venue only to find a couple of fat dudes playing Jimmy Buffet covers – itself an unappealing concept even if one hasn’t just spent an hour loading the trailer – because the owner’s nephew (the guy who will be working the door and most likely skimming off your take) was too lazy to find a Post-It note. That kind of disrespect should ideally be met with swift and merciless retribution of the lay-waste-and-salt-the-earth-in-your-wake variety, but in reality all you can do is accept it as a known risk and follow up early and often with whomever is handling booking.

Booking issues aside, the Republic easily rates as my new favorite place to play. Here’s why:

  1. Load-in. Right next to the stairs to the stage is a door to the street. Pull up, drop the ramp (nothing says Big Damn Rock Star like double parking the trailer), and head right in. No wheeling your gear through a minefield of tables, chairs and patrons. Oh, and about those stairs? There are all of four, maybe five. Or you could remove the railing from the front of the stage and just hand your gear up.
  2. The stage. As in, there’s an actual stage. It’s not huge, but it’s big enough to accommodate our four-piece band comfortably. More importantly, it’s a dedicated space for the band, so unlike at, say, Bison Crazy Legs, you’re not going to get there and find a half-dozen tables and chairs and maybe a pool table that needs to be moved before you can load in. And because it’s a good four feet off the ground, it’s unlikely that Drunky McFratboy is going to take a break from trying to roofie his date to go pick up your guitar.
  3. The sound. Not only is there a good sound system with monitors and subs, but there’s also a lovely fellow called Ricky Tubb to set it up and run it for you. As the resident sound person in the band, it’s nice to be able to sit back and just be the bass player. Having a house guy behind the board means he’s familiar with the room and what it sounds like and what might need to be tweaked from the point of EQ to keep things clear and balanced. And let’s not overlook not having to load a few hundred pounds of PA gear in and out of the trailer. That’s luxury.

There a some other nice things about the Republic as well that have nothing to do with being part of the band playing there. The staff is nice and the food is a cut above normal bar fare. I’d prefer a bit more garlic with my side of broccolini, but I’m not sure the guys who have to share the stage with me would agree. The ratio of gnocchi to shrimp in Jason’s order was a little heavy on the gnocchi side, and I have mixed feelings about a potato pasta with shrimp, but that didn’t stop me from finishing his plate for him. If nothing else, it’s nice to see a bar being more ambitious with their menu while keeping the prices reasonable.

As per usual, our good friend Santiago Prada opened for us, and also as per usual, he sounded great.

Our set was solid and the mix on stage was blissfully clear and even. The audience was a subdued crowd and beyond a few familiar faces, one made up mostly of random patrons. This isn’t an uncommon occurrence, particularly on a Saturday night in May when there’s a whole lot of stuff going on around the city. Should this happen, here’s the mantra you need to keep chanting in the back of your head the entire night: just because they’re not screaming doesn’t mean they’re not listening. Maybe they are, and maybe they aren’t, but as long as they’re not actively booing you, assume positive intent. Do what you came there to do and avoid at all costs the temptation to force a response by playing louder, faster, harder, etc. That never works. Ever. It’s worth far more to me to end the night knowing that I’ve represented the band and myself as a musician honestly and accurately.

Which is, in fact, exactly what we did.

See you at the next gig,

J:

Tech notes: Most stages are basically big hollow boxes that have a tendency to trap low frequencies and clutter up your sound with what is often described as either ‘mud’ or ‘boom.’ If you’re playing without PA reinforcement this can turn into a kind of dull, low-frequency roar onstage since you have to play at a higher volume. As we had great PA support, I could run my amp at a much more reasonable level. I also normally stick my cabinets on an Auralex riser pad that decouples the cabs from the stage, so that helped, and any remaining boom I was able to mitigate with a narrow EQ cut around 40hz.  If you don’t have a bunch of fancypants equipment like I do you can stick your cabs on a chair, roll off the bass knob on your amp just a little, and boost your mids just a smidge. No, you won’t be able to feel your fillings vibrate, but on the plus side, the audience has a better chance at actually hearing you. And for the love of all that is sweet and holy, if you have one of those ‘enhancer’ controls that adds bass and treble while cutting mids, do not, under any circumstances, turn it up.

Along those same lines, if your amp has a DI, be sure to set it to pre-EQ if you have the option. This keeps the DI signal from being affected by your EQ settings so you can tailor your sound for the stage and let the sound engineer handle how it sounds in the house. A two-minute conversation with the board op before a show to discuss how you want to sound will yield much better results than feeding him/her a signal he/she will just have to re-EQ down the line. If your bass has an active EQ circuit, try to go easy on the on-the-fly adjustments as that signal will be routed right to the PA, and as a soundman myself, I can tell you that the quickest remedy for that in a live situation is just to pull your whole fader down a few points.

Low End: Grinding the Stone

In college, I had the opportunity to study Zen Judo with a brilliant and kind teacher named  Keo Cavalcanti, and of the many bits of wisdom I took away from those sessions, the one that has stuck with me the most in the years following has been “don’t try to dye your white belt orange the night before you’re scheduled to test.”

Mind you, being the only student to ever achieve the illustrious rank of “Peach Belt” does have a certain amount of cache to it, but not as much as you might think.

The second thing that has stuck with me is a simple phrase, often a refrain at the end of a tough workout: Some days you polish the stone, and some days you grind the stone.

A sculptor has to grind the stone before he/she can refine and polish it. The trick is remembering that both steps are equally positive and valuable…one is just a lot less glamorous. We see this every day, but don’t always acknowledge the complementary value. We focus on those days when the world is our oyster and we fly through tasks with seemingly effortless mastery, while writing off the other days, when getting out of bed ranks as an achievement, and any progress we make seems to be accompanied by a grizzled drill sergeant behind us bellowing “hold the line!” as we scramble for purchase on a rain-slick muddy hill.

Determined effort begets progress…sometimes we just need to broaden our understanding of ‘progress.’

I’ve brought up this metaphor in virtually every musical experience I’ve been in since college. It comes in handy during/after rehearsals when things haven’t gone as smoothly as one would like: harmonies that were perfectly tight a few days prior suddenly sound like someone ran them through the “auto-clam” plug-in. Changes to beginnings, endings, and everything in-between go unremembered from the last session. Rhythms go out the window and take dynamics along for the company.

It happens, and it can be very disheartening. Here’s my advice:

  1. Acknowledge it: If you’re struggling, give your band mates a heads-up. This lets them know that you’re aware of whatever it is that isn’t working and goes a long way to keeping tensions from building.
  2. Get over it: Remind yourself that this isn’t magic. Your ability doesn’t depend on wearing the Elder’s Ring of Wicked Bass Grooves. Having a bad day doesn’t mean your talent has deserted you. It means you’re grinding the stone. Accept it and…
  3. Get back to work: Take five, have a snack, re-center yourself, and move on. This isn’t wasted time as long as you’re putting in the effort. If you’re just phoning it in, stop wasting your band mates’ time and call it a night. Otherwise, pick one of the things you’re struggling with and ask to go over it a few times…or a dozen times…you may not correct the issue that night, but at the very least you’ve statistically improved your chances of getting it right the next time. On the other hand, if you give up now you’re effectively saying “I am leaving it to chance that this problem will fix itself.” Do let me know how that works out for you.

Is there magic in music? Of course there is. But the magic is the reward, not the means by which one achieves it.

J.

Red Pen: This Sh*t is About to Get Real…

Tomorrow I am going to my old job for the last time. I’ve been out on disability for a number of months and now that I have my health issues under control, it’s time to get on with my life. I’ll head out to the corporate campus tomorrow and turn in my laptop and do an exit interview and find out all the details that bring this transition much more sharply into focus. As in, “this is your last paycheck, and this is when your health insurance will run out.”

Sobering.

I did pause and give serious consideration to the possibility of going back. I’d just been hired into a new role when I got sick and though I think I’m past the point where they’d have held the job for me, I might be able to find something else within the same department. Tempting, particularly in the current economic climate, but not an option I’m choosing to pursue. After a number of years I’ve realized that I am simply not a good fit for Capital One. Or they’re not a good fit for me. View it through whichever lens you prefer. I don’t have a problem with the company. I met a lot of lovely people there and from what I could tell most of them had souls and a pulse. There was the odd person here and there who had clearly imbibed too deeply from the company Kool Aid, such persons being identifiable by an overabundance of company-branded swag and a certain constant wide-eyed enthusiasm, but that’s everywhere. Moreover, it says something about me that I’m put off by people who honestly seem to love their jobs. That’s an unfamiliar model for me.

My job was a step in the process that led me to where I am now. It provided me with two things: a steady paycheck and information, and information is never wasted. I didn’t find my dream job, but I learned a great deal about what I do and don’t want from my professional life. That’s invaluable, and I can build on that going forward.

Wish me luck.

Tip of the Day: The phrase is “for all intents and purposes“, not “for all intensive purposes.” I saw that on a bass forum post this morning and it made me cringe. It’s an easy and understandable mistake, but I harp on little stuff like this because it illustrates a tendency to speak without regard to the meaning of the words and phrases we’re choosing to use.

Lowendredwha?

There are two things I spend most of my time doing…well…three, possibly four if you count sleeping and waiting on the dogs. Mostly though, I spend my energy in two directions: playing the bass and copyediting.

Copyediting…that’s a real word?

Sort of. Copyedit is in the dictionary, so copyediting is just the active use of that skill. At its most basic level, copyediting is checking a document for punctuation, grammar, spelling, etc., and back before the dawn of time when I wrote my homework assignments on loose-leaf paper, corrections were made by the teacher in red pen. Hence the association. Copyediting can be a much more robust process than simple proofreading, but that’s essentially where it begins.

What does that have to do with playing the bass?

On the surface, nothing. They’re two discrete activities. But I can make a case for a relationship between the two if you like.

Go ahead.

Though it’s possible to build a song around a bass line (see ‘Another One Bites the Dust,), and it’s possible to have a solo bassist (see the amazing Steve Lawson), most often a bass line is a supportive part of a greater compositional whole.

Compositional what?

The song. A good bass line makes the song better, without taking away from the core idea on which the song is based. Similarly, good copyediting compliments and enhances a piece of content without changing the central theme or idea.

That’s pretty thin.

Okay, try this: bass and copyediting are like bacon –  they make everything better.

Moving on.

That’s really it. Those are the two main focuses of my professional life. What has changes is that at the age of thirty-eight, I’ve decided to do both on my own terms. I’ve been editing in one form or another for close to fifteen years, with the majority of that being in either an institutional or corporate setting as a component of a larger role. After a recent illness during which I was on leave from work I had a great deal of time at home to reflect on the direction in which I’d been going. I’ve come to the conclusion that I can offer much more in the way of client-focused service as an independent contractor.

Meaning?

One of my biggest complaints about my last position was the tendency of management to add things to my plate that had very little, if anything, to do with the job for which I’d been hired. Seems pretty standard, right? Many companies downsized during the recession and some roles were bundled together under conveniently nebulous titles like ‘content manager’ or ‘process coordinator.’ It worked for a while, and then as productivity rebounded the amount of work intensified, as did the likelihood that one of the many managers would find something almost, but not completely unrelated to add to the ever-growing pile of work. When your title is squishy there’s all kinds of room to cram in a bunch of extra nonsense and call it ‘role development’ or ‘career pathing,’ though I often found the net result to be a growing lack of clarity as to what my role actually was. Hard to prioritize one’s tasks when one is not sure who the highest-priority client is on any given day. My solution is to go into business for myself.

Well, that should be a cakewalk. I’m sure the demands of running your own business won’t distract you in the least.

It’s a consideration, to be sure, but there’s a mindset change I’ve noticed in myself that doesn’t chunk the tremendous amount of effort involved with starting and running my own business into the same bucket as working for another company.

So you’re going to play bass and proofread?

Simultaneously? No, although I used to occasionally catch myself spell-checking the ‘Specials’ board during the last set at a weekly Friday night bar gig I used to have. You do strange things to power through at 1:30 in the morning.

You’re going to plug your current band now, aren’t you?

Of course. I’m privileged to hold down the low end (see what I did there?) for the J.O.B. Our current single, ‘Messenger’ has been in the top 40 of the Adult Contemporary charts for about five weeks now. I’m incredibly proud of it and I’d be grateful if you’d click through to the band site and take a listen.

That’s all for right now. Special thanks to my subconscious for chiming in with questions.

J.