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Blue Collar's "Try Something New"!
By Mick Polich - 03/02/2009 - 09:11 AM EST

Try something new……

Oh yeah, where haven’t we heard that before? Self-help books, getting out of depression or an emotional crisis, venturing into business – try something ….NEW.

O.k., sounds good – think I will !

OR….. nope, too risky, too scary. Can I try something new by tackling something old?

My answer is – YES!!!!

Reason I’m writing this article is kind of a response to a previous article on some cold, hard, facts. I think I’ve pissed off a few of my boomer brethren by having them misinterpret my intention with that article.

I wasn’t saying quit playing music if you want to play just ‘old stuff’. I wasn’t saying your options are entirely limited on the gig scene for EVERY venture. It’s just that I feel, young or old, we get pigdeon-holed by certain folks that offer gigs, or creative venues, to play music that’s ‘age-appropriate’. OR….. if we’re older musicians, how do we play ’younger’ music in a manner that fits us ( if we want to go that route)?

All I’m doing is asking the questions and exploring the back alleys!

Maybe that doesn’t hold water either – Madonna still looks and sounds pretty good at her gig, and Iggy Pop gives every old proto-punk, and young punk popster, hope at 60 to create some stage energy, while he runs around singing about raw power and how your pretty face is going to hell….

And what of Ozzy, the Metal Godfather? Well, hum, ol’ Oz – he says he’s just happy to find to the stage at this point (good ol’ Oz).

Jee-bus, I dunno – all I know is what fits me at my age doesn’t have to fit you. I’m just trying to balance some old and new music worlds while I explore what I have yet to explore. You all need to do what you think is appropriate to get you up every morning to pick up the axe and play the music.

With that, you wanna try something NEW?

Lemme tell ya for the umpteenth time about my solo/duo gig, and what I’m trying to blend and explore with regards to that gig…..

In taking some old and new stuff (blues, country, roots rock, funk,etc.), leaving the door open for the “all-inclusive” music venue ( jam band peeps, thanks for the spirit in that realm), while breaking my show up with some ‘experimental stuff’  (live DJ type mixing with loops, samples, drum machines, and ambient-sounding guitars), I’m keeping a bit of a commercial nature to my Starbucks ( yes, Starbucks) gigs while trying to tweak the system a bit to take the music ‘out’ for a short time. I know, I know, crazy  - why mix all this stuff together at STARBUCKS???? Well, it’s a FREEBIE, plus the employees like it, my duo partner likes the music mix, too, and there’s the challenge of getting the point across when the cappuccino machine is blasting away in the background (so, what else is new?). AND…. I get to try out electronic gadgets and toys – yahoo, Doris!!! More information on that now….

Got a new toy - an Electro –Harmonix 2880 looper. For the money, it’s probably one of the best live looping devices out there. That little device is TONS o’ fun – just having a ball with it. You can record at least four tracks of yourself playing musical parts into a loop that lasts several minutes. It has an octave switch to take things down a notch, plus a tempo control ( I’ve now gotten the drum loop manipulation that I’ve wanted for a few years). I learn new stuff on it all the time. Which brings me to another point and detour: what’s the difference between having a ‘childish’ and ‘child – like’ nature when trying something new? Well, homebodies, my philosophy now is one that can carry anyone, I believe, thru life to trying new things, ideas, places, music, arts, etc – have a child-like curiosity on discovery. We can rap all day on being childish (and unfortunately, I still know too many musicians and artists that need to get over themselves and get on with it), but the sense of discovery should never, ever leave us. When that happens, we wither up and die on the vine. I can cite anybody from Einstein and Picasso to my parents, aunt, and in-laws for examples of people that keep on a growin’ and goin’.

So, in trying something new, again, Reverend Polich is a – preachin’: take it easy, and try it small at first. I know, I know – big ideas demand big procedures, and more power to ya if you can pull it off, but half the time, people get in, then get out because they underestimated what was needed to pull it off (hmmmm… economies, wars, and government funding comes to mind – pick you period in history!).

I guess my entire point over the course of several of my latest articles has been to encourage people to step out of the box and go a different path if they wish. “If they wish” – key phrase along with stepping out of the box: you DON’T have to do anything if you’re cool with where you are. Age or perception of what you should be doing at this point in your life has got nothing to do with it (again, my beef when I tell people that I’m 50, and they want to know why I don’t play in a ‘classic rock’ band. It’s an age - ism thing with me. Hey, it’s still working for a lot of people, and I think it’s wonderful because some of the bands sound fantastic, but I’ve got a limited amount of time in my life with a family and domestic responsibilities, so I’m trying something new, simple as that.).

Never too old or young to learn – been using a capo and retuning a lot of my guitars for 10 years now. Some of you laugh, yep, but I grew up learning and playing music styles that didn’t require those skills, so why even glance at ‘em? It’s a new playing field for me.

Don’t do anything to be ‘with it’ – for the love of Christmas, do it because you find it interesting and you want to explore the possibilities of what the art and music can deliver to YOU. I always seem to have a foot towards discovering a new technology (o.k., not always when it happens – no Blackberry or iPhone yet, and man, it did take me a long time to go digital in my recording studio….), and another foot re-discovering some old, ancient music or art form. I’ve been working on recording techniques to capture in my own fashion, the sounds of the old blues and race records from 50,60 years ago – those sounded mystifying, scary, and utterly fascinating to me (you get a chance, check out Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo and Canned Heat’s Mike Halby on the CD “Houndog”, made in 1999 – it’s a nice little homage to those old records…...). So lies in something old, something new for me.

Maybe I’m more conscientious of this fact due to my age, or maybe it’s a state of somewhat melancholy reflection, but illness, death, divorce, and life changes are happening with greater frequency to my friends and family. I don’t know how some folks, especially artists and musicians, can close themselves off from this in a cold, clinical fashion (but they do, and frankly, it’s scary  - it ain’t human, emotionally speaking). Not a day has gone by as of late when I don’t learn of a good customer dying, a good friend contracting an illness that will lead them on a journey to death quicker than they would have imagined, or a family member getting a divorce. I can’t see - unless you’re so self-absorbed that nothing else matters to you but you - but I can’t see how one can’t react to all this. And the thing is, it’s nothing new in human existence – it’s just new to us because these things have never happened before in this great of capacity. So my question is, if you want to take a chance and try something new with your art or music, why not? Given all our tragedies, given all of our journeys to get a handle on the sense of it all, why the hell not??

A friend recently threw me a quote from former pro basketball player Reggie Miller in which Reggie said, “ If you want to be a hero, then take some hero shots!” That’s all you can do, in a big or small way – take the hero shots. Listen to new music, visit a new place where local artists hang their stuff for display, change your approach on playing your instrument – paint, draw, and sketch to get a new perspective on how to approach music from a different vantage point of creativity. Take the hero shots. But do it with love, respect, and decency – we throw those phrases around like pie-in-the-sky platitudes from the ‘hippie era’, but even when people create ideas that we don’t agree with in art, if it comes from a place of purity, I think it works. This is where we grow up and get the courage to try new things. Anger, love, sensuality, humility – we cannot avoid these emotions because at some point, they all catch up to us. That’s something new, too, if you’ve never experienced any of those! Any b.s. will fall off, and drift to the wayside – it never fails, it always does, because it’s destined to be a footnote in a pop culture book.

Explore, explore, explore, then explore some more! 

Soon, I’ll be off into some other areas to explore for the “Blue Collar” world. But I hope I’ve planted some seeds in your heads for at least thinking about some new paths to creativity.

Let’s try this – after you read this, try one new thing within a half an hour. Just try, because it’s the start of the path to newness. Big step, little step  - just give it shot and see what happens. No matter what your space, age, time frame, emotional state, or other rock and roll affliction, stepping out can mean stepping up!

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