I do a lot of covers. In a sense, I spend most of my musical life doing covers. Playing a Beethoven Symphony? Cover. Playing a 14th century Turkish Mevlevi song? Cover. Playing a piece I wrote? Cover.
“But you’re playing an original tune, not a cover,” you might say. Well, as I’ve been saying for the past couple of decades, “If you’re not improvising in real time, then you’re just covering yourself.” In other words, “Original” music can also be “Cover” music.
As I book out into 2019, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I got to this point in my musical life. There’s the received wisdom for most artists in any field that until you make it, you should keep your day job so you can have a solid financial foundation while you work at your art. The downside is, with a day job, you generally have less time to focus on your art which in turn decreases your ability to turn it into a full time career. It’s a delicate balance between having no time to do your art because of the time you put into your day job, as opposed to spending less time at a job (and thus having less financial security) to focus more on the art. The ideal balance is to transition into turning your art into your full-time job.
The risk of that, though, is burn-out.
When I blogged some time ago about music literacy, I mentioned the tired trope “I like to everything except Rap and Country,” which seems to be a response given when someone wants to show a cosmopolitan or open musical taste. Plenty of pixels have been typed about the class and race issues associated with the phrase and I won’t rehash them here as I think that only tells a part of the story that the phrase frames.
Six years ago, I wrote a post called the perils of having too many bands… and at the time I thought I was coming to an upper limit, but little did I understand our capacity to reorganize time when pressed. The image above is a collage of many of the groups I’ve had the pleasure of performing with last year, and doesn’t come close to including a number of pick-up or sideman gigs I took. In the well over 200 events I performed at in 2016, I played with nearly 40 different configuration of musicians and performers in dozens of genres.