Monday, March 9, 2009

Are Indie Music Artists and Poets Similar?

Yesterday, I heard the wonderful roots group Alathea. Go to my theology blog posting to read more about the actual concert.

As I was watching them play and listening to them talk about their creative process, I started wishing that I was an indie rock kind of person. I have always had this utopian vision of travelling around the country in a camper, supporting myself with my art, seeing the world, being my own boss.

Of course, that vision doesn't include being too poor to buy groceries or gas. It doesn't include being homesick and wishing that I was anywhere but on the road.

A few years ago, when my chapbook was published, I arranged a series of readings in various places where I had friends who would let me stay for free. I didn't have that rigorous a schedule--I had to keep my full-time teaching job, after all. But I did have about 6 readings in 4 months.

It doesn't sound very draining, does it? But by the end, I thought, I could never do this full-time. Maybe if I did it full-time, if I wasn't trying to juggle being a homeowner, being a teacher, and being a travelling poet, it would have been easier.

But I don't know. A few years ago, my friend and I decided we would go to some local craft shows to see if we could sell some quilts we had made. Again, it was only a few week-ends. But I found it exhausting. The set up, the take down, the waiting all day to see if there would be customers. I thought about my dream of the camper and the tour and thought, why did I ever think I could do that?

I think about modern technology, and I wonder if any of this touring is still necessary. There was an interesting Washington Post article that talked about Do It Yourself (DIY) credibility amongst rockers and whether or not it was possible to replicate that experience with writers (the article seemed to say that touring was, indeed, still required).

These are interesting times that we live in, where technology makes all sorts of things possible and affordable that wouldn't have been so in earlier days. It's also a time of shrinking funding, which means shrinking training for potential artists. Go here for an interesting article by Suzanne Vega, where she contemplates the role of melody and the role of arts education.

As for Alathea, their concert had a similar effect on me as any good artistic outing--it made me want to go right home and create. Go to their website to see if they're coming to your town any time soon--or buy some of their CDs (they're having a wonderful sale right now!).

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