chris jones

Update: 7/21/11

Some Thoughts on the Last Couple of Years

I usually don't write an update unless I have something to announce, but I thought I'd give a little background on what happened over the last couple of years and how it led me on a path to performing again. I find that most "artists" are trying to be a product and create some pathetically transparent mystique, but since I'm not trying to impress anyone I don't really need to do that. Let's try something different, shall we?

Even though I haven't been performing since 2009, I have been playing and writing a lot. After 10 years of being a part-time slacker and broke musician I had to fix my financial situation, so I started working full time again. I got a steady girlfriend and was trying to settle down and become "normal" so I could move on and forget about the wreckage of the past. There were some nagging health issues I had to tend to after not taking proper care of myself for several years, but gradually I started feeling better mentally and physically and was able to focus on spending more time with my family instead of drinking in bars with animals.

I took my guitar and locked myself in my room last summer with some records I borrowed from the library. I revisited what I had started learning when I was a kid, which was Ragtime, Piedmont and Delta Blues from the 20's through the 60's. Basically, if a musician was black and/or blind I studied them - Rev. Gary Davis, Lemon Jefferson, Willie McTell, Blind Blake, Blind Boy Fuller, John Hurt, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Son House, Lightnin' Hopkins, Robert Johnson... you get the idea. There was even a little Django Reinhardt thrown in there for good measure. The technical difficulty of what those musicians were doing is still unsurpassed to this day, and the challenge of trying to play like them was incredibly humbling to say the least. It was also refreshing to learn that many of these musicians would not see much noteriety in their own lifetimes, and if they did it wasn't until they were well into their 70's that they got their due recognition. That puts things into perspective pretty quickly when you think it's all over by the age of 30.

I got pretty comfortable in my new life and was content with the idea that my "music career" wasn't happening any more. It was a relief to know I could just sit on the proverbial front porch and play guitar for family and friends without ever having to set foot into a bar or club again. I didn't have to try to be successful any more because I already had all I needed to be happy, and it seemed like things were going to be just fine.

Of course, that's when life stepped in to remind me that you can never stay too content for very long. The axe fell one day in early March when I found out my grandmother had a stroke and wasn't going to survive. I flew out to Tennessee to help support my family and console her in the process of her passing, which was both heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time.

Upon returning home I immediately began to feel a swell of energy within and without. I started running into people that I hadn't talked to in years, and opportunities to play started popping up here and there without me even trying. It started to feel right to perform in front of people again, even though it was awkward at first. Songs that had been lingering in the back of my mind for months started to complete themselves, and it just made sense to use music to heal myself and others. It was so refreshing to be able to come back to doing that after being gone from it for so long. And to do it without the egos and drama and dissappointments that had made me stop performing in the first place made it all that much sweeter.

Now I'm not saying that everything is perfect in my life and that I'm going to be a big star and take over the world, but I do feel a sense of renewal and hope. I'm just starting to find a balance where I can play shows and make records without becoming a burn-out again, and this new perspective allows me to have a better attitude about performing because I'm not getting caught up in the little things that don't matter any more. I recently used the money I saved from my job to buy a bunch of studio equipment, and am in the process of finishing 40+ songs that document this time of my life in music. Maybe someday I'll actually release it, but for now this explanation will have to suffice. Thanks for reading.

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