The Launch

I’m writing this a bit after the fact, but that’s probably a good thing. The launch day at Rocky Passes Estate, some 25km from my house, went brilliantly. The weather was touch-and-go; it’d been crappy for days and was black and threatening in the morning of the launch. I’d been incredibly busy with work for weeks, which meant that my schedule of rehearsal and plotting the way the day would work went completely out the window. Instead it was only hours before kickoff and I was still thinking about what songs I would play. That’s not the way to go about it!

Fortunately I was comfortable about the venue and the audience. We’d used EventBrite to manage RSVPs, and that was great for many people. Others had just emailed to say they’d be there. Candi and Vitto at Rocky Passes had confirmed the numbers for meals, and set up a lovely marquee for the performers. Their act of good faith with the weather turned out to be prophetic, as about half an hour before the first chord the clouds parted and the sun shone down.

My wife-and-manager dropped me at the venue before heading off on an unlikely series of errands. I was under strict instructions not to start until she returned … as if I would dare!

Josh and Joel from The Steinbecks arrived on time with their gear. I had the PA just about set up and ready to go, so it wasn’t too long before we were doing a final run-through of the songs we would play together. As soon as the audience arrived though, it was time to set last-minute preparations aside – it was all starting. There were greetings galore, as I knew everyone who would be attending. Some very old friends, some locals, some new friends. It was going to be a very social day.

Most important to me was the fact that my parents were there. Over my thirty-five years of playing music my parents really haven’t seen me perform at all, and this album was especially important because it was my first official solo work. On top of all that though, there was another element that raised the stakes: my dad was dying. He’d been essentially symptom-free until two days before the launch, which was astonishing considering how far along the disease was. He was quite upset on the Friday thinking he wouldn’t be able to attend, but they got his medication adjusted and some old friends (my old Akela from cubs!) offered to drive him and Mum to the event.

My plan for the performance was that it would be a lot of talking and a bit of singing. Over the years I’ve become pretty comfortable talking to people, and I’d decided to simply tell a long story of my musical history. There were some sheets of paper with bullet points on them, but when I started talking they blew away and I didn’t feel the need to retrieve them. It’s my story, so I guess I know it pretty well. There were some great recollections of my childhood and getting my first guitar that I shared with the audience, and Dad felt comfortable enough to shout out a few memories of his own. It was an easy interaction, and I got to play some old songs and new.

Halfway through the story, I invited Josh and Joel up and we played some songs from The Steinbecks’ first album – songs that I’d written with Josh. Then we moved on to some newer Steinbecks material and I filled out the instrumentation and voices, then left the marquee to sit in the audience while J+J delivered some great tunes with their trademark heartfelt honesty. Between songs they added some of their own recollections to the story arc of the day, which was fantastic. By the time they finished their mini-set, the audience was rapt.

I returned to the mic and continued the tale, played more songs. The time was getting on, and I figured that finishing an hour late was the furthest I could go, seeing as we’d started on time and people had a way to go to get home. The goodbyes were many and touching, I had some photos taken with Mum and Dad (tearing up a little as I write this) and I knew that Dad had a great day.

On the way home in the car I said to my wife that I’d now achieved all I wanted in life. I have the love of a good – and smart – woman, have friends I like and respect, have the skills to do interesting work, and I’ve written and played good music. I’m not well-known, nor do I have statuettes on my mantelpiece, but that’s never what it’s been about for me. If I live another 40 years I’ll be very happy, but if I drop off the twig tomorrow I can honestly say that I’m happy with what I’ve done with my life. How lucky am I – how many people can say that?

The launch was a simple affair that I was able to share with friends and my parents, but for me it was a signal achievement in a life of simple pleasures.

I will post some photos and maybe even video from the day when I get a chance.

Thanks to all who attended on the day, to Josh and Joel for making some great music with me, and especially to my lovely wife for her ongoing support.

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