A brief background on the following story – I moved to Nashville in 1985 to further my career as a musician. I left Los Angeles after 12 years with professional experiences I could be proud of, and ones that I thought would give me a leg up when I moved into Music City, USA.
Though my intention was to become a studio musician (one that makes a living in recording sessions and not having to go on the road), I quickly found out that would not be happening – at least for awhile. Plan B – would there be a touring recording artist that I could find employment with? I’ll start nosing around.
Short answer – Yes! There was a young artist on MCA Records that I had a couple of connections with, so I gave it a shot. I learned some of his hits and proceeded down to his manager’s office to audition for him, his manager and producer. I left the audition feeling pretty good about it, but a week – two weeks – a month – six weeks went by and I heard nothing. Then I got the call that I got the job and on the bus I went.
My wife was pregnant with our daughter; she had never lived outside California; we had fought for (and won) sole custody of my stepson and here we were smack dab in the middle of the country in Tennessee. And – I’m gone for at least a few days a week, if not a couple of weeks at a time.
The artist I was performing with was a fellow named Steve Wariner. We were the same age, and had some similar experiences in our careers to that point, though he had ventured out as an artist and was beginning to become well known with his record successes.
I left a few years later as I had some business/music business opportunities to pursue. Steve and I stayed in touch, and when I could, I would still go out on the road with him to perform. There are still locations around the country where it is standing room only when he performs.
Fast forward 25 years. We’re both in our 50s, and are not chasing and supporting radio records anymore. It used to be that the record label would release a single (not always the one you wanted as an artist), and your touring would help promote that record. It was a rather vicious and exhausting cycle that never ended. Fortunately, Steve did very well and when he stepped off that heartless record company treadmill, he started to compose more for other artists which, in addition to his own record company (for which he recently won a Grammy), he continues on a very successful tangential path in his music career.
Our children (about the same ages) are now grown, and Steve’s musical offspring occasionally come out on the road with us when we perform. Performance dates are now fondly recalled by a memorable meal. This metamorphosis may well fall under the Second Starter category. Granted, the venues have evolved from smoky dance halls to symphony halls and performing arts centers, but the charge we get from playing music has not changed.
30s, 40s and 50s – we still have the opportunity to make a living with music. Frequently, we will reflect on how blessed we are with the experiences we’ve had and the people that have helped guide us – directly or indirectly on the journey that we continue to walk.
As I’ve mentioned before, the dots (people) that we can connect in our own unique lives is what shapes us and bring the opportunities that come our way. This is simply a snapshot of a couple of friends who have stayed together through life experiences and still get a kick out of doing what we did 20+ years ago.