Inspired by the ever-descriptive Mimi in New York and her vivid accounts of various characters she has come across in her currently chosen profession, I feel it's time to shed some light on some notable notables that I have had the pleasure to meet during my as yet short musical career.
"It's all about relationships," says Uncle Dave, and he's right in more ways than one - in a job which primarily relies on who you know, the relationships you have with your employers and fellow musicians can have a profound impact on one's own musical outlook, as well as providing the fodder for some bloody good stories.
Some people you meet on the scene become lifelong friends....some give you the cold shoulder and you hopefully never see them again, or maybe you end up joining a long-standing band with them...most are just faces along the way....all have some sort of influence.
Henceforth, I'm going to start with a preface of sorts...at the risk of over-sentimentality, I'm going to delve back into the pre-history of it all, to write briefly of a non-musician...
1. Dr Rouse
Some of you may not know this about me, but.....wait for it.....I'm not from London originally! Nor Melbourne. Nor Canberra even. No, I grew up in Cootamundra, a small country town in New South Wales - small enough to know plenty of people down the main street, but big enough to not know all of them. Surrounded by rolling fields of grazing, crops, not too far (by Oz standards) from the mountains or the ocean or major cities - a nice place to live, to bring up a family.
A conservative place - churchgoing, RSL, bowls, pubs...the bellowing tones of a loudspeaker from the local pool on a Saturday afternoon, and the occasional siren from the local firestation (on my block funnily enough), were about the most noise and action you got.
People from other countries? Hardly any. Live music scene? Not much*.
About the most interesting people in town were my parent's friends, the drama society crowd. Aussies love eccentrics - it's a big place with lots of space and you can do whatever you like, and if you have your own idiosyncratic way of doing it, then people will love and respect you. So I guess from an early age I was already used to being surrounded by crazy characters (which maybe says something about the profession I've ended up in!).
So it came about in my early high school years that I needed braces, and so a trip to an orthodontist of repute was in order. An initial consultation was arranged for which we had to take the usual drive to the nearby city of Wagga Wagga (yes housemates, it's an actual place, not just a funny word said twice), about an hour away.
I couldn't believe how cool this guy was! An orthodontist for goodness sake! Here's my folks earnestly questioning him about their son's future dental health, and he's comprehensively answering every concern, and at the same time doing it in an amazingly charismatic, self-assured manner, throwing around x-rays and charts like it was nobody's business! And here's me, nervous teenager in the chair, awestruck at how easygoing this guy is. Until then I'd known people eccentric and outgoing, but never as chilled out as he was.
Sadly I never got to see Dr Rouse too often after that, as he was leaving the practice for an early retirement trip around the world (nice for some!), but the personality traits that I first saw in him would be ones that I would see again and again in the people that would become my musical teachers and colleagues.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, musicians are attracted to playing music because of the music, but the personalities involved also play a hugely important part. Of course, what has kept me at it this past ten years is the musical stimulation, but at the end of the day, music is made by people, for people, most often about people, and it's only recently, in the last couple of years say, that I've realised how important a part people and their personalities play, and how often they are intertwined with one's own musical adventures.
Sometimes it even makes you wonder, do you do it for the actual musical reasons? Or do you do it for the social reasons? Or maybe a hazy mixture of both?
More characters to follow.....
* Just wanted to drop a word in here for The Old Zen Master (you know who you are!), who actually does run a couple of things in the Wattle Town....