The last trills of acoustic guitar that I'd woken up to every day for almost a fortnight, finally faded away today at lunchtime. Steve and his family stayed on after fest for two and a half days and it was fantastic to experience my friend of four festivals as a father and a husband - with his family down for the last weekend of Artsfest. Like all professional musicians, Steve spends much of his life on the road; and he and all the guys that normally stay with me for fest don't usually bring their families down; so I know them in a very different way to being family men. Thus, the last two days really coloured in the picture I have of the man so many know as Steve Newman - Tananas' guitarist and arguably the finest of his kind in the country and the world. Like all true greats though, his kindness, humility, generosity and compassion are even more poignant than his music. And I saw this with how he treats his wife and sons; and how generous he was with my nephew this morning. Ilyo arrived at 10h00 for his usual Wednesday morn with uncle Strato, and walked into a family of five and one of their son's friends. All strangers, except for Steve, whose known him since he was baby from the two previous festivals. A little uneasy, and more than a little clingy, Ilyo was a bit out of sorts and upset when his dad left him. That's when Steve whipped out the guitar. And the man whose polyrhythmic melodies have blown us away for over 30 years sat Ilyo down in a patch of sunlight outside the kitchen and played funny nursery rhymes and ditties for him - pulling faces and putting on accents. Ilyo LOVED IT! I loved it. And the genuine goodness that came out of a simple act like that was majestic, all pervasive, inspiring! It was well and truly this year's fest's final farewell year to me; and Steve Newman - great human being - gave it to me!
To think that I almost missed it all ...
So here's the confession.
It's no secret that my move to Grahamstown while being the greatest life-promoting gift I've ever given myself, hasn't been the smartest financial move I've ever pulled! Combine career by remote control for Jozi clients from the rural Eastern Cape and a recession with marketing budgets going to pot, and you have a perfect storm I've barely navigated for 3 years. NO MATTER! I could have used my years in Joburg far more wisely to accumulate the parachute I'd have needed. I didn't. NO MATTER! Gtown's being kak for my rep at Nedbank but great for me.
And in the midst of this up against the wall waiting for the phone ring milieu, came that phonecall two days before fest started.
"How soon can you be in Joburg?" A client I haven't been briefed by for a year, but had been bugging for work for ages. "July 11th - the day after fest finishes." "I need you here tomorrow." And it was good money! The kind of money I need desperately! I went through an afternoon of torment. I needed the money!!! But!!! It would have meant letting down my band, my sister who I was doing a small show with and not interacting with the musicians I wanted to. I needed the money!!!! So I almost said yes. Almost. I didn't. Some would call me foolish for turning the work down. God knows my inner critic went mad for a while. "Who do you think you are? Do you really think you can grow into a musician in your 40's? Take the money! You're only gonna make a grand from all your fest gigs. The Jozi job's good tom! You're behind on everything. You're just a small band! Yours and your sister's is only a small show. Grow up!" So I did; and I shut him up - that infernal critic masked as a voice of so called reason. I made the call to stay; and bollocks to being summarily summonsed to appear forthwith at camp commercial. I had commitments important to me! The other thing I did though, was not to agonize about the what ifs once the decision was made. For the first time in my life I didn't wring my hands in anxiety, wondering if I'd made the right call. It was my call to make and I made it.
So much opened for me once I did - not the least of which is my newfound passion for blogging on neofundi, which began with my fest blogs and will continue, or the amazing write-up our band got, or the magical transition I have finally made to being able to look other musos in the eye and utter the phrase, "I am a drummer".
I am you know. And a blogger too. And a neofundi. And much more than that. And even if that doesn't make huge financial sense, my heart reminded me this afternoon that I'm far happier today than when I was making bigger, but far from better, money.
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