Will The Wolf Survive?
Making stuff is popular these days. Witness the resurgence of sourdough bread baking, candle stick making, tie-dying, knitting and sewing. Making stuff has definitely helped me. I feel so lucky to have in my writing something I want/need/love to do. My hometown has certainly given me a lot of material to write about.
Taylor Swift made some stuff this year (and no I'm not comparing myself to her.) Ms. Swift dropped two albums and my niece says they’ve helped her get through nine months of not being able to hug her mother. Sturgill Simpson also put out two albums of bluegrass music this year called “Cutting Grass” which are wonderful for toe-tapping but also not as good as hugging your mother.
Hayes Carll, Allison Moorer, and James McMurtry faithfully showed up for free each week on Facebook and Instagram Live for the last nine months, making music, singing and playing their hearts out, with only a tip jar for compensation.
My favorite band, Los Lobos, hasn’t released any new material so far this year, but they’ve figured out ways to perform live at drive ins, around hotel pools and online at the Belly Up last weekend. The Wolves are limping a little these days, but the band members are almost as old as I am. Cesar Rosas has elected to sit out pandemic performances. Louie Perez looks frail. Conrad Lozano sits down occasionally, if he’s not singing, and drummer Bugs Gonzalez has gone back to Mexico to be with his family.
They still sound great though and I admire them so much. We’ve seen Los Lobos at least twice a year for many years and even (and very gratefully) in 2020. Every show is always different. Their catalog is endless. Touring has always been brutal on a performer’s health in non-pandemic times but it’s the only way for a musician to make money. All the small clubs from the Belly Up to the Troubadour are hurting financially, not to mention the bands and the roadies and the bartenders.
This industry is in severe danger of not surviving and I hope you can find ways to support them because we need rhythm and vibration and harmony. We need to tap our toes and spin around on the dance floor. The wolves will survive in some format. I personally can’t wait to spend too much money on concert tickets and overpriced beers and parking again.
I’m going to take a break from sharing these essays online for a while and focus on making my second novel. I will post some short pieces on my newsletter occasionally. If you haven’t signed up yet, please do so. The link is on the home page of this website.
Here’s to a safe Christmas and a new year.