Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Ok, every once in a while I'm blessed with Kismet, and it seems to happen in twos. In college when I was working on my Michael Hedges research paper and I was let into the storage closets of his long time booking agent. I was able to photo copy his (Michaels) old press clippings, photos, promotional materials, contracts and tour riders.
Shortly after I was sitting behind stage at a Guided By Voices show that I booked and I told the backline tech I hired from the cities about my "Hedges paper." I quoted something from Acoustic Guitar magazine that I had been hanging onto pretty hard and he looked at me and said, "I said that! That was me!!" Turned out my "backline tech" was Michael's Front of House Sound tech and best friend for the last years of Michaels career. INSANE!!
It happened again in twos, see the pervious post for number 1, but the second instance was this.
I tech for a band in town and we did a show in WI where our opener was really good (I mean really, really, really good) but I didn't really pay much attention to who it was as I was meeting him during the changeover and after the show, I just remember I really liked what I heard. Fast forward 2 years and I'm on a short tour with the same local band and we were listening to my new favorite local WI artist turned "NPR top 10 albums of the decade" and one of the guys in the band says, "Hey Todd, don't you remember, he opened for us in WI."
Here's the deal, I've built my last 20 guitars to his album and ep, total shop staple, daily part of my build routine. Listening obsessively and all the while constantly thinking, "man I'd love to tech for him, wouldn't it be cool if..."
Kismet number two, a couple of weeks ago I get a call and from a referral from some other amazing friends guess who's guitars show up in my shop!
So a couple of weeks ago I was able to help out a local guitarmaker, I spent 2 days doing some simple tasks that required abs and manual labor, and while it was only 2 days I feel like I learned more during that time then I have in quite a while (no offense Bryan G and Sam... you guys are a close second).
The main thing I learned by working hard and watching harder was that I have no finesse in my building. I'm just working step by step, build by build. I need to plan and pre-assist my building the way he does. Build in those "double-check and pre-check steps into my work so I can stay as consistent as his guitars are. His work is the goal and the standard for me and now I know how much I have yet to work on.
While I was in his shop I came to realize that I was doing a step that wouldn't feel impact for 20 steps from the current step. He had FUTURE steps built into his process that I had never thought about. He is way smarter about his work then I have ever been and I need to acclimate to level of "think-it-through."
His is art with purpose.
I was happy to be of assistance to him. It was nice to work hard and really learn and re-strengthen my skills on the few steps I was able to do. It was an honor and I gained a lot from helping. I was happy to help a friend and mentor of sorts... who has put up with me, more then he should.