Once the devastation of my daughter’s cancer was behind us and we appeared to be coming out the other side I got back to playing.
I finally went to an open mic night. The band hosting wasn’t bad so I thought I’d go for it.
My son was with me and in 30 years he had never seen me play.
My son was visibly impressed. When we got home my wife was very excited.
I hadn’t experienced that kind of excitement and euphoria since I played in Pittsburgh.
The huge down side was it was on a Thursday night. I had to get up and go to work the next day.
When I got to work at my usual 7:00 – 7:15 AM, I was immediately slapped in the face with the frustration and disappointment of the day.
I knew I needed a change.
This frustration continued to boil over and after 6 more months of abusive customers, lose/lose situations and being generally pissed off, I had enough.
On August 6, 2012 I stepped down from my sales manager position and not a day has gone by that I regret that decision. I’m still with that company but in a much less stressful position.
I knew that I was ready to start playing out again with a band.
I was now practicing at least 40 minutes a day 6 to 7 days a week.
I also knew I needed a new kit.
My “vintage” Slingerlands were very good professional drums but they would not hold up to being setup and tore down on a regular basis. I started looking up drums online and was overwhelmed.
The last time I had bought drums or cymbals was in the mid to late seventies.
At that time it was brand name and brand name only. You walked into the store and said I want Slingerlands or Ludwigs, Gretsch or Rodgers. The next question was size and finish. That was about it.
Now Slingerland was gone and a plethora of new manufactures has emerged along with many of the old standards.
Not only did you have numerous brands to look at but each brand had various models and pricing levels. It was the same for cymbals.
Luckily Barney Lee had a friend from back in our studio days who just happened to be the vice president of sales for Pearl Drums, Jerry Goldenson.
Jerry was a great help. I spent two hours on the phone with him as he brought me up to date on drums over the past 30 years.
The best part was after visiting drum shops in Harrisburg and Lancaster I decided on Pearl. Jerry never pushed me in that direction. He was unbiased with the information he gave me. So I thought it was cool that based on the sound I was looking for and the price range I was in that I decided on Pearl.
When I asked Jerry for a quote on the kits I wanted he said to me, “I’ll give you ‘artist’ pricing”.
As insignificant as that may sound to some that statement was huge to me. To be called an ‘artist’ again after 25 years was just great. So I got the best of both worlds, a great price and the feeling that I was an artist again.
I had just spent over 20 years being a “businessman”, a good and successful one at that, but being called an “artist” gave me an unbelievable sense of satisfaction.
So now I’m at the point where I have a new kit and need a band to play with.
In October 2012 I finally started using social media.
In late November I got a private message from a country band in Enola, PA. It was old school country, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Conway Twitty, etc.
The situation was perfect for gently working my way back into performing.
On February 2, 2013 I performed live for the first time in almost 30 years.
It went really well and it was great to be back on stage no matter the size or location.
I worked with that band and did a couple of fill in gigs with other bands until November of 2013 when the country band disbanded.
I continue to look for another band or any other sit in work. I’ve purchased an electronic kit and am working on getting a home studio setup. Online collaboration really intrigues me.
And of course I’m looking to once again work with my good friend and mentor Barney Lee.
I’ve started writing poetry/lyrics again, which is something I haven’t really done since I was in my twenties.
That brings up to date of where I am at in my life.
Originally I was going to title this page “My Story” but a story has an ending and this one isn’t over. So I changed it to “My Journey”.
This journey keeps on going, hopefully for a long time.
© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.