Time to Wake Up – Music Returns

In March of 2010 I was diagnosed with heart disease.

Arteriosclerosis, I had 95% blockage in an artery on one side of my heart and 75% to 80% on the other side.

My mortality was staring my right in the face.

I was scared.

It was not like when you have a fear of other people or some monstrous thing, but more like this is serious and pay attention to what’s going on.

Three stents were placed in my heart.

It was time to make changes.

Reduce my weight, eat healthier and reduce stress.

That meant doing something about my work which had become a major source of stress, frustration and anxiety.

I got tired of being pissed off and being put in situations where no matter what I did I was going to piss off somebody.  I got tired of being put in lose/lose situations.

Seeing how the next generation of family was being pushed in and the old guard who built the business was being pushed out, I began preparing to be let go.

Also realizing how fragile life can be and how I was approaching the back end of my time I thought, why am I doing this?  My house is paid off and the kids are through school so why am I literally killing myself for this family’s business?

I had always thought about building my own business, working for myself instead of helping someone else acquire their wealth.

So I thought what skills do I have?  What do I have to offer?

I had started listening to music again, mainly on my commute back and forth to work each day.

One day my wife gave me a CD that she had picked up at a yard sale.  She would see different CD’s by different artists for $0.50 or $1.00 and figure what the heck maybe he’ll like this one.

On this day it was Eric Clapton’s 24 Nights, a 2 disk live album.

I loved it.

While coming home from work I realized your special skill is what you have had buried in your basement for the past 25 years.  You’re a drummer.  You were a good drummer, you were a professional drummer and you use to get paid to do this.  Why can’t you do it again?  I want to play, I want to experience the joy of playing like the guys on this album are doing and have done their entire life.

After this revelation I knew there was only one place to start, one person to share this with, Barney Lee.

Of course my wife was the first to know and the first I talked to about this.  As the angel she is and as she has always been, she was 100% supportive of my desire.

I was still sales manager and needed some time to think about all of this.  I booked a hotel room in Pittsburgh, got tickets to see a Pirates game and contacted Barney Lee.

In Pittsburgh I met with Barney and took in the ball game.  It was the most relaxed I felt in years.

I talked with Barney about my desire to take up drumming and music again.  I believe this may have sparked something in him.

I left Pittsburgh with the ideal that Barney, Bruce, Justin and myself would get together to play again one more time.

I dug out my moldy, dusty old kit, discovered it wasn’t in as bad of shape as I had envisioned and began practicing again.

I started out working on rudiments and simple tunes I felt I could still handle as well as a list of songs that Barney had sent out to everyone.

I went to Pittsburgh where Barney had found a studio for the old band mates to get together and spend the weekend playing and reminiscing.

The venture only solidified my desire and also confirmed what I had missed over the past 25-30 years.

After that visit and playing again with other musicians, musicians whose abilities I respected, I realized I could do this again.

This happened in November of 2011.

Previous: Back to York One More Time          Next: Reality 3.0

© 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.

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