New year! New me! New life!

Illustration by Bram Keast

It’s a wildly known (if unproven and untested) fact that the coolest and most cultured of all arts lovers are the music lovers, and the coolest and most artistic of artists are musicians.

In a world where image is everything, musicians are validated in ways that a writer will never be. Listening to music is fun, and people genuinely truly madly deeply want to do it. Nobody wants to read a book or see a play. We just want people to THINK we want to read books and see a play. I don’t even want to see plays and I write plays.

Naturally, I assume there is an inner hierarchy in the music scene, just as there is in theatre. I’m a classically trained pianist and French horn player, which doesn’t really open any doors. What kind of doors would open for me if I was, say, a guitar player? Or guitar-adjacent? Like that pad of light-up squares people plug in to their MacBooks? Or a DJ? I could be a DJ.

But alas, I am not a guitar player or guitar-adjacent or a DJ. I have 15 years of classical music training, and I am a pariah in Winnipeg’s music scene. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. I feel like a pariah, but the reality is I’m actually just not anything at all. And I don’t know which is worse.

I came to this realization last weekend during a concert at the West End Cultural Centre. One of the theatre-music crossover people was having an album release, and when he sent out a non-bcc’d email with my actual name on it, I thought “This. Is. It.”

This was my chance to get inside the Winnipeg music scene! This was my chance to expand my cultural horizons! I was going to be a changed human by the end of the night!

But that night, like most nights, while other people mingled and schmoozed – I guess enjoying the pleasure of other people’s company or something social and extroverted like that – I stood in a corner sipping red wine and listening to “Bette Davis Eyes” on my phone on repeat.

It turns out that the Me in Winnipeg Music is the same me I am in Winnipeg Theatre: awkward, out of place and simultaneously both deeply narcissistic and profoundly insecure.

After the concert, I went home … unchanged and unseen, but still with hope: next time, it will be different. Next time, I’ll be better.

In the morning, I sat down at my long-neglected piano and wrote a song, for the first time in probably five years. So I dunno. Maybe something had changed after all. I’m starting a band.

PS. The concert was great, by the way.

Published in Volume 72, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 25, 2018)

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