Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The power of being recognized as a local celebrity ( and I am using this term with the utmost humility) is that the person is being recognized for his or her personality and/or appearance through artistic or broadcast expression.
Granted, depending on the medium, it's a personality or an appearance magnified to the Nth degree, but it still gets communicated broadly and accepted into the consciousness of the person recieving the particular vehicle.

The power of a celebrity recognized in a national or even global capacity is that the celebrity isn't just noticed for his/her work and personality but for what they do when they're NOT WORKING.

Most people would state that they could give a shit about Angelina Joilie's private life or current affairs, but they would read about (and probably not admit to it) who she might be fucking. It's vicarious projection through rumour and heresay. A local celebrity could live a life of general anonimity to the rest of the world or even to the majority of his or her town. The main reason there's no such thing as a "Bakersfield Enquirer" is because the only local celebrities worth mentioning among our neighbors are the ones that are in power and the ones that are seen on TV.

Instead of an "Enquirer" we have a "Californian" and the Internet.

If a local weatherman becomes involved in a drug scandal, or a sex scandal or a financial scandal ( three things that we ALL have in common, but don't usually make the news) or a local politician is embroiled in the same sort of mess, it will be reported in the local paper; barring a conspiracy. If this same sort of scandal were to happen to a local artist, it wouldn't be as broadcast unless it involved a child, a politician, a cop, a lawyer or an even bigger celebrity.

Anyone that works with the public risks becoming (or turning into) a local celebrity. Do you have a favorite bartender? That person is a local celebrity. What about the salesperson that you always buy from? Local celebrity, son.
I STILL get recognized from working at Guitar Center two years ago.

If you are not familiar with local writer NL Belardes, I suggest checking out his blog at . The reason why I bring his site up is that there is a particular theme currently riding through the crop of his newest blogs concerning a write-up he did on the reunion show of a band named DIM. It's about some comments he made about a local musician named Rob Ruiz.

I've known Rob for approximately 10 years. In fact, I was the drummer that succeded him in JUMPING TRAINS in 1997-1998. He left them to persue his growing intrest in DIM. I don't know why he and DIM parted ways; I never thought to ask. The last time I saw him was at a barbecue about (SHIT! Time flies) a year ago at my friend David's house in downtown Bakersfield. It was an accidental reunion of most of the musicians who played in JUMPING TRAINS through the years. He appeared in good spirits and looking just as he did all those years ago. Short white socks and black sneakers.

The reason I'm contemplating on what makes a local celebrity is that the people in the public eye aren't the only ones that turn into celebrities, it's also the people they TALK about.

Rob was generally popular among certain circles, especially considering the bands he played in ( the aforementioned JUMPING TRAINS, DIM and MY FAVORITE BAND). He was also friends with NL for years. In the article that NL wrote he wrote some comments about Rob that offended him. From my experience, privacy seems to be the optimal luxury afforded to those that have to deal with other people on a regular basis. I don't want to read about a drunk binge I got into back in 1995 ( or the one last week for that matter), but my social circle is quite familiar with public intoxication in general. If I read about it, though, I would hope it would be entertaining and (hopefully) well-written.
Given the chance, I can safely say that most people don't want to be reminded about the things that make them cringe when they think about themselves. We want our flaws to be invisible, silent and distant. Whatever they are.

I talk to musicians, writers, artists and like-minded lunatics in general and we all deal with our audiences, fans and critics every day. We ARE in the public eye on the platform of entertainment, escape, enlightenment and information. Essentially: TRUTH. Not in a linear " I cannot tell a lie" sort of way, but in a "This is what I have to give. This is me" way.

I'm being realistic now, this IS Bakersfield, and NL's blog is not the Associated Press, but it does reach a wide variety of people.
I'm willing to bet that most of them know Rob.

None of us are above the cross hairs of responsibility.

If you accept to respect the privacy of others, does it make it unfair if someone else doesn't? Freedom of speech, freedom of press, artistic liscence or pure entertainment value are some reasons for the person that doesn't want to read (or hear) about what they did last night to sweat bullets if they know someone that has access to the powers I listed above. Gossip written down becomes more powerful, because it feels as if it's CONFIRMED as TRUE. Sometimes it's worse beacause it IS true.

All of us have various levels of privacy. Even people that are open books have skeletons in their closet still dressed in their old clothes. As with everything, this is not a question of right or wrong; this is one form of good against another.

If you have regret, shame, embarassment or any negativity entwined with your life then the harshest light of all is the glint of a mirror reflecting back your glorious faliures and wrong decisions back at you. It's not just a cold reflection, sometimes it's all too accurate.

You become reaquainted with old scenes and situations, decked up in a new sheen and a sinking feeling slicing into your chest because you realize that the reason you are reading these words about your life is because someone BETRAYED you.

Even if the entire world knew it all already, or sometimes ESPECIALLY because everyone knew.
That usually means that the world was looking through a window right at you while you were too busy on the other side, refusing to see outside.

We all get one shot: a lifetime. No more, no less. Misteps along the way to the end of our paths are not only expected but important. If you can't laugh at yourself, you will always be mad at everyone else.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

For those of you that don't know me, my name is Cesareo Garasa. I've been a professional musician for the last 17 years and I've been making a living by just playing and teaching music for the last two years. I've played in a lot of different bands, played a lot of different styles and played with a lot of different musicians.

I've been keeping up with a lot of the bloggers here in Bakersfield and I've been entertained by stories, perspectives, rants and ruminations. But I felt compelled to start my own blog for the sole reason that after reading about myself and the rest of my local music scene (that I've cherished and respected since the late eighties) I have never given myself the chance to really reflect and respond to the synchronicity of the twists and turns in my career and experiences that have led me to this keyboard and these words that you're reading.

This is actually my second attempt at this. My computer froze up after typing away for an hour, and out of sheer frustration I decided to give myself a while before trying again. So I thought I would try to talk about a perspective I've often shared to friends and colleagues.
There are two main types of professional musicians in general:
1. The Cat
2. The Band Guy
All aspiring musicians with the idealistic dream of "MAKING IT BIG" will eventually become one of these two creatures. Let me describe them both to you.

This is the type of player that is a kind of musical chameleon. Generally, they can play in most situations and can be found playing on weekends with different bands and GETTING PAID FOR IT ( which, more often than not, is not the case with The Band Guy). The Cat isn't always necessarily a trained musician, but more than likely was in school band/s or whose musical foundation is a bit more evolved (private lessons, music classes,etc...) . Most Cats can read music or have a rudimentary knowledge of theory and chords. Some musicians start as The Band Guys, but sometimes fate and/or egos (really, ANY amount of reasons) have a way of cutting the unique type of ties a band has short. So,due to talent/connections/training/starvation or some other X factor, certain musicians will find themselves getting involved with certain musical situations that they didn't expect. Usually, if they don't fuck it up, they get hired for more gigs/tours/sessions/etc... and after that they become: THE CAT. Musical groups that are comprised of mostly Cats are smooth, professional and generally very good musicially. But, honestly, what would you expect from people that play music ALL THE FREAKING TIME? Most of the time, the members are past their twenties.

The Band Guy isn't too far removed from The Cat. No musician is too far removed from all others. Usually The Band Guy is mainly interested in playing THEIR KIND OF MUSIC (whatever that particular type is) and will align themselves with other like-minded musical souls. The main difference between The Cat and The Band Guy is that The Band Guy is part of his or her BAND. It's usually THEM against the MOTHERFUCKING WORLD ( although I know some bands are themselves against their MOTHERFUCKING SELVES. ROCK!) and The Cat is in it for his or her self and career. The Band Guy will shell out his own money to play The Roxy on a Thursday night if THE BAND thinks it's worth it or there is a chance of SOMETHING HAPPENING ( whatever that "something" is, varies by gig). The Band Guy will do ANYTHING IT TAKES FOR THE BAND. Usually when a band's members are all Band Guys, the arguments are more personal, sometimes there's a lot more internal clicks formed and the songwriting process becomes a lot heavier. It's usually not the vision of just one guy, It's ALL OF THEM. Break ups are more volatile/viscious/emotional because it's hard for them to separate the personal from the professional.

I know generalizing is considered bad form, but these are the two general mind-sets most working musicians have. I have tried to keep a balance between both of these identities for YEARS and I can assure you that these two viewpoints don't cancel each other out but sometimes STRENGHTEN each other. It all depends on the musical situation and the chemistry of the musicians involved.

A forty year old keyboard player may have been a Band Guy once. Now, He's relegated to playing on weekends at a local bar making extra money to feed his family. Or maybe, that same keyboardist has no family and he's making some extra scratch for himself. He doesn't dream of stadium tours or the "big deal" anymore. Maybe he's been there, done that or maybe he has his own definition of "success." I realize that to some Band Guys (or girls, I am describing genders as mostly male scrictly on the basis of expediency not chauvanism) this might seem like a depressing sort of hell. That the dream didn't come true, so they have to resort to hanging it up and that music would become a "hobby."

Reality has a way of making ideals become either smoke or steel.

Imagine a twenty-five year old guitarist being A Cat. After a few gigs playing while fucked-up or being late, playing too loud (or just being generally unprofessional) or having a real problem with his ego, he develops a reputation as "unreliable." So the guitarist decides to finally get serious and start up his own group.

"Fuck covers," he thinks. "I've always wanted to play fusion!"

Thus, A Band Guy is born from the ashes of a Pheonix disguised as A Cat.

I'm not using any particular individuals in the aforementioned examples, but these are very common templates for a lot of the roles that most musicians have played/are playing/or will play.
Musicians playing a role? That's rich...

My point is: these two types are not only interchangeable, but NECESSARY.

Do musicians have a shelf life? Some do. Some make their own.

If A Band Guy or A Cat makes it to his dream, getting success for the music he had a part in creating, then he becomes a different type of Band Guy and Cat. He's not just playing on weekends, he's playing EVERYDAY. he's not just persuing a dream, he's WORKING IN IT. His entire life will be dependant on the fiscal success, popularity,momentum and fans his music has. If attention to finances is in place, then that musician will get paid through publishing, performing, etc...etc...

Think about the actor that works on the stage and occasionally does a commercial. Now think of the actor that makes a living playing bit parts or as an extra. Now think of the actor that has dreams of being a "star."
This is what happens when you combine the art and the commerce. The ideal and the ideas.
The reality of filming a video as opposed to imagining (aspiring to) being in one.

I'm playing a wedding tomorrow. The next day I'm playing a benefit. There's only one commonality that both those gigs have (besides the bands involved):
That's enough for me.