Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Serenity Gardens (08.28.17)

A happy crowd enjoys the Zak Show at Serenity Gardens. Photo by Kat.

Immediately after each of my live music shows in Second Life, as soon as I thank my audience and depart the stage, the very first thing I do is copy/paste the log of local chat into a document that I save to check out later. A few of my Zakster fans are aware of this, but the rest of you might not be. Having that log comes in handy often. While I'm in the midst of performing, I do my best to focus on the music I'm creating, so I miss a good deal of the banter that goes on amongst my crowd, and that's fun to check out after the fact when I can relax and read at my leisure. Also, I can look back and see which songs caused good/bad/indifferent reactions among my various fans and friends.

There are other situations when the chat logs from my shows have come in handy. These logs go all the way back to 2006 when I first started performing live in SL, so a simple search on my computer can tell me every single show a person had attended. I can't remember why this came up, but a little while back, I let Eli Schlegal know that the first time he attended one of my shows was January 29, 2008. On a more sad note, when I hear that someone I've met in SL has passed away, I often check my chat logs to see if/when they'd seen me perform. It's a little record of their existence and some note that indeed, we'd had the opportunity to interact. I find it comforting in that aspect. Or then, there's the case of a super Zakster fan (and good friend) like Auerlie Chenaux, who's been to 156 Zak Shows over the years. It's fun to be able to pull stats like that, or at least it is for me. In case you're wondering, I just noted that the first time Aurelie saw me perform was June 9, 2008. See? These facts are fun, but are only possible if I have the data available.

Wake of the Flood
As long as we're talking about data, let's talk about the weather. Last weekend, Hurricane Harvey barreled into coastal Texas, rapidly gaining strength just before landfall. The results of the devastation are still being measured, and the storm system is still delivering more rain to the area. It's so bad that the National Weather Service had to adopt entirely new scales to show the vast amount of rainfall in the area. We humans have been measuring patterns in weather for many years, since it has such a drastic effect on our lives. With amazing scientific research, we can even determine things like rainfall and temperature going back millennia. Analyzing this data shows that indeed, the weather of planet Earth has had massive variations over the course of time, but the effect of humans over the last 200 or so years in which we've been an industrialized society has changed the natural variations in weather patterns. Something like 95% of scientists are in agreement that the rapid changes in global climate are directly correlated to the actions of man pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The level of rainfall brought by Hurricane Harvey exceeded all previous scales.

This kind of devastation is unprecedented, and perhaps could be avoided with better treatment of our planet... the only home we have. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Whether or not you believe in manmade climate change isn't important. What is important are the results. It's entirely possible that tragic weather events like Hurricane Katrina and now Hurricane Harvey, and their resulting devastation, could be the direct result of man's treatment of the planet. This really shouldn't be a controversial topic. If the worst thing that happens as a result of collecting, analyzing, and reacting to weather data is that we have a nicer planet that's more free of pollution, that's fine with me. As time goes on and technologies are birthed that allow us to a) have cleaner energy sources to stop the damage we're doing, and b) better predict and control the weather (and prevent disasters like Harvey), we'll all be better off as a result. The only way this is even a remote possibility is by supporting the work of scientists who devote their lives to try and figure out this world in which we live.

So How About That Show?
Before I started my series of bi-weekly Monday night shows there, I genuinely did not have any idea that Serenity Gardens was going to be as good as it has been for me. I've consistently had excellent crowds there, and for whatever reason, I seem to do really good performances when I play there. Some of it is likely due to the feeling that I am appreciated and well supported by the owner, Ilsa Flanagan, and her great staff. Regardless of the reasons, I have yet to do a single show there of which I didn't feel proud afterwards. As has been my pattern in recent times, I made it a point to do some songs I'd never before performed, and reached a little deeper into my repertoire to do some tunes I hadn't touched in a long time. I also wanted to acknowledge my Texan friends, some of whom were in the crowd despite dealing with flood waters, by doing a song by the great Texan songwriter Townes Van Zandt.

If people can feel like they get away from the challenges of life for a little while at my shows, I'm doing it right. Photo by Kat.

I know I've said it a lot, but Serenity Gardens really is a beautiful virtual environment for live music. Photo by Kat.

Serenity Gardens set list...
Free Man in Paris (Joni Mitchell)
Something Else (Zak Claxton)
*You Oughta Know (Alanis Morissette)
Blew the Dust Away (They Stole My Crayon)
Shame Chamber (Kurt Vile)
Pancho & Lefty (Townes Van Zandt)
Black Peter (Grateful Dead)
Drive (Incubus)
Love Hurts (Everly Brothers)
*Dusty Rhodes (Lotus Plaza)
Games Without Frontiers (Peter Gabriel)
Lost Cause (Beck)

*Indicated the first time I've performed this song in SL.

Huge thanks to all who came out to the show, with special kudos to the following who helped support it.
Luis Lockjaw, Raspbury Rearwin, RoxxyyRoller Resident, Triana Caldera, Asimia Heron, go2smoky Resident, ErikKottzen Resident, Christine Haiku, PHINEAS Fride, Kat Claxton, Tyche Szondi, RansomTalmidge Resident, TheaDee Resident, my terrific manager Maali Beck, and the great management team of Serenity Gardens, Tilly Rose and Ilsa Wilde!

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