Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Serenity Gardens (07.30.18)

Yet another great night at Serenity Gardens. I did lose my voice at the end, but it was in the lost-and-found so I got it back. Photo by Kat.

Before I talk about last night's show at Serenity Gardens in Second Life, a brief observation. It's funny -- not in a "ha ha" way -- that there was a time when this blog was nearly devoid of politics. The reason for that is that I simply spent far too long being overly apathetic. Don't get me wrong; I was always an informed person who stayed on top of what was going on in the USA and the world. But back then, I trusted that most of those things would work themselves out without my direct intervention, or the need to share my opinions. After all, who the fuck am I? Some middle-aged, middle-class guy who happens to be a musician, and therefore has some slightly higher level of amplification than some other folks? That certainly doesn't make me an expert on US history and global affairs in and of itself.

I really have the current GOP administration to thank for my newly-found level of activism. On nearly a daily basis, something happens that is so abhorrent that it is beyond my ability as a human being to ignore. Unfortunately, with the volume of horrific things going on, it's far too easy to become numb to them, or (worse) to let one terrible event escape your mind entirely when the next one inevitably arises. And, of course, at some point, a person has to pick and choose the areas in which he or she can devote their time and attention.

My own list of priorities is pretty simple... things like determining whether the GOP administration conspired with Russia to undermine our election process, bringing transparency to the dark money being funneled into politics through groups like the NRA, having leadership that prioritizes protecting the environment rather than furthering pollution for corporate profit, protecting the rights of workers and eliminating the massive wealth disparity, and standing by the laws that help define our freedoms as Americans, such as the Civil Rights Act, same sex marriage, Roe v Wade and more. These things are important enough to me to warrant my bringing them to people's attention when possible.

In terms of how all of this affects my live music performances... the short answer is that it doesn't, at least not much. I am well aware that a) there are people of every background and ideology who come to my shows, and it's never my preference to make anyone feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. That having been said, there have been plenty of times that I've made mention of certain current affairs during my shows. I don't demand that others feel as I do, but I'm also not hesitant to allow my audience to be clear on my feelings. I don't have any intention of making each Zak Show a platform for any political angle, but I also want to use my small sphere of influence to let like-minded people know that I am with them and support them.

One of the best aspects of doing live shows is that it gives me a full hour to not focus on having to save the world... or work, or wash dishes, or several other less-fun things. Still, when I have something important to say, I'll say it. Photo by Kat.

Serenity Gardens is a pretty sim and a great place to both perform and experience live music. Photo by Kat.

Last night's show was a good one. The fact is that most of my shows are good; I am grateful and appreciative that people want to come see and hear me play music, no matter whether it's in person, on live video, or in virtual worlds. My definition of a good show is very simple. A reasonable number of people make the effort to come see me, I perform at a level that appropriate for my experience as a live musician, and I don't have any technical glitches that stop me from playing my best. That's it. It's never about adulation or money or anything tangible like that. Occasionally, people apologize to me for having missed the show for some reason or the other, and while I appreciate the sentiment, it's never necessary.

Final note: I generally can tell when I've done a great show because there's a direct ratio of perspiration to effort. The harder I play, the more I sweat. Last night, I also managed to lose my voice entirely right at the end of the show, which left me mostly silent for a couple of hours afterwards, but then it was a nice break to not have to hear myself for a little awhile anyway.

Good crowd. Photo by Kat.

I always like it when I look out and people are enjoying themselves while listening to me play. Photo by Triana Caldera.

Serenity Gardens set list...
Dusty Rhodes (Lotus Plaza)
Northern Sky (Nick Drake)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Long Time Gone (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
Drive (Incubus)
Day After Day (Badfinger)
*Crime (Real Estate)
*Criminal (Fiona Apple)
Doin’ Time (Sublime)
You Don't Know How It Feels (Tom Petty)
Blew the Dust Away (They Stole My Crayon)
Shame Chamber (Kurt Vile)
Tea for the Tillerman (Cat Stevens)
*Serenity Improv 3 (Zak Claxton)

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

Big thanks to all who spent an hour hanging out and watching me play music, with special thanks to the following people who helped support the show!
Ray Dash, Scarlette Cazenove, AaronCabottJones Resident, TheaDee Resident, Kat Chauveau, Asimia Heron, Kat Claxton, go2smoky Resident, Triana Caldera, my excellent manager Maali Beck, and the fabulous team at Serenity Gardens, Tilly Rose and Ilsa Wilde.

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