Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Serenity Gardens (01.13.20)

It was great to be back at Serenity Gardens, doing my Zak thing. Photo by Kat.

Well hello there, readers. It's my first post of a new decade. Or is it?

Time is weird, and no matter what you think about it, you're almost certainly wrong. What time is it now? Depends on where you are. And what is "now"? Is it when I'm writing these words? Is it when you're reading them? If you read this again later, is it still "now"? If you want to go deep into the abstract aspects of time, it goes all the way up to the theories of Albert Einstein that prove that time and space are relativistic, rather than the same for everyone at every point in the universe. Time is literally different depending on the frame of reference of the observer. If I was flying in an orbit around a black hole, for example, time would seem normal to me. But if you were watching me from a distance, I would appear to slow down and eventually seem to nearly stop. That's gravitational time dilation, and we've reached a point in technology here on Earth that absolutely proves it, with our manmade satellites having to be recalibrated to account for these differences in order to function for things like GPS navigation functions.

But we're not talking about anything as cool as that. Instead, this argument is the rather pedestrian aspect of calendars, and when we actual mark the start of decades and centuries and the like. There's a valid argument that, for example, the 21st century didn't begin on January 1, 2000, but rather on January 1, 2001. This is true because the first year of the Gregorian calendar was 1 AD, and... yeah, I get it, but it's all really silly to me. The thing I can say with certainty is that decade references like "the '90s" are aligned with their numbers, running in that example from 1990-1999. So, I am pretty confident that we are now in the '20s, making this the first post of the decade. So, we're back where we started when I began this post.

The NAMM Show
Every January for me since 1993 -- 27 years ago, astoundingly -- my life gets somewhat taken over by the preparation and execution of something called The NAMM Show. It's a huge trade show for the music and audio products industry, the area of business that's kept a roof over my head ever since I got out of college. NAMM is such a large and important event that companies in my industry often start preparing for it in the summertime to be sure to be ready for it in January. On my end of things -- marketing and advertising and public relations and the like -- my first NAMM deadlines for this year's show were all the way back in early November, and almost every day between then and now have had some NAMM-related task to accomplish. It's a massive undertaking and getting ready for it can make for a super stressful time of year.

However, most of the stress involved is in the preparation for the show, rather than the show itself. Once I roll into the convention center, I'm usually feeling pretty good about things, and all of the planning and organization and creation of the content that I do for my job is well received. While experiencing a little bit of anticipatory anxiety is pretty normal for most people exhibiting at a large trade show, I have gotten better over the years at not allowing it to overwhelm me, and while I am definitely looking forward to its successful conclusion as I do every year, I don't have any of the pointless dread that I've felt going into the show as I used to experience when I was younger. I think things will be fine.

Back to Serenity
So, what would have been my previous show at Serenity Gardens was scheduled during the time that Ilsa Flannigan shuts down for the holidays, and the show two weeks before that was when I was in the midst of a round of bronchitis, which forced me to do an hour-long story reading rather than a musical performance. It had therefore been six weeks since the last time I was able to do a full-on Zak Show at Serenity, and I was definitely ready to get back up on that stage and do what I do.

Ilsa tends to redecorate Serenity Gardens based on the seasons, while still leaving the recognizable aspects of the structure in place. It looked great for my show. Photo by Kat.

I was a little concerned about my voice after a couple of rounds of illnesses, but it held up fine and everyone seemed to have a good time. Photo by Kat.

Just me. Photo by Kat.

The show went really well. Since I am still partially recovering from the cold I got right after the bronchitis (yeah, it's been a fun season of sickness), I was a little concerned about how my voice would hold up, but it turned out that everything felt great as I was launching into my first song, and stayed that way throughout. Given the circumstances of my time and attention being pulled in fifty direction due to my upcoming trade show, I knew this particular set at Serenity wasn't the best time to try and add new songs, but that's something I look forward to doing at subsequent shows. By the time of my next show there, on Monday January 27, my voice should be sufficiently recovered from NAMM to try some new stuff then. We'll see if my sanity is equally recovered to follow through on this.

Serenity Gardens set list...
Wonderwall (Oasis)
Things Behind the Sun (Nick Drake)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Help Me (Joni Mitchell)
Dead Flowers (Rolling Stones)
Wichita Lineman (Glen Campbell)
Thank U (Alanis Morissette)
Adia (Sarah McLachlan)
Blew the Dust Away (They Stole My Crayon)
Pickles (Zak Claxton)
Don’t Let It Pass (Junip)
She Keeps Me Warm (Mary Lambert)
Shame Chamber (Kurt Vile)

Big thanks to everyone who came to Serenity Gardens for the show, and special judos to the following who helped support it!
Kat Chauveau, Bee Blackrain, Trouble Streeter, Sesh Kamachi, Kat Claxton, Kitzie Lane, Skeat Abonwood, my excellent manager Maali Beck, and the fabulous team at Serenity Gardens, Tilly Rose and Ilsa Wilde!

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