Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Serenity Gardens (04.06.20)

Another great night at Serenity Gardens. Photo by Kat.

I just did something that perhaps I should have done a long time ago: I thanked my garbageman.

It wasn't planned. Like many of you during this pandemic, I'd seen some videos and news stories in recent times that showed people applauding the work of the "essential" workers of the world who are still going into their workplace during the lockdown. These are often doctors, nurses, and other medical staff who obviously place themselves in peril via multiple exposures to people infected by coronavirus, but they are also people who work in areas like like law enforcement, grocery stores, mass transit, and so on.

But think for a moment what life would be like without someone coming around to pick up your garbage. In a time when keeping things as clean as possible is paramount to public health, the garbageman (properly called the "waste collector", though most of them in the USA seem to refer to themselves by the more common name) has one of the most crucial roles in society. Here's something you may not know: having nothing to do with COVID-19, the garbageman has a more dangerous job than just about any other profession. Statistically, the garbageman is more likely to be injured or killed on the job than a cop. There are only a couple of other professions, like commercial fisherman or ranch hand, whose jobs are more dangerous than that of the garbageman. Every single day, they are tasked with being near broken glass, medical waste, chemicals, heavy objects falling, and much more... and that's not to mention constantly being exposed to smells and other aspects that would turn most people's stomachs.

Anyway, I was up and about early this morning as usual, and I heard the unmistakable sound of the garbage truck rumbling down the alley behind my building. I then recalled some of the stories I'd seen lately of folks applauding hospital staff during shift changes and so on, and thought, "It'd be nice to do that for other essential folks as well." The timing was perfect; I walked to the back just as the garbageman in his reflective yellow vest was getting out to grab a dumpster. We made eye contact, and over the sound of his idling engine, I stood a safe distance away and raised two thumbs to the sky and yelled, "Thanks for everything you do!", and he waved and a huge grin crossed his face, and he yelled back, "Thanks bro!". I'm going to give you a recommendation... if you leave your home (for some presumably important purpose) and run into any of the essential workers out there, please let them know that the rest of us truly appreciate the risk they are taking to keep the world as we know it going strong.

“Helping Hand (We’re All In This Together)"
A couple of weeks back, I was wrapping up a show when my fellow Second Life performer Jed Luckless messaged me. He let me know he was putting together a collaborative song with other SL musicians to raise money for charities who were providing COVID-19 relief, and would I be interested in being part of it? I said yes immediately, and the following weekend, I was able to take a few minutes and record a vocal track for Jed's song “Helping Hand (We’re All In This Together)". Again, and I've said this over and over on so many occasions: if you ever have the opportunity to help people in any way and even to a small degree with the use of your artistic talents, do it! You will never, ever regret it.

Jed named this random group of SL performers "The Helping Band", and includes Jed Luckless, Lexie Luan (who co-wrote the song with Jed), Wes West, Donn Devore, Twostep Spiritweaver, Joe Paravane, Marqs De Sade, Lexus Melodie, Boney Mosley, Dandy Pianoman, Cailidgh Spires, Lluis Indigo, and myself. Those among you who are familiar with my voice should be able to easily pick up what parts I sang on the tune. The song debuted today, and you can listen to it and make donations at http://www.helpingband.org/.

Some members of the "Helping Band" recording their parts on the tune (clockwise from top left): Jed Luckless, Lexie Luan, Cailidgh Spires, Marqs DeSade, Joe Paravane, and me.

April Tunes at Serenity Gardens
And now, open to the topic of this post, which was my show last night at Serenity Gardens. I wanted to do a set there that was a little different than my recent series of shows, so to do that, I had what I think ended up being a really good idea. Using this very blog, I started looking through many years of set lists, focused only on shows I'd done in the month of April. Choosing from a variety of shows going all the way back to 2009 or so, I put together a list of songs that, for the most part, I haven't done in years. Based on the reaction of the crowd, it was a good plan. What I sometimes forget is that while a few folks out there have been checking out my shows for well over a decade, the way people come and go in SL, I have a number of regular fans who only got into my tunes in the past few years. I think it was cool for them to listen to a bunch of tunes that in many cases, they'd never heard me perform before.

Side note, as I'll be continuing to mention: I'll be wearing a mask on my SL avatar until the world gets to a point that the COVID-19 pandemic is under control. The day that I and my friends around the world feel comfortable going to the grocery store without a mask here in real life, I'll happily remove my Second Life mask as well.

April songs on an April evening. Photo by Kat.

Me, well protected in a mask as a reminder to remain so in the real world. Photo by Kat.

Kat and I chilling after my show. Photo by Kat.

Serenity Gardens set list...
Jane (Barenaked Ladies)
Things Under Trees (They Stole My Crayon)
Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie)
The Worst (Rolling Stones)
You've Got To Hide Your Love Away (Beatles)
She's Always a Woman (Billy Joel)
A Case of You (Joni Mitchell)
Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)
Big Empty (Stone Temple Pilots)
Pink Moon (Nick Drake)
Man of Constant Sorrow (Traditional)
Behind Blue Eyes (The Who)
†Serenity Pickles (Zak Claxton)

†So, I didn't have enough time left to do a full tune without eating into the next artist's set, but had a request for my song "Pickles", and did a trimmed down silly (sillier?) version with improvised lyrics.

Huge thanks to all who came to the show. Extra big thanks to the following who helped support it!
Jed Luckless, Rusty Seisenbacher, Jaron Metaluna, Trouble Streeter, Alex Zelin, Kat Claxton, Nina Brandenburg, Triana Caldera, GilShalos Resident, my excellent manager Maali Beck, and the fabulous team at Serenity Gardens, Tilly Rose and Ilsa Wilde!

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