Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Islands of New England (12.14.16)

The Islands of New England in Second Life is a place where I can always count on having an appreciative and happy crowd. Photo by Triana Caldera.

Readers of this blog must have assumed that I became a hermit and moved to a desolate cave in the mountains after the election, but that isn't the case. Zak Claxton (he said, referring to himself in the third person) doesn't run away from challenges. But the fact is, I use this blog more for reporting on my live shows, and for the last six weeks, since November 1, I've done exactly none of them. It's a busy time of year for me, and I've had to be careful throughout 2016 to divide my musical time wisely between my live performances and the work we did to wrap up and release the They Stole My Crayon album. Last night, I finally got back into Second Life and did a show at The Islands of New England, but -- speaking of 2016 -- there's a point I'd like to make first.

"Why Are All the Musicians Dying?"
It's easy to think that the year 2016 was especially harsh with the passing of so many great musicians. Actually starting with Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister at the very end of December 2015, this past year saw us lose David Bowie, Glenn Frey (Eagles), Paul Kanter (Jefferson Airplane), Maurice White (Earth Wind & Fire), Merle Haggard, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell, Keith Emerson and Greg Lake (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), and a number of other lesser known but still impactful musicians. It's tremendously sad, but there's a pretty mundane reason. The concept of the "rock star" really came into play in the 1960s, with a batch of young men and women who were in their 20s at the time. It stands to reason that the combination of age and -- in some cases -- the rock star lifestyle would eventually take its toll.

Here's what I want you to keep in mind: it's actually surprising how many iconic musicians are still with us, at least for now. Paul McCartney. Mick Jagger. Keith Richards. Neil Young. Joni Mitchell. Roger Waters. Bob Dylan. Pete Townshend. All of Crosby, Stills & Nash. Not only are all of those musicians in their seventies and seemingly vibrant for the most part... many of them are still out rocking live and putting out new music! So, while I get the reason why it seems like we've lost so many inspirational makers of music, the reality is that we're super fortunate that we still have the ones who are still around. On a less happy note, be aware that the end of this seemingly rough year won't mark the end of seemingly immortal rock stars passing away.

The Show
Back to the present. As mentioned above, I hadn't done an SL show in six weeks, and I was a little concerned that my voice and/or guitar playing would be pretty rusty for the show at TIONE. Frankly, they were. However, I'm a much more harsh critic of my own abilities compared to everyone else; most people wouldn't have noted much of a difference from my well-rehearsed abilities, and at least I got through the hour without my voice giving out or my fingers giving up.

As is typical at TIONE, we started with a smallish crowd that built up pretty quickly once I started playing, and we had a great turnout of Zaksters... my good friends/fans who've seen and heard me play hundreds of times. I didn't have any particular theme to what I played, though I did get a couple of tunes in that I hadn't done before. I should also note that it's a special pleasure when I'm performing before or after Lyndon Heart, as I've done many times. He's a great friend, and I sincerely enjoy his show (and not just when he covers my compositions, as he did last night with "The Waiting Boy").

Doing what I do. Photo by Triana Caldera.

Wrapping up my show while the mighty Lyndon Heart awaits in the wings. Photo by Triana Caldera.

TIONE set list...
Free Man in Paris (Joni Mitchell)
Sex & Candy (Marcy Playground)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
*The Wassail Song (Traditional, arr Zak Claxton)
Man of Constant Sorrow (Traditional)
*From The Beginning (Emerson Lake & Palmer)
Don't Let It Bring You Down (Neil Young)
America (Simon & Garfunkel)
Peace Love & Understanding (Elvis Costello)
Things Behind the Sun (Nick Drake)
Blew the Dust Away (They Stole My Crayon)
Space Oddity (David Bowie)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Welcome Lyndon Improvisation (Zak Claxton)

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

It's good to be back! Massive thanks to everyone who came out to the show at TIONE, especially the following who helped support it!
Bigfoot Hendrassen, Aurelie Chenaux, Sesh Karachi, Triana Caldera, TheaDee Resident, Roan Blackburn, RansomTalmidge Resident, Brooklyn Breen, not4gods Resident, my great manager Maali Beck, and the wonderful stage manager at TIONE, my friend Christine Haiku!

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