Sunday, September 19, 2021

Terry's Place (09.19.21)

I may not have known I had a show to do when I woke up today, but nevertheless it turned out to be a super fun Sunday afternoon. Photo by Kat.

An admission: I had very few plans on Sunday, and none of them involved doing a live music show at Terry's Place in Second Life. Allow me to elucidate.

Typically, I am very aware of upcoming events on my calendar for Second Life shows. Like, days ahead of time, if not weeks. I often plan out my set list days before the show, and usually post the event to local media and send invites the day before.Well, for whatever reason, this one went under my radar. I leisurely slept in until about 8:30 (which is super late for me). I relaxed, made coffee, checked some news headlines, all while roaming around my home in a bathrobe. It being a typical Sunday in the fall, I also took a look at the NFL schedule to confirm what games were being played and when.

At some point, I meandered by Facebook. Seeing some new notifications, I clicked one... and was greeted by a post from my manager Maali Beck in an SL live music group inviting people to come to a show that I was apparently giving.

I often respond to Maali's posts about my shows with a surprised face just to be funny. This was the first time I really meant it.

Well, if I'd been in a semi-dazed of Sunday relaxedness at the time, it disappeared quickly as I first went and checked my calendar and then the events list in SL and confirmed that indeed, I was scheduled for 1PM at Terry's Place. This wasn't bad news by any means; I just hadn't planned ahead to do it. So, snapping myself out of my Sunday stupor, I started doing several things at once, like making a set list to perform, taking a shower so I'd be more of an alert human being while doing the show, and posting an event notice and sending invites. People can't come to a show they never knew about, after all.

Visiting the '90s
I still don't quite accept that the time distance between now and 1991 is the same as 1991 to 1961. I mean, I get it in theory, but 1961 sounds like some mythical year in ancient history while 1991 seems like it wasn't long ago at all. I may still own some socks that I had in 1991.

Anyway, when I did my debut at Terry's Place in June, I visited with owner Ninja Antwoord and made it a point to find out what kind of music he was into and see if there was a good level of crossover to the stuff I also enjoyed. As it turned out, there was; he told me that most of his favorite music was '90s alt rock and grunge.

As you know, of you know me, I'm not a big nostalgia guy. I prefer to live in the present. But music is one of those things that creates a landmark in the roadmap of your life, and if you just look at one year -- 1991 -- you'll probably note that it was an extraordinary year for music that presented a sea change in the direction of popular sounds. I happened to be 22 years old at the time, so I was particularly receptive to cool new sounds. I still am today, but I was then too.

Take a look at a few of the albums that came out in 1991 alone...
  • Blood Sugar Sex Magik (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
  • Nevermind (Nirvana)
  • Metallica (Metallica)
  • Badmotorfinger (Soundgarden)
  • Achtung Baby (U2)
  • Out Of Time (R.E.M.)
There's a lot more, but holy wow, that's some great new music coming out in a short time frame! I'm not saying the '90s were some particularly spectacular time in music; there are equal arguments that the '60s, '70s, '80s, and '10s were also great in music (sorry '00s, but you just sucked). But for people who share my Generation X age range, the '90s definitely represented a time of massive changes in our lives.

Seriously, these three albums came out within two weeks of each other. Two of them came out the same day. I mean, holy shit.

Back to the '20s
When I found out about my show, one thing I wasn't worried about was the set list. I'd already determined what kind of music would be most acceptable there, so I just checked my last show there, made sure I wasn't repeating any of the tunes (I have a whole bunch from that era and in that style), and put together the list below. It couldn't have gone better.

We didn't have a giant crowd, but we had a bunch of people who seemed to appreciate the tunes I'd selected. Getting crowds in SL is a very fickle activity. There are shows I've heavily promoted that had very light attendance, and there are those I've barely mentioned that are packed with people. There are so many variables to attendance at SL events, it would take me pages to explain them all. I think the biggest one is that you aren't competing with other SL-based events at the same time; you're competing against all of life's attention requirement, which can range from people's jobs to watching football to doing house chores to spending time outside and so on. I've always told other SL performers to not get hung up on the kinds of crowds they pull, or how that fluctuates day to day, place to place.

I've had bigger crowds but literally everyone here seemed to be digging the tunes. That's what makes a good and memorable show. Photo by Kat.

Me onstage at Terry's Place. Still masked, as I will remain in SL until the day I can feel comfortable in public with my naked face. Probably still gonna be awhile. Photo by Kat.

I will tell you that everyone there seemed to enjoy the show, and I'd certainly be glad to do more shows at Terry's Place in the future. I'm also very glad I saw Maali's notice when I did; it would have been an actual panic-inducing moment had I not looked at Facebook pretty early!

Terry's Place set list...
Low (Cracker)
Bird of Paradise (Cory Hanson)
1979 (Smashing Pumpkins)
Big Empty (Stone Temple Pilots)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Heart-Shaped Box (Nirvana)
Ashes to Ashes (David Bowie)
Bag of Nothing (They Stole My Crayon)
Pink Moon (Nick Drake)
Sex & Candy (Marcy Playground)
Swirl (Charlie Martin)
Tribute (Tenacious D)
Loser (Beck)
*Terry’s Place Improv (Zak Claxton)

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

Big, big thanks to everyone who came and hung out at the show, with super duper thanks to the following who helped support it!
Donn DeVore, Lanai Jarrico, Orion Baral, Kat Claxton, Ghostie Wildmist, JAdmiral Maelstrom, Diana Renoir, TroyJaimes Resident, Trouble Streeter, Agatha Nowles, my terrific manager Maali Beck, Terry's Place hostess Ghostie Wildmist, Terry's Place owner ninjaantwoord Resident, and the show sponsor, SL Enquirer.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Hotel Chelsea (09.07.21)

This was a super fun show. I apologize to anyone who took offense to my vulgar display of extraordinary ego in my improvised last song. These things happen. Well, to me, anyway. Photo by Kat.

I ended up having a really pretty fun show at Hotel Chelsea in Second Life last night, but first I want to talk about women. I'm sure you've heard of them. They're people like men, but probably better in most ways.

The Texas Abortion Law
On September 1, one of the most restrictive abortion laws in our nation's history post-Roe v. Wade went into effect in Texas. Senate Bill 8, which was signed into law by Greg Abbott,  bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy... a point that's well before most women even realize that they are pregnant. But there's more. The law allows private citizens to sue anyone who assists the woman get an abortion, from medical facilities themselves all the way down to a person who helps a woman pay for medical treatment or even gives a woman a ride to a clinic. The icing on this nightmarish cake is that the law purposefully makes no exceptions for cases involving rape or incest.

A Little Background
You, a smart person, may be asking yourself, "Hey self, don't we live in a country where women's reproductive rights are protected constitutionally via a Supreme Court decision?", and the answer would be yes. In 1973, one of the most well-known SCOTUS decisions ever was handed down in a case called Roe v. Wade. Roe was the pseudonym for Norma McCorvey, a young woman who lived in Texas. Wade was Henry Wade, the district attorney of Dallas County, TX. The court's decision by 7-2 was that abortion fell under the 14th Amendment's right to privacy. It has also been said in times since that forcing women to carry and bear children is subjecting them to involuntary servitude, which also violates the anti-slavery rights of the 13th Amendment.

It was a busy news day in January 1973.

How Can the Texas Law Be Legal, Then?
Great question. On September 1, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote refused to block the Texas law from going into effect. However, it's likely that the first time the law is challenged on a direct basis that the court will need to either rule the law as being unconstitutional... or be forced to overturn Roe v. Wade entirely. There's too much conflicting between the two to coexist. Be aware... there's a legitimate concern that this conservative court may do just that, effectively ending safe and legal abortion in this country.

One of the most important things to keep in mind about legal abortion: abortions happen regardless of legal status, and the horror stories of back-alley abortions that lead to the maiming or death of women will become reality again if Roe v. Wade isn't maintained.

Can a Pregnancy Be Determined Within the Six Week Period?
Short answer: no. In almost every case, a woman is not aware she is pregnant within this time frame. I'll let Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explain it as she did in a recent interview. 

“I’m sorry we have to break down biology 101 on national television, but in case no one has informed him (Texas Governor Greg Abbott) before in his life, six weeks pregnant means two weeks late for your period. And two weeks late on your period for any person—any person with a menstrual cycle—can happen if you’re stressed, if your diet changes, or for really no reason at all. So you don’t have six weeks.”

Essentially, this means that the one mechanism the Texas law is using to skirt by Roe v. Wade -- this six-week grace period -- is meaningless. It places the law in direct opposition to the intentions of the constitutional ruling that is the basis of Roe v. Wade. And, said and done, wealthy people will still have access to abortions, legal or otherwise, while the poor will be the ones who are forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term.

Women's rights are human rights. That's right. Side note: women make up about 52% of the population of the world. Exactly zero men should be telling women how they are allowed to use their bodies. 

I'm not going to get into all of the ramifications of forced birth. It's disgusting, and it's just vile that here in 2021, women of our country are still treated like property with a different set of rules than men are required to abide. I'll end this little note by saying that I will do anything I can do in my small way to help prevent this law from remaining in effect, from using my influence on businesses based in Texas to participating in protests to offering aid to individual women who need help. Letting this slide would result in the possible overturn of Roe v. Wade and a massive setback to women's rights. I refuse to allow that to happen. More on this topic at a later date.

Hey, How Was That Show?
It was great despite a few things, and I'll tell you why. First, I didn't have Max Kleene performing before me, which meant I had to start from an audience of zero as opposed to getting some of his leftover crowd to kick off my show. No big thing... folks started coming in as usual as I got rolling, and we ended up with a small but fun crowd.

Not a huge crowd, but definitely a fun one. Photo by Kat.

Second, I was about halfway through the show when my voice decided to take a little vacation. I'm not sure why. I will say I haven't been doing many shows lately, nor have I been singing for other purposes. Even though I warmed up plenty, I think it was the equivalent of taking a run after a hiatus from exercise. Singing is a physical activity, and you need to do it pretty consistently for consistent results.

Am I still in a mask in SL? You betcha. I look forward to taking it off; it will symbolically represent the end of the pandemic, whenever that may be. Photo by Kat.

That being said, I was still able to push past the vocal issue and finish the show pretty well. I spent the rest of the evening after the show not being able to make much sound with my vocal cords at all, but today (the following morning), it seems fine.

Another note: this was my first show after the death of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts on August 24. I didn't make the whole show a big tribute in that regard, but I did do a few Stones songs in memory of Charlie, including one I hadn't done before. Some of the other songs in my set were chosen in solidarity with the women of Texas and around the world, for reasons described above.

Final note: as anyone who's been to a bunch of my shows can attest, I sometimes find myself with a small time gap toward the very end of my show where there's not enough time to do a full tune, but it's too far from the top of the hour to just leave. In those cases, I often improvise a little tune on the spot. As with all improvisational art, sometimes what I come up with is good, sometimes it sucks, and sometimes I find myself singing to my audience about having a big dick, as was the case last night. I offer no excuses nor explanations.

I probably won't be singing the inspirational song "Zak Claxton" again. I couldn't if I tried; I have no idea how it went. But I do recall saying some entirely inappropriate lyrics. My stream of consciousness can be a filthy river, but that's the way it goes. Photo by Kat.

Hotel Chelsea set list...
One of These Things First (Nick Drake)
Bang and Blame (R.E.M.)
*Angie (Rolling Stones)
Gimme Shelter (Rolling Stones)
The Worst (Rolling Stones)
Bird of Paradise (Cory Hanson)
A Man Needs a Maid (Neil Young)
Don’t Let It Pass (Junip)
Among the Leaves (Sun Kil Moon)
Any Major Dude (Steely Dan)
California (Joni Mitchell)
Swirl (Charlie Martin)
*Zak Claxton (Zak Claxton)

*Indicates the firsat time I've peformed this song in SL.

Huge thanks to everyone who came out to the show, and hella massive thanks to the following who helped support it!
RoseDrop Rust, shelmark Resident, Trouble Streeter , noowun Wind, Nina Brandenburg, vesti Korbitza, LillyAnnSetner Resident, Elaine8000 Resident, DennyMac Melodious, Kat Claxton, my terrific manager Maali Beck, and Hotel Chelsea manager Shyla the Super Gecko!