“In the days of my youth…”, or so the song goes. It used to be fairly easy to find musicians for a project, growing up in New Jersey a stone’s throw from NYC (maybe if you had an arm like the Hulk, but you know what I mean). You could walk into your local music store and hang a flyer on the bulletin board, or, in the case of Muscara’s, the NJ version of Manny’s, where pros actually shopped, you could create a post in their notebook. If that wasn’t enough, you could list in the Help Wanted section of the Bergen Record. They actually had a section for musicians. You could also use the Want Ad Press – three lines for $3 and it would run for something like a month. if you were really daring, you could use the Classifieds section of the Village Voice, or the Aquarian, the free underground paper.
Paper. Other than wiping our arses with it, what do we use paper for these days? Junk mail? Bills? Weekly flyers for stuff you do not need? Lost pet signs? All YES. Finding musicians? Not so much.
So, what do we have now to replace that resource of finite range? Why, the Internet, of course! That wonder upon which these very words have been etched is the sole source for locating kindred souls for musical projects (once called bands, but due to their transitory nature, not so much anymore). Websites like Bandmix, Reverbnation, and Gigmor promise to aid us in our search for others to do that thing for which they were intended and without which would have no purpose. A pity the local music stores and studios did not share this mission. I once spoke to the owner of a local practice studio about putting up a bulletin board in his lobby in order to promote musicians and bands finding each other. It would increase his business, I explained to him, if more people were able to find a match and then actually use his facility to practice, rather than give up in disgust after not finding that drummer/bassist/vocalist who they needed to complete their outfit.
“Sounds like a good idea.”
Must have felt good at the time but nothing ever was done about it. Kind of like a fart. It passes your lips, feels good, then smells for a moment before dissipating in the atmosphere. Anyway, that brings me to Craigslist and the culture therein.
Craigslist, that great Want Ad Press in the Cloud, is the only local resource that we musicians may use to find one another. It is a great wasteland, much like the Commonwealth wasteland I inhibit on a nightly basis these days. You can scrounge around looking for things you can use, only to turn up tin cans, dirty ash trays, and teddy bears.
First, you have the people who look at your ad and do not click with it. That’s fine. I get that not everyone even knows who Helios Creed is, or wants to sound like him. So many wanting to stick to playing classic rock, or worship music, or some manner of hip hop or metal. Sure, maybe what i do is borderline metal, but what a metal head wants is to sound like every other mainstream metal head. So, no dice there.
Then you have the people who only want a working situation. Fine. I get that, as well. Some folk don’t work a real job, some never have, always managing to scrape by playing bars and lounges. If you ask them, “do you even like that music”, the response is “it pays.” Yes it does. Pass.
Next are those who respond to your add, then never get back to you after you respond. It is almost like they are too timid to meet someone new, so they “reach out and touch” you via email once, then shrink off into the shadows after. Perhaps it is the way in which you (I) respond, giving information about the project, connecting them with links, that overwhelms them. I would hope that, if they were not interested, they would just say, “Sorry, this is not what I was looking for”, but no, you get nothing. Dead silence.
So, that brings us to the cause for my alarm. The ageists. These are people who may share your love for music, who don’t mind practicing it, jamming it, playing it out for little money. They know the current crop of oddball bands that are very similar though heavily derivative of the oddball bands that I like, and that’s good. instead of calling a highly complex, technical and somewhat disturbing form of rock music art rock they call it math rock. That’s all good. However……
If you are above the age of 30-something, 40 tops, they consider you invalid. No matter that you may have been playing this form of music nearly all your life. You are (I am) too old to get it, or something.
Perhaps it’s my appearance. Too bald, too fat.
Considering that a majority of the hipster doofuses that perform the stranger forms of music are often balding, often overweight, this should not be an issue.
Wrinkles? So what? Put me in the rear of the stage, behind the guitarist who is striving for the attention of the young females! Just think, one less guy chasing after the groupies. Nope.
White hair? Many bleach their hair white to generate some sort of otherness. So my hair is naturally white! What the heck?
Well, of course, one never gets an answer, other than some mumbled bullspit about demographics. What is that, the “prematurely bald able to eat a whole pizza in a single sitting” demographic? It was suggested to me once that people don’t want to play in a band with their cool uncle. *shrugs*
I annoying part of all this is that I am a better musician than I have ever been, have better gear, and a lifetime’s worth of ideas, but no one to share them with. My problem is that I am extrinsically motivated. I do not gain satisfaction from pulling all of my ideas together by myself and recording them, though that may be my only recourse. Furthermore, I do not find much inspiration in “Internet collaborations”. I like to be in a room full of gear and musicians, and actually hear and feel the music as I see it being performed. Imagine that.
Oh, well. Getting old is not just a physical process, it is also a social process by which all of your options are stripped from you, one by one, until you are left with nothing but senior communities, old age homes, and the grave. I’m not ready for any of those yet, but I am beginning to see the brick wall in the road ahead, just like Endsville Eddie.