Sitting in a pub one night. I could feel the musicians’ joy. The nods, smiles and twinkles in their eyes as they seamlessly rolled from one melody or song to another.
A few people came in, nodded to the musicians and accepted an eyebrow nod back. Looked like regulars to me. From their looks, just in from a particularly sweaty job. They sat down and took off their shoes. Digging into their packs, they pulled out their tap shoes. Then they started dancing. For the love of it.
There was a wordless almost nodless and winkless communication between the two groups – the men in love with their music and the dancers in love with their art. The dancers had just come from work – a two-hour traditional music review – for a nightcap of more dancing. Sure they talked, too. As the evening went on, they traded jokes with the band and invited patrons to join them.
Had they done this together before? Of course. But that didn’t detract from the joy of music, dance, camaraderie and the simple love of what their art. They had a wonderful time. And so did the rest of us. In a lot of pubs, you’ll see the barman comp the entertainers’ drinks. Here, the dancers bought their own.
Later, over drinks, I learned the musicians all had day jobs – but they were musicians, first last and always. We commiserated in the knowledge that society isn’t willing to pay for the people who bring us joy and knowledge, only those who bring in more money. With the same voice we reminded each other of Joni Mitchell’s Playing Real Good For Free.
When was the last time you saw a band of paperpushers go into a pub to play with their spreadsheets?
Find your passion. Follow where it leads you. Let the other stuff happen in its own time.