Two things happened on Friday night that reminded me I am a believer.
The first is a little complicated. I was trolling music websites and came across a review of country songwriter Owen Temple’s new CD, Dollars and Dimes. Everything about it, from the dramatic cover shot (an aerial view of the industrial wastelands of Chicago) to the unadorned tales of working-class woes in his songs struck a chord with me, so I wrote about it on my personal blog. Owen Temple emailed me, thanked me for my post and invited me out to see him at the Red Dragon that night. He traded songs with fellow Texas troubadour Adam Carroll, each number a resilient mix of pathos and humor, both requirements for surviving the hard life. The packed house at the Red Dragon always reminds me that no matter how dire things may seem on the pop culture front, there is still a roomful of people out there that want to hear real songs sung by real people. The whole “connection” thing, though—a conversation across blog posts that sometimes seem like lone satellites tumbling through space, resulting in not only connecting with the artist, but later, the original reviewer—that caught my attention. It reminded me that these conversations are waiting to be had. We just have to start talking.
The second thing is much simpler. Later that evening, English upstarts Art Brut broke through the fourth wall that usually keeps the music and audience at safe distances. Singer Eddie Argos leapt from the stage and delivered his hyperkinetic spoken diatribe, an inspiring stream of nostalgia for the days of comic book superheroes, the first throes of love and a marked longing for the eradication of complacency that reminded me that the “do it yourself” ethos of punk rock is about action, and that anything you want in life in any arena requires action. On your part. Now. So, we are not alone and we can manifest our own destiny, that’s what I re-learned Friday night. That is why I am a believer in the transformative power of music.