A week or so after playing in a beautifully kitted out theatre in Roanoke, for people eager to listen (most of whom had made the 1.5 hour journey down the mountain from Floyd), a note arrives to me by email.
It begins by saying they had attended the Night in Roanoke, had heard good things about the tour (“meaningful”; “soul stirring”), but were sadly disappointed. Deeply disappointed was the term used, actually.
The root of the disappointment was the “dissonance of the drums and other guitar behaviour” given by members who seemed “more wrapped up in their performance than in giving meaning to process. It felt terribly disrespectful,” the note said. It concluded with describing emerging from the theatre “feeling scrambled and confused. I had no idea what message you were trying to convey,” and that other people in their party shared in the disappointment.
I read the note to Jenkinson while waiting for service at an interstate highway food joint.
“You going to respond?” he asks.
“Pffftt…nah…no. I mean, no point, right?” I say.
“What would you say, though, if you did?” he asks me.
I try on a few weak and inelegant retorts and I am surprised to discover I’m actually a little hurt by the email, so my righteousness peters out, air out of a sad balloon. I’ve since let it roll around in me a bit, and here’s what I would have said at the diner counter, and maybe to the author of the note.
- Most terms used to describe what we do are not ones that we would endorse. The Night has consequence, is what we would say…and it’s mostly a warning, not a description.
- Having expectations might be the best way to be disappointed.
- There’s no process on stage. There is a ton of listening, though.
- I can’t imagine a group of people more committed to getting out of the way than those who travel with me.
- I can’t imagine a guitarist more disinclined to “perform” than yours truly.
- I can’t imagine a singer/guitarist who has more respect for those who would leave their home on any given evening and put their hard earned money on something called a Night of Grief and Mystery.
- Scrambled and confused seems pretty much a spot-on way to feel after A Night of Grief and Mystery.
- We have no message to convey, so you can feel ok about not understanding what wasn’t there.
Respectfully, The Guitarist