When is it time? Playing out vs. staying home

     The title says it all. I've started asking myself this question a lot more frequently in the last year or so. When IS it time to sort of retire from gigging life, spend more time with the family, sell off some gear and play for my own pleasure at home when I feel the need? I'm mostly thinking out loud here but I know that time is coming sooner than later.

     I've always said that the real reason I perform is because of the people I perform in front of. It's not so much the band I'm playing with or the money I make. If it were, I'd be playing out much more than I do. I still enjoy it but I also enjoy spending time with my family. My kids are getting older now and even though I'm very lucky to be able to be around them much more than most dads, I still feel like I'm missing out on some things from time to time. Add in the usual music business drama and stupid stuff that seems to never go away, common sense sometimes tells me the headaches and aggravation aren't really worth it in the end.

     In the past 11+ years (since my oldest daughter was born), I've bought and sold so much gear that I could have opened my own music store if I had kept everything. It leads to the question: why? The answer seems simple....because in order to perform at the level I'm comfortable with, I need these certain tools like a carpenter needs his hammer or a doctor needs a stethoscope. That may sound funny, but other musicians reading this know what I mean. If I were to sell some of this stuff, I'd probably have a decent down payment for a new house.

     That also leads me to the recording side of my life. As some of you reading this know, I released my first ever solo instrumental album last year, Voiceless, which proceeds are being donated to Hasbro Children's Hospital to help fight Crohn's disease.  It was a great experience and I have a ton of people to thank for helping me out with it. I'm currently writing with a couple of friends of mine to hopefully release a new full band album. While I enjoy this, it's also time consuming and comes with many of the same downfalls as performing live does. With everything I do, I can't go at it half-assed or take my time, I need to go at it full steam and with everything I've got. I can't sit and relax until I'm satisfied that things get done. And as with performing/booking/practicing/tone chasing, not everyone is wired the way I am. Sometimes I have to step back and assess things to reel things back in. I guess what I'm saying is that it's not easy for me. To be honest, it does cause me stress that I really don't want or need anymore.

     What I've written about in this blog is something I'm fighting more and more, every day, every time I load my gear into my car to head to a show or sit down to lay down a guitar track. The end for me is not close but I'm much closer to the end than some of you reading this may think. It's becoming a constant minor struggle of "is it really worth all the time and money I put into it? Or would I be happier just picking up my guitar, in my home, and playing what and when I feel like playing?" I've been blessed with a great family, friends, opportunities to perform and record and I'm thankful for all of that. There just comes a time when it IS time. A time to just decompress from this whole business and try to relax and enjoy life. If there are any other musicians out there reading this that have had these same type of thoughts, I'd love to hear from you. After all, music will always drive me in life, but it may be getting to the time when I need to get behind the wheel and steer my path.

2 comments

  • Eric Corbett

    Eric Corbett Worcester, MA

    Well said my friend! as a musician myself I too have been asking my self the same question, I have been playing for 27 years (drums, bass) and there have been many times when I have been very selfish with my time and the need to have things complete to feel satisfied, I have missed many things in my childrens life because of it ( giging, recording and plain old exhaustion were my excuses) I bought sold traded more gear than I can recall but still have kept going to the point of almost losing my family, I have slowed down quit a bit only playing out once every few months ( from 8-12 shows a month, just plain nuts! and nothing to show for it) just to please my need and love for music, but yes the lugging of gear, the crappy weather, the stress of the gigs period weigh very heavy on the body and mind and the road is coming to and end sooner than later....the fact of the matter is (a fact I wish I learned long ago) is I miss the family time more than I miss the stage time / life is busy enough with work and errands and time is very little in between.......wish I knew the answer to the question myself, but i too see a very short road left to travel!! good luck in your choices and enjoy life!!!

    Well said my friend! as a musician myself I too have been asking my self the same question, I have been playing for 27 years (drums, bass)
    and there have been many times when I have been very selfish with my time and the need to have things complete to feel satisfied, I have missed many things in my childrens life because of it ( giging, recording and plain old exhaustion were my excuses) I bought sold traded more gear than I can recall but still have kept going to the point of almost losing my family, I have slowed down quit a bit only playing out once every few months ( from 8-12 shows a month, just plain nuts! and nothing to show for it) just to please my need and love for music, but yes the lugging of gear, the crappy weather, the stress of the gigs period weigh very heavy on the body and mind and the road is coming to and end sooner than later....the fact of the matter is (a fact I wish I learned long ago) is I miss the family time more than I miss the stage time / life is busy enough with work and errands and time is very little in between.......wish I knew the answer to the question myself, but i too see a very short road left to travel!! good luck in your choices and enjoy life!!!

  • Tim

    Tim FL

    Hey Rich, Nice blog and I understand as well as appreciate your thoughts. I have been "in the business" for quite a while too. I still do gigs with my current band. I think the real question that needs to be at the forefront is, "do I still enjoy this?" I mean I got into playing because it is a passion for me. When I was younger it was simply so much FUN that I didn't want to do anything else. Now that I am older, things have changed a bit in that I don't dedicate ALL my time to practicing or playing. I, like you, have a family, kids that are getting older (9, 13), house, dog, etc. I sometimes wonder what would happen if I did focus 100% on music. Yet, I do run into trouble there because I DO want to have the time with my family and do other things as well. However, truthfully I do spend time with them. I make time for family. Actually, I have more time with them than I have in the past when I was traveling a lot for work. Music isn't my full time job, meaning it is not paying my bills. So, by definition it must fall back into the "serious" hobby category. Now, in the past I have spent time on tour where I WAS playing for a living. However, that's not the present star of affairs. I hear what you are saying about there gear as well. I have WAY more than I need AND am happy with what I have at the moment. As I mentioned above, I look at it like a "serious" hobby. Some guys have cars or boats, some guys have guns, hunting and fishing, some guys have a ton of sports equipment. I have music gear...and a small down payment is probably accurate, HA. Will there come a time to downsize and simply play for myself? I am sure there will, however that isn't now. I am still happy playing and still happy gigging. I do get paid enough to keep the regular music related necessities (gas, strings, maintenance, etc) going. I also enjoy the time I spend with the band because we are all of a similar school of thought...that music is fun! Sure we are serious about our shows, we rehearse and do the best we can to entertain, but when it ceases to be fun, then we may need to have a different conversation. That said, there may also be phases to this. Maybe what this means is even if the genre I play changes as I get older, even if the way I play changes as I feel differently, as long as the enjoyment I get from music is still there, you will still see me playing. I think in the end it comes down to enjoying the time I spend playing, enjoying the time I spend with family, enjoying whatever it is I am doing at the moment and NOT wishing I was somewhere else. I don't enjoy putting too much pressure on myself or pushing toward any ONE thing in singularity. I believe there IS space for the things that are important to me, whatever they are. Thanks again for bringing this up and for being honest about what you are thinking. It allowed me to also assess where I am and why I still play and gig. Music and what goes along with it is a part of me and I plan to keep playing as long as I am still having a great time doing it.

    Hey Rich,
    Nice blog and I understand as well as appreciate your thoughts. I have been "in the business" for quite a while too. I still do gigs with my current band. I think the real question that needs to be at the forefront is, "do I still enjoy this?" I mean I got into playing because it is a passion for me. When I was younger it was simply so much FUN that I didn't want to do anything else.

    Now that I am older, things have changed a bit in that I don't dedicate ALL my time to practicing or playing. I, like you, have a family, kids that are getting older (9, 13), house, dog, etc. I sometimes wonder what would happen if I did focus 100% on music. Yet, I do run into trouble there because I DO want to have the time with my family and do other things as well. However, truthfully I do spend time with them. I make time for family. Actually, I have more time with them than I have in the past when I was traveling a lot for work. Music isn't my full time job, meaning it is not paying my bills. So, by definition it must fall back into the "serious" hobby category. Now, in the past I have spent time on tour where I WAS playing for a living. However, that's not the present star of affairs.

    I hear what you are saying about there gear as well. I have WAY more than I need AND am happy with what I have at the moment. As I mentioned above, I look at it like a "serious" hobby. Some guys have cars or boats, some guys have guns, hunting and fishing, some guys have a ton of sports equipment. I have music gear...and a small down payment is probably accurate, HA. Will there come a time to downsize and simply play for myself? I am sure there will, however that isn't now. I am still happy playing and still happy gigging. I do get paid enough to keep the regular music related necessities (gas, strings, maintenance, etc) going. I also enjoy the time I spend with the band because we are all of a similar school of thought...that music is fun! Sure we are serious about our shows, we rehearse and do the best we can to entertain, but when it ceases to be fun, then we may need to have a different conversation.

    That said, there may also be phases to this. Maybe what this means is even if the genre I play changes as I get older, even if the way I play changes as I feel differently, as long as the enjoyment I get from music is still there, you will still see me playing. I think in the end it comes down to enjoying the time I spend playing, enjoying the time I spend with family, enjoying whatever it is I am doing at the moment and NOT wishing I was somewhere else. I don't enjoy putting too much pressure on myself or pushing toward any ONE thing in singularity. I believe there IS space for the things that are important to me, whatever they are.

    Thanks again for bringing this up and for being honest about what you are thinking. It allowed me to also assess where I am and why I still play and gig. Music and what goes along with it is a part of me and I plan to keep playing as long as I am still having a great time doing it.

Add comment