From The Side of the Road… Thanksgiving 2020 edition

Thanksgiving is upon us, and for some it’s a time for reflection on all we have to be thankful for. For most, if we’re honest, it’s a time for eating as much as humanly possible, saving no room for pumpkin pie, then eating a generous slice of it anyway (Whipped cream? Yes please!). Fortunately, it’s not a mutually exclusive choice: we can eat like it’s our last meal on earth, and still take a moment (while chewing) to be grateful for all we have.

In 2020, though, it’s a challenge, isn’t it? People are in general agreement that this is the worst year ever, at least going back to 1918, when there was simultaneously a pandemic and a brutal world war. 2020 was particularly hard on fans of live music and people who play live music for a living.

This year, I thought rather than dwell any more than necessary on this traumatic period in our lives, let’s turn the clock back to 2019 and list some of the things we were all complaining about at the time. What a bunch of spoiled whiners we turned out to be:

“Our tour dates are down this year: we’re only working 150 shows. Last year it was closer to 175. We won’t survive long with numbers like that.”

“Weather killed our festival attendance. Our Friday crowd was down 25%.”

“I’m off the road for three straight weeks in January. I can’t imagine how I’m going to deal with that level of sustained boredom, never mind the lost income. Binge watching TV shows is fine for about three days and that’s all I can take.”

“The hurricane season is so bad this year, they’re already up to Hurricane Ozzie and it’s only October. At this rate they’ll get to Hurricane “Wilfred” or “Xenon”!

“Our live CD sales are still declining and we’ve been forced to start selling band logo key chains and travel mugs to make up for the loss.”

“The only thing worse than going down the road in a bus packed in with your fellow musicians is flying to gigs. Between the security hassles, checking baggage, and trying to carry your instrument on board, it never feels worth it. The last time I flew to a show, I missed my connection in Detroit and ended up traveling for almost 24 hours!”

“The IBMA World of Bluegrass is fun, but the Streetfest is too crowded. And don’t get me started on the hotel elevators. Sure, I love seeing all the people there; I just don’t need to be so close to all of them. I felt claustrophobic enough last year that I’m considering skipping the event in 2020.”

“I love interacting with fans, but some of them get a little too touchy-feely for me. I’m not even that crazy about shaking hands, let alone hugging. Can’t we have a nice conversation from across a CD table?”

“My bandmates are great, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes a break from seeing them all the time would be appreciated.”

“We just played a theater where attendance was so poor there were three seats between every person. It was almost too demoralizing to do the show.”

“I’m so tired of touching my face.”

“We’ve had three cancellations in 2019. We may not recover from that economic blow.”

Last but not least: “The flu season is terrible this year: two members of my band and I have it, the doctor’s waiting room was full, and it took me a whole week to get over mine. I probably should have washed my hands more while singing Next Sunday Darling is My Birthday, but that really gets old.”

Yes, to quote the Bluegrass Cardinals (which I made a personal pledge to do at least once a week during the pandemic) last year we really were “living in the good old days,” and maybe we still are. Never mind; that’s a horrible thought. Happy Thanksgiving!