Thoughts On A Friday At Gino's

Demmi's MarketIt seems so strange that my band, Systematic Chaos, has suddenly wound up with a time slot on a Friday at Market On 7th. We’ve been bugging the owner, Gino, for ages about letting us play some on the weekends there, and he’s been pretty resistant to the idea. Now suddenly, when I was talking to him earlier in the week about our guitarist, John, and I doing some kind of acoustic thing on Wednesday, he asks us if we can play on Friday night. This is especially tedious because our drummer, Del, is leaving (which was the reason for wanting to do the acoustic thing). But Del agreed to play this Friday gig for us.
So, now that everybody knows that Del is leaving, what can we reasonably expect from this gig? Hopefully we’ll just get together and jam, giving Del a proper send-off and one last good show from Systematic Chaos. But there is bound to be at least some discomfort, knowing that this is pretty much it, and owing to the fact that there’s at least a part of me that feels that Del is really leaving us in the lurch here. I wish him the best, and I certainly understand it when someone has to go where their heart leads them, but it’s frustrating to me because of all the work we put into the band.
Of course, I was thinking about sticking it out only until after the Cars For Pinks gig myself, so it’s hypocritical of me to be annoyed at Del. I suppose the differences are in how I would have handle my departure versus the way Del has handled his so far. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. Either way, I’m very aware of the intricacies involved in me being annoyed at Del for doing something that I myself was thinking about doing in early October.
There’s no telling where all this will lead. I don’t know if Del intends to just stop playing with us right away (which, with two other bands demanding his attention, is a reasonable assumption), but I’ve already discussed with Gino the possibility of John and I keeping something going in that Wednesday time slot at Market On 7th. Whether that’ll be as a full band called Systematic Chaos or some kind of acoustic Blues thing remains to be seen. All I know is that there will probably be some original material involved.
So, a lot is up in the air at the moment, and there’s no telling where all this may lead. I was intending to work up an acoustic solo show and go alone into some of the venues around here. Now, suddenly, I have an opportunity to work on that. But I still can’t help but feel a sense of loss, somehow, that Systematic Chaos never had a chance to flourish and come anywhere near its potential. In the end, I suppose, that’s the risk when you rely on other people. They tend to do their own things and go their own ways, and most of the time nothing turns out the way you expected it to.
I suppose that, if anything, that’s what’ll be weighing on my mind as I head to Ybor City tonight for what will most likely be Systematic Chaos’ last club gig (with Del, at least). We’re not doing this for the band, because essentially the band no longer exists. Barry, our other guitar player, has already taken off. So if there’s still a band, it’s me and John, and I don’t know where John stands on all this. Hopefully we can just enjoy tonight and get through the gig, and part ways with Del like gentlemen. There’s no point in being angry with anyone simply because they wanted something else.
It’s like I told Barry last night on the phone, we all have to look out for ourselves. It’s not like we haven’t all been in dozens of different bands. It’s not like we’ve never experienced a band falling apart before. You pick up the pieces and you move on to the next project. I suppose all I feel anxious about at this point is that I’m finally beginning to accept that the only way I’ll ever be happy is if I’m up there on stage singing my own material. I’ve spent too many decades standing at the back of the stage being the bass player, while ego-maniacs with only a thimble-full of talent stood at the front of the stage and lived out their rock star fantasies. Maybe it’s finally time to get down to business.
That’s why tonight feels so strange to me. It’s not just that Del is leaving and that John and I know it. It’s not just the idea of playing before a Friday crowd in Ybor with a band that’s coming apart at the seams. I think, for the most part, the thing that gives me some unease is knowing that this gig represents a transition of sorts. And it means stepping out of the proverbial shadows once and for all and bringing my own music into the spotlight (a scary enough proposition unto itself).  As happens so often in life, there was before, and there was after. I suppose, with John and I intended to do an improvised acoustic Blues thing at Market On 7th next Wednesday, I feel that this gig is the dividing line. There’ll be no going back.

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