The Broken G-String 🎻
The stage was packed, the tent ⛺️ mostly empty and the crowd was killing time between a better act. Yet the seven of us were playing our hearts out.
It was a sweltering summer day at this Pacific North West punk and indie festival. What a folk band had any business there I'll have no idea. I was the bass player and there to do a gig. We had rehearsed enough times to where I was if I'm being honest a bit bored with my parts, but enthusiastic nonetheless.
Then in the middle of the set something that that had never happened to me before. I broke my G-String.
For those not familiar with the anatomy of a bass guitar 🎸 - typically you have four strings: E,A,D, & G. The E being the largest and the lowest sounding string and and the G being the thinnest and lightest sounding string.
So here I was in the middle of the set and I broke my G-string. Not an uncommon thing if you're a guitar player. When you're wailing on a guitar especially if you play a lot of events you might need to replace your strings once every other show. But Bass strings are different, they're durable and far more expensive. So to break one during a mild and mellow folk performance is practically unheard of.
So I quickly improvised - since I knew the songs backwards and forwards it was easy to adjust my bass lines. Then while we were still playing the same tune another string broke, my A-string. This was more complicated now that I needed to adjusts my notes to skip the missing string and play entirely on the E & D string.
Not thinking ahead I didn't bring any additional bass strings so I figured I could handle the rest of the set now that I had adjusted my frame of mind. Then the D-string broke. Here is when I started to sweat. I had to finish this entire concert with just one string.
We wrapped up the show, enjoyed a few claps and began to pack up our stuff. All the while I had never played a more intense and heartfelt performance! No grand applause and no after performance accolades. We were just filler at a musically stuffed event. No one would remember our show and I eventually left that band.
Yet sometimes life is like that. You can pour your heart and soul into a thing in front of you. And barely anyone is watching. You can work your part so well that if even under unforeseen changes you can still make it work. Yet it can amount to not much more than a story. Why am I sharing this experience?
Well you see even with a packed stage and a crowd most likely bored I had an absolute blast playing that show. Of the close to a hundred shows I had played with that group ranging from some smaller and some significantly larger audiences - none of the shows combined were as fun as that performance!
Life isn't about praise it's about playing your heart out until the music stops. I haven't forgotten that show because it stretched me. It still stretches me. When I'm caught up on approval I stop approving the very things that make me happy.
So perhaps today if you're feeling a bit blue because your work isn't finding momentum. Remember it's important to stay tethered to the joy of performing.
Thanks so much again for reading 📖