"God Bless America" doesn't mean "God Damn everybody else."
Merry Christmas, Blue Idaho
And deep, heartfelt thanks to everyone for your writing here at 43sb. Words can't convey how much I appreciate your efforts and this site.
A musician and song came to mind this morning, which I've shared if you click the link below.
More than 20 years ago, a friend booked an amazing acoustic guitarist named Billy McLaughlin for a performance at ISU. Billy and his band showed up in a big van crammed full of sound gear, instruments, speakers and people; they'd driven 1000 miles nonstop out from Minneapolis. They played an amazing show to a good crowd here in southeast Idaho, then we hung out (possibly at the Hindenberg?) for a while. Then they turned around and headed back to MN. Turns out, despite the gig being booked many months in advance, their agent hadn't found *any* gigs between there and here in either direction. Even on 1988 prices, I doubt they covered the gas money to get here.
I saw Billy again when we had him play at Mac's in Pocatello, around 1998 or '99. He'd been on the road for months, alternating between partnering with another musician and solo gigs like ours, traveling this time in a wicked-beautiful retro 1960's motor coach -- That coach was gorgeous. It must have had an acre of chrome in the coolest art-deco lines, and was powered by Detroit's finest in drivetrains and engines. I think Billy said he'd paid $60k for it and if he ever stopped touring, it'd resell for the same amount. If you've gotta tour, that's the mode of travel I'd recommend.
Around that time, Billy's career was quietly taking a tragic turn. He started having difficulty playing his trademark frenetic two-handed fretwork. He'd suddenly have hand spasms, play wrong notes, and ruin his own performances. In interviews, Billy said it was terrifying because there wasn't initially a diagnosis and he was left wondering if he was subconsciously sabotaging his playing or quite literally going insane. These muscle spasms literally destroyed his career, and it took him years to track down the obscure neurological cause, Focal Dystonia.
Since then, unable to undo this localized rebellion against focussed repetitive muscular activity, Billy has found a narrow way through. Starting in 2006, he's worked to relearn guitar left-handed. He's again pretty amazing, and he's garnering attention as an inspirational speaker, an advocate for Focal Dystonia victims, and he also arranges and coordinates musical projects. Still, it's his Wintersongs that jump to my mind each Christmas morning.
(>Billy McLaughlin, Carol of the Bells)
Again, a cool yule to you all.