The Lemonade Stand #7 by Laura Zucker

Note to the reader: The editors typically request a shorter piece from our bloggers, but because Laura has been away from FAR-West for a time, we have published her longer blog in its entirety. We hope you enjoy it.

Hello my fellow FAR-Westians!!!

It’s been a while- for so many things. But you’ve never been far from my thoughts and my heart. This bizarre pandemic hiatus has given me so much (in addition to Covid!) – time, for one, to write, to record with the amazing Ed Tree, to release a new CD, to worry (a usual pastime), but mostly to reflect on what a journey this has been for me.

I was a latecomer to this singer/songwriter thing. I had lots of ideas about what it would be. I had this idea about paying dues, about getting traction, about trajectory, about creating a sustainable living with my music. So I dug in. I studied, I watched, I listened, I learned. I played every chance I got. I tried to meet as many people as I could. I went to open mics, to conferences, to workshops. I learned about what venues there were for this type of music, I learned about house concerts, festivals, and tried to get the lay of the landscape. I released 6 CDs of original music. I got lots of feedback, and I took it all to heart to hone my craft. People seemed to like what I was doing. I started to get a little more comfortable on my chosen path.

AND THEN… I know you know these words, and I’m thinking that they strike fear in your hearts as they do in mine. And then. AND THEN – a double whammy: streaming, and then pandemic. Wot the hell? I’m taxiing for takeoff and the runway is crumbling under my feet. Royalties? Nope. Shows? Online, maybe. CD sales? For those that even have a way to play CDs anymore. Streaming revenue? At $.004 a spin, we might be able to get a latte or two each year.

Even now, three years in, venues have closed, series have folded. Audiences are gingerly stepping out to test the live music waters again, but not reliably enough for hosts to be sure. Booking? The hosts that are sure owe shows to artists they had to cancel in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

So, a completely different landscape emerges, with so much fallen away it can be hard to recognize, hard to accept. But you know what? For all that has fallen away, here is what is revealed to me, what remains: the amazing community I’ve found, the friends I’ve made playing music, the artists and songs I LOVE that I’ve discovered, the acts of generosity I’ve been given – guest rooms, meals, an impromptu guitar lesson, a vocal track for a song I’ve written, a co-write, a constructive bit of feedback that made a song feel just right, a kind, supportive word, hands to hold me up when I was feeling discouraged, the joy of finding JUST THE RIGHT WORD for a lyric, the opportunity to create opportunities for other artists.

I have not created a sustainable LIVING just playing my own music. I have not added to my bank account in any significant way. But I have created the most sustainable LIFE, full of creativity, of kindred spirits with whom to share hearts and souls in a world that often doesn’t get us. What remains? The Muse. The Work. The wonderful community. To quote a songwriter I know pretty well, “I thought I knew what I needed /Oh, sweet irony/ while I was out there looking/Your sweet love found me” (from Haven, on Say Yes).

Thank you for taking me in.

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