Is It My Turn?

To cleanse myself of the heavy post I wrote about last week’s new thing, I am keeping this one (mostly) light and fun.

My friend Jason is a local musician and librarian extraordinaire. He has fronted a classic grunge-style garage band here in Spokane for many years, which means he has connections to performers and artists throughout the Inland Northwest. Jason is also a forward-thinking, innovative, and creative person. So it came as no surprise to me that he decided to marry his background in the music scene with his full-time work as a city librarian.

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Jason came up with an idea to start a new monthly event called Lilac City Live. It is modeled after traditional late night talk shows like The Tonight Show and Late Night with Conan O’Brien. There is a stage with flattering lighting, friendly and funny hosts, a live studio audience, a city backdrop (in our case, it’s real and it’s beautiful), and a litany guests coming on to promote their latest work.

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Seriously, our city is beautiful and this view is unmatched.

I’ve never been to a taping of a talk show, though I’ve always wanted to, and if I ever make it out to New York or Los Angeles, attending one is on the top of my to-do list. However, Lilac City Live comes pretty close to what I imagine a live taping is like. Except it was in the library. With a cash bar.

That’s right, folks, we drank IN A LIBRARY. I bet you’ve never done that! Well, maybe you have, but probably not legally.

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Ryan Dean Tucker and Sean Glasgow were funny and likable.

The show was hosted by Ryan Dean Tucker and Sean Glasgow, who once hosted their own show called Beat City Live. Guests of this night’s episode included author Sharma Shields, whose book The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac was released to critical acclaim in 2015 and who has a new book coming out soon; Amber Hoit, a very talented local fine artist; Marshall Mclean, one of my favorite local musicians; and Ryan McComb, a standup comic who will have his first showcase at the Spokane Comedy Club soon.

Friends, who knew Spokane could be so cool?

The answer is me. I did. That’s why my wife and I still live here.

But for real, it’s been quite the journey to see Spokane transition from a dead-end town with a serious lack of culture to a young, lively town full of entrepreneurs and creative people who are building this town into a destination for people who want a city that is affordable and unique.

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Marshall Mclean and Justin Landis serenaded us with two original songs.

So these young people are creating and running things like Terrain, Lilac City Fairy Tales, The Bartlett, Spark Central, Lilac City Live, Bazaar, Volume, Crave, etc. Meanwhile, I’m writing about eating a goddamn hamburger.

Folks, I try not to feel as though I missed my window, but in some ways, I think I did. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately, and people like Tiffany Haddish and Charlamagne tha God discuss how many years they’ve been at their craft, how many years they spent in the trenches slogging away, and are just now getting their dues. If I slog that long at this craft before I ever get paid for it, I’ll be in fifties or older. Will anyone care by then? Will my voice be relevant?

Is it even relevant now?

I’m so proud and excited and invigorated by the cool, important, artistic things my friends and acquaintances are doing, but I can’t help but feel as if my struggles with mental health and my full-time career as a teacher have hindered my ability to do anything of note with my life.

My wife tells me my voice is important and unique, but I’m not so sure. There are plenty of women out there telling their stories who have much more to say and in better words than I do. Is there still room for me? I truly don’t know. There are so many things I want to say, and I want people to hear them and read them and like them (or hate them), but maybe that isn’t my destiny.

Whenever I get to thinking about the paths I didn’t take, or took too late, I try to remember that there are others who found their groove later in life. My aunt Wendy is one of them. For as long as I’ve known her, she wanted to be a musician. But she was shy and didn’t think anyone would truly be interested in her music. She was also a mom, a wife, and a full-time paralegal. She just never took the time to give herself a shot at her dream.

That is, until she was in her forties. She started with private guitar lessons and recording covers of well-known country songs on her home computer. Then she branched out into open mic nights, where she met others who found her voice to be beautiful, unique, and necessary. Now she’s in her own band, Blackfoot Daisy, and performs all over Atlanta.

Maybe there’s no such thing as too late. One can only hope.

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