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  • Writer's pictureJH

Put yourself out there

October 12, 2017

I’m writing this while sitting in a recording studio, where I'm tracking drums and doing background vocals for the first album by Lindsey Burns and the Lonelies – a circumstance that five or six years ago wouldn’t even have been on my radar. It’s not just that I didn’t know Lindsey back then. I didn’t really know anybody in a musical sense, at least in terms of playing and recording.

Truth is I came late to this game.

Like, really late.

I’ve played drums off and on since I was a teenager, but I was pushing 40 by the time I started looking at drumming as more than a hobby. Not that I wasn’t playing at the time. I was happily pounding away in my basement, but I was focused on other things – writing mostly – and music was an afterthought.

I was also afraid. I had opportunities to play out, but I turned them down because I wasn’t ready, or it wasn’t convenient, or whatever other excuse came to mind. Mostly I just didn’t have very much confidence in my playing. I didn’t think I was good enough, so I didn’t put myself out there and take the chance.

That all changed one warm Caribbean evening in Jamaica. I was at a resort, watching the house band play covers after dinner. Writing was falling apart on me after years of beating my head against a wall. The house band was great, and they were having a ball on stage. As I watched them, something amazing happened. I heard an intuitive voice so clear that it was almost audible say, “You have to start playing music now.”

And I listened.

It took courage, but when I got home from my vacation I answered an online ad on a musician-seeker website. Not long after, a guitarist and bass player showed up at my house. They were Tyler and Mike – now the guitarist and bass player in my band Hiroshima Hearts. We started playing together, and just about six years later we’ve seen some pretty incredible stuff happen. We’ve played around Ontario, opened for Finger Eleven and Nazareth and others, recorded CDs, made videos, and had an awesome time.

About two years after the band started, I had another intuition to start a music blog. Again, I listened. I started the blog, which opened up opportunities to interview some of my heroes (Tom Keifer and dUg Pinnick, for example), and meet lots of local artists. One of them was singer/songwriter Carly Thomas. In prepping for Carly’s interview, I listened to her music, which reminded me of Sarah Harmer (whose music I love and who I'm dying to play with - Sarah, just give me one chance!). Carly's a wonderful songwriter and her music grabbed me right away. I didn’t know anything about her band situation, but during the course of our interview I said, “If you ever need a drummer, I’d love to play with you.”

Turns out she needed a drummer, at least for one gig.

Since then I’ve travelled literally across Canada as Carly’s drummer. We’ve played some incredible shows together. We rode the rails from Toronto to Vancouver as on-board entertainers. We’ve played to big audiences on festival gigs. It’s been fun and difficult and ultimately great.

Fast forward another two years or so and along comes another intuition: “Start a publicity company.” Once more, I listened and put myself out there. I launched a publicity company supporting local indie artists, one of whom was Sarah Smith. I had interviewed Sarah for the blog, and played with her bass player Ken in Carly's band. Like Carly, Sarah needed a drummer for a couple of gigs. That need turned into the European tour we’re about to play. Which turned into this website. Which will turn into who knows what by the time it’s done?

All of this stems from one simple decision to act on an intuition. Responding to an ad opened up everything I've talked about, plus opportunities to play with Nimway, Sarah Halabecki Band, Celtae Lynne, and Ken the Zen, and make what is turning out to be a terrific record with Lindsey. I didn't see any of that coming when I started.

If I have a message, it’s that good things happen when you put yourself out there. I had and still have serious reservations about starting this site. I'm nobody, but I can't deny the results of taking action, even if it's uncertain. I don't even want to think about what I would have missed if I hadn’t listened to that first intuition. The close friends I wouldn’t know. The experiences I wouldn’t have had. My life is changed utterly since that fateful night in Jamaica. And yeah, I’ve had to face some fears. Guess what? They aren’t fears anymore. I honestly can’t believe some of the things I’ve been able to do in the past five years.

So if you have an intuition telling you to do something, take my advice and listen. Do it. Face whatever fear holds you back. You have no idea what might await you on the other side of that reluctance. A whole new world. A whole new life.

A whole new you.


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