Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sally..Tha..Tha Tha..ThaThaTha...That Girl

My Friend, Sally

I've been fortunate enough to meet many many incredibly talented people as I have made my way through this world of music and travel. One person who has been among the most inspiring and influential to me is my dear friend, Sally Taylor.

Sally is a pure person. Whether she is singing one of her intricately expressive songs, giving sage advice or just carrying on an idle discussion there can be no doubt that she is conveying the truth. She speaks from the heart, sings from the heart, and helps from her heart. 

While touring to support her first CD, "Tomboy Bride", Sally came through Mobile (probably early 1999). Due to me having a decent local following I was asked by the venue owner to open the show. 

(Aside: The reason I had a decent local following had at least as much to do with cheap beer as it did my music. Let me explain. At this time I had played a lot of gigs around town and was familiar with most of the venue owners. One of these venue owners decided to implement "Drinkin with Lincoln" every Thursday. "Drinkin with Lincoln" was a promotion that allowed folks to pay $5 at the door then buy drinks for $.01 all night long!! It seemed like this promotion would be a sure fire hit. 100's of hardcore drinkers and drinkers-in-training filling that bar to capacity every week. I was in college at this time and when one is in college they tend to know A LOT of hardcore drinkers and drinkers-in-training (read: other college students). The venue owner shrewdly realized this and (since he wanted extra insurance that the place would be packed every week) asked me to be the entertainment every Thursday for "Drinkin with Lincoln". I agreed. The club owner's plan worked like a charm. Every week I would play to a completely packed house. That's the good news. The bad news is the last thing on the people's mind was music. Even my college buddies that came, were probably there more for the beer than for me. But none of that mattered to me. I had a packed house in front of me every week so my plan was to capitalize on this fact. I had a captive audience week after week. I figured I could beat them into submission. .....My plan also worked like a charm. Although initially the drinkers paid me little attention, they grew to know my music through repetition.)

Back to the Sally story:

By the time Sally came to town, I had won over many of the "Drinkin with Lincoln" drinkers and they were legitimately my fans. They would come see me when I would play other venues (as I said my plan worked like a charm). Anyway, the date of Sally's show just happened to be on a…… guessed it….."Drinkin with Lincoln" Thursday. 

Sally's show had been advertised well as a special (NON "Drinkin with Lincoln") Concert. However the club owner was sure that there would be a ton of regulars (read: drunks expecting penny beer) so he needed a familiar face to appease them. He asked me to play and I was happy to oblige.

I played my 45 minute set and the crowd ate it up (but again understand these are the penny beer drinkers I have beaten into submission over months and months not just a random crowd that suddenly loved me). Sally was sitting side stage taking it all in while sipping a glass of red wine (Did I mention she is as classy as she is kind?). Anyway I did my final song , got a loud roar from the crowd and proudly walked off the stage toward Sally. As I reached her, she began telling me how much she enjoyed it. But at that moment I realized what was going on. Because I had been so focused on talking with Sally I had failed to realize the crowd was chanting "one more song! one more song!". Oh God! My drunken friends and fans didn't even realize the opener doesn't do encores. I then began trying to explain the situation (and apologize for my friends) when Sally just points back to the stage……..I wasn't sure what to do. I said "Sally, I'm opening the show…..I can't do an encore!!!! OPENERS CAN'T DO ENCORES!" She just smiled and pointed to the stage. I very reluctantly went back out there and did one more song (probably very badly due to the awkwardness I was feeling about the situation), then came off stage and watched Sally and her band put on an incredible show.

I told you this story to give you a little extra insight into the greatness of Sally. She was a rising star. She was touring the world with an amazing band. She had a world class album she was promoting. This is the time when artsts are most likely to be self absorbed and cocky. Yet, she was a humble and sweet as anybody I've ever met. I was looking at the "encore situation" as highly offensive toward her. I was a very green acoustic guitar playing singer/songwriter. She was a legit musical pro. Yet she wasn't offended at all and she obviously thought, "the people want to hear you…..go let them".

Sally taught me a lot that night with that simple gesture. Since then I've been fortunate to become very good friends with her. She has helped me countless times along my way. Whenever I need advice or critique I call on Sally. And with the same genuine, kindness she always answers me or instructs me honestly. I'll never be able to thank her enough for that.

Sally has done many other things beside putting out incredible music including teaching, working with global charities, and operating her own sushi restaurant. Well one of Sally's newest adventures is a project called ConSenses. She described it to me thusly:

"It starts with personally hand-selected photographs.An initial photo is sent to musicians, like yourself, whose challenge it is to interpret the essence of the image.  Not just the superficial aspects of the picture but the soul and quintessence of it.Once you’ve written a short 2-3 minute song with or without words, the song is passed along to another visual artist (painter, multi-media, print maker) who’s job it is to interpret the spirit of your music in their own medium.Next, that art gets sent off to olfactory artists (perfumists, aroma therapists, herbalists, chefs) who will interpret the visual art.Then, those tastes/smells will be handed off to filmmakers to create a short 5-10 minute film expressing their interpretations.Lastly tactitions (interior designers, sculptors, dancers, wood workers, lighting designers) will come in to interpret the chains of creation and prepare physical space for the art in a gallery on Martha’s Vineyard.Each chain of art will have a 10 minute documentary filmed on its making, the artists’ back stories and their process in coming to this project."

This project sounded like an off-the-wall yet amazing idea to me (Did I also mention Sally is rather creative?) so I jumped at the chance to participate. 

Sally has been a friend to me for most of my career and she is still inspiring me and taking my music new places. 

Keep an eye out for the ConSenses project. I'm definitely proud to be part of it and I will let you all know when it is completed so you can check it out for yourselves.

(Below I have included my song submission)

What's Left of What Used To Be

by Eric Erdman (May 26, 2012)

I can remember that I used to walk with my Chest out and my shoulders back
I was lean I was sharp and I was tough
Yes I was Larger than life. I was so large or so I thought
The streets of this town weren't big enough

Oh But that was then 
this is now

And What makes it feel so strange
Is that I still feel exactly the same
Despite the years that have passed by me
I Still Answer to your name
But I'm starting to see how much I've changed
From Me to 
What's Left of What Used to Be

I could not even Imagine a time when I would no longer be King 
I wore that crown like it was my own skin
Seems like yesterday I was your everything
Never thought it would end
But that was then 
this is now      

What makes it feel so strange
Is that I still feel exactly the same
Despite you having passed by me
I Still Answer to your name
But I'm starting to see how much things change
You loved Me. You loved Me. 
But Apparently You can't love 
What's Left of What Used to Be


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