Dear readers allow me to vent, rant, and otherwise share my artistic opinion with you in the event that you are indeed reading these words. (As I have been reading Dostoyevsky, this may get a bit verbose.)
My band, Jazz The Dog, as you may know features along with our musical uniqueness, a stuffed dog named Jazz. It was the beloved pet of Rick Zeek and it has quite a story. We bring her to all of our gigs and of course, there are always a few people who feel the need to share with us their disgust and repellance of her presence, while many, many more share with us their fascination by way of questions of who she was, why she was stuffed, why we bring her, and if their child may pet her soft, soft fur. Children approach with gentleness, and show no signs of discomfort.
We realize that her being there is not for everyone, but neither is our music, my beard, Rick's beard, my black shirt, or even the tiny skull beads adorning my black hat. We play deep and slow grooves and sing of troubled times.
It was at our last gig that we were informed of the manager's mandate that we not have Jazz, the dog, present at our gig as, according to the owner, he had received a phone call from someone who complained that we had her there.
"It would be like bringing a mummy to a gig," the owner related for the manager (who didn't bother to tell us himself). Without causing too much of an argument, we took her back to the van and played.
You know what I think?
I think that anyone who would call into a venue and complain about the band's presentation is a fucking coward. An egotistical fucking prick that thinks that everyone else needs to change their ways to make this person comfortable. And for a manager or owner to kowtow to this mentality is to be severely shortsighted.
This happened to us once before. An owner, in an effort to please one or two people who arrived late and had to sit outside, wanted us to keep the door open to they could hear us, despite the fact that it was freezing and the cold air was blowing on Patti, our 80 year old lap steel player. This resulted in quite the brouhaha with the owner suggesting that next time someone else sit near the door - as if anyone else would want to freeze while playing.
No, the proper response would have been, "Yes, this group is quite popular and getting here early is necessary to be able to hear them. Perhaps we can find you a seat somehow..."
And to the whiny, self serving person who doubtfully even came to hear us at our gig after complaining, a proper response could have been, "I hear that it bothers you. We have music often and perhaps there is another band you would enjoy more on another night."
But why, you might ask, is the big deal? Why not just leave the dog at home if it bothers some people?
Because we are not trying to please everyone. We bring her because she is our mascot and her story is compelling, if one were to ask.
And where does this end? Does my black attire bother you? Should I dress differently for you? Perhaps a bright colorful outfit with dangly sparkles that make you laugh? Better yet, how about I ask you for advance approval of my clothing choices?
And our songs... yes, they are sometimes dark and slow. Once, a woman complained near the end of one of our sets (while we were playing) that our songs were too slow and putting her to sleep and that we should perk things up or she would go to another venue to see other bands. Should we change our song selection so she can go about her evening without having to consider someone else's message? (FYI, I read her the riot act and told her not to ever pull that shit on me again. She didn't understand wha the problem was.) In hindsight, I wish I had though of asking the audience if someone would please call this woman a cab (and get her the fuck out of there.)
My little skull beads adorning my hat - should I change those, too? I am sure it makes you feel "icky" so here, let me make you feel comfortable. Never mind the story behind those - it has to do with my late partner and a trip to Oregon where I met a wonderful artist who makes beads and twenty five years later I still see here and we reminisce about art and how we met and her life and mine and well... that's besides the point - I will not wear them so you don't have to feel uncomfortable.
THIS IS OUR ART, and whether you like it or not, we have a reason for doing what we do. And we're not trying to please everyone, as that is clearly impossible.
Many people have chatted with us at length about Jazz, our stuffed dog. They have asked how they, too, can keep their beloved pet in a similar manner, and I recently heard that one of our friends just had her cat stuffed.
We are not trying to please everyone. In fact, we want to have a following of people that like what we do and send those that don't like what we do on their way to finding a band they do like. We're not desperate for approval. We're not trying to be everything to everyone.
We are trying to create something unique to us and hope you can appreciate it.