Gigology (noun) The science of explaining the efficacy of one's gig, always applied retrospectively within the group of those involved and later within the mind of the main protagonist as he/she drives home in the early hours of the morning wondering what they are doing with his/her life/art/money.
It is often stated that success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan. When gigs go well, for example, the "fathers" are the artist and their performance, not to mention the venue owners and their hospitality, the promoter and their promotion skills and the audience's heart-filled involvement.
When gigs go badly, nobody wants to cuddle that baby. It's because of the weather, because of another show down the road or because the town in question sucks on this-or-that-or-every-night. In a sense, there are many fathers to a failed gig, but they are each absent fathers. They're not even Weekend Dads. If they were, at least they could turn up to a bar on a Saturday night.
Gigology is a dumb science, but it is an ancient one and it is still the only hammer a performer has in her toolbox for whacking that sense of futility on the head again. If things go well, it was me. If things go well, it was... un-me.
The Buddha (not his real name) told his followers that life is suffering. He said that impermanence, instability and change cause suffering. Since life is always changing, it's unchangingly and quite permanently a bit painful. Wise as.
Says I (not my real name), "Gigs are suffering." A gig comes and goes and I am always hanging around the drunks at the end of it all, struck by the impermanence of the thing and instability of my own self.
Having done live performance for a while now, I believe the best gigs are the ones that make me feel very here and very now, while also being very aware of my own impermanence and how deep the sky is. (This is also very helpful self-talk for when nobody shows up.)
A lot of the time I feel like I don't really fit anywhere. Sometimes I feel like just about anywhere is home, as if I inhabit several worlds.
Sometimes I do stand-up comedy shows. Sometimes I do spoken word shows. I have competed and won competitions within both of these worlds, something which is unmatched in my live music world. Sometimes I teach songwriting and sometimes I host songwriters' circles. A lot of short people know me as Mr Townsend. Some tall people too.
Last week I was privileged to open an art exhibition. Last month I shared the stage with some of the biggest names in Australian music. Last night I rocked up to a gig without a stage, a sound system, or anyone who seemed to know what was going on. So I left.
Tomorrow I will perform with my band at a festival celebrating diversity. My set is happily sandwiched between two drag shows, a chilled soloist and a smokin' band.
The day after that I will sing my stories about Judas at a Baptist church heavily involved in social justice. I might even stay for the luncheon.
I don't generally feel at home at art exhibition openings. It's too hard to keep the cheese on them little crackers. As for poetry, I have found it prudent to make a habit of avoiding anyone who identifies as a poet - myself included. I don't get "original music" as a concept, and don't identify as sexually diverse or as a churchgoer.
But here I am. I am at home in all of these worlds, like a sparrow snatching crumbs from shopping centre tiles before singing my way through the automatic doors.
And I never know what happens after that.