Before I left, I had a vague picture of what Seattle would be like, which involved greenness, Frasier, fish, rain and tons of liberal sensibility. But as most of you know, moving somewhere sucks at first. A lot.
For those of you who don't know me or the music I've been a part of, my name is Evan Todd, and the name of my band is Smith's Cloud. We had a fairly brief stint in Lincoln, but we released an album last summer that we are proud of. This past February, I moved to Seattle to pursue a "career" in music. I'm sitting in my apartment right now in an area of Seattle called Greenwood, and you know, I've managed to get a job and sustain myself here. My parents are proud of me, etc.
Now that I am on my feet here and able to pay rent, the next phase arrives. And Seattle seems to be what you'd expect to encounter as a singer/songwriter/musician. But let me say now: This is not an article about how I've learned to work the system, and I won't be giving any advice. I don't know what I'm doing, but I do know that I want to be a successful musician. And I know how to write and perform a good song.
This video of Oskar the kitten, featuring Smith's Cloud's "Change of Days," has more than 3 million views.
The first thing I observed is that it's tougher to book shows here than it is in Lincoln. They call for bookings about five months in advance. (Since when are local musicians good at planning?) There are lots more venues. But they are not as welcoming, as you might expect, because there are thousands of ding-dongs here with guitars who want to sing about their feelings and think that they are amazing/awesome. And to be fair, there are also amazingly talented writers and performers here who also make it a challenge to book shows.
My whole effort is based on the supposition that if I can create and perform something that is good enough, then I will have success. Is this true? I don't know. I hope it is.
Perhaps amid the sea of venues and artists in Seattle, there are more legitimate opportunities to be heard by a prominent blogger, or producer, or whatever. But the main thing that I have gleaned from being here and playing music is that I will always love to play music, and that's enough.
Things may change, and I would be excited to be signed to a great label, but one can't depend on that kind of affirmation. So many people (sometimes discretely) pursue music as if it is their destiny, and say things like, "The minute you doubt it is the minute you lose it." And the "it" in that sentence is large audiences, money, etc. But that's no American Dream. It's a cliche from a movie or TV show that breeds a sense of entitlement.
So the plan is to continue to pursue music and love music and work hard, and try to be content with what I have right now. And, really, what I have here is easy to be content with. I got a great job. I can go to any number of interesting restaurants. I'm beginning to make good friends. On Saturday I went hiking in the Cascade Mountains, and it was fantastic.
My favorite parts were the dense, moss-covered forest and big tree trunks with a stream and/or waterfall in the background. And in the foreground were several little gnats playing in the sun. I felt like I was in a book. Or on the forest moon of Endor. It was a beautifully inhabited moment of my life, without pretense or expectation. Much like listening to a great song.
Evan Todd is a Hear Nebraska contributor. The Smith's Cloud album he mentioned is called "A Change of Days."