Writings, Essays, Lyrics, Musings, Commentary . . .

Article #16: At The Crossroads - Part II

In last month's article, I shared that, come October, Saffire will no longer be touring as it has been. In January, I told Ann and Andra, and our manager, Bonnie, that I needed to stop touring. We then agreed to complete this festival season and come off the road in the fall. Let me assure you that there are no problems within the group. Further, let me assure you that this is not the end of Saffire, for we will be taking on special events and projects. It is the end of touring as we have been. Also, in last month's article, I promised that I would explain to you why I made this decision. To summarize in a sentence, I love home and I miss it. I know that doesn't tell you much, so I'll put meat on the bones:

* My partner, Suzanne, and I remodeled an old duplex five years ago. It is a wonderful home with roses and animals and a deck and great neighbors and. . . too little time to truly enjoy it. I plan to enjoy my partner and my home.

* My Mom turned 89 in March. She's in good health and has her faculties. I am an only child. I want to spend more quality time with her while she is in good health and not constantly rush her around. I love her. Never seems to be enough time to properly enjoy what I love most.

* Many of you know of my health problems. Fibromyalgia has kicked my ass for many years. Because I love what I do so much, I have sucked up the pain. Once the music starts, I feel no pain, but the hours of travel and the weird schedules have taken its toll. Currently, I am undergoing physical therapy and for the first time it actually feels like I can correct some of my problems, not just get temporary relief. But, I need time to heal and every time I come off the road, I'm torqued all over again. I need rest and I need a routine.

* There are some major financial considerations on my horizon. I turned 58 in March and have little in the way of retirement. Over the years, Saffire/music has been my investment and things are not getting better. (My AGI for 2001 is less than $28K.) For many years my performance income has been supplemented by royalties, but they are virtually non-existent these days. (Think CD burners, MP3, no commercial air play.) I've got to do something that will at least cover my insurance (which is now $514/month -- I'm a cancer survivor) and give me a living wage. I must do this before I'm 60. At age 60, insurance rates virtually double.

* I'm a bit bored with the music. I play rhythm guitar and complement the band okay, but I'm tired of playing the same stuff. I'm not bored with what we play, just with what I'm playing. I know I can get better, but that requires practice -- which I am want to do. At present, I just don't have the time to practice guitar or harp. What time I have, I put into songwriting. I definitely plan to write more (songs and essays -- perhaps once a week on this site -- I have a lot to say) and . . practice.

* At the risk of sounding racist, I miss black folks. I miss the black community. As wonderful as the audiences are, I am often the only black person. . . often. Imagine were it the other way around. Many people don't even think of this. I wish I didn't, but it is true. Sometimes it's rather uncomfortable . . . for lack of a better word.

* There are other factors, but I'm sure you've heard quite enough. Suffice it to say that for years I have hoped that Saffire could "make it." In one sense, we have, but it's been at the expense of home and health and community and finances. . . self-satisfaction. I've gone on one vacation in eleven years. I'm just tired. 9-1-1 also helped to precipitate my decision. As one of my songs says, "hope is a good breakfast, but for supper it's a terrible meal." I think we've peaked and, for me, personally, our last CD didn't do what it needed to do to sustain me.

* I've been truly grateful and I've been blessed to make a living doing what I love. I have had wonderful musical partners in Ann (we've played together over 24 years) and Andra Faye. We've had a well oiled machine with our manager, Bonnie Tallman and her BC crew, our road manager, Steve King, our booking agents, Brad and Chris at Mongrel Music and Kris Benson and crew at East Coast Entertainment. At present, I do not plan to leave music forever. . . I just need to rest and re-group and narrow my focus. In the meanwhile, I'll be practicing and writing and listening and enjoying life.

* I have no earthly idea what I'll do to earn an income and get benefits. If you have any ideas or offers, please let me know. I pray someone will hire an old, crusty woman like myself. I am trusting that the universe will unveil herself to me and that "everything little thing gonna be alright." And, I am so blessed to have a partner like Suzanne. I know that she has my back.

Love, love and mo' love,
April 24, 2002