“The Jungle” was a DIY music venue that only existed at night when the local copy-store, “Jungle Copy,” moved its copy machines aside and let local musician-kids play. It was across the street from a punker-hangout called “Lytton Plaza,” where at any given time dozens of middle/high schoolers would hang out and ingest copious amounts of drugs with homeless or just plain creepy adults who were clearly trying to get laid. As a punk-metal-weirdo kid who was pretty far out of the mainstream Silicon Valley white-boy archetype, I found myself hanging out at Lytton Plaza regularly, even though I didn’t do any drugs or drink. The other kids who hung out there were, by and large, very talented musicians, artists, poets, philosophers, you name it. Unfortunately, the stain of drug addiction, domestic abuse issues, and homelessness always kind of brought the mood down for sober, kinda nerdy me.
But Jungle Copy provided a place for all of us to go and be a community without dirty needles and broken liquor bottles on the ground. When we were jamming out at the Jungle, we were free to be safe and express ourselves. Drug use seemed to go down. There was always somewhere to go and something to do on Friday night. And all the lost kids who were previously hanging out on the street and self-destructing were now doing something productive.
I knew that I had found a community, even if it was kinda f-d up. Even though this may sound counterintuitive, this community inspired me to go home and practice the guitar for many hours a day, get good grades so I could get a scholarship to music school, and eventually make my living off of playing music.
Thankfully, things have changed a lot for me since then. I worked like crazy, stayed off the hard drugs, and have been lucky enough to be a full-time musician for 5 years now. But the sense of community and inspiration that music has created for not only myself, but so many people around me is what keeps me doing what I do, not my accomplishments or bragging-rights.
For me, music is about the sense of belonging that I see at shows between the musicians on stage and listeners alike. It’s the motivation that I see when a great musician calls us to action to question the establishment, or be more caring for the people around us. The tenacity and passion that I see in thousands upon thousands of musicians, despite the fact that many of the most talented among them will slave away to create hauntingly beautiful music that no one will hear or buy. It is something that is more important than money. It is beyond the capitalistic and utilitarian societal structure that we have created. And it has the power to create a sense of refuge and belonging for even the most distraught and marginalized members of society.
I hope that you will join me on my journey to create music for you. It’s not an easy road, but it keeps the blood pumping through my veins and I would love to bring you along for the ride!
If you would like to listen to my latest release, “Spotless EP,” please click the link below.
Thanks for being a listener and making it all matter!