A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.
What a Monday. After getting myself back into the city and set up at a hostel, my library time netted me a spot on the Overland Trek in Tasmania – a 6 day rigorous hike ranked as in the top 10 walks in the world. One person had canceled and I got their spot. Things work out! Then to the hostel for a dinner prepared by Leanne’s mom. I think she worries that without her help I may starve to death or get food poisoning. I do appreciate the assistance in food since she isn’t completely wrong on the food poisoning fear ( I ate a half-eaten BK burger I found on a bench – still in the BK bag – a few nights back). Over food I did what I’ve been forcing myself to do – introduce myself to a new person and try talking to them. So far it seems to work. I spent the next hour speaking with a Dutch girl about the joys and pains of solo travel, of making a plan vs. flying blind, of our impressions of Sydney and Melbourne, of job options, and of being adventurous. I think I came across as rather more intrepid and bold than I am. Perhaps I actually am that headstrong; nothing I said was false. I really am going to do the Overland Trek, I really do want to bike around and hike around Tasmania. I don’t have much of a plan. I do think things will work out and I don’t need to get everything planned to the detail. And I don’t have any plans to chill and sit down and work any time soon
At Old Bar, Osh10 and Anthony were watching the band already. We sat and talked about my recent booking, about their Christmas plans to chill and catch up on things they’ve been too busy to do. And they told me about Japanese music culture, how everyone finds their niche, dresses full up the part, buys into the scene fully, and doesn’t criticize others for their choice. About how they have clubs set up for music watching, where you pay your $15 for a drink and to see 5 bands who are meticulously scheduled and never run over or miss sound check. The system seems pretty sweet actually and I may love to spend some time diving into that.
The Heel-Toe Express played next, a 5-piece with Velma on double bass, a fiddle, a guitar played by a rough and tumble looking bloke, a mandolin played by a Dan Aykroyd lookalike, and a banjo played vehemently by a woman with curly hair. The vocal harmonies, the spot on notes, the lyrics, and the interplay – everything worked about the band. They were fun and energetic rocking out a folk/country/bluegrass twang that I can’t identify but loved. The banjo player especially had that intent look to everything she did, pained, riotous, giddy, muscles taut with a desire to hit each note fully and to perfection, twitchy leg muscles to emphasize the stomps, and Ian Curtis’s (Joy Division) possessed look behind the eyes.
I took a song playing over the speakers as my opportunity to meet another patron. Nina Simone was the vocalist I couldn’t place. The guy (whose name is not Nina Simone, but what it is I don’t know) asked where in the US I was from (first person here to just take that leap of faith and ask). Turns out he loves DC, wants to live in NYC, hates the lifestyle pothead surfers in San Diego (“If you smoke up several times a day, it makes you dumb. Catching the next big wave is not an ambition.”), loves people who overachieve, (“You talk to someone from New York and they have a job, they are working on their masters, they do yoga a few times a week, they check out bands, they do like 6 full time things all together.”), loves talking to people who are passionate about something (“the conversation dragged until he started talking about his apiary. I learned so much about bees.”), and hates it when people don’t have a passion (“Unless you are rigorously testing new mattresses every night, you aren’t passionate about sleeping. That is like saying you’re passionate about breathing. No, you have to do that.”). All in all a good conversation. It was like being home again, hanging out with the crew, having opinionated conversations that get us all laughing, taking stands against and for things in entertaining ways. That conversation was unlabored. It was home.
The headliner came on – Jasmin Kaset. A Nashville native, she had overalls and the partially done-up hair that looks like it took time to look like it didn’t. She smirked, seeming ready to have a fun set of singing and playing various strings while a full band and extra singers backed her up. As she opened into the first song, solo, with only a guitar her voice tore through any walls people had put up in their mind. Her voice was country, with the deep resonating pain of a woman twice her age (she couldn’t have been more than 25), a vocal warble that makes Nick Drake sound like pop, and a twinge of emotion that was sewn into the fabric of notes. She put on a set that commanded an audience, and no one in the room talked. Most just stopped and sat and watched, drawn in to the sounds. The lyrics were good but she still needs to go through more trauma before she starts to write the words that are going to match her voice. And when that day comes, when her words reach the level of her vocal prowess, then I’ll pay to see her at the Sydney Opera House where the acoustics will create a vocal weapon, an aural bomb to create an apocalyptic emotional landscape, and I will float away cleansed of the sadness of a lifetime. .