The Life Gets Crazy – Cambo and the Life

As promised, my Cambo and the Life blog post. Free music on their website. ‘Cause that’s how they roll.

So, this is what I do when I’m in the Bay Area.  I listen to KFJC, Your Source For Sound, 89.7 FM, and I go to their website, and yeah, a junior college radio station, playing everything, anything, all things.  From the soundtrack of the Andy Griffith Show, to Jello Biafra’s spoken word, to industry machinery, to babies screaming, dubbed over with Peggy Lee, to death metal Satan listens to when he drops a dookie in hell.  And yes, even the 1960’s cool Johnny Quest soundtrack theme.

Yeah, love KFJC.

Back in December, 2010, I was in the Bay Area, or was it March?  I can never remember.  The life gets crazy.

But I grabbed some friends, picked Cambo for some reason unknowable, and we went to see ‘em.  In my other post, I talked a little about meeting Cambo in the lobby, but I didn’t really know him until he hit the stage.  And of course, that ain’t Cambo, but a stage persona, a mask of attitude and fury.

I did notice that the crowd was older.  I guess I’m a little sensitive about my age going to see live music.  I’m, um, not what I use to be.  I grow old…I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.  I talked to people, and a lot of people in the crowd were parents of the musicians!  It was like my daughter’s piano recitals with more drugs and more booze.  Which, to tell a dirty little secret, is how many parents get through the piano recitals.  Not me.  High on life, baby.

So, it was exactly like my daughter’s piano recital.

But the music was so good.  So charged.  And I met Cambo’s mom, and her friend, and his brother.  And I shook all their hands.  If you go to see huge, massive bands in stadiums, you’re generally not going to meet the family of the talent and get to shake their hands.  Ah, I love the local music scene.  It’s the only way to go.

I left feeling good.  Feeling hopeful.  I got to see a talent doing what they love and were born to do.  What a wonder this world is.  What a fabulous wonder.

Now, like with publishing and any artistic endeavors, the music industry is fraught with dangers to the body, mind, and soul.  Money kills people.  Drugs.  Doubt.  Fear.  Tequila.  Fame is rat poison that tastes like pixie dust.

But I wish Cambo the best.  In my next life, I’ll be a musician.  Writing generally doesn’t involve late night parties that end with a greasy breakfast and mimosa’s.  I get decaf coffee, and I don’t sleep much.  Yeah, I don’t know about you, but my social life is nutz.

Now, Cambo’s lyrics are not kid friendly.  It’s raw, baby.  It’s not about a salary; it’s all about reality.

I would start with Crazy Things and go from there.  It’s dangerously funky, yo.  And if you can at all go and see a Cambo and the Life show, you will not be disappointed.

Raw Talent, Raw Charisma, Touched by the Gods

I have not given the music industry as much as I should have.  I was the guy who would come over, borrow about a hundred of your vinyl record albums (for the kids, think big, black CDs) and then spend hours listening and copying the songs to my crappy tapes.  Hiss, pop, a little music, a grinding sound, more hissing, more popping.

I never really felt guilty for stealing music.  I should have.  But I figured I paid for it with the hiss, pop, and grind.  And I did buy new cassettes of Rush and Jethro Tull, my two favorite bands in the world.

Now, what I do to atone for my sins is buy local music and see small bands, or bands that do not have solid gold limousines.  If you have a day job, I will support you.  If you don’t, I’ll do my best to be honest, but I can’t promise anything.  I would imagine most people are like me.

But I am trying to make up for things.  Catholic guilt.  Right here.

So I see a lot of bands, mostly I pick by random, and a lot of them are good.  They are fine.  No big whoop.

But every so often, I am astounded, and what is the difference?  I wish I could say.  As the French would utter, they have that je ne sais quoi, that stage presence, that glowing gift from the muses.

Photo by Sean Desmond

For example, I went to see Cambo and the Life in San Francisco last year.  Like their Facebook. Love them.  Love Cambo.  So I hit the doors of the show, and I meet a smallish guy in bright red clothes, and he’s nice, and we chat.  Like I said, no big whoop.  The first act comes up.  Oh, rats, I have to go completely into the Cambo show.  I will in another blog post, I promise.

So the opening acts come on in, and they are fine, enjoyable, and then there’s not intermission, while people do a lot of gear stuff on stage.  Roadie stuff.  Like Tom Hanks in the SNL sketch, sibilance, sibilance.
Then, Cambo and the Life.  Cambo strolls onto the stage, and suddenly, I am transfixed.  And the beat hits, the music swells like an old man on blue pills, and I take notice.  I am grabbed.  I am in a presence bigger than the room, bigger than the music, bigger.  More.
Charisma.  Power.  Glory.  Something ineffable.  A presence.

I had the same experience at Fitz and the Tantrums. Facebook them here. Feel the love.  When Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs came out, I was glued to the floor.  Who are they?  What mysterious power do they have?  What the hell is happening?

I think I might know what it is.  It is a deep, internal commitment to what they are doing.  This is not something they are doing lightly.  This is who they are, they are committed to their vision, and they have grabbed onto their work with everything they have.  And they are brave, fearless, in that commitment.  They are risking everything.

Which is probably why there are so many alcoholics and addicts tied to the arts.  Because deep down there is doubt, fear, despair.  And to send out that fearlessness either takes a lot of God or a lot of chemicals, but not always.  I’d like to think some people are blessed, by whatever, to have that fearlessness of spirit.  Pure, lovely creativity.

I’m not a musician.  But I play one on T.V.  Kidding.  Stop it.

I’m a writer.  And in the end, I must commit fully to my books, to my frakking wordy, purple-y prose, and to my broken characters and shattered stories.  If I don’t, I won’t get anywhere.  Nope.  Nowhere.  I’ll be fine.  I’ll be okay.  But I won’t be touched by the gods.

Bottom line: if someone doesn’t absolutely hate my writing, I’m not doing something I need to be doing.  Always go for too much, that’s my motto.  Commit.  Be fearless.
And damn all the critics.  In the end, we’ll all be dead and for 99% of us, even the current bestsellers, our novels will be Navajo sandpaintings.  Countless hours of work, blown to nothing. 

Reach for the impossible. 

Do the impossible.

Be the impossible.