Bloodkin and Widespread Panic, La Playa Seis, Riviera Maya, Mexico. March 2, 2017.
Kind of an ethereal, dreamy but rockin' picture. Pretty much captures the mood of this night. March 2, 2017, Eric Carter and I sitting in with Widespread Panic en la playa Seis, Riviera Maya, Mexico.
A beautiful stage by the ocean, and a huge emotional lift for me personally. Three months out from a stroke, not many folks luck out with this kind of healing energy. So many encouraging comments, from a hundred familiar faces and as many strangers, all saying, "We're with you. We're family." Or words to that effect.
Cool, insightful conversations with J.B. and Colonel Bruce backstage, about my stroke and sickness and recovery and life and death in general. The usual "family" vibe camaraderie with all the boys in the band. And all the amazing music, including contributions from George Porter Jr., Karl Denson, Ivan Neville, and so many other brilliant players. Just a rare night in so many ways.
In our earlier acoustic Bloodkin set, I played guitar on five songs, my best so far since the stroke. It was a tough workout for my weakened right arm, but high voltage mojo medication for my depression/anxiety, or whatever the fuck demons are vandalizing my brain. Music is church, baby. We all know that, all of us in the extended musical family.
And playing these shows with my brothers in arms, Eric Carter and Eric Martinez, was the kind of fun and good fortune I surely can't deserve. Those guys are rare and loyal compadres, and soulful guitarists to the core. The real hard-earned rock n roll juice, not the tourist-trap imitations you hear so much these days.
So, yeah...that's what I've been up to. My doctors cleared me for this trip, but quite a few well-meaning and much-loved friends warned me not to do it. Too many bizarre scenes and unforeseen crises on the road, they said. And I thanked them for their concern.
But it was never even an option for me. I had to try, and had to find out if I'm still able. It's what I've done my whole adult life: write songs, then go out and play 'em for people.
I always loved the work and the life, the music. And it turns out I still do. I once wrote a song that said, "I'd rather die on the road to the next show"...
A younger man's song. As I get older, as John Steinbeck described, death holds less and less pageantry, and becomes more matter-of-fact. I recognize that fact, but I'm not hurrying some death wish.
I'm living my life. After all the incredible generosity and support that's come my way since my stroke...I feel obligated to pay it back, the only way I know how. Keep writing and playing.
And tonight (March 4, 7:00 pm at Last Concert Cafe) I play Houston. Following that music and that muse wherever she staggers. I think it's good for me. But even if it's not, like Levon Helm said, "I ain't in it for my health."