‘THIS MACHINE BUILDS COMMUNITIES’
That’s what it says on my guitar.
And it does.
Not just THAT guitar, but ALL guitars.
We travel around the country singing songs and we build a community around that, a family- a tribe.
Some bands recognise that instantly and it becomes a part of their DNA. In my youth New Model Army did it, The Levellers did it; they were the most recognisable. But the Punk community, particularly over in the US, latches on to this better than anyone and bands like Rancid or The Interrupters build a fan-base that not only follows the music, but is made to feel a part of the band themselves and are there through the highs and the lows because those songs, those people on the stage, matter more than just the records and the t-shirt.
You can’t underestimate what it means to an artist to travel halfway across the country and walk into a room full of people smiling and shaking hands, sharing hugs and singing along. These people, are what keeps us going. They are what makes us give it that little bit more even when we’re all but done in.
And so it was today when I staggered offstage at Something To Smile About Festival near Doncaster. Over the last two weekends I have done six gigs, well over 1500 miles, well over 30 hours at the wheel of the car, and to be honest I was fit to drop. Then a lad comes up to me and says:
“I’m involved with the anti-fracking community and we’ve had a really tough time recently; but your songs have inspired me to go back and try again.”
And right there is what it is all about.
That inspiration in turn inspires me, and in this way we change the world.
But it changes.
I cannot tell you how much it matters to hear someone say these things. I’m not a bean counter. I don’t look at a gig as being successful because I sold some CDs or because there was a fee attached. A gig is successful if the energy you sent out in to the world lifts somebody up and comes back at you.
The people who do this make the gig.
Not the artist.
These people make me belong.
They are my tribe.