An Artist's Journey

Here is a brief Top Ten list of our weekend promo tour:

1. Played 4 shows in 3 days in 3 states.

2. Woke before dawn each day.

3. Drove 1400 miles, a total of 25 hours.

4. Coordinated 10 different adults who helped care for our kids.

5. Managed the logistics of carseats, lunch boxes, sleeping bags and diaper bags.

6. Played the biggest radio gig of the year: World Cafe

7. Filmed our national TV debut, possibly the biggest gig of our life: CBS This Morning (which will air Oct 5)

8. Coordinated 6 band members, 1 photographer, 1 manager and 1 publicist.

9. Had our hair and make up styled by Gayle King's stylists Eneida and Lazarus.

10. Arrived home exhausted and energized.

I'm not saying all this to impress anyone. I am sharing the reality of what one could argue was one of the most significant weekends of our career. But what I keep marveling at is the lack of adrenaline I have about it all. Sure, I was nervous. I couldn't sleep well the days leading up to the CBS filming. But more than anything I feel ready for this. I feel that the band is ready. The songs are ready. This album is ready for a wider audience.

When you start doing creative work you need a lot of external feedback. "Wow! You're good! Keep that up and you'll really be good!" These are important sentiments to hear. They keep you going, at least at first. Really? You ask yourself. Am I good at this? I mean I like doing it, but am I really good at it? More than likely you'll get caught in the quagmire of self-doubt and you'll slide down the sneaky hate spiral, as one friend called it. You'll tear yourself down. You'll despise your art. You know it's not good enough, like Ira Glass notes in his brilliant video on "Taste."

But after a dozen years of making music with David I feel like I've reached a turning point. I don't crave the outside endorsement anymore. I can finally see our music for what it is. I can see what our music is offering for the first time. It's beautiful and fun and imperfect and has so much room to grow. But I am at a point where what matters to me is how I feel about the show. Was I focused or distracted? Was I floating on the waves of the music or criticizing myself, my bandmates, the sound guy, or the crowd? Was I standing proudly or feeling ashamed? Was I letting music flow through my hands or trying to control it? Was I listening or lost in my head? This is the important stuff for growth. This is what I am after. The critical acclaim will come or it won't come. The shows may or may not sell out. We may make enough money to own a house one day or we won't. These things are not in my control.

On Saturday, David and I spend a good portion of our 9-hour "date drive" discussing what's really at stake here for each of us. For me, the buzz of the industry rat race is over. Of course I'm happy to have our first TV appearance because I think it'll open doors to other opportunities for the band, but I'm after something deeper now. My quest now is about me. To expand the breadth of my voice. To be more emotionally expressive with my violin. To listen more on stage. To dance more. To feel the music more. To play from the heart. To be present and peaceful, poised and powerful in my body on stage. To be more authentically me. I know that's a cliche, but it's really all there is. The fans, the "likes," the tour dates, which festivals we're invited to, the status of the band -- none of that matters as much as my feeling like I'm on the path to becoming a truer version of myself. We're talking about self-actualization here -- embodying who you've wanted to be -- who you've always known that you are. What a journey!

Photo by Vivian Wang

Photo by Vivian Wang

David Wax