Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ready or Not



I’m sitting in a hotel room in Jackpot, Nevada, thinking about the end. Jackpot is one of those places that you might not even know existed unless you lived in a nearby town in Idaho, or like me, you played in a band that played casinos in places like Jackpot, Nevada. It’s right on the Idaho border and the sole reason for the town’s existence is to provide the good people of Idaho with a place to gamble.  There are other Nevada towns like this that border other states — Wendover is where folks from Utah can lay their money down; Primm, is where folks from Southern California can go to play craps, Tahoe is for the Northern Californians and Laughlin is for the Arizonans. 

And in the eight and a half years I’ve been with Asleep at the Wheel I’ve played all of these towns at least once.

Some, like Tahoe, are pretty and touristy and have a life outside of gambling, But most of these towns are simply casinos in the middle of a desert. People are bussed in to work from neighboring towns because there is no residential sector to speak of. Just a casino or two and a hotel. Nothing to do but spend your money and eat and go see a show.

And if you’re like me, there’s also nothing to do but think.

I’m in the final days of my tenure with the Wheel.  And I know I it, in that left brain, logical, look-at-the-calendar-and-it-says-my-last-day-is-December-31st kind of way. But sitting here in this hotel room, I realize that emotionally I’m not quite to the knowing-for-certain phase of things. Because this, sitting in a hotel room, typing away, passing the time until I’m ready to get ready to get on stage…this is so familiar to me.  This has been my life for almost a decade.  My last tour so closely resembles every other tour that my heart cannot comprehend that this is the end.

I guess that’s not entirely true.  Because for every tour I spend filling up an ample amount of free time until the gig, there is a corresponding tour where I had little to no free time due to the fact that Dave an I have been traveling with our kids for the last five years.  Getting up at 4 am and loading sleeping children into carseats; watching endless movies while traveling endless miles; picnicking in parks and hotel breakfast rooms; watching as my children played backstage with their adopted uncles and road granddad; being so exhausted that I could hardly stand upright but yet feeling so happy when I saw my girls race each other down hotel hallways—this is familiar too.  And though I know that we’re about to enter a new phase— one where home is more a constant than it’s been for us in a long time — well I also know that I have no idea what that means.

It’s exciting and terrifying to think of what’s next.  To think of being at home continuously is so appealing — I have images of gardens and pets and parties on weekends and friends who I get to see more than just on Facebook. But I also have fears, most surrounding housework. I’m used to escaping to the land of the road, where you leave a hotel room and when you return it’s magically cleaned!  You go down to the lobby and someone has prepared breakfast for you! But to not have a break — to be charged with keeping a tidy house with no breaks from that — I’m hoping I will rise to the challenge.

And then there’s the idea of doing solo work. Again, exciting!  I can choose my own music and set my own schedule and create and collaborate with people and record and explore.  I can play gigs solo or with bands. I can travel or not.  But at the same time, I’ve been working for a great band and have been in the employ of a boss who works harder than anyone I know. I’ve had the security of good steady work and a high caliber of musicianship for so long that the prospect of striking out on my own is daunting. What if no one shows up? What if the work isn’t great? What if I fail? What if my future can’t hold up to my past?  These are the questions that wake me up and keep me awake, heart pounding so loud I can almost hear it. 

And so here I am, in a hotel room in Jackpot, Nevada trying to prepare myself for the New Year.  A year that looks to actually be filled with, for lack of a better word, newness.  I mean really, January 1st is usually a day where we aspire to change but rarely do we actually experience it. Change normally takes no notice of the calendar and most of the times we never see it coming. But I see it. It’s coming. It’s days away and will start as of January 1st. I will leave all of this familiarity for a new era in my life.

So I figured I would write a blog post and close the doors on “Miles and Miles of Diapers.” Not that I’ve actually blogged in a year.  Two kids and the road plus the collaborative EP I’ve been working on with Brothers Lazaroff called “The Laziest Remix,” have pretty much had me tapped out. But this seems like a good thing to do. To write the last chapter in the on-again off-again story of the last five years of our family touring life.

I’m trying to figure out how to wrap this up.  To come up with some kind of insight into it all. I mean, what have I said so far other than I big change is coming and I’m not sure I’m ready.

Maybe that’s all there is to say. A big change is coming, and I’m not sure I’m ready.  I think I started this post because I thought if I got all of this down then somehow it would clarify the confusion, meld the excitement and the fear into some kind of amalgam that I could deal with — wrap up in a little ball and hold in front of myself and say “I now understand this transition.” But I still don’t and I probably won’t know what the next stage of life is like until I’m well into it. 

This change is happening. And whether I’m ready or not, here it comes.




On January 7th, my collaboration with Brothers Lazaroff “The Laziest Remix” will be released for all the world to hear! And on January 11th Brothers Lazaroff be coming down from St. Louis to play my first post-Wheel show at Lamberts in Austin. We’ll be splitting the bill with Nakia, and also having Sarah Sharp, Jazz Mills, Erin Ivey and Katie Holmes join us for guest appearances.  If you want to come and enjoy all the newness, you can buy tickets here. http://c3presents.frontgatetickets.com/choose.php?a=1&lid=87556&eid=98226

18 comments:

LonestarJR said...

"What if the work isn’t great?"

Elizabeth, I have followed your career for some time. The work WILL be great. I have no doubt of it. This is a blow to AATW, but it will survive and it will roll on. Fans who never got to see the band with you won't know what they missed.

Your own career will prosper. You are an awesome talent and your talent will carry your career inexorably upward. We all have enough about which to worry to spend time worrying about the inevitable.

All the best,
jwr

PattiLynn said...

Well, like you said - Exciting! I sooo wish you well. I know you'll be happy and successful making NEW happen!

I'm a fan of long standing. In fact, I've kept your blog in my blog reader, hoping you'd post again. Little did I know it'd be a good-bye post! I've really enjoyed your blogging (and MUSIC) over the yrs. Maybe you'll start a new blog when your life takes the NEW path!

I'm anxious to hear your NEW music! It's just around the corner! Happy NEW Year!

~ PattiLynn in DFW, TX.

Marilyn said...

I've enjoyed watching the road from your seat on the bus. AATW has always been one of my favorite bands. I saw you in Livermore, CA a couple of years back. Probably pre babies.

You will do great. All the best to you and your family. Have a great new year.

MAYBELLINE said...

Wonderful new chapter.
Print and bind your blog posts. You might want to look back. But mostly, it seems, that you're looking straight ahead.
Enjoy the trip.

Chris said...

"I’ve had the security of good steady work and a high caliber of musicianship for so long that the prospect of striking out on my own is daunting. What if no one shows up? What if the work isn’t great? What if I fail? What if my future can’t hold up to my past? These are the questions that wake me up and keep me awake, heart pounding so loud I can almost hear it."

I've been off that bus for 27 years and this shit still haunts me. I have no doubt you'll do fine. You don't have to wrestle it to the mat to understand it. Let it be serendipity and hard work. Enough usury already.

Raina Rose said...

change is a most beautiful inspiring force. i am looking forward to hearing you play at folk alliance!

EMQ said...

LonestarJR Thank you! You've always been totally supportive. Knowing you're out there makes me feel a little more secure!

EMQ said...

PattiLynn, thanks for following me even when I wasn't posting! And you can hear some new music here! The rest will be up after January 7th!

https://laziestremix.bandcamp.com/album/elizabeth-mcqueen-meet-brothers-lazaroff

EMQ said...

Marylin, thank you so much!

EMQ said...

Maybelline, I definitely will do that. Not that it's all done, having a hard copy form of this blog would be amazing!

EMQ said...

Chris, if anyone knows what I'm going through, it's you! Thanks for reminding me that I don't have to beat myself up to deal with the fear. I'm trying to see the future as a potential for more fun than failure.

EMQ said...

Raina, let's definitely hang out before Folk Alliance!

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ANNE WALTON said...

Elizabeth...it has been said we can do it all, just not at the same time...you will always balance and juggle to do what is best for every aspect of your life. The example you have set and will continue to show your girls and other women is inspiring. We all just keep on keepin on and look back and wonder how we did it! I have enjoyed your blog through the years and the little tid bits of band insight you have shared. As the mother of one of the "uncles", I know that the whole band is better because of your journey! You follow great footprints and will forge your own path in your life in music! Best wishes to Dave, you, and the girls.

Heather said...

Hi there! I was hoping you could answer a quick question about your blog! My name is Heather and my email Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com :-)

Doug Millaway said...

What a great post to your blog. All those feelings are so real and natural. If your travels ever bring you up north to the Minneapolis (and more particularly - St. Cloud) MN area, I'd love to do what I can to help you acclimate to the area. Good luck with your future. You deserve it.

Doug Millaway
Broken Fiddle
www.br0kenfiddle.com