Bit by a Musical “Bug”

I nearly got rid of this musical companion in 2011. Pictured here in a photo shoot for its Craigslist ad.

Where were you on October 6, 2018, as Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court by the Senate?

I was at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, singing along with Ani Difranco‘s timely punch back toward our patriarchal system. I was also sitting in a bushy area that would give me a tick bite to plague my next six months. I was also experiencing the beginning of a bad concussion (from hitting my head on my apartment ceiling twice hard) and thoroughly questioning my life.

Human services had been the focus of my career for about a decade. I’d secured a Master of Social Work degree the year before, focused on community systems. I’d next moved to Northern California and was working on a peace-related community organization project. I care about peace very much, but I felt like I was fighting against the grain. I’d always loved creating music, but I had long been holding it to the side of my life.

Following that fall day at Hardly Strictly, months of a concussion and infected tick bite symptoms transpired. With this sickness, it was hard to focus on computer work, logistics, and driving in the peace organizing work I’d been doing. I got headaches easily; simple things made symptoms worse.

However, I wrote songs at a fast pace. I meditated to make sense of this time. I aborted my focus on my human services profession and began a dive into sharing music as a way of interacting with life. I focused energy on this desire I had set to the side for years.

Significant support from people dear to me made my transition easier. The past year, I have picked up the pace on musical writing, practicing, performing, identifying my musical goals, and finding my way in music business. I have experienced internal wind in my sails. I look forward to embarking on a tour late this fall.

I’m encouraged remembering other musicians – I’m thinking of Kate Rhudy, Lucy Wainwright Roche, and Joe Pug – who at some point chose to set another goal to the side: creating music is now the direction for each of them. I share my own story in case it has any wisdom in it for you . . . in case you some time feel called to change directions, and turn so you can feel the wind in your sails.


Published by clairebatesmusic

Conscious analysis and loving transparency illuminate tender, gutsy, bluesy folk when Claire plays and sings. Claire Bates gives from her heart songs for hard times.

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