It was the end of an absurdly hot day, so attending a concert on the edge of Lake Como in Como Park was a fine thing to be doing. The audience was smaller than a concert with that many participants should rightly have, but it was a respectable enough turnout. I had a great time checking in with the various members of the band and orchestra I know, as well as the former band members who showed up as well. I even snuck in some flirty-flirty time with the hunky new band members, which is always a fun thing to do and is one of the things I miss about playing regularly in the band.
I kept thinking how happy happy happy I was not to have had to cart the xylophone, glockenspiel, bass drum, music stands, and assorted percussion equipment to the concert, as I have done for countless many of these concerts before. In fact, I organized the committee to put on the first of these concerts, about 15 years ago, a role I was tricked into playing at my very first band practice after I moved to Minneapolis (I agreed to serve as the band's representative at the committee meeting, and was later told that in fact there was no meeting or even existing committee, just a vague discussion that I was supposed to take and turn into a concert: Welcome to Minnesota!). I generally take much of the afternoon off work in order to get to the concert location three hours early, to ensure reasonable parking. What luxury to be able to park at a distance away. What delight to be able to go right home when the concert was over, without having to pack everything back up and struggle to get it all back into my apartment.
"Why aren't you playing with us?" the band members asked. "When are you coming back to the band?" Oh, soon, I lie. I hate to use the word burnout, because I never tired at all of the music, of the band members, of the role a community band can play, even of rehearsals. No, I tired of carting around percussion equipment, dragging the xylophone up the stairs leading to my apartment door, carrying four Manhasset music stands and a glockenspiel stand in two hands and slinging the bass drum stand over my shoulder and walking for blocks, each step increasing the pain in my hands and arms.
Most of all I tired of the continuous worry. A threatened thunderstorm the day of a concert no longer yields a hundred messages on my answering machine. A disappointing concert turnout is no longer cause for me to berate myself for lost publicity opportunities. A seating dispute in the sax section no longer keeps me up nights. The Minnesota Freedom Band is one of the nicest, most appreciative, least dysfunctional groups I've been part of, and even so I needed time away. (Of course, I've simply traded worry over band details for worry over Morris team details, but it's a different flavor of worry about many fewer individuals and besides, there's a lot more beer.)
At least I can finally show up at a band concert and just relax and enjoy the evening, as I did the other night.