I like to think I have a pretty well-developed values system. I know what’s important to me, the kind of person I want to be, and I try to act in accordance with that knowledge, most of the time. I guess that’s what “integrity” means to me.
But it isn’t always easy, is it? I mean, I can say, “Honesty is the best policy,” and truly mean it. However, when my three-year-old daughter asks me what I said to that driver who just cut us off in traffic, I’m probably not going to repeat the egregious string of obscenities that slipped out initially. Instead, I’ll tell her I said, “What a truck! Pretty fast roll! Trucking faster!”
Similarly, I can say that music is one of the most important things in my life, and genuinely believe that. There have been times when I’ve given up sleep, food, and even sex to catch a new or favorite band. Even though I hate cars and car culture, and their impacts on our society and world, I’ve stimulated the economy with thousands of dollars in gas purchases to allow me access to musical offerings that are quite far from my northern outpost.
That last observation is a bit of a wake-up call, and points to the key to my own integrity: priorities. All values are not created equal. You have to rank these things. Based on what I’ve said above, it would appear that music sits above ecological and economical concerns about the oil industry, as well as sleep, food and sex in the hierarchy. Additionally, honesty appears to fall somewhere below being a good parent.
I don’t blame you for wondering where the hell I’m going with this. It actually has to do with the Westword Music Showcase, if you can believe that. Having very little to do with the fact that I write for this publication (no, really), I think the WMS is one of this town’s most delightful celebrations of the richness, diversity and quality of our music scene. Along with the Denver Post Underground Music Showcase, the WMS does a phenomenal job of promoting great local music and spreading the gospel beyond scenesters (raising my hand), putting it in the hands, eyes and ears of folks who might not otherwise have received the Word.
Last year, I had the great honor of emceeing the Acoma Center performances at the WMS. Though this meant missing out on huge portions of the showcase, it also meant that I got to see, make out with and develop an even deeper appreciation for acts like Rachael Pollard, Ghost Buffalo, Cowboy Curse, Roger Green, the Omens and many more. It really fed that value that Friedrich Nietzsche articulated so simply and beautifully, “Without music, life would be a mistake.”
This year’s showcase genuinely promises to be the best ever. Sure, there are a couple of great national acts who will cap off the event and draw in folks who might not realize how great Black Lamb, ManeLine, Jen Korte, Josh Novak, or DJ Soup really are, but it’s really about the nearly 80 local outfits who will be giving their all and proving their ability to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with better-known (and more expensively coiffed) indie darlings.
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But I won’t be there this year. That’s right. And it all comes down to priorities. On that very same day, my best friend – who also happens to be my ex-wife and the mother of the aforementioned daughter – is getting married to a truly amazing and admirable guy. I love them both very much and consider them family. I wouldn’t miss this event for anything. It’s the start of a whole new life for them, one that promises happiness, fulfillment and joy, as well as the more mundane and quotidian delights of picking up toys, doing countless loads of laundry and cooking another box of mac and cheese when the pantry has gone bare. They’re going to love it. And I want to be there to toast this new beginning. Wild horses couldn’t drag me away. Apparently, family and friends fall just above music in the hierarchy of my values. And life is all about making choices in accordance with those values so that you continue to become the person you want to be. At least, I think that’s what it’s about.
But I’ll be genuinely sad to miss the Westword Music Showcase, so, since most of you aren’t invited to my ex-wife’s wedding (sorry about that; it’s a small affair), I need you to do me a favor. Pay close attention when you go on Saturday. Catch your favorite acts, as well as some you’ve never seen before. Remember how they perform, play, interact with the audience. Pick out a favorite new band or new song. Explore. Expand. Enjoy. Take notes if you have to. I want to hear stories.
-- Eryc Eyl