Only illusions have crumbled. We remain.
(deM atLaS with the backround music)
McNally Smith, for me, was an excuse. It was a way to fool the rest of the world into thinking that I agreed to play by its rules. They said "go to school, get a job, get to work" I said "no problem" but my fingers were crossed behind my back.
I didn't go to school, I went to music school. I went to a place that didn't just teach me science, business, history, leadership skills etc. (although it did all those things) I went to a place where passionate, driven people made me fall in love with those things and see the fun in using them as tools to become a well rounded, fully integrated musical being serving a purpose higher than my self... I didn't get a job. I learned how to master a craft, or at least set myself on a course to doing so. I learned how to wake up everyday and create a career doing things that I care about, being passionately engaged with art and the world and others around me while developing an understanding of economy and innovation... I didn't get to work. I got to play. I get to play every single day at "work". I get to spend my life being playful and changing the world through this game.
I lied to you, society. See, you told me that I had to fit into your box. But I knew you weren't real so I stepped outside of that box just like every other musician, artist, entrepreneur and teacher does in their own way. We were told that the world works by certain rules that we had to play by in order to "fit in" and selling out our passions for a chance to survive financially was rule number one. Well, going to music school was my timid equivalent of Jimi Hendrix dousing his strat in gasoline and lighting it on fire at Woodstock (ok maybe Jimi did it better). Every one of us made a choice before we started down this path, to look at all of the adversity that stood in our way and say "this matters more". Even when record sales remained stagnant, our loans were piling up, our parents were asking when we'd get "real jobs", and finals were on the horizon... we said: "this matters more". We were given a gift by music and no amount of challenge or hardship would stop us from sharing that with the world. Walking through the hollowed cacophony of rehearsal rooms, recording facilities and classrooms past an orange dinosaur and giant painted heads of colossal icons like Ice Cube and Bob Dylan, we realized that it was OK to pursue our dreams. We realized that we had a community of dreamers to share that insanity with, that we could hold ourselves up with the strength of this belief, even as other parts of society and life seemed to be drained of their humor and mercy and levity we mattered and art mattered and teaching and learning and sharing and singing and drumming and playing and TRYING mattered.
I don't know why McNally is closing, I know it's something to do with money (as are most things in this world). Maybe the administration should have been forced to take some business classes with Charles Gehr or Scott Legere. I do know, that the things that are not ending are the only ones that ever mattered. I know that the connection that we had with each other in that building was real, I know that the love and dedication that the faculty members showed each and every day was real. I know that every concert, rehearsal, recording session, jam, lesson etc. contained in it so many of life's divine secrets and those secrets are still there to be mined by all of us. Most importantly, the community that we built of creative people, both here in St. Paul as well as internationally and most definitely intergenerationally is one that is more needed and more vibrant than ever. We are still here, and this simply marks the next phase in our journey(sorry for all the cliches Terri Whitman). What started as a couple guys teaching guitar lessons launched countless careers, housed countless talented musicians, developed and refined countless students and educators and I really believe that the whole world is better off for it, despite the sudden and tragic end.
And there will be adversity... Where it currently stands after 4+ years the status of my degree is uncertain... and thats real. The loans that I will likely spend 20 years paying are real, the time that we have all dedicated is real. For some of you it is even realer, it could mean the loss of a job, deportation, homelessness, or even all three...
There will be people who have long ago sold their dreams away for creature comforts going through the motions of an empty life bitter about every risk they never took whose face will light up in glee as they turn to you and say "I told you so". And that will feel real. Because you have lost something. And even though you have a thousand memories of happiness and success and you have made gains through determination and hard work so many times before... that feeling of loss will still be there... and it may even be intense. But that doesn't mean it's right and that doesn't mean it's the end.
Now the pen of destiny is in our hands. It's up to us to decide where our careers, our community, our art will go. This uncertainty, although terrifying when first realized is the mandatory first step to creating the next great thing and I see no community better to create that then the one I discovered at McNally Smith. Now is the time we find out what we are made of as a community, as musicians, as students, as adults. It is another cringe worthy cliche but this ending really does mark the beginning of whatever it is that the future holds and it's up to us to make the best out of the situation. Now more than ever, this means we have to make ourselves useful to the world. We have to figure out how to place ourselves in positions of service to the economy, work together to create new forms of infrastructure that will fill the huge gap left by the closing of the school. The show must go on and the money is out there to be made with new ideas. It is our time as young creatives to shape new markets and industries, to push innovation that generates profit and sustainability not only for our careers but for our planet and for coming generations. Go: throw a music festival, make an app, score a film, start a nonprofit using music therapy to treat special needs kids, teach people guitar lessons over Skype, make beats do something! The world can not afford to lose our gifts because of things like this.
Work harder. Use the loss as fuel. Allow it to soften your heart so it reaches deeper for compassion, for kindness, for empathy and meaning and make you a wiser human in doing so. Do not harden it to the world.
Thanks to everyone who helped me and put up with my bullshit at McNally during the last few years, I am grateful for you all. As far as students, engineers, and musicians in the community, we may be able to temporarily house some of your creativity at Cloverleaf Audio so if you have projects up in the air with no way of finishing them please reach out and we will do our best to accommodate any services we can.
Let the looting begin
(JK If an ssl disappears do NOT look at me)