Sylvia and I dragged a handful of ImprovBoston folks out to the Cantab Lounge on Friday to dance to The Fatback Band playing some old funk, soul and R&B classics. You can see these gents any given Friday. You’ll have seen them there at least once on any weekend for the last decade or more. I call them “my three chemistry professors,” and if you saw them on the street without instruments you would know what I meant, but get them on stage and they put it on the plate just for you.
“How’s everyone doing in the historic Cantab Lounge tonight?” the lead singer asked at one point. And we all cheered. Why wouldn’t we? We were here to see them, or at least here to listen to the music they provided. I don’t really perform these days, but I know the high you get from lights in your face and an audience who paid for your product.
I wonder about that life. Is it all the same: one weekend flowing into the next, anonymous crowds sweating inches from your elbow as you lay into the bass riff for the bridge for Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ “The Love I Lost”? Or is every crowd and set list different: a new opportunity to make a couple’s night memorable? We like to think of art as magical, the product of inspiration, but pros know how much of art is work. You show up every day, put in your hours and master the chords. Audiences react to a spectacle, but they follow reliability. Hey, let’s go see these guys; they’re always fun.