The Random Griffith

I just wasn’t made for this town

Posted in local music, me and the nine one six by Jackson Griffith on 27/07/2011

Guess I missed out on the whole Sacramento lovefest a few weeks ago. There are things I love about this place, mainly Midtown, the American River Parkway and a bunch of places for cheap eats. And there are things I hate about myself. Sometimes, those two things go together like kiwi jelly and Marmite. I’m not so sure why I get so conflicted about this stuff. Most of me wants to be that warm and funny life of the party who shows up and lights up a room, or a backyard, or your life. Not the guy who cuts that trouser-burning brapper that clears the room.

Sometimes I have this most marvelous way of shooting myself in the foot. This isn’t a self-pity rant as much as it is the recognition that I habitually seem to fuck myself somehow, usually out of insecurity. See, I write and play songs, but I used to be kind of a music critic at the local level, and before that on the national level, and I got a little burned out on that over time, and I still make snarky statements about some local acts that come back to haunt me. Mostly it’s out of frustration; I’m still beating my head against the wall, trying to get my music out in front of people, and I’ve had a really difficult doing that in Sacramento. Part of that may be that I and my music “suck,” at least according to Sacramento standards, and part of it comes from the fact that some people just don’t like me because they feel I’ve treated them badly. (The reality is that sometimes I’m goddamn lucky to make it out of my apartment, and what people perceive as me giving them the stinkeye is really me flopping around the dock like a fish out of water, and any sullenness is just the proverbial storm clouds lurking around my head that I thrash in vain to dissipate.)

So tonight, I heard a story at an open mic from a local singer-songwriter, about how he’d tried to add me onto a bill at a local coffeehouse, but the booker told him, “Find some other guy. Anybody. But not that guy.” It turns out the booker is a member of a very popular local band. It isn’t that I don’t like his band; it’s just that I’m not over-the-moon multiorgasmic about them the way that a bunch of people in this town are, as much as I’ve tried, and when I’ve heard so many people gushing about the greatness of this band, I’ve wondered why I just can’t get onboard the Mondrian-patterned groovy love bus. So maybe that, coupled with my own frustration, caused me to say some stuff that I should have kept to myself. Like I said, I am an idiot much of the time, but I have to be an honest idiot, and I’m too old to fake enthusiasm for things that I’m just not feeling. So I don’t blame this guy for barring me from playing his club for mouthing off about his band. I really don’t.

To me, Sacramento is a funny place. I’m just woefully out of sync here for some reason. I know I write good songs, and when I play them elsewhere, like at the gig I played in Stockton last weekend, people respond. And I’ve had some really good shows at Luna’s (here on 16th Street, in Midtown, or Downtown, where I think I’ll be playing on Saturday, August 13.) But this place often goes nuts for stuff that leaves me scratching my head, and it ignores people I think should get a lot more support. It must be some residual toxin in the water that I’ve managed to avoid since I got here in 1984. Or maybe it’s just that my planets are in some kind of detriment in Sacramento according to astro-cartography. Or maybe it’s just that I’m an unrepentant and incorrigible asshole, but I’m the only one in the 916 who hasn’t figured that out.

But part of me really likes it here. I’ve got an anonymous life, and I could hole up in my apartment with a guitar and no one would be much the wiser. I love the feel of walking around Midtown, usually alone, and I’m on reasonably friendly terms with enough people here for me to feel somewhat at home. On top of that, the recovery community in Sacramento is like none other, and I’d really miss thse people if I left. But otherwise, this place has been pretty lonely, and I haven’t had the best luck with women here, or with making close friends in general for that matter.

Yeah, the grass is greener elsewhere. Maybe I should find out how green. Someday, I will. —Jackson Griffith


5 Responses

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  1. Knowcebo said, on 28/07/2011 at 14:07

    Can I tell you something about the internet? You probably have a lot more lurkers — people who read your blog without commenting — than you realize. You can’t assume that all your lurkers know who you are talking about in this post, but the people who you are talking about know who you mean. So do their friends. So why not just name names? I won’t say you owe an obligation to your lurkers, but why post this stuff on the internet if you don’t want readers? I doubt this post is going to help clear the air with the people who have wronged you. If anything, it is going to alienate you even more.

    Be committed to your fucks-you. That’s my advice, for whatever it’s worth.

    • Jackson Griffith said, on 29/07/2011 at 12:27

      Um, I kinda know about the Internet. No need to talk down to me so pedantically, like I’m some sort of idjit. Of course there are lurkers. I do whatever I can to make this blog public, and I put myself out there, flaws and all. People read this. I know that.

      The basic reason I didn’t name a bunch of names is because that blog post wasn’t about those other peope, it was about me wrestling with my flaws, and how I shoot myself in the foot on a pretty regular basis. Less so today, perhaps. But I still do it, and I did it with this blog post.

      I was really tired from a long day at work, and I was playing the open mic at Mondo Bizarro after the commute home. A singer-songwriter named Rolondo, who wears a mask and performs under the name “The Speak Low,” told me about trying to book a show at the Naked Lounge. He brought up my name, and apparently the booker, Jeremy Lawson, who plays in the band Musical Charis, told him, no, anybody but that guy.

      I should have checked with Lawson directly, because it could have been that Rolondo was just fucking with me in the way that some musicians will whack at the confidence of other musicians to gain some sort of upper hand. But I haven’t seen that kind of thing since hair metal bands in the 1980s, and Rolondo seems utterly sincere and above that sort of thing.

      I also made a leap of reason and figured that it was because something I’d said about Musical Charis got back to Lawson. This may be entirely false. I don’t think I’ve bagged on Musical Charis as much as I’ve stated that I didn’t and still don’t get why some people in this town are such rabid fans of that band, or a few others. That’s the critic in me. Musical Charis is really good at what they do, but they’ve never moved me, and I have to be honest about that. They’re very attractive, and young, and energetic, and poppy, but they don’t have that connection to the darker side of art that pulls me in. And even if that element is missing, for me there has to be something compelling about the songwriting. There may very well be, but I haven’t heard it yet.

      This is a weird town, where some relatively unremarkable acts are showered with jizz, and other acts with much more talent are ignored. You may disagree, and others may disagree; that’s just the way I hear it.

      As for my own music, I’m just frustrated. I just need to hunker down like I have been doing, get as good as I can possibly, and then go out and play those places that will have me. If Naked Lounge, a fine room for acoustic performers, by the way, isn’t on that list, then so be it. If amends can be made, I have no problem making them. But if not, I’ll get by. And if I can’t develop an audience in Sacramento, then I will keep playing down in Stockton, the city where I grew up, and other places, where people are more receptive to what I do.

      I may not believe in a lot of things anymore, like true love, the good guys coming out on top, fairness, or a host of other romantic bubbles burst, but I still believe in my music and I still believe in myself.

      Thanks bunches for responding, and take care,

  2. Knowcebo said, on 29/07/2011 at 14:44

    Yeah, sorry. I was in a sharp mood last night.

    Hey, you at all interested in working on a project about Gary Young? BTW, I heard you didn’t much like the Gary Young article I did in the SN&R. (You’re right, this town is too fucking small. How did I even hear that?) Anyway, my friend is writing a memoir about his adventures with Gary while they were recording and touring the Gray Album together. You might know him — Terry Blank. He’s from Stockton, too. I’m helping him, because he’s a musician, not a writer. He has a good story to tell, and there is interest in the book. We’re about halfway done. I have a new writing gig, and I want to pass this project off to someone else. You’re a good writer; you know Gary; you’ve had a alcohol drug problems — you’re perfect. My friend is in the med marijuana biz, so there is money involved. It’s kinda janky to conduct business in an comment thread, so how about not publishing this and email me at if you’re interested in hearing more.

  3. Knowcebo said, on 29/07/2011 at 14:45

    Well, fuck, it published. Oh well!

  4. Ray Cushing said, on 14/08/2011 at 10:28

    Sacramento sucks. Everybody knows that. Just ask Gary Webb — oh, it’s too late to ask him. The only saving grace about Sac is its late-blooming status as a global center of the medical marijuana movement. More pot clubs per capita than any place on earth. Other than that it just plain sucks. Sacramento is famous for being the most unfriendly city in California. In San Francisco, the Palestinians who own the convenience stores all say “Hi” when you buy something. In Sacramento all you get with your change is a scowl. Did I mention that Sacramento sucks? BTW, hooking up with a woman when you’re a man in your 50s is tough anywhere, pal, generic Cialis notwithstanding. Get used to it. Look for a young Asian or Latina gal who needs a green card and maybe you’ll have some luck. Or maybe a Ukrainian. I know an Afghani woman in Toronto who would marry you if you were Canadian. Must be somebody like that in Sacramento. Start getting your haircuts in South Sac and networking with the hairstylists. They know where the women are.

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