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In sickness and in health....

I rarely get sick. That is, I rarely get a nasty cold that knocks me on my bum for a week or so, but this year was different. I'm just coming up for air. As many of you know, I perform frequently in Second Life as Von Johin, doing a live two-hour concert performance from my home recording studio. Now, there are a lot of benefits to this as I've exhaustively discussed here on this blog, but one thing that doesn't change whether its a real live in-person gig, or a a virtual world gig, playing a show sick just plain sucks. 

I had a busy schedule of concerts, and tried to brave one of them to make sure the show went on, but it was a mistake. Fortunately the audience couldn't see how I looked in real life, and my avatar wasn't equipped with a runny nose or coughing and sneezing animations. What they could do was hear my usual Howlin' Wolf-esque growl turn into a pitiful whisper within 20 minutes of the show starting. I sit down when I play in Second Life, whereas in an in-person concert I tend to stand, or maybe use a stool. Hopped up on cold meds, even sitting to play was a dizzying challenge. Sweating a fever the entire time, losing my voice, all resulted in bed rest and gigs canceled for 10 days. Not good.

I've a luxury in playing gigs from home. Its not my main source of income or even a substantial portion of it, though it does pay pretty well all things considered. Even though these are "cartoon concerts" I still give them the same attention and respect I would an in-person, real world concert. Now that I am past the worst of this misery, I did five different performances of varying length on Saturday to celebrate Mardi Gras in the French Quarter here in Second Life, the "sim" that I own. I played there in the afternoon, then two other places that day, then closed the all-day blues festival that evening. And while I didn't lose my voice, I did discover I wasn't quite over the misery like I thought I was. 

All this leads me to the illness issue for the traveling musician. I've been on the road, in a van, in a bus, in a car, sickly and still driving to the next town because if I don't play, I don't get paid. Further, when I was with a band, if I didn't play, the band didn't get paid either. That's a lot of pressure on top of feeling like crap. To whit, I encourage you to do something you might not have thought about before when you book your out of town gigs, even if they are just one-nights. Come prepared. Bring along daytime cold medication, nighttime cold medication, throat spray, cough syrup, "musinex" to get rid of the loogies, some aspirin of choice (I'm an Extra-Strength Excedrin guy), some Pepto, some gas-ex, whatever else you can think of to treat symptoms ranging from cold and flu to nasty stomach bugs or minor food poisoning from that all-night diner you hit after the show at 4AM. In addition to the medication box you'll put together, also bring an ice-pack bag, and in general, assemble a first-aid kit for not only the normal kind of band-aid needs like nicks and cuts, but be ready for getting sick at the last moment or day of the show nasty bugs that might pop up. 

The truth is you can psych yourself up while laying there in the tour van or cheap hotel with the misery, and convince yourself that you'll get through this few short hours of the show, but you'll be able to convince yourself of it a lot more easily if you bring along all of the medicines you'll possibly need in case the worst happens out there. 

Posted: 2/22/2009 8:20:01 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink
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