Kid at the Carnival - Andrew McKnight
This life. It would have been impossible to convey to my 15-year old self, jamming hard on the Fender Stratocaster that has been with me ever since. The idea that the voices in my head and the stories I've witnessed would morph into words and music, and that somehow would become my livelihood as well as my life. A lot of nights, my office is someone's living room singing for lovely people sharing a one-of-a-kind experience. Really?
The only thing that teenage me might have been able to visualize is the guitar would be the vehicle that would take us on this crazy journey. That Strat, that led to the Martin acoustic guitar that I got upon finishing my Master's degree in Environmental Engineering.
Sometimes the biggest thing in life is letting go of what seems comfortably uncomfortable. I was resolute and determined that music was a terrible career but a great side thing to have fun and make a few bucks. I enjoyed engineering, and I probably would have been pretty good at it if I stuck with it. EVERYTHING I learned about business and marketing came from spending a few years in the consulting world. But I also learned then, and now, I simply stink at working for other people. And it seems music was determined not let go of me.
So 25 years later instead of being an engineer, I find myself an author as well as a musician, a family historian, and the chief cook and bottle washer in an eclectic music career that is richly rewarding in most ways other than economics. I have experienced things I could never have imagined, seen ten thousand beautiful places through the windshield along nearly a million miles of roads, and on the way I've written a bunch of songs to capture some of those moments. I still have those guitars and a few more.
I often think of the carnival. The cacophony of sight and sound, the barkers and the hustlers, the freaks and the fabulous. I imagine me as a little kid wandering dreamlike through the trance, past all the booths until one said above it simply "Lives". And some crazily-dressed carny hound flipping something at me and saying something like, "here kid, try this one on." Because it's crazy to imagine a life like this happened any other way. I sure didn't dream it up.
Soon I will return to the Austin Acoustical Cafe and the scene of the crime, my 2013 solo DVD Live from the Appalachians to Austin. I have a new album and book, Treasures in My Chest, drawn from the incredible discoveries and connections in my family history over the last seven years. I'm excited to return to Austin. Many of the friends I made on my first visit to the Kerrville Folk Festival in '95 and in my 2000 New Folk journey are still part of my life, and some will be at the show. Maybe you're thinking about coming to hear me for the first time. I'd be honored if you would. I'm grateful for the chance to share these songs and stories with you. To share one special night with me in this remarkable life with which I've been blessed.
We live, as they say, in trying times. And music is the language of and medicine for the soul. I'd love to write part of your prescription that night, and I promise it will go down a whole lot easier than most scripts. Relatively few side effects - none harmful.
See y'all March 14th.