Ran Blake: From Music to Film and Back
AAJ: When were you there?
RB: Greece in '67 and Jeanne Lee warned me not to go she said " I don’t think the time is right" and that I had a few hundred dollars and she said "keep it for the hard days.” but I went and three days later the phones weren’t working, the tanks rolled up –April 20th 1967—that’s why I want my birthday held a month later because I always think of Vradiazi. In Argentina--- I was there 20 years later—1980 but suddenly there were tanks on the streets there, children were disappearing--- that didn’t have the consequences for me. I didn’t know what was happening in Greece and we Americans don’t speak other languages and suddenly I’m at a hotel... I couldn’t use the phone... and some people were very kind... this police van picking me up...I still have nightmares. I guess its memories. And [though] I don’t want to try to fight the nightmares it’s nice to have happy dreams too.
AAJ: What kind of advice would you give to a struggling artist like myself?
RB: I would say –I’ll be universal instead of just particular—I do think one should have a 15 or 20 hour a week job and no more and no less. And then maybe two or five hours a month that you volunteer your musical skill so that it’s not your own music that you are playing all of the time. Give maybe 2 or 3 concerts a year, you don’t have to guilt trip your friends, but you really want people to hear you and then other times you go hear others. I will have new music for this concert in January—thank you for reminding me it was in January—I thought it was in February. You have to also grow in repertoire. But I do think there are certain networking things you have to do to. We can’t do everything, and should there be a month in the year when we don’t play and we become musical ecologists---there are too many musicians and we need more listeners and I do think it’s important to make announcements or a bulletin notice to try and involve a larger audience in what you're doing. I don’t like to get up and talk but I will have a written program and I think some people I go out and hear them and they don’t say one word and I don’t know where we’re at and then there are some people that talk all the time and crack jokes. I have more advice: Don’t give up, hang in there. I think you have to pick five people whose career you really hope for and maybe one is ahead of you and maybe be selfish—can they do something to help you? Care about them but every musician has got [to] let someone down once you can’t get to every gig, you can’t always say yes. But I think there are some people who are 25 years old that might have one cd too many and maybe [you should] buy it. It doesn’t bother me. I’m not recording now because there's really enough—I don’t want to flood up the market and I think if everybody—just like in blackouts don’t you say "turn your lights out two hours a day to preserve the power"--- there has to be a time you are not playing, because you can't grow if you’re every minute playing. ...so you have now an earful.