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Guest Post: These Days by Rick Good

musician rick good plays the banjo 
Image of Rick Good from leahygood.com


These days, when I talk with other artists about the current state of the arts in our country there is little false hope, plenty of frustration, and varying degrees of determination to continue making art in spite of a darkening of the Light—that Light which illuminates Truth and Beauty. In my forty-five years as a working artist I have seen this Light shine and fade and shine and fade, as things do in life.

I have also learned that discussions about art and its place in society naturally touch on politics, technology, education, and the corporatization of our food, health care, media, and world in general. It's all connected and, these days, all sadly out of balance. The social atmosphere we're living in is poisoned by a populace so polarized that any attempt to engage in meaningful dialogue becomes either preaching to the choir or a waste of breath. The Light has retreated so far into the shadows there is little for artists to do but persevere in keeping an inner spark alive.

This, precisely, is the artist's job when life is out of balance.

I know for performing artists, these days, business is pretty bad. The competition for gigs is greater than ever, and the pay, when it hasn't actually gotten lower, has certainly not increased. In addition, the responsibility of promoting appearances has largely shifted from presenter to performer. Worse, it is not uncommon for artists to be asked to play for fundraisers, benefits, and too many other occasions for no pay at all, even when caterers, sound engineers, and administrative staff are all getting their regular fees.

To complete this gloomy picture, consider the technology of how people get their music these days—what we used to call record collecting. How is it that someone won't think twice about spending three and a half dollars for a latte that takes four minutes to prepare, yet they expect to be delivered the creative product of a working artist for free? Enabling this are the internet streaming services that profit from the music while insulting the musician with ludicrously small payments for the use of their art.

A gloomy picture indeed, these days, but let's not underestimate that spark.

Just last month I took part in a one-day festival in a small Ohio town and a weeklong music camp in rural Michigan. In each case, the outlook was less than sunny—few people showed up, the weather was initially uncooperative, and spirits were dampened. Nonetheless, the artists involved kept the faith and pushed through, determined to supply the spark and shine some Light. By the end of each event, those who made the journey found some Truth and felt some Beauty.

It's obviously not a time for reaching thousands or making the big bucks. It is in the small things these days that we must find our inspiration. Until the Light returns, which it will, artists must persevere in keeping that inner spark alive. Our world needs it, especially these days.

Rick Good, July 2015

About Rick Good

 A founding member of the Hotmud Family, twenty-four year veteran of Rhythm in Shoes, and 2010 Ohio Heritage Fellow, Rick Good is recognized and respected for his driving banjo, swinging guitar, heartfelt singing and crafty songwriting. With his wife and long-time collaborator, Sharon Leahy, Rick has made a life of creating critically acclaimed performance art, rooted in American traditions. He currently plays regularly with three fine bands: ShoeFly, Good & Young, and the Red Clay Ramblers.

Rick was featured in The Art Showan ArtsBridge program sponsored by CETConnect. Check air dates for when you can catch Rick taking a trip down memory lane, or stream the profile online.

  • Saturday, November 14 at 6 p.m. on channel 48.1 (CET-Cincinnati)
  • Sunday, November 15 at 5:30 p.m., 8 p.m. on channel 16.1 (ThinkTV-Dayton)
  • Monday, November 16 at 8 a.m. 1 p.m., & 5 p.m. on channel 48.3 (CET-Cincinnati)
  • Tuesday, November 17 at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. & 10 p.m. on channel 48.3 (CET-Cincinnati)



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