Awkward Blues Tour: Day #10 [Guest Post by Jay Newman]

Today's daily Awkward Blues post is a guest piece by Sean Michel's manager, Jay Newman. I've known Jay for a while. We met at Cornerstone Festival, where he booked and ran the Arkansas Stage. He and my wife are pretty similar [meaning I like them both (though, admittedly, I like the wife more than Jay) they're outspoken, head-butting, tell it like-you-mean it kind of people that both inspire me to be courageous, and frighten me with personalities completely opposite of my own]. You can see the best and worst of that via his twitter feed at @big_dread. Anyhow, he's with us on this run, and he wanted to write up a guest post for the tour blog.

Yesterday was a kind of hectic day on tour.  We didn’t have far to drive, but the prior day was an off day.  Typically on off days you try to relax and recuperate, so that was my mindset.  The downside of that is coming back to tour reality and realizing all that needs to be done after turning your brain off for a day.  For me, that meant advancing shows, dealing with a change of venue on a show next week, organizing a miscommunication on that night’s show about set lengths, and all the other day-to-day communications that comes with managing a band while on tour.  I knew I had a lot to do before we hit the road.  But I needed coffee first. 

I’ve recently become a coffee snob.  It’s really great, I recommend it. Snobbery, I mean – at least as it comes to certain things like coffee.  One of the things I’ve learned is how much flavor is lost when you grind the beans with a steel blade with a high rpm motor.  I didn’t really think it made much of a difference until I bought myself a ceramic hand grinder.  I bought it more for convenience, since I don’t always have electricity on the road.  But I came to realize how much better my coffee was when I started grinding my beans by hand.  Yeah, it takes a long time.  For one cup of coffee I probably spend about 5 minutes grinding.  But yesterday, as I was grinding, I had a little moment with God.   When you grind your own beans, not only does the coffee taste better, but you appreciate it more because of the process you had to go through to get it.  I felt God speaking through this truth. And as is common nowadays with holy moments, I tweeted about it.  I simply tweeted, “One of the most spiritual parts of my day is when I’m grinding coffee”.  I got all kinds of social media responses, and yet I don’t think anyone completely got what I was saying.  So I felt some further clarification was in order.

All the boys with the Sean Michel crew are fans of the Memphis Grizzlies professional basketball team.  They got a phrase they use that we all feel applies to what we do as well: “All Heart, All Grit, All Grind”.   In an era where every basketball team is trying to increase the pace and score as much as possible, as fast as possible, the Grizzlies like to emphasize defense and slow the games down.   They grind out wins.  It ain’t always pretty – heck, it almost never is.  But last year they took that style to the Western Conference Finals.  Sean and I went to one of those playoff games and it was absolute euphoria.   What we do is real similar.  Every band out there is looking for instant results and a bunch of likes, follows, and hits.  We just keep going along at our pace, investing in people along the way, grinding it out.  It’s a lot slower.  But I like to think there’s a lot more value in the way we do it. 

I thought about all of this as I was grinding my coffee beans yesterday.  Grinding by hand – having a moment with God.  I realized in that moment that these are the times God teaches us most.  Life is a grind.  We suffer.  We hurt.  We endure.  And then we do it some more.  As Christians, this is what we are essentially promised.  Jesus said we will suffer for His name.  And yet all of this Christian life is a prelude.  It is merely the grinding of the bean.  Waiting for us is a flavor that we cannot even imagine.  And we will value it all the more because of the process we’ve had to go through to get there.  All the best things in life brew slowly, even our salvation, but oh the taste of what’s waiting! 

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory…” 1 Corinthians 4:17

Keep grindin’, ya’ll.