Editor’s Note: Today’s guest contributor is none other than The Puzzle Man himself, Seth Jones of The Seth Jones Band. When he’s not healthcaring about his day or making odd remarks on Twitter you can find him and his tunes at https://sethjonesmusic.com/
Have you ever been in a clique? Of course you have! Maybe you didn’t know it, but you were. A clique is loosely defined as a small group of people, with shared interests, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them. Your clique could simply be you and a few of your best friends engaged in a continuous group chat where you share memes, gossip, or just chat amongst yourselves randomly every day. So, yeah, you’ve been in a clique of sorts. Now that we’ve established that, let’s get to the meat of my article (and I love meat).
The Texas Music/Red Dirt/Regional Americana scene certainly has a multitude of cliques. Obviously, these artists are going to meet each other at gigs or maybe just online (Hey, South Texas Tweek, we’ll meet up at some point this year!) and they are going to like some fellow artists more than they like some of the others (Hint: This is how cliques form). For example: I’ve met with some artists who were, to put it mildy, extremely boring and seemingly possessing levels of intelligence on par with your least favorite politician. I’ve also met artists who make me laugh, seem very genuine, and have the same rebelious gene embedded in their DNA that I myself was blessed/cursed with. As you may have guessed, I have formed natural cliques with the people that I like and not with the people who were more milquetoast than a bowl of milk with toast in it. Is this a good thing? Yeah, it’s good!
Don’t you think it’s cool seeing Koe Wetzel, Parker McCollum, and Reed Southall post videos of them cutting up and laughing together? Don’t you like seeing me and Tweek banter daily with jokes and proclamations that leave us continuously teetering on the verge of our inevitable Twitter account bans? Don’t you love the fact that The Panhandlers were obviously a result of a tight clique of musicians who enjoyed each other so much that they formed a regional super group!? I think it’s great! And so do you (even if you don’t know it yet)!
We’ve estabished that cliques are clearly unavoidable and that the positive results of these unions are inevitable. But are there negatives? Spoiler alert: Yes.
The very nature of a clique is that it shuts out deeper access from outsiders. The Panhandlers will (likely) never allows 50 more artists to join the band. Koe Wetzel, Parker McCollum and Reed Southall will probably never invite a large number of people into their extremely inapproriate group chat (I have no proof that one exists, but I’m also not an idiot.. Actually that last part is debateable). And I’m not going to banter on Twitter with hundreds of people who are boring and don’t make me laugh. So what exactly are the negatives? Well, I’ve seen them with my own green eyes.
I’ve witnessed people actively trying to enter cliques. I’ve seen people destroy their art, their persona, and their happiness all in the pursuit of acceptance by particular cliques. It’s uncomfotable to watch and it’s sad to see when it fails, and even more sad, sometimes, when it succeeds. Ultimately, we all want happiness. Wanna be rich? Why? Happiness. Wanna be successful? Why? Happiness. Wanna be healthy? Why? Happiness. To quote Captain America; I could do this all day. If you think forcing yourself into a certain scene or friend-group is going to make you happy, by all means, give it a shot and learn the hard way. Pain is the best teacher. But if you want to take advice from a man with slightly above average IQ, relatively embarassing streaming numbers, and an addiction to breakfast foods and whiskey (never concurrently) then read this next part closely.. Do not covet thy nehgbor’s clique. You will slide nicely and fit snugly into the one that you are supposed to be a part of. You will almost certainly end up on the losing end of happiness if you try to be something you’re not. I didn’t realize this at age 25, sadly, but it is glaringly obvious now, 10 years down the road.
I spent some time in my mid-20s being fearful that I’d never find my place. I figured I would never find a clique that brought me joy and contentment. I can tell you right now, with great confidence, that you will most certainly fall into position like a perfecly placed puzzle piece if you simply be yourself.
Don’t fall for clique bait. Everyone hates clique bait.
Your friendly neighborhood Puzzle Man,