My Second Life
By Gerald T. Giaimo
It is often said that everyone needs an outlet. Lawyers who spend their days surrounded by client concerns and problems may find this particularly true. For many of my colleagues, escape is possible only during weekend hours when they take part in activities that typically include recreation, home projects, or other hobbies. These, sprinkled with socializing, business development, and the pursuit or maintenance of relationships, provide the context in which many of us live our lives outside the practice of law.
I, however, live a second life on weekends (and sometimes weeknights as well). It is a routine that begins after the sun sets and the children are put to bed. This is when I put on my “gig clothes,” tune my guitar, and meet the band to assemble our equipment for the one-and-a-half hour journey from Connecticut to New York City. While the children and wife sleep, “Mokijam” ( www.mokijam.com) hits the stage in Greenwich Village for a 12:00 a.m. showcase of original jazz/funk fusion music. The setting assaults us with its volume, flowing libations, and choking cigarette smoke, which contrasts sharply with the silent and surreptitious tip-toeing back into the house and up to bed, where we carefully remove smoke-reeking clothing at 4:30 a.m. Two hours later, it is time to change a diaper or two and make breakfast for the kids. Despite the sharp penalty of sleep deprivation, this is an escape I will repeat three or four times each month. And I love it.
Music has been a habit that neither college, law school, marriage, nor parenthood has been able to break. I joined my first rock band at age nine. Already a two-year veteran of the electric guitar, I found myself the leader of a cacophonic ensemble that included another guitarist and drummer—his twin brother—that were three years my elder. With a nascent understanding of four or five chords, we had the building blocks for a significant repertoire of rock hits. What we lacked in ability, however, we ultimately made up for in endurance and dedication. In five years’ time, we were playing local bars and dances (the former of which required parental supervision). Twenty-four years later, that band still performs together for weddings and other private functions.
With a steady gig, I never escaped the need to practice, maintain technique, and improve. Throughout that period, my guitar lessons began to venture into new territories that included classical, jazz, and country/bluegrass. Drawn to improvisation, I became more and more interested in original composition. Two years ago, an opportunity arose to audition with Mokijam, an original, instrumental fusion band. I jumped at the chance.
With a new CD under our belt, we are marketing our music in New York, concentrating our efforts on performances in Greenwich Village clubs that include the Bitter End, the Lion’s Den, and the Baggott Inn. With the culture of the New York music scene so far removed from the weekday business world, I am often made to feel that I commute to a different planet on the weekends. As you might imagine, I have a very supportive wife and family.
Despite the pursuit of my legal career, I have been unable to let go of the fun and expression that comes with music performance. Playing guitar is an important emotional and creative release for which I have found no substitute. It is challenge and escape, release and stimulant. More than a hobby, it is best described as a second life that I hope will continue on and on.
Gerry Giaimo is an associate at Tyler, Cooper & Alcorn, LLP in New Haven, Connecticut, practicing in the areas of civil and criminal litigation. Mr. Giaimo serves the ABA/YLD this year as Co-Coordinator of the Member Service Project entitled “Life in the Balance: Achieving Equilibrium in Our Personal and Professional Lives.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.