Downtown Journal: Play until you drop
Paul Metsa’s new book may be billed as a memoir, but it is as much a story of what it means to be devoted to your work as it the tale of a boy from the Iron Range who has spent the last 40 years strumming his guitar.
The book, “Blue Guitar Highway,” charts Metsa’s path from his first paying gig at the Lion’s Club for $12.50, to the stage of the Guthrie Theatre and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
And while the 271-page work is full of telling, humorous anecdotes from Metsa’s life — including the time he slipped Grateful Dead front man Jerry Garcia some leftover, psychedelic mushrooms — the story’s primary message is one of perseverance and passion.
It is, in other words, the story of any musician that aspires to make it big, winds up playing low-key gigs in the same club for years on end but labors on because, well, there really is nothing else they’d rather do.
“Any aspiring musician who reads this book may immediately apply to law school, but it is also a reminder that, at the end of the day, you only have one life to live,” said Metsa, who has recorded multi-year stays at Nye’s Polonaise Room, Williams Uptown Pub, Mayslack’s and 237 consecutive Tuesdays at the 5 Corners since moving to the Twin Cities in 1978.