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Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

Herb Benham

Last Sunday, we hosted a concert for Patrick Park at the Metro Galleries. Patrick is a singer/songwriter who specializes in the sad, in the melancholy and in relationships that have broken up or soon will, if you give them time.

This is an exaggeration, but Patrick's well-crafted songs are on the thoughtful, introspective side. He is more Leonard Cohen than Lynyrd Skynyrd. I wanted to pat him on the back and say, "You're going to be OK, you're only 36."

Afterward, we went to dinner with Patrick and his brother, Brendan, at the Padre. Brendan is a vegetarian, but I was glad to see Patrick order the steak and fries. Sorting out relationships and other knotty subjects is tough work and you don't want to approach it with low iron.

Patrick cleaned his plate. He may be sensitive, but he has a good appetite. This is the sort of news you wouldn't mind reporting to his mother should there be the opportunity.

Patrick lives in Eagle Rock with his wife. We talked about music. What it's like to make a living playing music, something he has done for more than 10 years.

"I have nothing scheduled in November," he said. "I'll be writing and working on recording music."

The "writing and working on recording" made sense, but that Patrick had nothing scheduled in November was a surprise.

Maybe, he planned it that way. Take a break, write and record.

However, if he didn't, it shows how challenging being a musician is. Patrick is good. A pro. His guitar work is exquisite.

But even the pros are waiting for the phone to ring and the mail to arrive.

Dinner done by 9:30, it was time to shut it down. After shaking hands, I said, "Keep the faith."

I wasn't planning on saying, "Keep the faith." It's not an original line, but I meant it. This is why.

Most of the 14 songs Patrick played were good, sad but good, however two stood out. Two were extraordinarily good: "Something Pretty," and "You Were Always the One."

I listen to those songs over and over. Eventually, another song will push them into the recesses of iTunes, but a well-crafted song is like a much-loved sweatshirt. It works this season and next.

I want people like Patrick Park to keep the faith because we need singers, songwriters, playwrights and performers like we do accountants, schoolteachers, physicians and grave diggers. If they stop doing what they're doing, we'll be burying people in trees.

If the artists lose hope (and stop writing about it), waking up to the clock radio won't be as much fun, nor will road trips, painting projects and Thanksgiving gatherings.

Our son Herbie is a songwriter and musician. He tends bar to pay the bills but works hours a day on his music. He is trying to improve our lives. I support you. All of you.

Keep the faith.

These are Herb Benham's opinions and not necessarily those of The Californian. Email him at