Old-timers will complain and complain about how young bands have it easy these days, swallowing the baited cliché of the overnight hit single, the fashionable haircut and the glossy magazine cover. The reality of the situation is far more grim, exacerbated by the level playing field of the internet. In order to get noticed amid the constant barrage of MySpace pages and blog reviews, musicians have to take matters behind their own steering wheel and follow a constant regimen of touring and playing live as much as possible. After 16 years, as long as you're talented, good-looking, have a reliable band and haven't yet burnt out, overdosed, lost your creative impetus in a messy divorce or found Jesus, you might get lucky enough to break even. Just ask Eric Lindell.
After putting out Gulf Coast Highway, the best record of his long career, Lindell in 2009 is the living disputation of the idea that kids get rich overnight in the music business. He's been patiently clawing his way up since playing small bars in Santa Rosa, doing things the slow but right way. He's constantly on the road, tirelessly playing with anyone and for anyone along the way. And though he doesn't have that big hit or that glossy magazine cover, he's got something worth far more: respect. Those who haven't kept tabs on Lindell in the last few years are encouraged to pick up a copy of Gulf Coast Highway, or better yet, see him live on Friday, Sept. 4, at the Cloverdale Plaza (Downtown Cloverdale; 7pm; free; 707.894.4410) or Saturday, Sept. 5, at the Last Day Saloon (120 Fifth St., Santa Rosa; 8:30pm; $15&–$18. 707.545.2343).