For a long time, I’ve been hesitant to share anything that was all that personal online, and I’ve been going back and forth about how much I wanted to share about what’s going on with me. But here goes:
I played over 100 shows in both 2022 and 2023. It was what I wanted to do and I’m proud to have done it. But what I didn’t want to admit to myself is that, with all that travel and performing, I was really running myself into the ground. I’d been pushing through burnout for a big chunk of 2023, but I felt like I had no choice but to keep going. But I’ve realized that I just can’t keep up that pace at this time.
I’m not totally sure what happened this year, but the burnout reached a new level that I just couldn’t ignore. The biggest driving factor or this was the worsening pain from fibromyalgia and fatigue from chronic fatigue syndrome. They reached a new level of awfulness at the beginning of 2024. I’ve been dealing with physical pain for years, and every time I play music I have to play through the pain. There are certain things I can do that make the pain more bearable, but it never goes away.
I love music and playing it so much, and I didn’t want to let my conditions dictate what I could and couldn’t do with music or how much I was able to perform. But the misery of going through a performance in pain has sapped all the joy from playing gigs. The biggest problem really is the leg, hip and knee pain that comes from performing as a one-man-band. I really liked the fact that I could play as a one-man-band, I worked hard to get good at it, and I’m proud with what I did with it. But I just can’t do it anymore. It has made recent performances nearly unbearable to try to continue to do foot percussion. So as much as I’m disappointed about it, I’ve made the difficult decision to not do it anymore. My solo performances from now on will only be guitar and voice. The hand, wrist, and shoulder pain I experience from just playing guitar is bad enough, but I’ve found ways to make it mostly manageable.
At this time, I’m taking measures to improve my overall health, with the hope that diet changes and stretching/exercise can help reduce the pain and fatigue. Of course, that is not guaranteed, but it seems like the only hope that I have at the moment, since doctors haven’t been able to help me much.
I’m hoping to resume travelling and performing by the end of April, but my schedule is going to have to be a lot lighter for the foreseeable future. I have 20 some shows scheduled through the end of the year. I hope that once I get back at it, I’ll feel up to adding more, but I’m not sure. With the increase in pain and fatigue, and some things that feel like pretty big setbacks on the business side, I’m feeling really uncertain about the future of my music “career.” But, as much as I’m bummed that I felt the need to cancel a bunch of gigs, I think it was probably the right decision. This break has given me a chance to not only rest and make some changes to improve my health, but also reconnect with some of the joy and creativity that made me love music in the first place. Anyway, thank you for reading and for your support. I hope I’ll see you out there again soon.

Smiley's Blues is out now on all digital platforms!

     Aaron Lee Kaplan is a blues/folk guitarist and singer/songwriter from Marshfield, WI. He is known for playing resonator guitar and has been gaining a reputation throughout the Midwest for his slide and fingerstyle guitar playing and his humorous yet thought-provoking original songs. His music incorporates a wide variety of influences and has been described as Twisted Blues. When performing, Kaplan does a mix of originals and unique versions of familiar classic blues, rock and folk songs.  

     Kaplan started writing songs and playing guitar around the age of 12, and by the age of 15, he began performing at coffee shops, restaurants and bookstores. In September 2017, Kaplan released his EP Some Sunny Day. One of the songs from that EP, “It Is What It Is”, was included on the Wisconsin Roots Music Co-Op 2019 Compilation CD. In March 2020, he released his album Dairyland, a collection of original guitar instrumentals inspired by life in Wisconsin. Both releases have received regional radio air play. He is currently performing throughout the Midwest and just released his new album, Smiley’s Blues, in December 2022.

-“Aaron Lee Kaplan has been making waves throughout the Wisconsin music scene with his unique blend of traditional delta blues      and his amazing slide guitar work.”-Revolution One Entertainment 

-“An absolutely fabulous acoustic blues guitarist.”-HH Hinder Brewing Company, Waupaca, WI 

-"Stop in and listen to this guy! Raspy but yet smooth vocals accompanied by his insane guitar skills."-Hoozels Bar, Wisconsin Rapids 

-“It's been called ‘Twisted Blues.’ Aaron plays a mix of rock, blues and folk, liberally mixing covers and originals to put together an evening of acoustic guitar virtuosity, great songwriting - let's call it the Crooked Blues, shall we?”- Historic Trempealeau Hotel