LET'S GO PLAY
This past week, I showed up to an open-mic, writer's night out in Franklin. It's in a great place just off of interstate 65, and I've visited the restaurant/bar a couple of times. The organizer told me a few days before that it had been a pretty low turn-out the week before so I might get to play quite a bit.
AND THEN THERE WERE TWO
I arrived at the restaurant to find that there was only 1 other songwriter currently there...and that's all that would show. I had some people on the way, but they had text and asked if I could possibly go on closer to 8pm, as they were trying to get there. The night began at 7pm, so the plan was to have the other songwriter sing at least a 30 minute set, then I could go on near 8pm. My fellow songwriter kicked it off and started sharing her songs. Come to find out, this was her first ever songwriter's night to play, as she had just recently moved to town with her husband. She filled up about 30 minutes of time, and it was my time to go.
A SMALL CROWD
I actually had a list of new songs that I wanted to try out on an audience. I had 12 songs total on the list, with all of them but 2 being new. So I stepped up on stage and looked out across the big restaurant. There were a few people around the bar with their backs to me, engaged in their food, drink, and conversation. There was one table of 4, that included the other songwriter and her crew. There was a table with my wife and a friend/fellow songwriter who came out to support. There was a table of 3, with 2 of those being part of my team who came out to watch. Then there was one table of 2 people who just came to the restaurant to eat. Behind a pony-wall, about 25 yards away, were several people seated at tables, there for dinner. All this to say...I was about to play to an essentially empty restaurant, with people who did not come to listen to music, much less an acoustic set by a singer-songwriter.
NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A CORNER
It's always interesting to see how we grow and develop as people. I remember playing in front of smaller, distracted crowds before, and I've never liked it. In fact, I would say that I've despised it, and would find myself not wanting to even be there. Nobody puts Baby in a corner. Haha! It's not that I liked it this time either, but my perspective is different. It was my thought that this was just the setting I needed. At the time, I didn't judge whether it was good or bad, I just simply looked at it as the setting that I had been dealt. I'm one of those people who would prefer to perform in front of 10,000 than 10. I've always been that way. The largest crowd I've ever played for was over 17,000, and I remember the energy that came from that audience. But my mindset is different now, and I had some specific things that I wanted to accomplish: 1. I wanted to play as many of my new songs as I could so I could get a feel for how they feel on stage, and get some feedback from the audience. It's one thing to play in a room or the studio, and it's a whole other experience to play them live on the stage. 2. I wanted to use this opportunity to work my performance muscles, getting in shape and simply getting used to being on stage in this type of setting. 3. I wanted to work out my vocal muscles in a full set to continue preparing my voice for the times that are coming when I will be singing shows and larger sets several days in a row. I sing daily as it is, but there is nothing quite like the rigors of singing full shows and sets for a live show. I accomplished all of my objectives and felt great about it. I showed up in the way that I wanted to show up, regardless of the crowd or their level of engagement.
ITS ALL IN THE MINDSET...AND THE VOCALS...AND THE SONG...
I had the mindset as I began, that I was going to play, do my very best for that night, and I was going to entertain those who were interested. I didn't rush my set, I took my time. I spoke between songs, and tried to let the audience know a little bit about me, and I told some stories about the songs themselves, including their inspiration, or how they were written. Somewhere in the process, I got more comfortable, and aside from thinking about the next words on a new song, I quit thinking and just had fun. I played a total of 10 songs, just under 1 hour, and I got great feedback on several things, including songs that connected with different people in certain ways. The organizer of the event came up to me afterward and said, "so what are you doing? Are you doing the artist thing or just songwriting?" I told him that I'm doing the artist thing. He said, "man, your vocals and songwriting are great, like way above average." It's always nice to get that kind of feedback, and to know that there are people who like my music. And by the way, one of the songs that I sang is a song that my team and I believe will be my first single. Yes! It's a great song, and I can't wait for you to hear it!
If I can play to a room of a few interested people and supporters, mixed in with a hand full of people who are distracted, with just a guitar and my voice, then I can certainly handle when the crowds are bigger, engaged, and I have a full band. And I am so looking forward to that! Oh, and remember that small table of 2 people who were there to eat? They hung out the entire time, watching and clapping, and they didn't leave until my last song. So, maybe I won over a couple of new fans too!
I've got lots of work to do, continuing to write, perform and play. AND...we're beginning our major fundraising for the project and everything that goes along with that, this month!
SPACE TO MOVE FORWARD
I've found the space in life to keep moving forward toward the life I want to live. It's not easy, nor without challenges, but I'm having a blast. In fact, I would say we're having more fun now than ever, me as an individual, and we as a family.
Thanks for joining me on the journey!