I’m on a plane headed south the morning after having played a great band gig with my band of ten years. We have seen a lot of miles, a lot of different kinds of venues and we have grown together personally and professionally. I am so lucky to have had the same core band, for so long! I am pressed to find many places I am happier or more comfortable in my many missions in life, then when I am making music with my compadres.
Lately, I have been playing more solo gigs. I have always, from my earliest days as a singer songwriter, played solo gigs. Somewhat out of necessity. It is hard to find reasonable places to play three sets (or more) of original music with a band. Thankfully we have a few spots around the country that welcome us anytime we are in the area. However, I (especially recently) have had the need to perform more regularly than once or twice a month. I have been working on new material and find the best way to cement new material in the sieve of a vault that is my brain and muscle memory is to commit to playing in front of people.
Recently I scored a semi regular gig at a local coffeehouse (Cafe Terra) in the city near my home. It is a Saturday morning gig, not amazing pay, not a focused audience situation, I compete with steamers for making lattes, customers chatting, and kids playing, but I love it! I can’t say why exactly, as these distractions that were often too much for me in past years, but somehow this has changed, at least for now and I’m rolling with it. The room sounds really nice (competing noise makers notwithstanding) and I can explore musically without risk of taking a band mate off the deep end, musically speaking. I get some audience members who come to see me (11am better fits their lifestyles than 11pm) and the staff treats me with respect and genuine appreciation for what I’m bringing to the day.
My takeaway from these solo gigs. 1. Appreciation for those around you, in fact does improve the chances of moving heaven and earth. 2. Being real and present while performing makes for a better time for me, and I’m pretty sure, judging from reactions lately, a better time for my audience too.