Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gearing up for performance: testing the songs and the pipes

This past week at Wednesday Poetry both the open mic and the feature (Poet Will Nixon from Woodstock, NY), brought forth some novel and interesting material - and that always makes me happy.  Nixon is a very funny guy which was a nice change from the heavy and the heart-rending - though those can be powerful.  It was a great night.   For me, I brought my guitar and tested out a song of mine that I had rescued from my forgotten tunes pile...   It's called I Bet It All On You -You can listen to it over on my Youtube page. First I read it as a slam-syle poem, then I played it. The audience was very kind and appreciative.

I am getting ready for the four forty-minute sets deal again, and trying to bring the songs I used to play back into working memory. I am  right at the stage of prep, where my voice sounds good, and words come, but sometimes right in the  middle of something, I draw a blank on the next chord.  I know this means I need to get out there to open mics as much as I can to harden up the muscle memory again.  Over the years, I have learned that muscle memory really helps in performing and the only way to seal the memory is to heat it up repeatedly (sort of like the hardening process for metals) - that is, to play under fire in front of an audience over and over.

So, I thought I would re-enforce my Wed, Night experience with a little Friday trip. So Friday I rolled down the hill to a nearby open mic - one that's not advertised much - at the  East Coast Music Mall. Customers and students are invited at checkout or during their lessons.  It's really open mic/jam every other Friday night from six to nine, right in the store. (Sometimes it's weekly call the store for details) There are lots of under-age players with their parents. It's a nice supportive environment for young players to get used to an audience.

Nonetheless, this old bat (me) waded on in there and signed the list. There were other gray heads as well as a metal head or two, and styles ranging from folk to jazz with a lot of rock sandwiched in the middle. When my time came, I asked for advice on the settings of my Cort's builtin equalizer and pickup, then I said hello and gave my name, and launched into the first tune. I played "I Bet It All On You" and "Love Makes You Free" and then tried to quit -- but the audiences requested one more (you get a full 15 minutes), I turned to the sound guy. "I know you have at least one more tune in there..." he said so I played "Smooth As A Wishing Stone"(Long pond is cold) too.

Folks there were so very kind... Both the parents and the young players were very complimentary and encouraging.  A couple suggested I should go on the coffee house circuit. Another said he was glad I played the extra tune and that he would have been happy with a half hour more or so....   Of all the things I do and have done - my own songs with my own voice yield the most positive responses....

Like the little polish priest Father Olbrys told me "Choose to do that which only you can do......"  Though I am a firm atheist, I'm running with his advice.....