In Uncategorized on August 11, 2009 at 12:22 am

I did it!  As mentioned previously, I have been working on my repertoire (and working up my courage) to prepare for a thirty minute open mic night performance.  Not wanting to blow my debut, I practiced my songs early in the day, had a set list prepared, and even outlined some banter to cut down on awkward silences and spiraling tangents while on stage.

To say I made a few rookie mistakes would be an understatement.  It turns out that performing on stage is quite a bit different than belting out a tune in the comfort of one’s own living room.  The number one lesson learned is that the more eye contact I make with the crowd, the sloppier my playing becomes.  I occasionally found my mind wandering, thinking ahead in the song or wondering how I was coming across to the audience and lo and behold I would forget the lyrics!

When you are onstage singing and playing by yourself, there is no one else to blame for miscues; no drummer to pin random tempo changes on, no lead singer coming in too early or too late with the lyrics, no drunken guitarist slurring the chord changes while striking guitar hero poses.  They say it helps to picture your audience naked, but while the crowd was good-looking enough this visualization technique can be distracting, so I merely pictured them in their underwear and felt much more comfortable.

The crowd at the Red Raven Espresso Parlor was very welcoming, I got a little bit of a sing-along going on a classic Pink Floyd tune and words of encouragement from some of the other musicians.  Yes, I made a lot of mistakes, but I also rocked.  My set consisted of cover songs and a short contact juggling story, thirty minutes of mostly entertaining music and banter with only occasionally awkward moments.

I used some of my time to comment on the crackdown underway against small venues allowing cover songs to be played.  The music publishers have been bullying the smallest of fish into paying fees to have copyrighted music played in their establishments.  My solution was to declare  that all of the mistakes made were my own original mistakes, and were satirical in nature and so are covered under the fair use provisions of copyright law.

This was on Wednesday, August 5, 2009, from 10:30pm to 11:00pm.  The High Plains Reader chose the same topic as the subject of their editorial and picked the Red Raven’s open mic as a Best Bet for the week.  Raul Gomez (co-owner and multiple hat-wearer of the High Plains Reader) proposed a different solution to the licensing brouhaha, but were we truly thinking along the same lines at the same time?  This is after all a story that has been playing itself out across the country.  Was this a kind of cultural synergy, an issue that both Raul and I were attuned to in approximately the same way?  Or was something more mundane at work?

Perhaps someone took in my performance, left the coffee shop and walked the three or four blocks to the offices above a.k.a. where by many accounts the HPR staff routinely scrambles to throw together a weekly alternative publication in time for their Thursday printing.  I’m just saying is all.

  1. “…no drummer to pin random tempo changes on, no lead singer coming in too early or too late with the lyrics, no drunken guitarist slurring the chord changes while striking guitar hero poses….”

    It sounds like someone has been to a Western Fifth show or two.

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