So.....taking a few minutes away from the thesis at this point. Most of what I've been doing since I last posted has been associated with the thesis. I am both ready to be done with the thing and also extremely glad that my program requires a thesis, because I can't imagine trying to write a dissertation without having gone through this process (an intense but growing experience....at least I hope it will be).
The only thing I've really done outside of the thesis is performing at my first open mic. Dry Flat Place is known for really good live music and really good singer/songwriters, so it stands to reason that it wasn't really hard to find one. You understand, I've only been writing songs for a little over a year and a half, and while I have played them in front of some people, I have not played them outside of a supportive audience (ie Zoukfest, for friends, for family). Not to mention, I always play acoustically. I just feel that technology most often gets in the way of connecting with an audience.
So I signed up and went down on Thursday night with my roommate, perfectly prepared to make a total ass out of myself. We got there, and it was a pretty crappy bar. Too much smoke, not a single drop of alcohol I actually wanted to pay for, and amplification that would make the hardest rock music fan reach for their earplugs. In addition, they had obviously not planned for anyone to come in without a method to plug in their guitar. Waited for about an hour while the first 6 or so people went, and then it was my turn. I walked up and asked them if they had an extra mic and stand to area mic my guitar. The conversation went something like this:
"Fine, then I'll play completely acoustically."
Horrified look on face.
"Wait, maybe we do."
Why are people afraid of acoustic performances? Sigh.
So, it took them about 15 minutes to get that set up, during which I'm sitting on the stage playing Irish tunes. They finally get everything miked up and I try to back away from the microphone (both the vocal and the guitar one) because evidently they've turned it up to 11.
Side note: I don't perform much with microphones....however I have in the past and I have also run soundboards. The whole point of a microphone, especially for vocals, is so that you do not have to scream to be heard in a very loud or large venue, and thus sacrifice nuance and musicality for volume. No one seemed to know this.
The only good thing about this was that you barely had to sing to be heard, although playing normally on my acoustic almost caused feedback.....at which point I pushed my chair back to try and put some space between me and the mic.
Another side note: I have performed in noisy Big Red State bars for 4 years. More volume doesn't make the screaming patrons getting drunk on bud lite shut up. Good music, performed well makes them shut up.
This will sound egotistical, but as my roommate tells the story, by the end of my first song (you get to play two) there was a lot of applause and then the bar got really quiet. For any of you who haven't played a noisy bar....this is a good sign. I finish up my set, and the guys who are running the event start asking me if I gig around town, and then proceed to tell me that I have a future in music.
To which I really wanted to say, "Did you miss the part where I told you I was a graduate student in the music department, and that my job is teaching music history?" I guess they think the only future in music one could want is a recording contract.....which would be great, but teaching music history/world music makes me REALLY happy. I guess not everyone gets that.
Overall, performing felt great. Getting a positive response about my songs also felt great. I really like to perform even though I'm always nervous before and after (and sometimes during if I'm playing originals). I didn't (as usual) like the smoke or the out of control amplification.
Anyway, sorry if most of that sound like ego-candy, but I'm continually surprised that I'm actually capable of writing songs. Literally I came home one day, really depressed, and I just wrote a song.....which still surprises me. And every time I write another one, it's like, it happened again? Where the hell does this stuff come from?
Off back to thesis land....I've spent far too long on this post.
Peace, Love, and Tunes,