50 Shows: Show #6
There is a time to prepare and there is a time to perform. Tupperware has inspired me to do the latter. I was at a piano student's house a few weeks ago and the mother—who sold Tupperware— had a paper sitting on the table that said "50 shows in 50 weeks." Sometimes that is all it takes to strike the imagination.
Here is the beauty of it: It doesn't matter what type of shows, or how successful the shows are. If I show up, I get to add it to the list . So far the results have been promising. When you are looking for a thing you find it more often. So out of the 6 shows I've played in the last 3 weeks, 2 of them were unexpected—as in, I was there and there was a guitar and so I played a set.
One of my favorite parts about playing shows is that each one is so drastically different. My mood, the atmosphere and attention of the crowd, the sound system, and a lot of other strange details get stirred into the same stew.
"Playing shows is like a box of chocolates."
Last night, for example, was a bit of magic. I was walking downtown in Goshen for First Fridays and stopped in at an outdoor open mic that a friend was hosting. He had invited me to play a week ago, but I was doing some recording that day and wasn't sure that I could make it. But thinking of 50 shows I butted in and asked if I could play a few songs. He obliged.
The first song went horribly. The guitar that was sitting there was a little lower quality than I was used to and when I used the even cheaper capo on the first song there was a horrendous buzzing that happened every time I played a G, so I found a good ending as soon as possible. No more capo.
The second song picked up steam. I've worked pretty hard at my craft in the last year and so it's always encouraging to see people to respond well to a song. I want to give people surprises and special moments in their day. The more I practice and play shows, the more often I get to see it happen.
The third song was where the magic was. I played Wonder—a song about finding moments of deep significance in the world around us. As I crooned I noticed a young girl in the front rocking away on the air guitar as if I were covering Metallica and harmonizing on the chorus. She also had Down syndrome.
As the song I was singing begins "I'm not a man of strong emotion, but I've seen some places Angels tread." I didn't miss the irony that this little impromptu show with my special accompaniment was one of those moments of Wonder the song was talking about.
I spoke to Ellie afterward who immediately shouted "THAT WAS AWESOME!" She then went on to tell me frantically about several other things she was thinking about—she obviously understands that artists need both great encouragement as well as regular reminders that they aren't really all that important in the scheme of things. Thanks Ellie.
6 shows down—44 to go.
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