9/21/09

School

Listen closely: if you are a fan of fantastic songwriting and intimate live shows, go see Slaid Cleaves.

I opened for him at the Tractor in Seattle last night. I felt good; played well, didn't forget any words, didn't tell too many long and boring stories...I finished the set feeling good about my offering, and the audience reinforced the feeling buy applauding loudly and buying a ton of cd's. Hot dog!

Then Slaid got up and it became clear that I was watching a guy who has mastered the craft. Every song was great. Not a single line out of place, and he set the songs up with perfectly told stories and anecdotes. When a performer is truly great they have a way of becoming invisible; you are engaged in the show without being distracted by the performer. It's smooth, seamless, dreamlike, and they don't do anything to wake you out of the feeling. By the end of the show I felt like I had received an education in the art of performing.

This sort of thing is not well represented by clips on YouTube. You have to be in the room.

Speaking of Youtube, I posted a video of Ten Cent Souvenir from last night's show.

9/16/09

Band assembly, live show broadcast...

It's been 6 weeks since the move to Seattle and things are progressing quite nicely. I'm in the process of putting a band together for the first time in a long while...very excited about it.

In an attempt to keep up with all of the online media stuff, I arranged to broadcast the September 20th Seattle show live at www.synclive.com. It's free to view...you just need to create a user account. You can do that and see the show details here:

http://app.synclive.com?show/32182

I hope you all tune in!

9/11/09

Earthquakes vid

Okay, so I'm late to this game. Here's my first attempt at a video entry. I'll do more of these in the coming weeks...


9/1/09

Years ago I went to see Ian Moore play at Sam Bond's in Eugene. I had opened for him once or twice and we exchanged a few emails, so we were somewhat acquainted. After the show he mentioned that he had to drive through the night because he didn't have a place to stay. I offered my floor and he accepted.

At the time I was suffering through a tough breakup. She moved out and took everything with her. All I had was a bed, a desk, a couple of chairs and an old rotary dial TV. The place was barren, like the home of a person who has sold everything of value to support a habit of some sort.

The only bit of decoration was a life size poster of Michael Jordan that I kept from my childhood days. I stuck it to the living room wall after the girlfriend left because it was comforting for some reason.

So Ian walks into my nearly empty place with a huge poster of Jordan staring down from the wall. I offered him some food...I had one sweet potato in the cupboard...he politely declined.

We started talking about Jordan's decision to come out of retirement to play pro ball again when every sports opinionator said he was washed up. Those guys were mistaken. Jordan averaged 22.9 points per game and proved them all wrong. Ian's take on it was that it was ridiculous for the naysayers to tell Michael not to play. He was the best player in the history of the game; even if he'd lost a little with age he'd still be a top player in the league. Who were these guys to say he shouldn't play?

This memory comes to me now as I watch highlights from Bret Favre's recent win...he came out of retirement at the age of 39 and he looks pretty sharp. Of course a lot of folks criticized his decision to play again, and they appear to be wrong.

This makes me think about the psychology of the various types of performers. Athletes, musicians...I think about the mental fortitude required to perform at such a high level. The public is so quick to find reasons to discourage. Even when you're the best in the world, it just takes a slight push to get the momentum of public opinion going against you. Every day that a performer goes to work he or she is required to prove his or her right to be there.

I can't exactly say that I am in Michael Jordan's position; the general public has not heard of me, let alone criticized me for my decision to do this work. Still, I'd like to borrow a few things from his approach: work towards mastery of a craft, work harder than the next guy, and pay no attention to anyone who says I shouldn't.

For the record, my parents have both been very supportive of my career choice.