Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Scheduling a concert in your hometown can be a risky gig. If you bomb and no one shows it can be hard to swallow. On the other hand if you are widely successful you are tempted to stay closer to home. How should an artist measure success then? Monetarily? Audience size? Quality of performance?
I feel my most recent hometown show was a success in the sense that I presented an entertaining performance and people were moved. Some told me a musician hasn’t made them cry, like I did, in a very long time and others were just happy. I made a profit and filled most of the seats. Yet that nagging habit of wanting to see how it could have been more successful is something that I’ve been fighting to not let creep in to my consciousness. Why weren’t more people there? Where were all the musicians I know etc? I come across people all the time who ask when I will play in town and to let them know. I did. I understand how hard it is to get people out the door of their home. I think did I piss them off somehow? Was it the venue? Spring Break?
And yet I have nothing to feel disappointed about. People came and stayed the whole concert. I felt good about my performance. Maybe it is the fact of just how hard I had to work to get every single body in the seat. And, let me tell you it is just like a politician getting every single vote. An audience is voting that you have something entertaining to offer by showing up and a couple of hours. This is not something I take for granted. The venue didn’t confirm with me until two weeks before the gig and even then there was a miscommunication on rates etc. I hadn’t experienced so much stress in a very long time and still feel it. The stress was trying to rely on other people to keep their word and do their jobs; nothing new but probably a carry over from prior local gigs. I won’t go into all the details of just how much work it was in the midst of a CD release and tour because I don’t want anyone to think I’m feeling sorry for myself or complaining too much. I’ve always wanted to be honest about this musician’s life because it is something only I have insight into. CD sales were good but even then I noticed people were holding back a bit and women were holding their purses a little closer to their bodies. This economy has people very cautious and many people I know have lost half their investments or retirement money. I don’t have those kinds of worries because I make my income from gig to gig and CD sales literally. I know every time I go to the store that prices are more on just about everything. Shipping CD’s, promo packets, posters, photos, promotion, music contest entry fees etc. all seem to be more than last year and I get nervous when I don’t have gigs lined up that I know will pay.
I think it is my responsibility as an artist to be as authentic and close to the truth of my being as possible and give give give so much that we can all transcend for just that time it takes a song to take shape and change the molecules, the very atmosphere of the room. No small order, but one I am so committed to that I dig as deep as possible that I sometimes don’t have the energy to load my equipment afterwards. That’s okay. I do what I do because I feel compelled to do it and love that exchange and honor each individual there.
I did a two-hour set that involved Native American flute music, stories about the flute and its legends, songs on my guitar and vocals, several Hang drum songs, a HAPI drum demonstration, a demonstration on an ancient Mayan clay artifact replica flute shaped like a leg and a great version of “Oasis Bound” with Wayne Crawford the poet I just released the CD with. There was lots of laughter and tears especially when I did a song on guitar called “Hello Daddy” a song about growing up in southeastern New Mexico. The venue was really comfortable with nice sound and lighting. I did one encore and there were calls for more but I was so exhausted and had to be out of the venue by 10 or lose my deposit. I so enjoy being able to pace and work up a set and introduce songs. It gives the audience insights into my music and my writing. It is a privilege and a real luxury as opposed to the 30-minute sets you get at showcases or most festivals. I allowed people to take photos so hope some of them come back. I couldn’t find anyone to video tape the concert for me so left my video cam running the whole show and hope to post some of the vids soon. Overall I have to focus on the good that took place and move forward. There was much good and I feel I made some people happy. I had an amazing time and even printed up a set list and bio that each audience member received. That way I had to keep to a set and they could hopefully make notes of which songs they like and which CD it was from. Did it work? I don’t know but people were all smiles afterwards and I so appreciate how many people took a chance on me.
Thank you Las Cruces.
HAPI Drum Demo Improv