Category Archives: Playing Out

The Year Without End Ends

Well, 2008 has been quite a year. I got my daughter back from Russia. I made the decision to put my mother in a nursing home when my wife and I could no longer give her the level of care she required, and then said “see you later” when God took her home.

Well, my daughter is a student now, and my son is in a faraway city, and with mom in the hands of the Lord, my wife and I are real empty nesters now. So what am I going to do about it in 2009? Here are some things I’m considering.

  • Get back on the Wii Fit trail.
  • Finish the “clean house and get rid of unnecessary stuff” project – which may take all year.
  • Learn the 10 songs I’ve finished writing and haven’t yet learned – and learn them.
  • Find the 21 songs I singled out into a “haven’t finished writing but should finish because they’ll probably be good when they’re done” list – and finish writing them. Then I should probably learn them, too.
  • Speaking of my songs, I really should play out more. I’ve averaged one gig a year (except for 2006, which I missed completely).
  • I really should rewrite and edit my novel “,,,and that’s the end of the news”. Then I could use it to find a new agent. Or a publisher. Or both. Don’t know if I’ll get to this one, though.
  • I probably ought to fix that broken Christmas play, too. Again, don’t know if I’ll get there.
  • I need to get the two VBS plays into some kind of shape so they can be sold over the Interweb.
  • I’m also scheduled to write my third VBS show this year, and my first Christmas Pageant. I know I’ll get to those.
  • In October/November of this year I designed a game involving Zombies. Playtested it over Thanksgiving with my son, daughter, and assorted relatives. Now I need to tweak the rules and try another playtest. But when?
  • Finally, I need to get back on the reading wagon. Maybe I’ll buy a Kindle and forget about a lot of that unnecessary writing stuff.

It should be an interesting year.

A Nice Father and Son Thing to Do (Wife Included)

Tuesday evening I did something unusual – I was the opening act for my son.

Sort of.

Since my son has been in town to attend a series of weddings, my wife got the idea that we should all go to Muggswigz for Open Mike night. Natrually, this would entail his playing some songs off of his album and me playing some of my songs. Neither of us felt we were ready, but we had a few days to do some fever pitched rehearsing. Then I packed up my guitar and the keyboard I bought to do use in home recording (cheaper than a bass guitar and drum machine, and more versatile with all those voices inside it) and the three of us set off.

On the way we joked about who was going to open for whom. I also kept encouraging my son to plug his album, threatening to do it for him if he didn’t.

So we arrived at Muggs and dragged all the stuff in (guitar in case, keyboard and it’s attendant plugs and pedals, plus the stand) and settled in. I called Henry J to see if he wanted to come and play, too – in a conversation we’d had earlier, he’d complained that he hadn’t played out lately). He showed up without a guitar, just there to lend moral support for my son and I.

We got signed up. By the time we got to the sheet, the first four slots were open and five through nine had been taken. My son signed up for slot four, I took three, and an opening act was born. Then we waited.

My wife, bless her heart, showed great restraint. She loves to see us do this sort of thing and wants us both to do well at these things, and her tendency is to want to coach and offer advice beforehand. But son and I were so nervous that she didn’t. The only thing she did was, during the first open mike performer of the evening, she reminded me to take slow, deep breaths to relax. I did. It helped.

Since the last time I played out and wasn’t sure if I liked doing it, I’ve been playing in front of people more. I’ve done a couple of sound checks during shoots of Random Acts of Music tapings, and Henry J and I have jammed some – and during those times I realized that I was becoming less and less self-conscious and paralyzingly nervous before playing. All that and my fevered rehearsals paid off. When my time came and I got up to play, I didn’t have that paralyzing “hands of Jell-O” feeling that I’d been prone to earlier.

I also was playing more with my stage persona. I made a point to talk more between songs and tried to make the kind of witty comments that I throw in during conversations with friends. I should also add that I had earlier taken Henry J’s advice and rehearsed with a microphone so I could get used to singing into it.

All of this stuff paid off. This was a corner-turning performance for me. Going in I was convinced that playing out was not something I wanted to do. Now I think it’s something I can do. So new piece of advice from me: the rule is, if you’re going to play out, do it at least three times before you decide whether you’re going to keep it up or not.

I won’t bore you with the details (I’ve decided it’s not my place to review myself), but this was my set-list:

Wish I Were
One More Cigarette
Going to Texas #4

Finishing that, it was my son’s turn to play. We got the keyboard set up, and he was off. He was nervous at the idea of doing patter between songs, so he limited his comments to making a joke about being from the Twin Cities and the accent we all associate with that area. And yes, he plugged his album, too. He played three songs from Start:

Jazz & Vicodin
Wanda
This College Life

I don’t know if I’m qualified to review my son’s performance, either, but he did really well. This was a corner-turning performance for him, too. He said he didn’t like playing live, but I was passing on wisdom from Henry J about the importance of playing songs before an audience, and I think that helped convince him to try (plus the extra nudging from his mother!). After he played, he said he enjoyed it, and I think that like me, the terror in the idea of performing was gone (there’s still stagefright, but that’s another thing). And bless his heart, Henry J was only too happy to offer critique and answer my son’s questions about all aspects of the music biz – I think that helped.

A couple of notes about his performance. When he started, he really got people’s attention. I don’t know if it was because he was the only keyboard player that night, or if it was because of his unique style of songwriting. People who were out of line of sight stopped what they were doing and walked around a corner to see what he was up to. And during the rollicking Wanda the audience started to clap along – and it wasn’t started by me or my wife. That wasn’t something we would have thought of doing, and if we had, I’m sure he could have disapproved. But one guy waiting for his latte at the bar started in and poof! – everyone joined it. It was a really cool moment for him, I’m sure.

During the postmortem on the drive home, we realized we should have played something together. A while back ago, before his move to the Twin Cities, I gave him a primitive recording of Going to Texas #4 with the idea of him doing backup vocals on it. For that matter, I could have sung the extra parts on Jazz & Vicodin or Wanda. We also talked about dragging my wife into things – she sang on his recording of Ti Dot Matre, and she and I have been working on a cover of Carpet of the Sun by Renaissance.

Or for that matter, we could collaborate on some kind of song. But that’s a project best left to the next time he comes home.

Meantime, I’m thinking about a new set of songs to play at Muggs in the near future…

Stage Persona Non Grata, or, Can I Find the Real Me?

One of my duties, so to speak, with Random Acts of Music is The Henry and Joe, a talk show starring Henry J and myself, done for his internet radio station, Random Acts of Radio. In this show, we roll tape (well, actually, spin hard drive) and talk off the top of our heads for around thirty minutes. Sometimes we even stay on the music-related topic that I introduce.

The most recent show we taped, #13, was about the seeming inability of American acts to write fun, upbeat songs. And somehow or another, while discussing this subject, we got onto the subject of stage names and the personae that go with them. Henry said he liked my stage name, Mr. Faust, and wondered aloud what kind of stage persona I was going to have.

I thought, good question. I thought I was just going to be me.

Then I realized something that might be the key to this near-paralyzing stagefright I’ve been dealing with when I get up to play.

I’ve been thinking what an odd anomaly it is. After all, I’ve gotten up to speak in front of churches, civic clubs, classrooms, and skeptical clients and held forth on a number of topics. Sometimes I’ve had notes, other times not. Especially when I talk about writing. I just turn on my mouth and go. And though I have butterflies before hand, they leave when I get up and start speaking.

Ditto when I lead singing at church. Some butterflies, but nothing that doesn’t leave when the job starts.

And ditto ditto when I’m on stage in a community theater production. The worst jitters I get are opening night, and while I might be jumpy before going on for a big scene even on closing night, I always manage to go out and mostly get the job done.

So why the case of shakes that gets so bad that I can hardly strum?

I think Henry inadvertently hit on something when he asked me what my stage persona is.

I don’t have one.

See, in all of the other situations, I know who I am or what my mission is. I’m Joe Faust, an Elder in the Church, giving a lesson or leading the congregation in worship. I’m Joe Clifford Faust, author, spewing out information about writing. Or I’m somebody else – Norman Bulansky or Victor Velasco or Bob Ewell, and my job is to make the audience cry or laugh or hiss.

But when I’m out there with my guitar, well… in the words of the Firesign Theater, Who am us, anyway?.

I guess it’s just me. Joe. With a guitar.

I’m not sure I’ve ever done that before. At Church I have a goal in mind, and in every other situation I am technically somebody else. No wonder I’m scared. I don’t know how to be just me in a situation like that.

So I need to be somebody else. I need a stage persona.

That shouldn’t be so hard. Look at Johnny Cash – the Man in Black. Look at both David Bowie and Madonna, both of whom went through stage personae like they were tissues (facial or bathroom, take your pick). Ever seen David Byrne in Stop Making Sense and then seen an interview with him? In the former he commands the stage, in the latter he’s jittery and awkward, and doesn’t make eye contact with the interviewer.

The odd thing is, I might have been subconsciously reaching for something like this but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. And it might have even started with everything I went through trying to pick out a stage name.

However, I’ve had other things trickle through my mind over the last several months. I went through a period where I thought about getting a hat to wear on stage. I have a ton of baseball caps – I thought about wearing a different one every time I play. But that idea didn’t click for me (although I do wear them a lot – maybe wearing one would be too much me on stage). But I couldn’t find anything else I liked that wasn’t stupid (Pith Helmets) or that weren’t being used by others with great success (Berets and Fedoras and Pork Pies).

I thought about clothing, but I’m not exactly a clothes horse or someone with an extensive wardrobe. About the only thing I could do would be wear all gray – I gravitate toward that color. But that would kill my wife, who (no doubt, correctly) thinks I look better in other colors.

Quite by accident, I realized that every time I have played Muggswigz, I have appeared with a different guitar. No. That could get ridiculously expensive, and I’d never get it past the aforementioned wife.

After the incident taping The Santa Song, I theorized that wearing sunglasses might obstruct my view of the audience and make me less fearful. But that’s kind of silly, too, I think (and again my wife would complain because I’d be covering up what she calls my expressive eyes).

(It occurs to me that if I got a divorce, I could become this grey-wearing, fedora-topped guy in sunglasses playing all the coffeehouses – but I’d no doubt be miserable as a result – the classic tortured artist, I suppose. On the other hand, maybe that’s the problem. I’m basically a happy guy. Maybe I’m not tortured enough. Perhaps my wife and I could start shooting heroin together like the Cobains.)

Probably the best thing I could do is just keep playing in front of people and learn how to be myself in the process. I’m not sure I like that idea. I’ve gotten rather used to the idea of being someone else in situations like that. And I had no idea how prevalent that has been in my life until now. I am thinking of the personality change I underwent when I ended up getting married to a gregarious girl from Ohio. I went from being outgoing to much more the quiet observer. I explain it this way: when our personalities started to click, I let my wife be outgoing for me because I realized that inside of me was an introvert who was just dying to stay in.

And now that introvert is supposed to get up on a stage with a guitar and be himself while playing songs for people. Especially since I’m not sure who the real me is.

Heh, yeah. That makes sense.

About as much sense as leading worship service. Or being in plays.

Well, they say that introverts have a switch they flip to be able to do things like this. I obviously have one for Church Leader, Actor, and Guest Speaker. I just need to find the one for Singer Songwriter and learn how to trip it.

It’s got to be there somewhere.

And if I can’t find it? Then I’m going to write a letter to David Bowie and see if he has any unused personae laying around.

Another Gig of Sorts, or, Is It Possible To Be Afraid of a Song?

Monday night I had a Random Acts of Music shoot with local artist and up-and-comer Zach, a nice kid with lots of talent who puts on a great show as a solo act – I need to see him with his band sometime.

Anyway, before he arrived, it fell to me to provide a source of noise for the sound check. So I picked up Henry J’s Ovation and started going through some of my songs. And the funny thing is that there was nary a bit of stagefright in my veins. I played Going to Texas #4, Red Riding Hood, and Three Fingered Mickey, all without so much as a tremor.

So I decided to whip through The Santa Claus Song, and guess what? The nerves came back. Not as bad as they had been the night of the taping, but still enough to make its presence known.

I finished and switched to Wish I Were. Nothing. I was fine.

Now the wise-in-the-ways-of-music Henry J says that you don’t really know a song until you’ve played it in front of an audience. I haven’t coffeehoused any of the songs I played for the sound check, but Henry has heard everything but Wish I Were, which means I’ve sort of played all of those songs for an audience.

(Incidentally, my nervousness during the taping of The Santa Claus Song caused me to improvise a bit during the playing, including the addition of a silent beat before going into the chorus. After hearing it, I kind of liked it, so I kept it. Henry was right about playing a song out, but that still doesn’t explain why it makes me nervous.)

Conclusion? I wasn’t sure what to think. Maybe I’m scared of the song. Or maybe there’s still some subconscious apprehension behind the song because I haven’t played it as much as some of the others just because it is a Christmas song.

Well, I’ll keep thinking about it. Or maybe not. Maybe that’s the whole problem. Well, I’ll try playing the song throughout the year and see what happens.

There was one other thing that came out of the sound check. After we finished taping with Zach, Henry decided to let our intrepid intern, Amanda, try her hand at running the camera. And he decided that I should have some more practice at performing in front of a camera. So I grabbed his Ovation and performed Going to Texas #4, accompanied by the HJ himself on egg shaker and sound and light man Bob Felmly on tambourine. Great fun, and a much easier shoot than before. But maybe it was the song.

Also, I did Texas for a reason. It it an important part of Evolution, an unfinished page in the Writing section of this blog. He’s going to edit the song (I flubbed a couple of places that he’s going to fix so I actually look competent) and post it on YouTube so I can imbed it as part of the exhibit. Look for that to post soon.

Gigs

No, I haven’t exactly been busy. With the holidays coming, the calendar has filled up quickly with the usual suspects, and some that were more unusual. And some of the more unusual things were three recent gigs I had, all playing but not necessarily paying. They looked something like this…

Gig #1: The Ladies’ Retreat. Okay, this is not something I normally would have gone to. It was a Ladies’ Retreat held by and for Church of Christ members in the area/region. One of the highlights of this year’s retreat was a Talent Show. And my wife and one of her sisters were railroaded asked nicely to perform Irving Berlin’s “Sisters,” as made famous in the film White Christmas. My mother-in-law has wanted to see two or more of her daughters perform this piece for years, and it was thought that this would be as good a time as any.

Always willing to help, I offered to find them the lyrics online. And then, in an uncharacteristic bit of generosity1, I said, “If you want, maybe I could find guitar chords, and if I could figure out how to play it, I could accompany you.”

Well, my wife and her youngest sister said yes, and it just so happened that I found both lyrics and chords online. There were tons of chords in the song, but I figured out that if I just went with the first chord in each measure, the thing would work. And for the most part, it did.

So after a couple of practices, I showed up at the Ladies’ Retreat in time for the talent show, went in, did my thing as a hired gun, and then left. Only messed up once, but the cuteness factor of the two sisters singing was high, and nobody, not even the two vocalists, noticed. Good thing I wasn’t working for Buddy Rich.

Gig #2: Random Acts of Music. Back when I became a producer or director or whatever the heck my title is for Random Acts of Music, the first thing I did was to start shooting our guests performing original Christmas songs for a Christmas show that would air, well, around this time of year.

In the ensuing months, we’ve accumulated quite a few, but not quite enough for a full show. So partner Henry J did one of his, and I was railroaded asked nicely to perform my piece, The Santa Claus Song.

Fortunately, I knew this was coming, so I practiced the song up. For the longest time I couldn’t seem to get it right – I wanted to play it too fast, I think – so I got the idea of playing it with a metronome set at a deliberately slow pace. That did the trick.

So Friday night I put on a Christmas sweater and taped the song. The good news is I had all the chords and the words right, and the singing lessons my wife has been giving me paid off, because my voice was right there. I was okay in front of the mike because I’d practiced in front of my own mike at home. I was okay watching the camera because I kept in mind I’d have to look into it and follow it, too.

Unfortunately, I still got my usual stagefright. It about paralyzed my strumming hand. Made all the muscles Jell-o. So, after a couple of false starts, I managed to improvise enough to get through the song. As a result of this, I think I also had a deer-in-the-headlights look except when I had pre-planned facial expressions during the song.

Now the folks there for the taping thought it sounded fine. I think that’s the usual case of me knowing where all the strumming mistakes were and them not. Either that, or they were just being kind. But I told them not to use it if it was bad.

Whatever. If you’re in Northeast Ohio and have Time Warner Cable, the show will probably appear in it’s usual slot sometime next week and run through Christmas. If you’re not in Northeast Ohio, the song will be posted on YouTube and MySpace around the time the Christmas show airs. Just do a search for “Random Acts of Music” and you’ll eventually find it.

Just make sure to wait an hour after you’ve eaten before viewing.

Gig #3: The Actual Santa Claus. Okay, this wasn’t a play as in playing music gig. It was playing as in pretending. Sunday my wife and I did our annual turn as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus for a local landmark. I think this is the sixth or seventh year we have done this.

Attendance was down as it was cold and rainy – more adults, not as many kids. The big requests this year were for The Littlest Pet Shop toys and the Nintendo DS system. Among adults, the big requests this year were for the Wii (Santa: “Are you kidding? I can’t even get one this year!”) and world peace (Santa: “Sorry, that’s not my department. You have to talk to my boss about that one.”).

Sometime during the day I got an offer to do an extra Santa appearance next year – but I’m not really sure I want to do it. Yeah, there’ll be money involved (my wife and I do the regular gig as volunteers because we were railroaded asked nicely to do it as a fill-in some years ago and they kept asking us to come back).

But money isn’t really everything (although I suppose it could depend on how much is involved). I like the idea of only doing it for four hours a year. I like the idea of exclusivity, that the Real Santa (or so many kids say) is at this one exclusive location and all the others are just helpers. With that in mind, the idea of doing it for money just seems wrong.

Plus, if I started doing that, where would it all stop? How many other paying gigs would come up? When would I have to start saying “No?” And most importantly, how many hours a year would get racked up before it became just another job instead of a lovely little one-off that helped get me in the holiday spirit? When would I stop showing up as Santa and start showing up as Ebineezer Scrooge?

Well, I’ve eleven months or so to think about it. In the meantime, it’s been a busy holiday season already. I wonder what other adventures like ahead that I will be railroaded asked nicely to participate in.

  1. It’s strange, but I’ve been exhibiting other moments of uncharacteristic generosity lately. Some church friends asked if their teenaged son could borrow my acoustic guitar for a month or so – he was interested in taking lessons, and they wanted to see if he would stick with it before plunking down a couple of hundred for a decent started guitar. And I said yes without blinking. What is happening to me? Am I becoming human at long last? No, I think that’s not phrased right. Am I transcending my own humanity at last?

Taking it Seriously, Finally

Okay, I said I was going to take my music more seriously in 2007. It has just taken me eight months or so to start thinking along those lines.

In the last month or so, I opened up an account at GarageBand. And I actually posted a song there, a rough demo of Salad Days that developed a glitch when I uploaded it. I’m working on the problem, but that’s not the point. The point is, most of the reviews have said what I have known all along: that my voice is a problem. So my wife is now giving me singing lessons and I bought the book Singing For Dummies. No kidding.

This comes on the heels of another guitar breakthrough. On the occasion when I’ve sat down and played of late, I’ve experimented with ways of playing my existing songs, and I seem to have developed a sense of my vocal range. So now I’m in the process of reworking how to play most of my songs, with my fingerings doing more of the work and the capo less. This will help me push my voice higher, which my wife and son have told me to do for years. I’ve been doing it slowly, but more in earnest of late.

So that’s what I’m working on of late. This might push back any attempts at playing out for a while, since I now have to relearn the playing and the singing parts. And there’s also that whole stagefright thing, which goes away when I’m in a stage play, and goes away when I lead singing at church, but doesn’t go away when I get up with the guitar to play in front of people.

Not that I want to be a rock star or anything like that, but it would be nice to be able to play an open mike night without dissolving into a nervous wreck.

Well, maybe it’ll come with the voice.

Listening: “The Lonely One” – Duane Eddy (Guitar Man)

This Is What It Is

So far on this Break From Most Everything, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what to do this year, writing-wise, and all I’ve come up with is something that was starting to nag me as 2006 waned to a close. In fact, it was nagging me so much that I almost made it my New Year’s resolution, in spite of the fact that every year I traditionally resolve not to make any New Year resolutions.

That “thing” is to take my music seriously in 2007.

I’d say here are a lot of reasons for the decision, but, in much the same manner that my subconscious “picks” the next book project as I wrap up the one in progress, so it picked songwriting for 2007.

Can’t say that I blame it. My writing has stalled out for the moment. There are a lot of factors at work in why it has, and most of them have already been mentioned in these pages, many of them unto death – so I won’t rehash them here. There are some new ones, too, like the computer. The hard drive of the iBook ceased to exist a couple of weeks ago. Luckily I had a bootable backup on a Firewire hard drive, and it boots from that. I was able to gain access to salvage the most recent documents by booting up the Mac OS install disc, but haven’t had time since to see if I could get the drive working again.

So at this point in my life, writing has become less a goal and more like a hobby that I no longer have much time or patience for. Kind of like having a bass boat taking up space in your garage. I’m sure I’ll go back to it, but right now I feel like I need a break1.

The music, on the other hand, is quite economical by comparison. I’ve had songs fall into place in as little as an hour or two (of course I’ve had some that I’ve worked on for years and still don’t have right). Going to an open mic night to play might consume one evening – unlike a novel, it doesn’t need an extended series of successive evenings in order to get to a decent stopping spot.

Plus, my wife thinks my songs need to be out there so they can get put into movies, or so someone like Travis Tritt can cover them. I never really thought of myself as writing country songs – at best I thought I’d be classified at Alternative Folk (although maybe a better description would be Annoying Folk).

Anyway, these are the things that have been on my mind. I even came up with a plan for Taking The Music Seriously In ’07 that looks something like this:

  1. Getting some kind of recorded version, even if it’s just me on the acoustic guitar in a one-track take, of all the songs I’ve finished writing up to this point (I’ve got about 40).

  2. Going through my song notebooks, making a list of all of the “mostly finished” songs, then going through and finishing them. And recording some version of them, of course (I don’t know how many of these there are).
  3. Digging out my instruction books and seriously work on improving my guitar skills. I don’t know if I’ll ever successfully play barre chords, but there’s lots of open chords up and down the fretboard, too.
  4. Start playing out again2. After all, what’s the point of doing all of this songwriting stuff if not to get them out there somehow? Besides, my musical mentor Henry J says that “You don’t really know a song. even if it’s one you’ve written, until you play it live.” And there’s a lot of wisdom in that.
  5. Perhaps getting some equipment to help the process along a bit. I have lots of candidates: a travel acoustic guitar; a nice electric for recording; some kind of inexpensive keyboard I can use to play bass and drum parts when recording; an acoustic guitar amplifier with a mike and stand so I have my own small live sound system. All this, of course, is easier thought of than paid for.
  6. Doing something about my singing voice, be it with this book or something – or someone – else.

So now maybe you’re thinking, yeah, this is a really nice list, but what are you doing about it? Well, let’s see. I’m trying to save my change in a jar for something on the #5 list; I’m hoping to make the list I talked about in #2 later tonight; I dug out my recorder to inventory what songs I had recorded but not documented for #1. My wife has offered to help me with #6 – she’s a great (and a well-trained) singer. Oh, and for #4, I played at Muggswigz on Tuesday night.

It was kind of an odd thing, really. The first and only time I played there, some 15 months ago, I described it as feeling like slow motion. That didn’t happen this time. Instead, I got the other-worldly feeling around the time that I decided to go down and play. It was like something deep inside me was pushing me to do it, and I looked for all sorts of excuses to talk myself out of it. But my feet moved forward almost on their own, and before I knew it, I was sitting with Henry J, waiting for my turn, tanking up on soothing Spearmint tea.

I’d planned for four songs, not knowing that this was the number you were allowed to play – but I ended up only doing three. I didn’t want to push my luck. Even though my first performance was 15 months in the past, this one was easier. I felt like I had better control over what I was doing, and this time only my legs seemed to be shaking. Maybe they didn’t have enough to do (like just the very act of standing wasn’t enough).

I opened with the song I closed with last time, Dirty Old Rabbit. I lost the first couple of lines because I forgot that you have to have your lips just a few microns from the surface of the particular microphone they have in order to be heard. Tip number two for me: Breath control. I’d sing a line, exhale, then inhale for the next line. Problem was, when I exhaled, I breathed right onto the mike due to the proximity, creating a windy sound. Okay, got to work on that.

After the first song, I stole a joke from Tom Lehrer (“For my first encore…”), then went into Another Year. I kept thinking my vocals were way off on this one, but Henry J told me later that I sounded fine. Sounds like I have some mental gremlins to get out of my system.

Then I finished with One More Cigarette. Botched the chords near the end, but I remembered Henry J telling me the first piece of advice he ever got before playing out – “No matter what happens, keep playing”3 – so I did, and got through to the end.

I think that took care of the terror part, because once I sat down, I thought, Okay, if they get through everyone and ask for people to go up and do one more, I’ll go. That wasn’t the case, but on the other hand, my brain is making moves for me to go back and play four more songs next Tuesday, and I don’t find myself trying to back out of it at all.

So. A big step for me. A big big step. But in a way, it’s just a baby step, isn’t it?

See you next Tuesday, maybe.

Listening: Johnny Cash, Luther Played the Boogie (The Essential Johnny Cash 1955-1983)


1 Although actually, it’s not so much a break from the writing as it is a break from trying to find time to write when there’s so much else going on in a moment. I’ll be living in a different world a year from now.

2 Not that I ever really started playing out, with only one previous coffeehouse appearance.

3 Although he was given that advice more in dealing with things happening in the place where he was playing, e.g., fistfights, sudden nudity, stabbings, fires, etc.