Wednesday, September 01, 2004


The Whiteboard

A little guitar practice.

Practice for a couple of hours whilst watching the Olympics.

Band practice. Last one before Saturday's gig, went really well

A couple of hours practice.

Played Ka and A's wedding. Possibly the most fun gig I've done.

Helped two friends move but still managed to put in a half hour of practice.

Band practice. K was absent but we played a few things anyway.

The Commentary

Well, who knew a garden party would be such fun to play? (Actually I did, the 4 0r 5 outdoor shows I've done have all been good.) It was a wedding gift from me to the happy couple so we didn't get paid. Despite being in a cover band of sorts, this is the first wedding I've played. All these years and I'd never done the staple of starving musicians everywhere. I'm not sure whether to be proud of this or not.

I was looking forward to this gig, really looking forward to it. The thing I love about weddings is that they bring together people who'd never normally associate. Not only are these disparate groups, usually the bride and groom's families, hanging out but they're drinking too. Fun, in a sociological sorta way. For the band it meant that we'd be playing to a new crowd.

You never know how that's going to go. The usual way to get to a new audience is to open for a well established act. Just as usually that audience ignores you. Mind you, that's probably because I've never been in a band neither good nor accessible enough to really grab people's attention. There also seems to be a "cool" factor at work, a sort of herd mentality. No one wants to stand out by enthusing about a band that their friends aren't already enthusing about. The wedding audience was mostly old enough for that not to be an issue.

I got some really good compliments. One woman said that she had been practicing her "That was really......interesting" speech and was really glad she didn't have to use it. A bit left-handed but a nice compliment anyway. The audience also seemed to get the joke of the band. A few people said that they enjoyed how they recognized the tunes but couldn't place them. Must be the same sort of folk who enjoy crosswords.

Playing in broad daylight is interesting. You can see the audience. In a club with any stage lights at all only the audience at the front is visible. Applause isn't an accurate way to judge attentiveness, people will pause in their conversations to applaud when they hear others clapping. Outdoors in daylight you can see where they're looking. For the most part they were paying attention. There were a couple of tunes in the middle that lost 'em, I wish I'd been paying enough attention to tell which ones.

You can tell a good gig by how fast it goes by. The bad ones last forever. The good ones are blur. This one was in-between, and yet I had real fun. That may be because I didn't play all that well but wasn't bothered by it.

I'm beginning to get a handle on something my college guitar instructor said. He was trying to get me to stop correcting myself when I played a wrong note. He said, "Music happens in time, if you play a wrong note just move on." I didn't really get it. I hate screwing up and when I do I have to fix it. This makes me a pretty good employee and/or friend, but a less than stellar live performer. It took him a month or so of constant badgering to stop me apologizing out loud every time I played a wrong note.

In my teens I was one of those people who apologize for everything. I'd even apologize when someone told me to stop apologizing all the time. To this day I still get a gut-twist when I think about mistakes I made years ago. I guess it should be no surprise that this carried over into my musical life.

The most memorable moment at the gig was when I flubbed a three chord sequence. At the last practice I deliberately made the same mistake. Well, sort of deliberately. I noticed that I was in the wrong position before I hit the first chord and did it anyway as a joke. Trouble with jokes like that is that everyone assumes that you simply messed up. Sigh. At the gig I didn't notice until I played it. It went like this: {sour chord}...crap...{another sour chord}...dammit! (getting a little rattled)...{right chord but poorly held}...FUCK!...then I look up and saw the drummer laughing at me. I lost it, all I could do was laugh too. Fortunately I had time to gather myself before the next phrase. It was a good moment that really made the rest of the set go well.

Live music happens in time, mistakes are gone as soon as you make them. I think I might be beginning to truly understand this.

Life happens in time too, it's just a little more complicated. Sometimes you can let a mistake go and sometimes something has to be done. I'd like to learn how to let things go when it's appropriate. Hopefully, for once life will imitate art.

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