Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Islands of New England (06.25.14)

Before I start telling you about my insanely good show at the Islands of New England in SL, let me throw out a couple of groundbreaking recent events of both personal and global significance. First, my son had a birthday this week, and I got him a powerful new graphic card for his PC that drastically improved his experience in killing thousands of people in massive multiplayer first person shooter games. I'm not sure if this makes me a great dad, or if I should be charged with some crime, but he's happy. Second, this week a federal court has ruled that a same-sex marriage ban in Utah is unconstitutional, which marks the first time that a federal appellate court has upheld the right of gays to marry. That's a massive historical moment that's on par with the civil rights movement of my parents' generation. I will always support the equal rights of all people everywhere, so this makes me a happy Zak.

So, let's get to the show. It was a Wednesday evening at 5PM that I was scheduled to perform at the Islands of New England, where I've played many times previously. It had been a little while since I'd been there, and last time, things didn't go so hot. I mean, the show I did there on April 30th was fine, with the exception of my laptop having blown up and my not being able to actually attend the show while I played it. Therefore, it was a pleasure just to pop up at the venue last night and do my usual kind of show. Anyway, a Wednesday at 5PM is typically a pretty tough time to draw a decent crowd. You've lost most of UK/Europe due to the time difference, and the West Coast is still at work or commuting. I didn't have great expectations of pulling a decent number of people to the show (not that this is my main priority, but it's nice when it happens).

Imagine my surprise, then, when about 10 minutes into my show, and the place was already filling up. By the time the show finished, it may have ended up being my largest crowd at IONE ever. Why? I have no idea. I do know there were plenty of other shows going on at the same time, including big-draw names at places like the Boom Pony and Key West. I can't offer any explanation; I didn't do anything differently as I always do in terms of announcing and promoting the show. Perhaps the fact that I'm performing more rarely in SL these days means that I get more people attending each show. I really have no idea, and I'm not going to analyze it. In any case, the crowd wasn't only large, but it was also an active and engaged crowd... my very favorite kind, whether it's three people or 3,000 people.

It's not the size of the crowd; it's how you use the crowd. Wait, what? Photo and top photo by Triana Caldera.

This picture looks so innocuous, you can hardly tell I'm singing about highly inappropriate things. Photo by Triana.

One note about the Islands of New England: it is managed by my friend Christine Haiku, a lady who I absolutely adore. There's an aspect to performing at a venue run by a close friend that allows me to abandon my already low levels of self-consciousness and restraint, and be about as crazy as I naturally tend to be. Earlier that day, sitting here and giggling like a loon to myself, I decided to prepare a tune for Christine that I was pretty sure was a) totally inappropriate and b) completely fun, and the fun factor won out. Also of note: I found myself with about two minutes left at the end of my final song of the night... not enough time to start another full tune, but too much time to jump off the stage. That's a dangerous moment for a guy like me, who has no problem improvising music but has almost no filter on what will come out of my semi-decrepit brain via my mouth. So, I made up a song on the spot to my friend Corey Tamas, who records and performs music as Dragonfly.

The Islands of New England set list...
Accidents Will Happen (Elvis Costello)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Fly Like an Eagle (Steve Miller Band)
Broken Day (Zak Claxton)
Everlong (Foo Fighters)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
*If You're Into It (Flight of the Conchords)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
You're So Vain (Carly Simon)
Northern Sky (Nick Drake)
What I Got (Sublime)
Long Time Gone (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
*Improvised Homage to Corey Tamas (Zak Claxton)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song in SL.

Huge thanks to every person who came out to the Islands of New England and had a great time with me, with special thanks to the following folks who helped support the show. you are awesome!
Atiya Rajal, Bigfoot Hendrassen, Charlize Bellic, mayaeight Resident, Jemma Bonne, TheaDee Resident, Gooch1435 Resident, Triana Caldera, Asheranna Resident, Richy Nervous, Aurelie Chenaux, GypsyW1tch Resident, Lynnie Michigan, Diana Renoir, my lovely manager Maali Beck, and most of all, IONE manager and my wonderful friend Christine Haiku!

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