Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Serenity Gardens (07.27.20)

Another great Monday night at Serenity Gardens. Photo by Kat.

My fellow Second Life musicians -- some of whom often play 3-4 shows in a single day -- will likely laugh at this, but it's pretty rare for me to have shows on consecutive days, as I did on Sunday and Monday of this week. But even back in the day, when I was finding time to do several shows each week, I never liked performing at a high rate of frequency. The long story short is that I started feeling like each show was less special, and I wasn't putting as much effort into them. Not cool.

Let's Get Physical
This is also an area where the different styles of music performance in SL do matter. The physicality of playing solo acoustic guitar for a full hour in undeniable. Not to disparage any type of performance style in any way -- I think all of them are 100% valid as long as the audiences enjoy them -- but if I was sitting in a chair and singing to prerecorded tracks, it wouldn't take a fraction of the effort that it does to stand up and rock out on guitar while singing and engaging the crowd. I think my personal musical background, with decades in playing guitar and singing in live rock bands, was the main influence in how I chose to perform in SL.

Anyway, I am not at all exaggerating when I mention to my crowds that I'm a sweaty monster about 30 minutes into each of my sets. Let me put it this way: I work out each weekday morning, doing yoga, strength training, and aerobics... and never sweat nearly as much as I do while performing music. It's the combination of effort and adrenaline, and I actually think I've received a ton of physical benefit from doing my SL shows over the past nearly 14 years.

My avatar in SL remains masked, just like my real life self. Side note: I still have this dream of working with an expert-level SL script coder so that I sweat more and more throughout the show, ending up with a soaked shirt as I do in real life. Photo by Kat.

98 Days
Another thing I mentioned to my audience last night at Serenity Gardens: we are getting closer and closer to the 2020 general election. I've been very clear in terms of the causes I believe in, and it probably speaks for itself in terms of which candidates I support as a result. But I will say this: I don't tell people whom to vote for... but I do tell them to vote. It's really simple: when you don't vote, you allow other people to make choices for you. Those people might not share your outlooks on what defines right versus wrong, and their decisions might impact you directly, or the ones you love. Some folks may have been okay with that in times past, but the stakes are much higher this time around than ever before.

In the 2016 election, tens of millions of people did not vote at all. It was a historical high; over 25% of registered voters didn't vote. The main reason given, per the Pew Research Center, was "dislike of the candidates or campaign issues", and honestly, I can't say that surprises me with the choices from that time frame. I would also add that a lot of people made assumptions in 2016; the polls and other public information indicated that Hillary Clinton was a foregone conclusion as a winner. I believe that a number of people who just assumed that a person like Donald Trump could never be elected, so they stayed at home on Election Day, or didn't bother to send their mail-in ballot.

Fewer eligible voters bothered to vote in 2016 than any time in the previous 20 years. If you are 18 years old or older right now, you have the complete right to exert your influence over the coming election and help choose the next President (along with a lot of other important lower-ticket offices) by voting. Registering is easy. Do it now

We've seen the results over the past four years. America is in its worst shape since the Civil War. Disease, abuse of authority, corruption, racism and bigotry have run rampant. But let's not dwell on the past; let's talk about the future. It is SO EASY to register to vote. I don't care if you're 70 years old and never voted before in your life, and perhaps are embarrassed by this fact. Let me tell you; you can rectify that completely by registering and voting in this election.

Whether it's for yourself, or if you're helping someone else to become an active member of American society by voting, here's what you should do. The Vote.org web site has all the answers. You can register to vote. You can confirm your own voter registration status (never a bad idea just to make sure). You can request an absentee ballot to vote by mail. You can get election reminders. All at one web site. Again, it is so, so easy, and will take five minutes of your time. Why not do it right now?

The Show
I was super happy last night to see and hear the lovely Grace McDunnough performing when I arrived at Serenity Gardens. I just love the soothing nature of her voice and her overall vibe. Listening to Grace is like taking a sip of hot coffee on a blustery winter day; it warms you from the inside.

I decided to do a couple of new (for me) tunes at this show. One was the second new track from Neil Young's recently-released album from 1975, Homegrown. I'd already been performing "Vacancy", but after hearing Jeff Tweedy and his family doing a cover of "Try", I decided to try it for myself. Get it? Try? Never mind. Anyway, that turned out great and I'll be doing both of those "new yet old" Neil Young songs many more times. The second new song I did was very much really new; it was a song called "My Bubble" by They Stole My Crayon that we'll be releasing as a single sometime soon. This was not only the first live performance of the song; it was the first time anyone outside of the band had even heard it, and I think its first outing went surprisingly well, given the complexity of the composition.

What a nice place to see, hear, and perform live music! Photo by Kat.

A note for all people who go to live music shows in Second Life. When you have fun, we performers have fun, and we play better, giving you even more fun, which then gives us more energy... it's a cycle of good vibes! Photo by Kat.

We had a nice crowd at Serenity Gardens, and I was in a good mood and feeling loose the entire show, which is always appreciated. I also always appreciate the attitude of the folks who run Serenity Gardens along with the audiences who attend shows there. I always feel welcome to play literally whatever I want, and since my musical tastes are so wide ranging, it might be anything from a classic rock tune you've heard a million times to a song from some completely esoteric indie band that you've never heard before in your life, and everything in between. I know that not every person loves every song, but I've also been told on many occasions that through my shows, I've turned people on to music that they'd otherwise have never discovered, and that makes me super happy.

Serenity Gardens set list...
Sex & Candy (Marcy Playground)
*Try (Neil Young)
Better Man (Pearl Jam)
The Waiting Boy (Zak Claxton)
Alison (Elvis Costello)
All You Fascists (Woody Guthrie)
Bring On The Night (The Police)
Wild World (Cat Stevens)
*My Bubble (They Stole My Crayon)
Hey Ya (OutKast)
Pickles (Zak Claxton)
Frigid Spring (Chairlift)
*Monday Night at Serenity (Zak Claxton)

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

Huge thanks to each and every person who hung out at Serenity on Monday night to rock with me, and special super duper thanks to the following who helped support the show!
AaronCabottJones Resident, ChasDurning122512 Resident, Alex Zelin, Polgara Sparta, Jaron Metaluna, Kat Claxton, Shasta Laval, Trouble Streeter, Kat Chauveau, Tyche Spondee, Grace McDunnough, my excellent manager Maali Beck, and the fabulous team at Serenity Gardens, Tilly Rose and Ilsa Wilde!

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