Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Islands of New England (11.23.15)

This is what musicians like to see from the stage... a lot of people enjoying themselves. Photo by Triana.

Each time I write a report about my increasingly rare live music shows in Second Life, I'm never completely sure if it's going to be my last one. Don't get me wrong; I love performing in SL, and performing in general. And my shows have been really, really good in recent times. I have no intention of leaving the SL music scene, nor have any reason to do so. But as I look at my current calendar of shows, I literally have nothing booked on my schedule. I've spoken before about the reasons for this. A person can't have everything in life, and when I decide to dedicate my musical time to wrapping up the album for my band They Stole My Crayon, or need to spend time on work and family responsibilities, or choose to only play at venues that directly compensate their artists, those are my choices. Time is limited in life, and at some point, every person makes decisions to prioritize some aspect of their lives over others.

But I'm pretty sure that I will continue playing live in SL, and I could only be so lucky if each show I do comes close to last night's performance at The Islands of New England. Even before I'd started the show, a bunch of very cool musically-related things had happened that day. I got a lot of great feedback on my new song, "The Waiting Boy", including a very positive response from Nicholas Stevenson, a UK-based musician whose work I respect in a big way, and my musical friend Lyndon Heart, who immediately wanted to learn and cover the song. I'm thrilled that a song that came together so quickly was met with a plethora of excellent reactions, and it really goes to show you that there's almost no corollary between the amount of time/effort that goes into creating a song versus how much people like or dislike it.

The Islands of New England seems to be a place where people really appreciate well-performed live music. Photo by Triana.

So, riding high on those good vibes, I got another reason to smile when, after I sent out a notice about my upcoming show that evening, it got retweeted by the official Second Life Twitter account. I can't say for sure, but the rather large crowd I pulled in for the show just might have had something to do with the notice going out to 44,000 people in that way. Even though SL was acting up a bit and people were having some trouble logging in, the venue filled up pretty quickly and I was very happy not only to be playing to a lot of people, but to a great combination of people who were friends/fans as well as folks who hadn't heard me before, and seemed to be enjoying themselves. That's a great feeling for any musician.

I never complain about the size of my crowd -- it's the quality, not the quantity that matters -- but having 44,000 people get this Tweet via the SL feed didn't suck in any way.

The show itself was about as good as any I've ever done (and better than many of them). Without consciously going in this specific direction, the vibe of my recent shows has been more serious, with slower songs and a focus on the song itself, rather than the spazzy-ass performance. I don't mind being the silly, wacky, fun performer guy, but I also like being thought of as someone capable of delivering music in a serious, thoughtful way (while still having a pretty damn good time up there on stage). I chose this show to do my new song live for the first time, and although it will get smoother as I get more used to playing it, the debut went fine and was well received. One other note: the folks who run TIONE smartly booked my friend Sassy Nitely to perform after me, and I really enjoyed her set. She's been stepping up her game as a performer, and it's a good feeling to recognize the musical skills of people you truly like.

TIONE set list...
America (Simon and Garfunkel)
Don't Let It Bring You Down (Neil Young)
Again (They Stole My Crayon)
*The Waiting Boy (Zak Claxton)
Never Run Away (Kurt Vile)
Fire & Rain (James Taylor)
Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
Northern Sky (Nick Drake)
†Walk On the Ocean (Toad the Wet Sprocket)
Everlong (Foo Fighters)
Underwater Underground (They Stole My Crayon)
It's Choade My Dear (Connan Mockasin)
Tea for the Tillerman (Cat Stevens)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song in SL.
†I've only played this song once before, it seems, in November 2011. It's a fine song, but the main reason I played it at this show was that so many people kept drawing comparisons between my new song and the vibe of this band, I felt compelled to revisit one of their most well-known tunes.

So many thanks going out to the people who took some time out of their day and came to the show at New England last night, especially the following who helped support the show!
BAT8997 Resident, Alltra Violet, Lizzy Nightfire, Triana Caldera, LolaGoetz Resident, RansomTalmidge Resident, Mafia Citron, Eli Schlegal, chizay Bluebird, Richy Nervous, Sassy Nitely, Barbara Mixemup, Celeste Ewing, my always-awesome manager Maali Beck, and TIONE's host Sesh Kamachi and fantastic events manager Christine Haiku!

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