I'm kind of having the opposite career as most musicians. Typically, at least in the world of pop/rock music, an artist gets his or her greatest levels of success in their twenties, and then spends the rest of their life trying to find some semblance of relevance again. I imagine it's disappointing to say the least. Well, I'm a lucky person in that no one ever gave a shit about the music I wrote and recorded between my teens and mid-thirties. Granted, I played in plenty of very fun live bands, made some money here and there playing gigs at various bars and clubs, and -- most importantly -- enjoyed the actual creative process, and the act of working along with fellow musicians who I count among my best friends to this day. But it wasn't until 2007 or so, when I began performing in Second Life on a regular basis, that I found an audience for my original music.
It was through the confidence I'd gained as a live singer-songwriter that allowed me to record and release my first solo album in 2009. That album was well received, mostly by my SL fans who'd become familiar with the songs as I'd been playing them live, solo acoustic style, for quite some time before the album was released. Some seven years later, it still gets a fair share of plays... I get a massive royalty payment of $0.03 or so each month to account for dozens of streams via Spotify and the like, and occasional download sales via iTunes. Trust me, I'm not complaining; it's an amazing world where a person like me -- a non-touring artist who is not supported by any kind of recording label -- to be able to release and sell music at all.
So here I am, in my mid-40s, and on Friday August 19, my similarly-aged bandmates and I in They Stole My Crayon finally released the album we started conceiving in late 2012, and out of nowhere and for no particular reason, it flies up toward the top of the Bandcamp charts for best-selling alternative albums of the week. You can hear it for free here. Do we think it's a great album? Hell yeah we do! But that doesn't matter at all in terms of what other people think about it, or if it affects their willingness to spend money on it at a time where supposedly "no one buys music", much less entire albums of music. So, perhaps we're incredibly lucky, or maybe we did something that's different enough that caught people's attention in some way that went beyond our expectations. It doesn't matter. We're grateful to have experienced even this mild and temporary level of success as music creators. Most musicians never get to enjoy even that.
After weeks of focusing on my band's recording "career", it was good to get back to playing live music. Photo by Kat.
Pretty cool place, huh? A good-looking virtual environment like Live Vibrations really does affect my feelings as I perform. Photo by Kat.
All that having been said, I'd intended using this blog post to tell you about my show on Thursday night at the Second Life venue Live Vibrations. It was the first time I'd played this place, and from what I was told, it's recently been fully remodeled. It looked great to me; a nice open space with a classy vibe. The people who ran the place were very nice, and the show went off without a hitch, which is all I ask. This was also the very first show where I played my new Takamine P5DC guitar. Switching guitars might not seem like a big deal, but this was in more than one way. First, the feel of this guitar's neck and its overall balance is very, very different from that of the Martin D-18V that I've used for literally every other SL show I've ever done over the last ten years. I actually like it a lot, but it takes a little getting used to. Second (and perhaps more important) is that I'd never used an acoustic-electric guitar for SL shows before. Instead of putting a microphone in front of the instrument, I just plugged it straight into my mixer and she-bam... it sounded really, really good. I couldn't have been happier.
We had a nice-sized crowd at Live Vibrations, and I think I had a good mix of original and cover tunes in the set that kept people interested and happy. I'm looking forward to my next opportunity to play there!
Live Vibrations set list...
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Carry Me Ohio (Sun Kil Moon)
Things Under Trees (They Stole My Crayon)
Big Empty (Stone Temple Pilots)
Sour Girl (Stone Temple Pilots)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Hunger Strike (Temple of the Dog)
Blew the Dust Away (They Stole My Crayon)
The Arrangement (Joni Mitchell)
Roxanne (The Police)
Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (Crosby, Stills and Nash)
Huge thanks to everyone who came out to Live Vibrations for my show, especially the following people who helped support it!
Diana Renoir, Alexandra Lemondrop, LeeWinegarden Resident, DeyJaVue Resident, DantePeak Resident, Asimina Heron, Kat Claxton, Alex Zelin, not4gods Resident, Aurelie Chenaux, TheaDee Resident, my terrific manager Maali Beck, and Live Vibrations hostess lilmissbo and owner Allie Sloan!