Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Islands of New England (01.09.18)

Enjoying a good show at The Islands of New England, with Lyndon Heart waiting for me on the wings. Photo by Thea Dee.

Pretty much every person in every kind of business has a "busy time of year". For me, that time is now. My career is in the musical instrument and audio products industry, and the big event in that business happens each January. You may have heard me mention and/or complain about it before; it's called the NAMM Show. This year, 2018, will mark my 25th consecutive year working at that show. I was a 23-year-old kid when I first worked at NAMM in 1993. It seems like a lifetime ago.

As I'm sure is true for many others, NAMM gives me mixed feelings. I do enjoy getting together in person with many friends and acquaintances that I tend to only see in person at the show. On the flip side, there's a tremendous amount of work that goes into making the show successful for my clients, and I'm extremely busy throughout the multiple days of show itself. It's a pressure-packed environment, and being what it is, it's constantly loud and crowded. For someone like me who really prefers quiet and somewhat isolated environs, it can be nerve-wracking and difficult at times to handle.

Why am I writing about this now? Simply because we're getting close to the time of year where I need to take a hiatus from live music shows due to a) being too busy while doing final preparations for the show, b) working the show itself, and c) allowing my body and voice (and brain) to recover sufficiently after it ends to be able to perform again. Officially, I am on hiatus from Second Life shows from January 20 through February 1, but after my next and final show before the break on Monday of next week, I don't currently have a show scheduled until February 12.

I find that little break I am forced to take each year to be a good thing. Granted, I enjoy performing and miss it when I am forced to stop for awhile. At the same time, like anything in life, you can start to take it for granted, and that sometimes leads to a performer not putting the highest level of effort and focus into each show. Ennui kicks in, and audiences can tell when a musician is just going through the motions. I'd also prefer to do less shows, but have each one be something I can enjoy and be proud of, and hopefully my audiences recognize that fact.

Getting Classic at New England
One of the side results of being so busy this time of year is that the amount of time I can spend preparing for each specific show is lessened. I'd been making a strong effort to include new material at nearly every single show in recent months, and I've enjoyed doing that. However, what's required to allow me to do that confidently is a lot of work in really learning a song well enough to perform it at a professional level; I simply won't add a new tune and then do a shitty job with it. It means I'm rehearsing the song a bunch of times, making sure I know the chords, the vocal phrasing, and figuring out any little performance tricks I can throw in to best represent the arrangement on solo acoustic guitar.

Well, I didn't have that kind of time for my show last night at The Islands of New England, so I make some lemonade out of that musical lemon, and chose a set that was nearly entirely classic singer-songwriter songs that I've heard many, many times, and most of which I've performed many times over the years. Whether you're a musician or actor or dancer, the key element of good performance is being completely confident that you know the material, and since I wanted to do a really good show despite having minimal time to prepare, I wasn't going to throw in stuff that I was learning while onstage.

The last thing I want to add is that it's always a pleasure when my musical buddy Lyndon Heart performs before or after my set. He's a great player and singer and all-around entertainer, and I enjoy him as a fan almost as much as I do as a friend.

It always feels like hanging out with friends when I perform at TIONE. Photo by Thea Dee.

The Islands of New England set list...
Space Oddity (David Bowie)
Heart of Gold (Neil Young)
Help Me (Joni Mitchell)
Landslide (Fleetwood Mac)
Cat’s in the Cradle (Harry Chapin)
Pancho & Lefty (Townes Van Zandt)
Alison (Elvis Costello)
From the Beginning (Emerson, Lake & Palmer)
The Waiting Boy (Zak Claxton)
Blew the Dust Away (They Stole My Crayon)
Northern Sky (Nick Drake)
Lost Cause (Beck)
New England Is Fun Improv (Zak Claxton)

Big, big thanks to everyone who came out to be there at my show, with super duper thanks to the following people who helped support it with their patronage!
Keiko Zoon, RansomTalmidge Resident, Brianna Beresford, RoxxyyRoller Resident, ChipLoose Resident, Alexis Fairlady, DeaBella70 Resident, Sommer Shepherd, Tyche Szondi, CadenceBlue Resident, TheaDee Resident, my great manager Maali Beck, and New England's extraordinary event manager Christine Haiku!

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