Random adventures through my life... in all their glory and splendor.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

All we are is Dust in the... thank you, thank you very much

I don't think I've mentioned this before, but awhile ago I talked to the owners of our local cafe/art store (Yes, we do have an art shop) and asked them if they would be opposed to having some live music. They said that would be great, and they asked me if I knew any musicians with real talent that would be interested. I said I did, but that I intended to play anyway.

So for the past month, on Saturdays I've been "doing my guitar thing" for about an hour at The Brick Cafe. I've been kind of keeping it on the down low because I didn't want to get all excited about it and then have it not work out. But things are going well and it's been a lot of fun.

I haven't sung at a coffee house for at least 10 years, so building up a coffee house set has been kind of an interesting challenge. Back in the day when I only had to fill 20 minutes, I used to play novelty music almost exclusively. Which is great for surprising people, and giving them something they haven't heard, but isn't always appropriate dining music. I mean, although *I* think the song "Dead Puppies" is absolute genius, I'd be hard pressed work it into my lunch set with a clean conscience. That's clearly dinner music.

The approach I'm taking this time assumes that people come to a coffeehouse to relax for a little while. So I've been trying to add 'comfortable' music into my repertoire. Fortunately, the bulk of the Saturday crowd is older and appreciates folk music, so the likes of John Denver, Simon and Garfunkle, John Prine, Johnny Cash, and Bob Dylan, go over really well. I have now even successfully taken requests (for songs!) which is a big milestone for me. Really, Whoda thunk? The whole thing has been very cool and has been really rewarding.

I've also experienced first hand one of the best pieces of advice I was given about playing at coffeehouses... people tip better if you play what they want to hear. I know, I know, if you aren't a musician it sounds extremely obvious, but there's a part of most performers that really wants to play either our own stuff, or stuff we think we play technically well. That's what Open Mike nights are for. Truth of the matter is, people are much more engaged when they know the song, and not so interested in hearing what you feel like playing at any given moment. I'm not saying I would play Brown Eyed Girl (which in my little circle of musicians is so cliche it's taboo) I'm just saying that an audience with a penchant for folk music would probably enjoy it if I did.

I've really enjoyed defining my coffeehouse style and voice, not that I've got it perfected yet. It's definitely not my Karaoke voice, which is a lot of fun but has... shall we say, "limited appeal" outside of Friday night (I wouldn't inflict my Alice Cooper on anyone sober...) And yet it's rougher and looser than my Sunday morning voice.

It's a great little gig. Low pressure. Low commitment. Play stuff folks like. Play stuff I'm not bored with. When I'm done I get a HotDog. It's pretty much an ideal situation. So next time you're in the neighborhood on a Saturday, come on out, have some coffee and a sandwich, and see me. I might even play something you actually want to hear... :-)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brown eyed girl... I have to learn that one. GOT IT!