After our show at The Laughing Goat in June, I felt a flurry of mixed emotions. Close friends were saying that it was the best we've ever sounded and that they could really hear how hard we've been working. My voice was struggling though, and I felt nervous the whole show. I never settled into the spirit of the performance.
The first reason is very simple... allergies. Colorado allergies have been kicking my butt since we moved here. My voice has been iffy during every single Colorado show, and I didn't really realize how bad it was until we went back to the East Coast and it felt so wonderful to sing. I can't relax in performance because I'm constantly worried that my voice is going to give out, so I'm seeing an allergist tomorrow in the hopes of getting shots and stopping some of these vocal woes.
My friend, Ayleen, is super knowledgeable about music performance, as she used to book acts for clubs in Miami. When I told her about my post-show feelings, she said, "You're ready to be a great performer. You just need to see more live shows and connect with the muse!" Fantastic advice, Ayleen. It's an echo of Burnsie's advice to "get to know the neighborhood."
Justin and I are now on a quest to see approximately one live show a week. This is a great challenge for folks who work full time jobs and often dread leaving the house after a long day. We started last weekend at Ophelia's in Denver with a band from Austin called The Deer. Their writing and depth of sound was incredibly beautiful. The harmonies were especially delicious and I was in awe of the ease with which the singer led us through different sound landscapes. We left inspired and full of ideas, especially after a brief chat with the bass player and manager for the band, who told us about the DIY nature of their whole endeavor. The recording, booking, artwork, t-shirts, and more are all created hands-on by the band.
I love to project manage our lives and our, erm, projects. So here's the upcoming schedule of what will be filling our eyes and ears (and please let us know if you have other suggestions, especially for local musicians!):
Saturday, July 9th - Many Mountains at The Waterloo in Louisville
Friday, July 15th - Foxfeather at The Gold Hill Inn in Boulder
Friday, July 22nd - CW Stoneking at the Larimer Lounge in Denver
Saturday, July 30th - Whiskey Autumn at Cannon Mine Coffee in Lafayette
Saturday, August 13th - SHEL and others at Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest in Fort Collins
Friday, August 19th - Andrew Bird, Lucinda Williams and others at the Folks Festival in Lyons
Sunday, August 21st - Nathaniel Rateliff and Shovels & Rope at Red Rocks
Imagine yourself one in a crowd of thousands, a sea of humanity held together by the same thread. There is a pulse, an earthquake, a wall of voices in unison that accelerates and calms, keeping time to a tempo that originates from players you crane your neck to see. You are in a car, purposely stalled in a parking lot. A lone, ghostly tenor creeps around you urging you to weep, breath and die all at once. The only sign of life is the flutter of fall leaves about to drop. Brown and crisp as they float to the ground, an echo of a melody reminds you that it's time to take a breath again.
At times I can fully immerse. At times I can hear and receive, but only in passing. Occasionally I'll get slapped in the face by a tune that will not be ignored and my skin bristles. Sometimes the silence between the tones pulls me out of my head and into the song. Anticipation and a pay off in the form of a flourish.
I'd like to believe this is common in all of us. This mystification by music. I'd like to hope. But I can only speak for myself and in the grand scheme of things I know nothing. I can only assume based on my own experience. You might hear sweet while I'm hearing sour. But that's exciting isn't it? Sitting alone amongst billions of combinations, waiting for just one to strike. It's daunting. Up to this point in my life I have been too lazy to run towards the vast landscape of variety, remaining unchanged and fixed to a cinder block of "personal taste" by a loose fitting length of twine.
So sing me a song and I'll come out to listen. The well may be close to empty, but I am encouraged to fill it. Now we can look at the world around us and allow it to change and effect us.
Long story short... it's time to go listen to some folks play.