Let’s be honest. Singer/songwriters are sensitive babies. Maybe all musicians are, but since I’m not in a band, I’ll just speak from my own perspective… So therefore, singer-songwriters are generally pretty cry babies who have figured out a way to get members of the opposite sex to fund their adventures. (ummm… Heh… Uh… Ignore that last sentence ladies… I love you…) I don’t want to say that I like to be pampered, but I do expect to be treated a certain way by the venue and hope that the booker/fans/other bands act in a certain fashion.
A Few Examples:
1. I played a show with another band a few weeks ago and the other band’s fans talked through my whole set or walked outside and laughed and the other band obnoxiously joined in.
2. Got to a venue a few weeks back and was told there was a PA available for me to plug my equipment into. No one at the show new where it was or how to use it.
3. A booker/friend contacted me about a show and assured me it would be a good fit even though it was at a bar known for loud rock. I left after hearing the first band literally make a mockery of what I’m tryin to make a living out of. The booker didn’t show up, and there was no point of contact for me.
Those are just a few examples of things that drive me nuts/make me want to quit doing music. But even after all of those, I think the two things that irk me the most are when:
A: people beg you to go on tour to their city and then can’t make it/don’t go to the show.
B: people don’t go to your show because their friends don’t want to go with them.
I often think that people just don’t know that I actually do want them/take notice if they say they are going and don’t. Maybe it’s not that way for other artists, but I pretty much make a mental note of everyone who asks for me to come to a city or says they are coming and don’t. “Well, you should have booked a better night…” listen sweetheart, I’m a singer songwriter who is doing this all on my own… I get STOKED when a venue actually gets back to me. I had to work my ass off to get gigs in San Diego. It’s not as easy as you think it is…
But tonight probably was the worst of all of the tours I’ve done. I had a show with Erik Dinardo and Isaac Johnson that the venue CLOSED an hour before the show… That sucked… But the booker put us at The Rainbow room, and even though it was a cruddy situation, it worked out. Well tonight was a lot worse… Here it goes:
We leave Boston at 2:00. I finally get internet connection before we leave, so I try to update everyone on the show/time etc… So maybe it’s closer to 2:20… But we bounce. Now I LIVE off of my Garmin. (can someone from Garmin contact me about an endorsement? I would sell a TON of your navs…) we decide we don’t need it, since I have navigation on my phone. (mistake number 1) Pete is driving, and I’m the navigator. We are both control freaks, a trait I probably got from him, but neither of us are good with directions and neither of us wants to be the navigator… We both would gladly do the job so that some knucklehead didn’t have to, but we’d rather not. Anyways, we take off and the traffic is ridiculous. (obviously… 3 day weekend…) Anyways, I don’t know anything about boston or new york roads… So let’s just say I wasn’t good at navigating. We took 3 wrong turns… And that was the beginning of the worst show ever.
I start stressing because I start getting tweets and Facebook messages from people telling me that they can’t make it… I get super bummed cause a few of my new favorite peeps cancel, and the combination of depressing music we’re listening to, traffic, wrong turns, and lost people is makin me text my roommate and get home sick. I keep saying things like, “I wish I had just stayed in Maine and hung out with Grandma and Grandpa, because people don’t appreciate me coming to their cities…” etc…
Well, we miss another exit or something and end up on the opposite side of NYC… So I chuck my glasses and cuss at my phone. Then my brother calls, and I’m ready to cry. (think of your last period…. If you’re a guy and reading my blog… Well… Uh… Hi! I didn’t know I had guys who read my blog…) so I’m craving pj’s and ice cream and wishing Daniel Powter would come on, and we finally figure out our directions, and get to the venue. I feel a little better, but the sad/cranky/bloated feeling is still lingering.
I walk into the venue and see these Abercrombie and Fitch looking dudes building… Well… The bar. I look around wicked confused and ask Fabio, “Is there someone who actually works at the bar?” he says, “Upstairs”.
I walk in and the two guys look at me and say, “are you the performer?” I say, “yep!” the guy says, “bummer bro…. Show is cancelled…”
I’m kinda dumbfounded. I think, “this must be some sort of NY humor that I don’t get”… But sure enough… He wasn’t joking.
I call my friend who booked me and she is as shocked as i am. She calls the booker and he hasn’t heard either. Finally about 4 minutes later, the booker finds out from the owner that the construction was supposed to be done yesterday, but it wasn’t. (its not gonna be ready for a while, I’m guessing… Judging by the rate that Hollister and Co., are working….)
Apparently the booker argues with the owner that I should be compensated for my drive/showing up, so they hand me a twenty dollar bill. (why not just kick me in the balls while you spit on my grave….) I take the bill and go outside in a fluff… I’m pretty turned around and my head is spinning… I have to CANCEL a show that I just drove 5 hours for? The LA show was only 2… But do I tell people not to come? I’m never in NY…
Pete has finished parking the car and I think our first reaction was to cancel it and go home… But then this idea sorta pukes out of my mouth… “we’re gonna make lemonade outta nothing.” he laughs and then I say, what i I just play in front of the venue?
Everyone shows up, I tell them the situation and I played 5 songs on the street. (insert “pocket change” jokes.) I won’t lie. I hate street performing. It’s awkward for me and it doesn’t fall into my previously mentioned “expectations of how to be treated” by a venue. But I suck it up and go for it.
Tonight was the best show of my career.
Everything was fun. Everything was exciting. Everyone is into it- vibing off the music, the street noises, the homeless guy playing the drums on his knees to my songs… It was just… Perfect.
We made enough money to pay for dinner, hung out with some friends and are almost back to Boston now. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this trip. Had it gone smoothly, it may have just been another night, instead it was better than anything I could have imagined.
Would I do it again if I knew how it was going to turn out? No… But If the situation happens again, I’ll definitely know how to react. So what if neither the Boston nor the NY venues put up my posters or even announced to anyone that I was coming. So what if no one showed up or the venue wasn’t even built? That’s the beauty of music. It can be anywhere.
There’s three things I learned tonight.
1. You can control your attitude and your effort. So do it.
2. You don’t need a venue to play good music.
3. You have the ability to make lemonade appear out of thin air.
I guess that’s all for tonight. Thanks to all my NY peeps. You guys literally made everything worth it. I can’t wait to see you again.