I'm not sure what got into me but 30 minutes prior to an open mic I decided I was going to play and packed my gear. My wife and I dropped my daughter and her friends off at their youth group and headed down town. I was booked in to play play at 8:30.
The sets were running behind so I asked the host if I could switch a couple of time slots so my wife would be able to see me play since the youth group pick-up was 9:00 p.m. The other performers were kind enough to oblige. With the switch, I was up at 8:45 and headed to the green room to get ready.
Usually I do a a fair amount of pre-planning two weeks before playing. This includes picking the songs I`m going to play, making sure that songs in same key do not follow each other, mix up the tempo and decide on a good opener and closer (as well as an encore set for bigger gigs), rehearse them and write out a set-list. I also like to make a high level plan regarding my stage banter. I've evolved into a singer - storyteller and I like to talk a little bit about the songs I'm playing. If they are a cover, what they mean to me or how I discovered them. If it's an original, the story behind them. If I do not have a plan I tend to ramble on, kind of like I`m doing now.
With 5 minutes to spare, I picked three songs, tuned my guitar and completed my warm-up routine. When I heard my name I grabbed my cheat sheets, a bottle of water and headed out to the stage.
|Photo: I took a photo of Matthew Liebenberg's photo|
that was published in The Prairie Post
1. It's a Shame About Ray (Lemonheads)
2. 52 Stations (Robyn Hitchcock)
3. Devil Woman (original)
Audience: Estimated 50-60 persons
For 'It's a Shame About Ray' I told a long story about when I met Yann Martel and he made fun of my shirt (true story) but then I veered off into a few more imaginary encounters with Yann that I made up on the spot. The story made no sense to the song and I really went on far too long. I then blew the opening lead riff and went way off key when I sang the first chorus. After that the song went pretty smooth.
I did not learn anything from my bad banter on the previous song and found that it can actually get worse. I started out alright by thanking the other bands for switching with me. Would have been a good place to stop but then I added in the the un-rock and roll evening my wife and I were having arranging my set time around my kids youth group then went into a long story about a time I played here with my former band and managed to even drop the f-bomb while meandering on about nothing. The worst part was I knew I was going on and on and I just couldn't seem to stop. I had no idea how to turn this sinking ship around so I launched straight into Robyn Hitchcock's '52 Stations.'
For my third and final song I stopped the banter bleeding and simply introduced 'Devil Woman' as "this is a song I wrote." I then noticed that I brought out the cheat sheet for a different song. There is no turning back after a song's introduced so I played it through and made up any lyrics I couldn't remember. I improvised the guitar licks at the end, said a quick "thank-you" and booked it off the stage. My wife left to get the kids but I stayed to watch the other acts and chatted with a few musicians.
When I watched the video later that evening the banter was awful but I was relieved that I played way better than I thought I did. I covered well on a few chords that I blew. No one knows the words to 'Devil Woman' so it wasn't obvious that I made up 20% of the lines and they still rhymed. The lead guitar lines I improvised were pretty devilish as well I must say. It wasn't a great show but it wasn't horrible. I would say it was "okay" and playing an okay gig is way better than not playing a gig at all. I'll give myself a 2.5 out of 5 star rating on this.