Friday, December 24, 2010

My Gift

A woman I know just came up to me in CVS. I should say right off- she doesn't really KNOW me, I am quite sure she doesn't know I am a musician.

I had seen her shopping a little while before, but she didn't meet my look and I moved on. Now, though, she stood in front of me as I went to the check out and looks up at me with a smile.

She reminds me of Marilyn on that old show, Northern Exposure- she is instantly recognizable as a Native American and she speaks with a slow measured cadence and a slight accent. She presents always as someone who Considers Before Speaking-

But now, she looks at me and smiles and immediately says, in her gentle way, 'I want to sing you a song', and starts, slowly and beautifully, to sing soft words I don't know, but a very familiar melody.

When she finishes, she tells me, 'That was Silent Night in my language', smiles and hugs me and with a 'Merry Christmas', moves to go back to her shopping-

What a Gift!!! Truly a spirit gift......

Thursday, December 23, 2010

This Night

The stars cut through the night
They twinkle and glow and shine their light
The light that left that star so long ago
Some before the stories that are told
About this night

The air is sharp and chills the bone
The music of the season tells a story well known
Of peace for all the human race
It was the promise, but's not been the case
Even tonight

So what is the meaning of Christmas Day
How can we let peace try and find a way?
I think it starts here in my heart
And like each star, I can add my part
Of light in the night.


Peace is often hard to find
There's more to it than just being kind
But I have seen it in a simple gift
Of time, or song, thats meaning to lift
The dark from a night

So my hope for you on this Christmas day
Is that you let peace try and find a way
That you feel the song in your heart
That you find a way to live your part
Of lighting the night

Lighting the night....
A light in the night.....

Happy Holidays!!!
C. 2010 Marilyn Miller

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Sing Along

If you know me personally, or have been reading here or FB for any length of time, you know that I have a BIG THING for the healing power of music, and the ability of music to bring people together.

Some of you also know how I just think music is FUN.

Last night was a bit of all of that, as various folks from different parts of my life gathered in my TINY house to sing carols together, eat lots, and laugh more....

I am not a religious person, but I LOVE Christmas. I love what the holiday represents to me (peace and joy born into the world), using the subjects of the holiday (giving, light and music). It really is the only holiday in the USA that is celebrated around a special bunch of music that is only performed/listened to/enjoyed in the season.

I like that.....

....and a lot of the music is about what a gift music is!!!! (Little Drummer Boy is one of only two Christmas songs that I have 'performance ready', besides my own (see top right on this page for an mp3 of my song, This Night)....the other is 'Do You Hear What I Hear'....hmmmmm-see the theme?)

Well, I was MAJORLY gifted last night. Connie and Renee came first, way earlier than everyone else, but that was great, because I got time i cherish to just talk to them.....then came Betsi and Abby and many many instruments.....too many to list, but believe me, there were many!!!

OH!!! and let me not forget the spinach/pepperoni/cheese pie that Renee brought and the mac and cheese that Abby and Betsi brought!!! oh MY.....the perfect additions to my meatballs and we ate....and ate.....and ate....

....and settled down to music. Connie played some songs for us while I was trying to get settled (~sigh~the joys of being but we soon launched into Christmas songs. By then, Deb had arrived and we had the room rocking with bangers, shakers, singers and guitars....what a Joyful Noise!!!!

Very soon, along comes Mike, Liz, Simon and their baby.....and a LOT more instruments!!!! LOL.....I was a little worried, because at that time, I thought the room was full!!!!(the instruments in this house have a room to themselves, yeah, i have a resident 'green room'....but it is blue!!! it was not them that worried me!! but seating another three +baby DID worry me!)

By time everyone was settled, it was clear that we could do it, and we started back at the songs....this tme with young Simon joining in the singing AND the percussion....and doing a great job of it too!!!. And seems he can play something to anything and on any insturment that has strings or keys....just amazing.......i SO appreciate that he comes to my gatherings....

I don't believe I have heard Abby in the past, but I did this time, and her joy and voice makes my heart soar!! Betsi (see further down on my blog) has the voice of an angel, and a catchy style to boot.....Connie is the Rock, supported by Renee, and gave us a great lesson on demolished, diminished chords. And my friend Deb, well she just HAS to sing more, I love to see her enjoying herself and she sings well!!!

At some point during the evening, I turned on the recorder and got this Recording of Holiday SingAlong.....enjoy it!!!  (click the link)

After a while, people got tired and wandered home or to the next party (Note to self....early party's this time of year get folks who have obligations to other things to come to your thing too...).....and Todd and Brother Ed came....they got the tail end of the music, but we sat until the wee hours of the morning, talking about life....what a wonderful end to a GREAT DAY!!! I thank ALL of you!!!


I wrote this, this morning, discussing a sticker on my fridge that a wonderful musician, Betsi Krisniski, took a picture of and posted on Facebook....I want to record that discussion here because FB only keeps things just so long....and I like the story....

There is a story about that sticker that you may be interested in......

Every year in October, I go to California and play Neil Young Songs with a bunch of people from all over the world. Part of that week is an 'open mic' type set up at a bar that Neil once had some shows in to warm up for a concert (so, you know, you get to stand on the same stage as your hero did once, sort of thing.....).

This particular year, several years ago, the woman who would be harmonizing had laryngitis, so I quickly recruited another. Also, the drummer had not practiced with me since the year before (He used to live in Boston and play with me often, but then moved to CA, so this is the ONLY time every year I get to play with him).....well!!!

I am extremely stage shy, and those nerves will ALSO ensure mistakes that I never made in practice.....LOL....

Well, we played a few songs ok, and got to a tune called 'White Line' i don't know what got into the drummer, but he took off like he had DONE a couple lines (no, don't worry, NONE of us do that sort of thing, i am just making a joke) and i didn't have the confidence to stop and start over......and for the whole song, i could not find my guitar part, the vocals, remember the words (so i made up my own....remember, i am singing to a group of 200 people who all know every word to every song that neil has ever done!!!), NOTHING!!!!


Needless to say, I finished my set out, got off the stage, and wanted to run away, but did not (i did bite the heads off my friends who told me what a good job i did....'hey, say that now, and i won't believe you when you mean it!'....i was terrible)

the next day we went shopping at a really cool store (betsi and abby, the throw on the couch you were on is also from that store) and i was still feeling know.....i am no good at this, i am too old for this, why do i even try,.....felt embarrassed and stupid and you name it.....and of course, everyone is going back and forth between trying to console me and distract me, because i am so disgusted with myself that they just can't win.

then the woman who was singing harmony on stage with me for the fill in, found that saying on a button and she bought it and gave it to me as we left the store. When i read it, the light came on in my head, and i realized it was all part of 'the process'. I was so appreciative that she lifted that cloud from me in one simple little act that i shed some tears and will always have a very special place for her in my heart.

Then, last christmas, the woman who had the laryngitis found the sticker, above, and gave it to me.

I keep it there on the fridge so I can remember.....Art is human, and human is not perfect, and i don't need to apologize for being human....

 i think now that restarts at the very beginning of a song, when it is not feeling together is perfectly alright!!! LOL....but when i am in the middle of song, always end it with respect, as a flawed but human piece....LOL!!!! I try to see the song, any song, as it's OWN thing, not MY thing....that is taking ITS own form through me, not BECAUSE of me.....don't know if that makes any sense to anyone else, but, there it is.....that helps me keep the focus on helping the song present itself, and not focus on MY presentation of the song....Keeps the ME out of the way....

.for what it is worth....

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Holidays Begin....

Thanksgiving is one holiday that I can say I agree with every part of the idea....the thanks, the harvest, the association with Native gifts needed, just friends and family and feeling good and being grateful that you are....

In other words, recognizing the gifts you already have.

I really like that.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010


So I recorded the other day.

Two weeks ago. I had never been in a studio but twice before....once in an old church in Hudson, I brought something for a friend who was recording there, and got a very brief look.....

And once when I went to Off the Beat N Track, the studio that I recorded in a couple weeks ago, to meet with the owner/producer,  talk to them about recording.

I went through all my songs, got some advice on which ones to record, practiced for a couple weeks every night so that I was 'ready'. I had heard that I need to be prepared, that knowing my songs well cut down on so much hassle.

But I didn't want to 'know' them too well, because I don't want to be limited in what their final creation will be.....I don't want too much ownership in the way they sound now, solo guitar. I am realizing now that as I play my guitar, I am hearing/imagining/replicating all these varied voices/rhythms that are JUST out of my reach/consciousness.  I have to find/hear them clearly. I hope that makes some sort of sense to someone besides me....

But I am ahead of myself. Finding the other parts is what I have to do now. But what I want to talk about here is how I recorded the other day. But first, I had to get there, and that took a little doing....

I wondered if I was really ready to do this. I wondered what 'ready' could possibly be. I wondered how to get OUT of doing this.....

And then I caught a cold. By 'record day', my voice cracked when I sang. I called my friend and mentor David in a bit of a frenzy and told him my tale. 'Don't worry', he said. The plan was for me to just go in and do demos-ie, play my song so that others could learn it. In the process, I would be learning and practicing recording. If I got a 'keeper' out of it, that would simply be a bonus.

But I am money to make something I could make on my COMPUTER?? I don't THINK so.....

So, I can't get out of it. It is a commitment....and I honor my commitments. (Don't remind me that I have a commitment- implied- to my art....LOL)

So I go. I am told by my friends to always make friends with the engineer....and other friends who told me that Will loves coffee.....sweet and light. So I drive to the studio, stopping at the shop I used to gig in, right there in town, for coffee.

Will, who looks younger than I expect, but I am wrong, comes out to greet me, and is embarrassed by the coffee, which in turn, of course, embarrassed me.....but we deal. And get to work.

Three songs in two hours. Then 10 songs in two hours. A little bit of 'working' and a little bit of 'just get it down'. You can hear the tightness in my voice in the first takes of the first song.....I had gone over all my songs, and wanted to record to a click track, and so had figured out  times for all of them....but quickly found out that TODAY called for a different time than I had agreed to THAT day I wrote down down the bpm.....and at first that made things a bit easier for Will. Until we realized that I was going to do very few at the times I had written (and of course, did I write the new timing down for ANY???...I do hope WIll kept records...)

Will kept asking me if I would like to hear what we were recording. But I was in 'act as if' I know what I was doing, and I was afraid that if I heard the evidence that I was making a fool of myself, I would be devastated and have to stop, so I kept pressing on. Of course, now I can hear that if I had listened to one take before moving on, my vocals would have been much better as I molded the tone.....~sigh~ many lessons to learn....

I really liked working with Will. He was supportive without being pushy and open without being  wishy-washy. I felt comfortable. I think that is important. If he intimidated me, I think I would have had a much less productive time.

He did not give an opinion, but fed the question back to me in a way that felt helpful.

He sent me the CD.

I held onto it for at least 24 hours before I listened to it. Why? I have no idea, but fear played a part. When I listened to my first song, which Will had arranged in alphabetical order, I was not pleased. My guitar work was full of mistakes, I sang out of tune in more than one spot and my tone was not pleasing to me. By the next few songs, I stopped listening to the problems and started to enjoy the songs. I realized how very much BETTER this recording was than ANY I had made on my computer using ANY of my equipment. My guitar sounds SO cool. I start now to hear what else the songs CALL for, and I have to go back to work now, and listen to the songs (what is it I have on my wall somewhere????? When I start thinking about ME in the music, I have lost sight of the SONG......that is something to remember)

And Harry O just reminded me.....listen for the SONG.

I need faith in the process to develop the vision. Don't focus on the end point. Appreciate the process. Hear the SONG. I need to go to work now........

Friday, September 24, 2010

Le Noise

Le Noise.
I like the live sounds better. I liked when i could feel the songs move my innards, so loud, with Neil right THERE in front of me.

Someone said, I think John, that the echo was like a mirror maze....exactly. I find it more than a little distracting, but i also realize i am listening to MP3s in headphones.....

Tonight, i listened to Landing on Water, where neil is experimenting with different sounds....and there are some comparisons there......

I respect Neil- the artist.

I realized while listening to Le Noise, that if i forgot all that i know about neil, and just LISTEN (let the overcoat that neil spoke of during a televise interview, i don't remember with who, fall from him.....).....

if i just LISTEN to a man playing guitar, singing a song, it suddenly sounds a LOT like this guy Neil Young, with turns of phrases, and mystery and....all the rest. All the things I fell in love with him over. First there is the SOUND, the tone....then there is how that moves YOU, not via your cognition (ie, lyrics), but through your GUT. Neil is an artist of SOUND, not just music. SOUND.

I wish I could say it better.....

I don't know if this is a GOOD album. I know that it MOVES me, sometimes in uncomfortable ways (the echoing)....but it makes me FEEL a certain way, and that is why i listen to neil.

...... because his music touches something very real inside. Sounds crazy, i know....but i LIKE this. I like it alot.

Monday, September 20, 2010

At Open Mic

Tonight I enjoyed playing some songs that I usually don't play out. After a while, I get this fear that a song that I think is really ok is actually BAD. The only way to find out, to play it.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ahhh.....summers evening....

Ah, it is not even 9pm and already it is getting dark here in NYS. The birds were singing just a moment ago.....many voices all singing their own personal song. After a while, you can hear the differences in the voices....very subtle, but somehow still very distinct. Those voices now are all quiet. A solitary bird calls out, but falters and stops. Somewhere near an insect starts a racket, but is also soon quiet. There is serious trouble for someone, I know because the ambulance and medic race by, but that too is soon distant, then gone.

I see now it is an accident, the fire truck goes by and a few more lighted, fast vehicles.

When I used to hear the peepers, now I hear the crickets and I wonder....are they early this year?

And the bats fly by, and I know there is sound there, but I can't hear it. I do hear the Canadian geese looking for their pond and a place to spend the evening.

 And i realize that much of what I experience while outside, in my yard, on this night, is SOUND. Last night at this time I was finishing my first set, making sound that it seemed people were enjoying.....I had lot of people there, listening to the music I made with my friend David, and enjoying it, maybe not as much as I was, but certainly they were having a good time. Making music. A wonderful experience.

The helicopter landed, the ambulance is not there yet...I wish the best for whoever is affected....and whatever best may mean, given the situation.

And I will send this post off before the mosquitoes eat me alive!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New GIGS, this week!!!

I hope your summer is going really well!!! I have been very busy, particularly these past two weeks....Had two shows this past Saturday--the Copake Farmers Market and a private party! Both went really well, although the Farmers Market was a little wet.

This week, I also have two shows, and I hope you can come out and make them. The first is in Hillsdale, NY and is a competition (decided to do this for the experience and learning that is sure to happen...). The way the competition works is that there are three judges (gosh, I don't like that term as applies to MUSIC!) who rate an artist on Songwriting, Performance and Muscianship. The really cool part is that 25% of the total score comes from the audience. Therefore, to increase your score, and chance of winning the prize (which is the chance to record three songs in a studio with a producer!!! GREAT experience and opportunity), the artist is encouraged to stock the audience with friends!!!

I know this is short notice, but if you are able to come out and support me, I sure would appreciate it....

Next up for shows is the Inquiring Minds Bookstore in Saugerties, and a friend or two may stop in to add some 'extra touches' to my songs, so that should be a fun show. Starts at 7pm right in the heart of Saugerties, NY.

Hope to see some of you this week!!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Day in the Life of Joe Conservative

don't know who wrote it, but I really like it!
Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.

All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer’s medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

He walks on the government-provided sidewalk to subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe’s employer pays these standards because Joe’s employer doesn’t want his employees to call the union.

If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he’ll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn’t think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

It is noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe’s deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe’s money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe also forgets that his in addition to his federally subsidized student loans, he attended a state funded university.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the tax-payer funded roads.

He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers’ Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural loans.

The house didn’t have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification.

He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn’t have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn’t mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: “We don’t need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I’m a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have.”

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Gig! Saturday, April 17

Saturday April 17, I will be opening for The Jack Stafford Foundation at
204 S Undermountain Rd, Sheffield, MA
781-413-7604. I hope to see you there!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Trunk Show, by Demme and Young....

It is still snowing here.

It seems like it has been snowing for a life time.

Last night I was supposed to see a Q & A with Jonathon Demme after viewing his two movies on Neil Young, The Trunk Show and Heart of Gold. I have read that he sees these movies as two ends of the spectrum that is Neil Young....I don't quite agree (I think Neil has gone further into both ends than is presented in either show) but I sure do like Demme's eye and ear for Neil. I like that he likes to capture the artists on stage communicating with each other, I like how he shows Neil's playing and his emotion around the music. I have seen both movies before, but, as EVERYONE knows....movies are to be seen on the big screen, not this little tv screen....

So, it is still snowing, and did most of the day yesterday. Luckily, I didn't have to decide whether to try and make it---the movies were canceled.

What to do?? My friend Todd and I decided to head to Hudson, and take a walk and think about it...which we did, and ended up at Mexican Radio, an upscale Manhattan type Mexican restaurant (as opposed to an authentic one). I love that place, and I have taken MANY a rustie there for meals and/or drinks....

We had planned to check out the Main Street Pub in Philmont....I have heard many people suggest that it is a cool place to hang out, because it is very musician, and music, friendly. Last night they had a band, and we liked the write up we read on the website, (but I couldn't find the bands music at ALL on the internet). We planned to go....

But, it was still snowing. The roads were getting slick. Philmont is a hill town and kind of known around here for getting it worse there than about anywhere else in the county when it comes to bad weather.....

We ate, drank, and it was still snowing....

So, we went to my place and I took out my copy of Heart of Gold, gave Todd the 'back story' of Neil's health problems that were the catalyst for many of the songs in the film (unneeded, I quickly found out). It wasn't too long before I was hearing things from my friend like, 'He really does have a lot of great songs', and 'Wow, that was beautiful', and 'What a talented man'.

I don't know what got into me, but I decided that, having allowed Neil to be appreciated by my friend, he had to see the 'other side'....but I don't have the trunk I put on Human Highway, the movie...

Took Todd a little bit to figure out who the goof was that played Lionel Switch, and of course, we had a LOT of laughs....(I don't understand the folks that try to make more out of the movie than what it is....just FUN!!!!....and so they are disappointed!).

So, although it was still snowing, I got a 'Neil fix', had a good evening, a good meal, tasty tequila, and time with a great friend....

And, it is still snowing.....

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Neil Young - Be The Rain (live)

Does this mean that the rumored movie documenting the Greendale live electric tour is FOR REAL???

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Family....Mom, Marian, Muriel, Clifford

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Upcoming GIG

I will be opening for Jack Stafford on April 17th, 2010 in Sheffield, MA at the New Song House Concert. Hope to see you there!!

In the meantime, check out the following open mics that I have been going to and will continue to frequent:

-The Parlor, Mondays at 7:30, 800 Warren Street, Hudson, NY
-The Gypsy Joynt, Saturdays at 7:30, 389 Stockbridge Rd, Great Barrington, MA
-The Peint o Gwrw, first saturday of the month, Main Street Chatham, NY

Hope to see you!!!

Neil Young & Dave Matthews - Sings for Hope For Haiti

These guys get the power of music....

Neil Young On Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien on Final Show "Long May You Run"

neil lost his good friend LA Johnson yesterday

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Open Mic at The Parlor

Last night I attended an Open Mic at Parlors in Hudson. The atmosphere is of a laid back coffeehouse, with antiqued mismatched furniture, upholstered chairs and people half my age....

I had 'visited' the OM last week and there were several folks there who were more my peers, but last night....nope. My experience playing to younger people has been--they don't get me. I don't move them, my songs are the songs of an older woman (of course!!!).

So, I did play. The leader of the mic greeted me and offered me the first spot, which I declined per usual....but I took the second. The first person up was Liv Carrow. She is really a great songwriter, singer and performer.....NOT the person for me to follow!!! LOL....

But, she finished and I got up. Did my usual switching words, forgetting words, messing up chords, but covered pretty darn well for most of it....People listened carefully, a couple of guys 'whoa!'ed when I ended a song (per their usual) and everyone clapped. Politely. I saw a couple of foot tappers, elicited a couple smiles, bombed on every 'joke', including funny lines in the songs (It felt to me like maybe they didn't know if they *should* laugh...).

I left the stage feeling like a failure. I hung around though, and watched the other performers....most of them more talented than me (honestly). I also watched the response of the audience to the other players....and in most cases, they listened, whoa'ed and politely clapped for each musician/poet/reader, just like they did for me....

I had a facebook conversation about it all, and people made some good suggestions about having 'lines' to go on stage with that always 'work'. But the fact remains.....I EXPECTED a certain response from the audience and when I didn't get it, I felt like a failure.

I have given this some thought.....Do I have a right to EXPECT anything from an audience? They were a great audience in that they listened to me....something I hear a lot of people complain about the lack of in most of the situations they play in. Why didn't that satisfy me?

Because I didn't MOVE them in a way that I SAW.....I didn't make them physically move and interpreted that as a lack of emotional movement, a lack of touching them with my music. But, as Theresa pointed out on facebook....I really don't know how or if I affected anyone, last night or by extension, any time I play....

So, do I play for me? Or do I play for them? Or do I play for me and then by extension, them??

I was disappointed in my performance because I wanted to get them moving and with me and I didn't accept their quiet, polite appreciation as valid....That was Not Fair to me and Not Fair to them......

I am also beginning to realize that I look for fast music to get people moving during my performance because that is what FEELS GOOD to me, and I have recently only valued slower, more introspective music for the 'rest time' needed in between 'up time's..... I am not taking advantage of the differences in audiences, ie bar crowd vs dinner crowd vs coffeehouse crowd....and not giving them permission to take what I offer the way they want....

Time for me to get refocused on THE MUSIC and what IT wants to say through me, and less on the THE ACT.....That is the lesson of the day (AGAIN!!!!)-----Focus on the music and the act will take care of itself.....

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Brothers in Arms - Dire Straits

This video is one of my all time hauntingly, terribly, beautiful.....what got me paying attention to Mark Knopfler....

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Open Mic at the Peint O Gwrw

I finally played at 'The People's Open Mic' in Chatham, NY. I have checked it out, signed up, brought my guitar and for one reason or another not played several times before. But last night I played....and had a great time!!

Perhaps many times we carry our perceptions and that colors our experiences in ways that we can not know. I think that my past experiences at this open mike were that way....I had always felt a sort of ire coming from the audience towards folks on that stage that were not professional level....and that scared me!!! I play for fun and joy, not perfection....and when I sense that the spirit in a venue is not supportive and encouraging of efforts, I fear that I will surely fail....

Last night was different. First of all, I felt 'included' because I called the leader of the OM and got on the list (sign-up at the venue and you won't get on until waaaaay after 11pm). Then I called my best buddy Todd who is soooo cool and supportive (the kind of guy that says just the right thing at just the right time), and he said, yeah, let's go!!! (I also called a few other folks who didn't show....too bad!)

When we got there, there was a table near to the fire, but situated away from the flow of people and we grabbed that and our beers. I did check to see if I were on the list, but did not know who, out of the mass of folks milling about instruments and amps and bar and tables, was the host of the proceedings. My spot was fourth from the beginning.

I saw and greeted Roberta, a frequent face at open mics who sings mostly blues and needs instrumental back up....the band did her well. As we sat and talked, I noticed Steve, another old friend that I played with quite a bit in the Berkshires, and he joined us at the table. I started to feel like I had quite a few friends in the crowd and started to relax....

My turn. I take the time to be sure that my mic was placed at the right angle for my comfort and technique. I had my words with me. They plugged in my guitar and I knew it worked because I tested it at home with my new Christmas gift from Nan....a battery tester that you plug into the guitar!!! Great idea!!! I was actually prepared!

I said something about HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!, reminded the crowd of who I was, and started to play a song I wrote with Karen Barry, 'Candy'.

Almost immediately, a string (DARN ELIXERS!!!!) popped, but I kept playing on, because....

The crowd was hopping, bopping, and looking like they were surely enjoying themselves. Most people were talking and laughing, but as I played, I could see that many stopped and paid a bit of attention before returning to their chatting.....and that just fueled me. My next song was 'Dancing Tonight'.  I introduced the song, and asked people how they felt as someone came up and changed my cable (which made the guitar fade in and out) and started to play....

This time I noticed that some of the women in front were listening and smiling (and hopping, swaying and during the next pause, I said that I had written those two songs and, as a matter of fact, this one too, and played 'What is It'. The women started to really dance, just at the end of the song....

But, my time was up, I stopped and left the stage. Errors? Plenty!!! Forgotten lyrics?? SURE!!! Loads of fun??? YOU BET!!!!

We stayed for a bit after that.....several great bands played rock, classic rock and blues. It was a really fine evening....I will CERTAINLY do that again!!!